My Book

MORE TO LIFE THAN FULL MARKS

Parents these days are confused between getting their children onto a career track. In the earlier generations it was sort of decided by grandparents  wishes or something equally abstract. Become a doctor, a lawyer, a businessman, the family tradition has to be continual. And the progeny were often given no choice. Their education was channeled  into this narrow vision and they worked with singular devotion towards that goal. Often, there wasn’t any argument. What then happened in Indian education was the attention given to absorbing information and then regurgitating it verbatim, with memory retention serving most mistakenly as the measure of excellence.

 

This conspiracy loped along for many years after independence in a nation like India producing educational clones in what was a mass influx every year of mind numbed young men and women with skill sets severely limited to boning up facts and figures and lacking other skills.

 

This was the legacy my generation inherited at the turn of the century. It always surprised me that so much store was put by the marks one got and the length of one’s answers. What we failed to understand as parents, teachers and students that unless our skills were widened and given more dimension we would never really realise our full potential.

 

What I decided to do was add that extra tier by educating myself. Through books, through films and by using sheer common sense coupled with engaging in the human experience. I had good reason for this route. Take a school of 2000 children and more. There are ten in the debating team, maybe five in elocution, perhaps twenty in a sports team and a school magazine making  team of six. Not exactly a huge percentage.

Take our libraries. How many folks take out books when they can enjoy the self indulgence of whatsapp.

 

 Into the second decade of this century came this sudden competitive surge in which schools upped the ante by turning liberal to the point of absurdity where marking was concerned. Getting a 70 was poor, an eighty  an average, a ninety started the good times. This ridiculous hurtle just made a mockery of education and instead of a well rounded personality passing out through the portals of an institution we got these assembly lined products who believed in their own brilliance and were blinded by nit. Not even street smart and certainly not world smart their tunnel vision was evidence used to underscore the tenacity and exceptional nature of their educational entity. Not for a moment do they in this modern age realise that they are being condemned by a golden handshake that will not stand them in good stead in the future.

 

I did not have many years on earth nor, like Francis Bacon did I garner all knowledge into my province but what I did do was imbibe much more than the average teenager. So, if you are one, or the parent of one, enjoy the high markings but give your children the free rein to teach themselves and enjoy the experience rather than strive for full marks.

Happy Mothers Day

Hello lovely readers,

 

Here is another guest post by Vidhi- Mohit’s sister! Today, I am writing this post in honor of Mother’s Day. Growing up, mom would always tell me that we have been her world of joy and pain. I never understood what that meant being 15. At that time, I was living a life of privilege. It was not until I made some tough decisions like going across the world for pharmacy school, graduating and simultaneously transitioning into a new role in New York that I understood what Mother’s Day meant. It has been difficult to celebrate Mother’s Day without Mohit. The first Mother’s Day in 2017 was the hardest. 2018 was “normal”. 2019 is special. I have a special spot for Mother’s Day 2019. This is the month of mental health awareness. It has been such a tremendous journey to go through loss and move forward at the same time. There are several days where we we feel that Mohit is in our moments of sadness, just as much as in our moments of happiness. I have been so thankful to have my mother support me through some very tough times in life and over this time, we have become so much closer. I have learnt how to be a deeply compassionate person, have empathy, learn the value of doing good for other animals and people. All of this would have not been possible, if I had a life of privileges with everything set for me. As much as I wish there was no suicide, I have come to learn that it is so important to always have your loved ones in touch. Be it over the phone, or a visit away, never forget to tell your friend or family family that you love them! My biggest listener and Mohit’s biggest listener has been Mom. Through the years, it was Mom who inspired us to be ourselves, learn anything we wanted and has always been there to listen to us when we needed her. I am so thankful for Mom to be there to listen to us talk about how we truly felt, when we would be struggling with depression or anxiety in college. I am thankful to be one of the lucky few Indians. Within our small community, we were the only kids who had a lot of space to be while growing up. Mom has given both me and Mohit a time full of nourishment, Music, Debates,Tennis,Horse Riding  and much laughter. For this the memories shall always kindle a dark haunted corner, where we continue to survive the worst day ever. From August 27th, 2016 until today on, we survive and thrive…

So today, Mom- Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Love,

Mohit’s sister.

How The Mind Can Wire The Brain Into Positive Thinking

Hey guys!

 

Happy Monday! We are back on! Today’s post is a guest post by me, Vidhi- Mohit’s sister! I was listening to the most interesting podcast this week by none other than the supremely lovable Jonathan Van Ness from Queer Eye! The topic was a discussion with Dr. Leaf about why do we internalize on negative experiences more than the positive?

I know I have definitely been guilty of thinking in this way. An example would be in which I would think more about maybe a day gone wrong at work or maybe a flight I missed or a bad date more than the good experiences. Why am I tearing out my hair at the bad experiences in life?

 

Dr. Leaf raises an interesting point that the mind can change the brain. Once I can find the one thing that makes me happy, then our mind can control our brain and we have the ability to create our own reality with the way we think. I tried to apply this in the simplest way possible because as hectic as life is, I do sometimes feel that we can be very unhappy because of the negative experiences that happen to us despite of having all the joys in life. So I reversed back into thinking about what is the smallest thing that makes me happy? For me it is having my cup of chai and watching the sun rise, every morning. I then started to put that into practice somehow at night feeling more positive about seeing the sun rise, to waking up without an alarm and seeing the sun rise each morning. This simple thing changed my perspective completely and actually enabled me to put my negative experiences into perspective. Let’s say for instance, I made a mistake while the work day was just going crazy and was feeling miserable about it. The old me would have wrecked out my brains about it for a whole week. Now I think, “oh well, what can I change right now so this does not happen again?”.

 

It is so true that as human beings we are wired towards an optimism bias. Our brains are just so conditioned to expect only the positive things be it a good day at work, an amazing conversation with a friend or even a good date, we are wired to block out the complete opposite. When we are faced with the opposite, the thought or action is just so jarring that we cannot accept and naturally just want to block it out. We can control how we react to the negative things in life even though we cannot control what happens. When we start to see things as negative from our minds then everything looks negative and we are damaging our brain cells. If we think differently about the situation, we think, feel and choose differently. Dr. Leaf’s science is correct. The mind can change the brain, if we re-wire the way we think, and we can create our own reality.

 

Do watch the podcast linked below and let me know of your thoughts!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayrp_518DK0)

 

See you all next Monday!

 

Love,

Mohit’s sister!

IT IS ALL IN THE PAGES

A room without books is like a body without a soul. For me, books were my best friends, my solace, my comfort.

 

I remember in school some boys proudly announcing how they read comics but have never read a book. Even sometimes, you hear adults say this as if they were into deep achievement and the sorry confession is often followed by a ‘who has the time excuse’ which really is a pathetic answer. You have time to watch nonsense on the TV or lie in bed and day dream or do nothing but you do not have time to read a book, that is unbelievable.

 

For me there was no greater pleasure than the thoughts of mankind between the pages of a book, eclectic yet gripping. Could be fiction, could be biographies, history, philosophy, doesn’t matter, it can only add to your knowledge especially if you do not agree with the content and can question it. This makes for a whole new dimension and I enjoyed it thoroughly, arguing in the battlefield of my mind every scenario that caught my fancy.

 

Bibliophilia or bibliophilism is the love of books, and a bibliophile or bookworm is an individual who loves and frequently reads books, though bookworm is sometimes used pejoratively. To that extent I am an unashamed bibliophile. What a wonderful thing to be.

I engaged with Mom and Vidhi a lot during Reading.I would demand their undivided attention as I would discuss the book with them.Once Mom remarked “Mohit Baba don’t you tire of reading,learn to relax”.I replied “Reading is so refreshing,how can you tire of Reading”I wore cargo pants so that I could keep my books handy in their pockets.

Wherever and whenever I ventured out of home I would always have a book with Me.While commuting or even going out for lunch or dinner I would read to my mom till the waiter got our food.Any minute I would see her idle or relaxing on the sofa or bed I would engage her with my reading and I kept a pile of books on her bedside to finish.I was reading till my deathbed since this is one of my most passionate hobbies.You die only once so you might as well do it gracefully.

 

 

Books reduce tension, stress and loneliness. You can never be lonely if you have a book which demands to be finished. If you read you speak better, you write better and you understand things better.

 

If you are one of those who has found refuge in social platforms and the insanity of pointless information about people who do not matter and will never be there for you do yourself a favour and change your life…go get a decent book and see the impact it makes.

 

An article in Reader’s Digest indicated how a Yale experiment detailed the advantages of reading.

 

“When practiced over a lifetime, reading and language-acquisition skills can support healthy brain functioning in big ways. Simply put: Word power increases brain power.

 

To understand why and what each of us can do to get the most out of our words, start by asking the same question the Yale team did: What is it about reading books in particular that boosts our brain power whereas reading newspapers and magazines doesn’t? For one, the researchers suggested, chapter books encourage “deep reading.” Unlike, say, skimming a page of headlines, reading a book (of any genre) forces your brain to think critically and make connections from one chapter to another, and to the outside world. When you make connections, so does your brain, literally forging new pathways between regions in all four lobes and both hemispheres. Over time, these neural networks can promote quicker thinking and may provide a greater defense against the worst effects of cognitive decay.”

 

I totally endorse this argument. No one could ever convince me not to read and for those who skim comics or magazine articles or look at pictures they have no idea what they are missing.

 

 

 

MA The Essence Of Space

In the dictionary it is translated as “gap”, “space”, “pause” or “the space between two structural parts.” The spatial concept is experienced progressively through intervals of spatial designation. In Japanese, ma, the word for space, suggests interval.

 

There is no better way of describing its intrinsic meaning than the way it is said by Unique Japan

 

“The Japanese concept of Ma is something that relates to all aspects of life. It has been described as a pause in time, an interval or emptiness in space. Ma is the fundamental time and space life needs to grow. If we have no time, if our space is restricted, we cannot grow. How we spend our time and shape the space we live in directly impacts our progress. These principles are universal, when applied effectively they enhance the way we think and how we engage with our surroundings.

 

We can visually identify with the meaning of Ma from its Japanese kanji symbol.

 

Ma combines door Door-Kanji-Character and sun Sun-Kanji-Character

 

Together these two characters depict a door through the crevice of which the sunlight peeps in.

 

Ma-Kanji-Character

 

We see in this symbol not only the outline of a door but a door that is open to light, thus enabling growth, sparking creativity, permitting freedom. This is Ma – the space between the edges, between the beginning and the end, the space and time in which we experience life.

 

Ma is filled with nothing but energy and feeling. It speaks of silence as opposed to sound, of lack as opposed to excess. It is the momentary pause in speech needed to convey meaningful words, the silence between the notes that make the music…

There is a need for Ma in every aspect and every day of our lives.”

I always had a yen for things Japanese, be it food ,décor or philosophy. For me the breakdown to simplicity and the basics was fascinating. I totally bought into the minimalist argument and believed in the years I was on earth that too many of us clutter up our space with unnecessary stuff, leaving no breathing room. Murakami was my favourite author. His piercing insight was breathtaking.

 

Space is not just a void but a courtesy in its giving to others around you. Whether family or friends we tend to choke each other with proximity and invade this sacred space.

 

Let the sun in, let there be a comfort in reducing clutter. And I do not just mean the rooms at home or workplace. I mean most importantly your mind needs to be decluttered. We do that and we think clearer, our relationships come into focus and we can arrange our priorities sensibly.

 

It is possible that if my Mom names the facility Ma it will in India be interpreted as mother. Which is fine by me because a mother knows instinctively all about space and clarity.

 

  Whether I was in New York or Dubai, I had worked out the practicality behind common items like the tooth brush holder,travel scissors,inch tape,sitting cushions,study table and how a Japanese mind would look at each one[.I bought all of these and many others from Muji my favourite shop.

 

Ma is a beautiful philosophy and one that anybody can espouse. It requires nothing more than dropping stuff you do not need and clearing your mind for the vital space.

What is Ma? Is it the word for mother? Or could it have several other meanings? I believe in the art of less. Less is more. The less things we possess, the more free is the mind and hence the spirit. I am not trying to preach to you. That was never my goal. I just want to engage in a moment of silence, peace, calm. A moment to pause. A moment to breath. As rushed as we all are, to sit in the front seat and feel the rush and adrenaline behind the wheel of life, we also need to pause on the road and watch the moment go by. That is Maah. The Japanese word for the space. The meaning of the pause and a moment to breath. I too was driven to achieve, to have the highest grade, to use every waking minute to good purpose. How often would I stop to pause or reflect? In this generation, are we more driven to keep on going and going until we just cannot go on? I feel we have become muted zombies, to our own desires to run and achieve. On and on in this cycle of prescription drugs, anxiety, depression, even more labels until we just stop going. What comes next? Looking within the inside of ourselves, by taking a moment to breath can bring many wonders to the current moment. Whatever our state of agitation, anxiety, depression or our innermost battle, we can overcome with a moment to breath, live and remember that the essence is the self and to believe what we are made of. Hence the meaning of Ma.

 

 

Why do we need each other?

As short as my life was on this earth, I sought out to understand the human

condition of suffering and happiness as though they were juxtaposed within

the same plane. Somehow, what would seem to be a very miniscule part of

this seemingly vast universe, seemed to connect us all together. I am only

a drop in the ocean of consciousness, the seeming infinite, just a blip on

the radar. One day, we all will perish as such is the mortal flesh. What

remains are the connections we make with each other and the openness

with which we welcome life. My time on this earth was short but the one

thing I was always thankful for was having various people who came into

my life and gave me the chance to engage with them. I never thought of

myself as young and only twenty-one. In my soul, I had crossed all years of

life and only chose to live in the present and right here, right now. I only

understood the moment somebody walked into my room, my space, be it

the seat next to me in the classroom, or the seat next to me in a coffee

shop, or a museum, I turn to you and give you my full and undivided

attention. In the few minutes that you and I have spent together, we have

crossed several lifetimes across all of space and time. In the few minutes

that we have shared, my dearest friend, I have had the greatest joy in

simply learning more about you, what makes you happy, what do you like,

what do you dislike and just simply listening. I am in awe because you are

a human being just like me, and we both crossed minds. Yes, it is true that

I went through depression and struggles and so do you every day.

Engaging in simple conversation about anything under the sun, took away

my stress, took away your stress and together we felt that we can

overcome the struggle of having depression. We all need each other to

engage in the minds. In our minds, we can overcome any struggle as long

as we engage actively with what we are truly feeling deep within. Yes, it is

tragic that I did not have the chance to engage as much as I would have

wanted to because there was a darker cloud beyond my understanding that

just shrouded my judgement. I simply could not express some days

constantly feeling numb and in a zombie like state. I did everything for my

own mental health, as by the book which was to have a doctor, a counselor

and a support system. I took the medications as prescribed by my

psychiatrist, never abused them and took them very sparingly out of fear

that I don’t know what they could do to me, but I only found myself become

more into a zombie like state… Why inspite of taking this medicine that is

supposed to cure me of my mental illness, am I feeling even more

 

darkness inside? I am trying and trying and trying like Sisyphus. Doctor,

Counselor, Supportive Parents, Supportive Sister, Supportive Friends but

why am I still feeling all this darkness? Can there really be anything in that

bottle that can make me feel better?

THE PLEASURES OF PUBLIC SPEAKING

 There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who like and exult in public performances and those who live in a perpetual state of stage fright. You have to be a little mad and little odd in the head to volunteer to address an audience, I imagine a stand up comic has the worst options but even in school and college some of us are cursed and blessed by the ability to go up there and stand ‘naked’ before an army of strangers.

 

I was one of those but I could never figure out what makes us tick or what it is that compels us to do what most people can feel sick just thinking about the possibility that they might be called on stage.

 

Take school debates and elocution contests, where it all begins. The dry mouth, the butterflies in the stomach, the sense of dread and wanting to run away or have the ground just swallow you and then they call your name and your mind goes blank and you wish you were a thousand miles away,why would anyone want to punish themselves in this fashion.

 

And then the mike is on and your audience is a sea of faces, expectant and waiting and before you know it, the anxiety lifts like an aircraft leaving the runway and you soar with the words being the wind under your wings and the world is your oyster and you know you are truly blessed because you are articulate and you can argue and think and rationalize and place things in perspective and put out there for the world your take on an issue. It is a gift and it is something so special.

 

In the Big Fish collection they say: Public speaking is the number one fear in America.  Death is number two.From sweaty palms to cracking voices, speaking publicly can be terrifying, yet it is a crucial skill to have in the business world.

 

Author Alexander Gregg gave good advice: “There are three things to aim at in public speaking: first, to get into your subject, then to get your subject into yourself, and lastly, to get your subject into the heart of your audience.”

 

I loved it. I loved being there establishing that magical contact with friends and mates and strangers and yes, of course, we have to be a bit crazy in the head, but if you can fall in love with the power and the glory or speech in public and orate while others only talk, you will know that there is something so heady about those minutes up on the stage as if for a brief, shining moment you own the world. You wish to conquer stage fright just know what you are speaking about and believe in it…the rest will follow.

 

For me those occasions were very special and you know how well you have done and spoken and it is not the prizes and the awards (though I got those also) but the confidence you get when you address even an audience of one or one thousand.

THE PAIN OF WAITING

 There was a time not so long ago when a doctor’s skills extended to what was known as the bedside manner. That was an indication of how comfortable he made his patients and gave them confidence. When I was studying medicine in New York I would see this  qualitative and quantitative difference in the doctors around me. Some are crusty and short and have no time but may be brilliant in their performance as surgeons. Others are gentle and make good listeners. Still others establish a rapport by involving the families and sharing the facts with them honestly and without drama. In the daily unfolding of the human drama I discovered that people can take honesty a lot more than we give them credit for and if anything, are upset by being treated like children and patronized. They also do not like being kept in the dark and are often resentful of how support staff sideline them.

 

Perhaps one of the most vital elements in the practice of medicine is the suspense doctors create in getting results. Granted, there is often a long line and there has to be a waiting period but the bureaucratic approach of coming after ‘x’ days causes so much suspense and through it, tangible tension and even I would say a deterioration in the condition of the patient brought about by the stress of not knowing. And worrying about that.

 

I am aware that some tests take time to get results but with today’s machinery and state of the art computerized technology a urine or blood test can be basically analysed in minutes so telling someone on a Monday to come next week is unnecessary.

 

By this argument CT scans, ultrasounds, ECGs, x-rays and MRIs may need a day or two for the complete report to be written and dispatched to the said doctor but surely the patient who has just lain there and been radiated can be given a reassuring remark or two right there pending the final report like don’t see anything to worry about. Imagine how much reduction that would cause in stress levels.

 

So why does medicine globally delay sharing results and not factor in the negative impact of holding the answers.

 

I once asked a senior doctor this and he said, while much of it was an increased workload the reason why medicine per se had shifted towards being over cautious was because of fear of legal implications. If we prematurely cheer someone up, he said, and then discover something unpleasant, the shock of that would be far worse. Also, if you are not on duty and another doctor interprets the results differently to you then who is responsible. Because of these reasons and the fact that it is more dangerous to give false hope the baby has been thrown out with the bathwater. Now, even if you are viewing an ultrasound for a stone in the bladder and can see it makes no sense telling the patient to come on Monday because we are closed tomorrow.

We Have To Raise Awareness

Albert Einstein once said “The world is a dangerous place ,not because of those who do evil,

but because of those who look on and do nothing.This is so true in today’s time and  place where we live.

The Mental Illness concept they are trying to sell to people ,that you have so an so in your head

which is making you feel like this,so just pop a pill and it will even you out,probably results in more

illnesses in society because they are Creating A FEAR of diseases in people.This is exactly what is happening with Mental Illness and for this reason the problem is soaring but everybody is trying to turn a blind eye or brush off the reason.

The ill effects somehow get swept under the carpet.Because the treatment is allegedly well meant

The issue is muted and not talked enough.Even when there is so much evidence strewn around

Articles relating to Mental illness in New York Times and dailies around the world we refuse to see anything untoward about the doctors role in treating the patient.We always point out that it is the individual’s problem and he is to blame and there is stigma around talking about Mental Illness.The child or the individual took his life and this is becoming an epidemic now,so the individual needs to go to the doctor as in Psychiatrist for treatment and he or she will be fine.

There is no such thing,infact it is like a revolving door syndrome where I went to the doctor with only being sad and ended up with real Depression after her treatment and became a victim and all along I was under the impression that I was guilty.

She did not bother why or from where the complaints of anxiety were coming since that would mean curing my sadness but instead during every visit she went on increasing the dose and adding other medications to get the cumulative power to be effective.Just made me worse every visit while my brain was being fried with tons and tons of more symptoms during her treatment which she prolonged for more than two years.

The meds she put me on are dangerous and create and cause an exacerbation of the symptoms they are purported to treat.They move you to the next level of Mental Breakdown.The problem is not that these meds don’t work but they cause harm and as Physicians you are not supposed to harm people.

Every doctor should follow ethics since they are dealing with human lives.These meds are not your normal Ipu Brufen which you get over the counter.These meds have their own Inherent Adverse Drug Reactions and are the leading cause of Iatrogenic deaths in the world.So doctors need to be more careful with treating patients with anxiety and depression since here the patients cannot be partners in their treatment unlike in other areas of medicine.They are not aware of what is happening to them and are confused because of the medication.I was just vulnerable because I was doing Med School.

Paternalism alone works in Psychiatry where the moral responsibility lies with the treating doctor especially in countries where there is HIPA law and nothing about the child’s treatment is told to the parents or sibling under the guise of care and concern,when there is a clear black box warning that the doctor is not supposed to give these medications to individuals under 25.I was only 19 when I was given these meds to help me not to stress and concentrate more,but did the med’s achieve this purpose.It is a clear NO.So how do you look away and turn a blind eye to the prevailing pervasive atmosphere.

Mom alone will not be able to fight this life threatening issue of darkness.Today it has happened to me.Tomorrow it can happen to you.Will you stand up with me?Can we work together to save lives?

Please respond by sending your email ids and subscribing.It is free.

Mohits

 

SUCH A WASTE OF TIME

 I always believed that the one thing for which we have very little respect is time. Until we run out of it for whatever reason. Say the word ‘time’ and the two most common associations are ‘time and tide wait for no one’ and ‘it’s about time.’ Beaten by the one we ask five times a day at least, ‘what time is it?

 

And the criminal part is we kill it for others. Even young people do it. If we have a homework meeting at 11 don’t come 45 minutes late. If we are playing cricket on a holiday what pleasure is there in having held the game up.

Friends can be terrible. See you in the park at 4 and now it is way past and no sign.

 

It always annoyed me to be with people who see nothing wrong in being late and instead of apologising are so casual About it. Like cool it, relax, take it easy, what’s your problem?

My problem is you for being late.

 

 If you take out sleep as the single longest investment in a 24-hour cycle standing and waiting comes a strong second.

 

Waiting for things to happen, transport to arrive, people to meet, places to reach, traffic jams to navigate, minutes and hours squandered in simply standing by.

 

 So trained are we to accept this premise as being perfectly sane none of ask why the system does not change to save time. As much as technology tells us it is having a direct impact on our lives the human factor does not change so you have robotic reminder calls for your mid-day appointment and a alert and a warning call telling you to be there on time for the doctor to see you and you adjust and do all that and then the doctor is an hour late.

 

Indeed, there are people in our lives who contribute to this wastage and massacre the minutes.

 

 Fetch up at an office for a pre-arranged meeting at ten to eleven after sending you the address and that newfangled schedule sheet and now it is way past but the door stays shut.

You have to have very little self-confidence if you get your jollies making folks hang around outside your office. I think people who are most secure would see you at once and get you out of the way.

 

 

Then there is the guy who initiates the meet but on the day hands you to one of his minions because he is far too preoccupied. “Sorry no can’t stay, have an important meeting”.

 

But there is nothing worse than the man who asks you to come from 20 kilometres away and just when you are parking and have shot a huge hole in your work day thanks to this arrangement you get a call from one of his aides to say he has had to cancel. For sheer inconsideration this is hard to beat. Wouldn’t you have known earlier that you would not be available at the specific time and been a little more thoughtful about the person toiling all the way to you for nothing.

 

Another person who annoys me in this time killing sphere is the chap who invites you into his office on time and you are awed there are still people like that except that once you have sat down he either pushes off from his chair and canters off somewhere or gets on the phone to chat to someone or his secretary comes in with a sheaf of papers and you are now an unwilling witness to this charade and your time is being gobbled up and you are truly trapped.

 

 There must be a reason why people think it is okay to waste your time but I was never able to find out.

THE ANATOMY OF A CONSPIRACY

One of the ironies of my short life on earth is that a doctor gave me these meds that scrambled my brain even as I was training to be a doctor.

 

I was too young to realise or prove that there existed some nexus between the medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry with both scratching each other’s backs.

 

After I shuffled off the mortal coil so to speak my mother engaged in a great deal of research to try and uncover evidence of this contract and what it was doing to people on campus. And the more she researched the more material she discovered of what almost amounted to a conspiracy across the globe with often an official sanction. Dozens of high level and very well accomplished individuals have gone on record to show that prescription meds, commonly called uppers and downers and anti-anxiety and anti-depression regimens are money making machines that simply so not care of the impact they have on young minds. It is a sobering thought that the global prescription drug market is expected to grow by 6% from 2016 to 2022 to reach nearly USD 1.05 trillion by 2022.

 

The odd thing is that despite her efforts and the efforts of thousands of medical practitioners and others the public still resists believing it. As a result the flow is unabated and young people on campus keep falling prey to drugs that finally capture them as surely as the spider’s web captures a fly.

 

So even if I was to discount much of it because the research is at home you just cannot be so shortsighted where your children are concerned and pretend this issue is non existent.

 

The Guardian carried an incredibly insightful article. It does not matter what you call these drugs dispensed almost freely. Recreational they are not. Smart drugs, study drugs, eye openers, the valley of the dolls is full of it. The newspaperwrites:

 

Universities must do more to tackle the growing number of students turning to “smart drugs” to cope with exam stress, leading academics have said.

 

 UK institutions are being called on to consider measures such as drug testing to stem the rise of cognitive enhancement drugs being used by young people to improve their academic performance.

 

 As hundreds of thousands of students across the UK prepare to sit their summer exams in coming weeks, Thomas Lancaster, an associate dean at Staffordshire University, said we were entering a “dangerous world” where students have access to the “study drugs”. He called on universities to have “frank discussions” with students and to develop policies around their use.

 

 Students used to take drugs to get high. Now they take them to get higher grades. That very sentence is so loaded with intent it should scare you.

 

 “Universities need to seriously consider how to react to the influx of smart drugs on campus. Educating students about smart drugs and seeing if they view this as cheating is important here. If the trend continues, universities may need to think about drug testing to ensure the integrity of the examination process,” Lancaster said.

 

 Smart drugs, also known as nootropics, are a group of prescription drugs used to improve concentration, memory and mental stamina during periods of study. The most commonly used ones are Modafinil, Ritalin and Adderall. These substances are normally used to treat disorders such as narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder  

THE POWER AND GLORY OF ANGER

 Even at a young age I never lost my temper but that does not mean I did not get angry. Things and situations anger me and I do believe that everyone of us should display outrage over specific conditions.

 

In my land these are hills: People who invade my privacy. Bill collectors, Rudeness,Crassness, Greed,Spotting clay feet, Being let down. Finding I have let down someone. Deceit, Wars, Attacks on children, Injustice period but especially that which indicts the socially weak, Racism, Violence,Nepotism, Bad drivers, Poor writing, Second rate humour, The success of mediocrity, Endless list.

In life then come the mountains.

I was very vocal as a child and I seethed to see injustice, poverty, illness especially in children, exploitation, the ridiculous caste system and the store we hold by it while denying it. But nothing stirred my gore as much as racial profiling and colour prejudice.I often pointed out these gories to mom and Vidhi,I wanted them to be like me,I was very obsessive and protective towards my family and would share with them everything,

 

 It was beyond me to understand how the colour of one’s skin counted in assessing one’s standing.

But the world has never been fair.

 There is a gentler anger. At yourself for getting fooled. For trusting in the wrong folks. In losing out when you should have won. it makes you strive, seek and not yield. Anger at not seeking the writing on the wall, knowing you are walking on thin ice and only figuring out the obvious when you have been frosted and drenched.

 

  If you are seething at a high temp because you are so annoyed by the status quo you might even let it fuel your drive to change things for the better and right the wrong.

 

 I like people who get angry about sloppiness. Those who have low tolerance for waste. Who mock vanity and status symbols. Folks who walk a mile to pick up the fallen stone and put it back again because it bugs them. They have feelings, they want to make that difference.

Be angry when you see something patently wrong and do something about it. But do not lose your temper as I said.  There is a big difference in the two.

 

 Most of us never see the difference because the ‘shout’ is our yardstick for measuring the ‘bad mood.’ Spouses, parents, bosses, the finger to an errant driver, road rage, aggression in looking for a fight, feeling slighted because you are wearing your thinnest skin, throwing things, these are our usual optics for ‘anger’ but in going through life with this attitude we so dramatically fail to understand its true worth. Martin Luther King was angry because he was blocked by the colour of his skin. So he fought the good fight as did Nelson Mandela. Gandhi was angry about caste and colonialism and poverty and channeled that rage into a cry for freedom.

 

 Political activist Emmeline Pankhurst was furious over the inability of women to vote ad created the suffragette movement. Bobby Kennedy declared war on the narcotic trade because it was destroying a generation and gave his life in the bargain. Conservationist Dian Fosey fought for the rights of the gorillas trapped in the mist of greed and died at the hands of poachers. Erin Brokovich took on a massive corporation because they were poisoning the waters. All these people had one thing in common.

They were angry.

Go for the majesty in rage. It is there, in every one of us, see what makes you stay awake at night because it is so unfair and cruel then make that difference.

 

At a certain point let the world know that your opinion does count even if you look back in anger at your anger.

 

 

AN ONGOING TRAGEDY

 Somewhere some child is having fun throwing snowballs. Another going to school to garner an education. Several others tucking in to a warm meal on a cold day. Playing a game of soccer on a proper field. Inhaling the fragrance of childhood.

 

 Not this kid of the dark side of the planet. The epitome of this tragic situation. They took away his childhood through no fault of his own. He never even got a chance. And like him over 12 million children live today in refugee camps and as high as 50 million are displaced. As many as 10 million are used in trafficking and that number is rising.

 

In my time on earth I always believed that a nation’s future lies in the way it treats its children for they are not only the father of man but they inherit the legacy. It always pained me to see how cavalier the world is to the agony of the child. I used to rail against it unable to understand why it was not given priority and some solution found.

 

This huge number are trapped in thin soup tents and on the rations of charity do not yell with joy when they stand in minus zero temperatures, they scream with agony at the unfairness of it all. They do not ask what’s for dinner, they quietly take what is given and with each passing day they become more forgotten people.

 

According to the UN and Save the Child, they have left everything behind to escape conflict, violence and persecution. Many have experienced profound physical and emotional traumas. Some are missing years of school, severely compromising their futures. Children travelling alone are especially vulnerable – if they make it at all. Others are starved out of their homelands due to drought and conflict.

 

Even as governments sit in heated conference rooms, sipping tea with biscuits there seems to be very little chance of giving them back their childhood.It does not matter which nation they are from. Children have no nationality and it is a long and grey winter. Indeed, some of them will perish, victims to the cold. Still others will be dragged by hopeful parents escaping one hell across hugely troubled waters or dangerously nasty terrain and entering another. Many will grow up asking why and no one will answer them because there is no answer to give.

 

And more are coming. Because the wars are not ending, they are widening in their scope and no one seems to care enough to spike the guns and reverse the flow of refugees.

 

Does it really matter who runs a country if there is no one left in it, if a whole generation is rent asunder. How is everyone so blind that they cannot see that a country, any country soaked in blood and tears is a killing field not a country.

 

If you have let them in then let them in totally. You cannot have them growing up in ghettos with no lifeline to a life.

 

 

SPORTS IS THE BEST JUDGE OF ALL

Last week I talked to you about education and its importance and how the young often take it for granted and treat it with genial contempt only to realise in later years what a folly it was.

 

I believe it builds character and character is something that is both tangible and yet, intangible in that you do not see it until it manifests itself. They say that integrity is how you behave when no one is looking. In this grab and run era the world is going through with its ‘me first’ approach to greed and avarice one of the best trials for judging character and seeing people for what they are when the mask falls is the sports arena. It is amazing how the physical competitiveness brings out the real person, warts and all.

 

 Now, in the few years I had on earth, I cannot say that I was a particularly special athlete. I was not. But exercise held great meaning for me and I took a healthy body concept very seriously.

 

And I watched the world of sport closely. Now we all know someone whom we have held in great esteem and we have a pre-conceived notion of that person’s value system. Then one day, the scales fall off and we are sad and shocked witness to bad behavior on the field of sport. A bad loser, an arrogant winner, a cheat, someone who fudges or loads the dice unfairly, a dozen different ways of displaying bad form. This does not gel with image you had with that person. But you have been there, seen that.

 

The call of the ‘out’ when the ball was in, the moving of the golf ball from a rough and conning a stroke out of it, fouling the opponent deliberately, refusing to surrender gracefully and walking away like when we were kids and if in the game of backlot cricket we were given out by leg before or run out we sulked and took our ball and went home. By the same token the  snobbery of victory and the lack of genuine humility can be as galling.Like when I played Tennis at the Tennis Academy Of Ahmedabad,it was right across grandma’s villa so mom used to keep me and Vidhi productively occupied for a couple of hours but there was a spoilt brat there who would not let us hit the balls and would again and again cut the line and hit the balls himself.Mom got angry and she complained to the coach who refused to see wrong so she asked me not to let the child cut the line but if this guy had no decency even though he was much elder to me I refused to play along and do what he did.Finally mom realized she was wasting time there and we stopped playing Tennis in Ahmedabad.There are no rules everybody does what they want and get away with it.

 

These are not flaws, these are character traits and will be reflected in every sphere of activity by that person. We do not see it because we do not wish to see it and very often it is camouflaged by the accoutrements of office and the symbols of power. All that gets stripped away on the playing field of life and we are left with reality.

 

The odd thing is how reliable this litmus test is because the human race cannot pretend to be what it is not in physical competition. We can be ruthless, cruel, hurtful, downright ugly in our desire to win and it probably is rooted in primitive caveman history but it still holds good.

 

So use sport as your yardstick for taking a man’s measure. And if you discover a glitch in the behaviour of the field of play don’t do business with that person for sure as the sun rises, the very same trait will show up in the office.

THE VITAL IMPORTANCE OF KNOWING

When I was in school in Dubai and lived in the relatively crowded and lively part of Bur Dubai I met several kinds of young people. The ones that intrigued me most were those who were cavalier about their studies. They had this nonchalant attitude towards their classes like how to fudge homework, how to con the parents over their progress reports, a loping approach that totally undermined the importance of education. Not just the curriculum as is given for the year but in using the time to imbibe knowledge and read eclectic books and just learn even if it was watching National Geographic, which by the way, is pretty serious stuff.

 

The odd thing is that I had an ambivalent approach to them. On the one side I envied the freedom of their indifference where a cricket ball had more significance and fights over trivial pursuits marked our evenings in the building compound and taking sides assumed warlike proportions Sun Tzu would have been impressed by.

 

On the other I often felt like expressing my dismay that they were squandering such valuable time and failing to feed their minds with marvelous information about the marvel of this planet and the system it was integrated to…I could rhapsodise all day.

 

For me school  was a benediction. It wasn’t just the formal periods that attracted me. It was the library, the gut wrenching butterflies in the stomach on stage before you engage in vigorous debate, a feeling like none other when you make a point, in soaring with good poetry and enjoying rapport with strong prose,feeling the mind being nourished.

 

I was not a stuffed shirt nor judgemental or boringly academic. That is not what I advocate, people whose families make them swot sixteen hours a day and sit for an assortment of examinations and sit for various aptitude tests in a mad hurtle to beat the others.

 

I chose to beat only one individual…myself. I was my own challenge and I thrived on it. Even today the world sadly has not changed. Technology and the ether have combined to create more diversions that have no playoff and no outcome. Simply eating up the minutes engaging in futile exercise, playing video games, watching screen where others are active and your mind and body are inactive,spending hours texting and messaging and establishing rickety relationships with no future.

 

Where does it all get them? It is like going round and round in a circle and not getting anywhere. Even the elevator goes up and down but these pastimes are just that…passed time.

 

Even sport has dwindled. The privileged have playing fields that are largely vacant. The poor have tin cans and torn tennis balls in an alley and at least they try.

 

My argument with friends who thought school was a pain (and they were still friends) was that this is the best period of our lives to learn: languages, cultures, about other lands, traditions, history, geography, the arts and sciences, so much to know, so many miles to go. Why thumb a lift when the train has long gone?

Sorry for posting the article late because of travelling and different time zones.

 

THERE IS LIFE BEYOND MONEY

To me money was never an end. Always a convenience, nothing more. I understand its value and would never denigrate its importance because it is a commodity which eases the path and makes life easy. You can access good books, a clean life, edible food, potable water, things we take for granted until you do not have them,and long for them.

But that said, I would never have run after it. My part of the world there is this tendency to assess a person’s worth as a person by that individual’s financial status. This aspect always amused me. Coming as I do from a Sindhi background where money is of the essence and the primary; measuring stick for any deal or relationship this always amused me. People can be good, bad or plain ugly regardless of their fiscal status. But around me I would see that the esteem people were held in and the respect shown was often in direct proportion to wealth.

 

Even in my few years as a young adult I would be appalled by the amount of energy and effort that went into striving for more. Seeing as how you cannot take it with you and would probably have to leave it behind on earth for a squabbling and ungrateful progeny what is the point of it all. Have enough to be comfortable and use that precious time to nourish the mind and learn and imbibe and absorb and enrich yourself in ways beyond that of mere avarice.

 

Look at it this way.  Beyond a point you do not need more. These then turn from conveniences into collections and symbols of ego. You cannot sit in three cars at the same time or eat six course meals a day and wastage becomes your outlet.

 

If you are fortunate to have that kind of liquidity use it for the greater good. I have watched people wallow in competitive misery and literally fall sick with envy over another’s good fortune while pushing themselves to the outer limits in order to get more…and more.

 

There is an old saying; if you don’t stop to smell the roses what is the point of having a rose garden. Exactly. What is the point. You can go through a life and have nothing to show for it but things that., in the final analyses, have no value.

 

We begin to believe our own inflated importance. We think people look up to us and yet, the very rich live their lives pockmarked by suspicion over everyone else’s motives. 

 

If you are a young person by all means chase the rainbow and make a success of yourself. But enhance your mind along with the physical comfort zone. If you do not do that you are losing out on the most important element of life; grand thought.

 

I am so happy that in the little time I had on earth I spent it in learning.Mom would always tell me “Mohit you know too much for your age.” Eclectic certainly but always with the idea of knowing more, a thirst for knowledge that cannot be quenched. My teachers,school and friends always looked upto me for this quality of mine.

 Like I always said, money helps but it is not the bottom line, not by a long shot.

Friends And How They Count

Mohit Halloween

In the few years on earth I never underestimated the importance of friendship. As human relations go it is right up there on top with family. Friends are like carriages on a train, each inexorably linked to the other and going in the same direction.

We undervalue and take it for granted not realizing that it is a grievous loss. And because of our carelessness a carriage occasionally gets shunted off the train.

 

Have you ever outgrown a friend? It is a great tragedy and one that hurts but it happens.

 

 Like you were inseparable and then there was a time gap and now you meet again and it’s like leftover pudding, all cold and clammy.

 

 And out of courtesy to the past you try to re-ignite that togetherness but you might as well be lighting the matchstick in the wind because there is no kindling there to capture the flame.

 

It has gone.

 

 And that is a mystery I have never been able to solve. I guess that is the advantage of not having too many friends. I could count mine on both hands,  and they have, by and large, hung in there by the skin of their teeth and if  we could meet it would be magical because we could  pick up the strings and run with them.

 

But once in a way in school and college I have had this dismaying experience of crossing paths with someone who was close and making that absurd arrangement to meet up and try and yank back the passage of time but it is a disaster and I wonder why we couldn’t have just made a lot of noise and hugged and slapped each other’s backs and exclaimed how super it was instead of getting all snarled up in the knots of a history that is  irrelevant and heated by fake warmth.

 

I remember returning from college and some of  us in those few years had gone onto different routes and there was nothing in common anymore.

 

 When it becomes worse is when we descend upon each other and invade the home and then the initial excitement turns   to mud the first evening itself when you figure out with ultra HD clarity that you are not the same people anymore and this pretence is torturous.

 

Wish we had the courage to walk away and not carry on the charade. Both sides would be happy and relieved because the other person is suffering as much as you are.

 

I would rather be known as a lone wolf (which I was) than be saddled with faux friends.

 

 People tell me that this is because they were not real friends in the first place. Claptrap. They were the closest people to you. It is just the time, place and life has changed. When you were friends you were very good friends and I never apologise for that. We shared experiences, problems, were there for each other and had each other’s support. We laughed and we cried and we cared enough.

 

I am also sorry the magic faded. It happens.

 

 But no need to lament the loss at the expense of the good times.

SPICING UP STREET STUFF

Let’s lighten up and make this blog a little more fun for the next couple of weeks. Every now and then I mention the importance of food and how its being well prepared is the cornerstone of civilized lifestyle.

This restaurant my Mum opened in Mumbai deserves some of her signature dishes and I am hoping that will come to pass. But let me start off with three of her very yummy dishes. I know I cannot quite market her two precious ingredients which are lashings of love and the equivalent of a gardener’s green thumb in the kitchen…for these people culinary magic just happens.

Sometimes, and anyone who is a gourmet or foodie will agree, it is the simple stuff that has to be elevated to a high level to underscore the difference between a good cook and a genius. My Mom has always been a whizz with street foods and it is this category that is the true test for innovation and imagination, not to mention the treat for the taste buds.

Which is why I am going to start with the humble staple of the city of Mumbai, a simple yet provocative dish that has become a symbol of the metro.

The vada pao hits the spot so here goes.

Ingredients and Method:-

Fry most gently white Urad (split white gram) dal in a little oil in pan. When it turns pink add

Mustard seeds, asafoetida (hing) curry leaves, green chillies,chopped garlic and mix together on a low heat. Make sure you add turmeric (haldi powder) ensuring you  put it last.

Now take the boiled and mashed potatoes and create a smooth mix which you then make small balls of this filling and keep aside.

Shift attention to making the batter for the pakoras or dumplings.

Heap of gram flour depending on the size of the serving.

Salt to taste and a pinch of soda and turmeric powder.

Add  water to make the pakoda batter and coat the filling with this batter. Then fry the Vadas.

Cut the bread rolls or pao  into two, apply some butter as liberally as you like. Now, comes the difference. Place garlic and red chili paste on the pao and also some green mint chutney. When the vada is drenched in these spices roast it  on both sides on a hot plate (tava) and serve.

Give it a shot. It’s scrumptious.

 

Here is another street dish that can wow any table.

The Kachori is another bestseller.

Take flour 1 kg,oil or ghee 200 grams, salt to taste and 20 grams baking soda.

Knead this into a semi stiff dough and roll kachoris

For the filling  you need ½ Kg Farsan,20 grams eating soda, salt, red chili powder,coriander, some garam masala(Indian spice) and 50 gms oil.

Now mash this filling.

Remember, if you are using Moong dal filling soak the dal for 4 hours.

Grind it coarsely and saute in oil with ½ t of gram flour so that the dal does not stick to the pan.

Then add all the other ingredients and  put the filling into the kachoris.

Now, gently fry on slow flame.

You cannot get enough of them.

 

WHO WILL JUDGE THE JUDGES

If you start an article with the word ‘education’ in the first sentence the odds are that people will switch off and stop reading. No hugely important issue like education gets so much lip service and yes, neither parents or often even teachers and the authorities want to create a bespoke system that addresses the student’s strengths and makes him the better for it. Let him or her flourish in that element rather than languish in mass and arbitrary education.  The trouble with the mass system is that your abilities get crushed and you are measured by the teacher’s skills and likes and dislikes. During my school days I was very often mystified by how a teacher can at this tender age make or destroy a student’s self-confidence with a passing criticism. It is such a powerful position to be in, to tell a 14 year old he is not ‘good enough’ or ‘you will never mount to anything’ and expect it not to have a deep impact on the psyche.

 

In the Indian system this sort of cutting down is rife. Teachers do not have the luxury of giving individual attention and the teaching and the marking and the assessments sometimes depend entirely on mood. All your years from the time you start the 9th grade, you are told that your board exams are extremely important and your lack of discipline towards preparing for the yearly boards is a failure in your very character. There was no subject I loved more than English ever. I loved learning everything I could about the English language and never did I leave any stone unturned when it came to writing and grammar. I was so ahead of the game that I often considered pulling back a bit so as not to tee off the teacher.

 

In some ways I was threatening and needed(?) cutting to size. This teacher was good enough and had the confidence not to penalise me for being outstanding.

 

Yet, I was more crushed than ever when my English subject board grade was 88 and somebody else who had never worked as hard to learn about the English language as I did got a 96. My gut turned into a black deep hole and never not even my overall grade of 95% or a photograph in the newspaper can ever overturn or neutralise what I felt in that moment. Lost. Beaten. While preparing for the boards, we were always told that no matter how hard you study, your grade will not always be in the exact proportion to what you prepared for as you don’t know who is grading your paper.

 

It is this random nature of the marking and the cruel fact that we do not know who is judging us ensures that we do not have our day in court and are left to wonder what prejudices and biases the stranger whom we will never meet brings to bear to give us a grade. A grade that stays with us forever and often dictates the path our life will take into adulthood.

 

Surely, in any logical system at this formative level we, the students should be allowed  to face our accuser so to speak and be convince of why a B+ grade failed to be an A.

ONLY THE WEAK WALK AWAY

You might find this contradictory but the one thing I had little time for, was those who gave in. Giving in is not only the weak one’s way out of a problem, it is also a loser thing to do. You have heard the old saying when the going gets going the tough get going.

Except for that damned Saturday when the meds they put me on got me to the cliff. I was always the sort of person who looked a challenge in the eye and went for it. From studies to sports to holding on to an argument in a debate there was no looking back .On the contrary my mom was always after me not to pressure myself,but things came so easy to me that I had to explain to her that I was not pressurizing myself but doing things casually since I was good at listening and observering everything came easy to me so there was never any pressure except peer pressure.

The fact that you started something means you have seen something worthwhile in it. It didn’t just have to be a whim, you had a plan. Then the plan went off the rails. Now while there is this possibility that whatever you saw was flawed or wrongly perceived. But it is more likely that what you saw was derailed not because it was intrinsically weak but because its execution stuttered and stumbled thanks to the human factor.

Misplaced faith and trust in the staff and the managers and those you hired. Now that is not the fault of the idea. You might well have chosen the wrong people out of sentiment, blood ties, being conned and charmed (same thing) or on recommendation. Then you trusted because you have to till you discover you have been taken for a ride. Now, you replace the manpower and what happens you choose wrong again or your luck does not support you and even the ones with the best credentials con you.

If it is not poor staff it is either poor positioning and advertising and lack of structure. Pretty much like how I used to prepare for a debate. We didn’t win top prizes by ad libbing and hoping. We practiced and then we practiced again and went about presenting arguments for and against with the confidence of knowing we were working from a blueprint.

All to often we blame outside influences without looking internally and seeing how we can put our project back on the cards. Whenever I studied I would say to myself work according to a plan, do not deviate from it because it is those people who land in hot water and splash about but get nowhere.
Look around you at what you call success. It did not just happen. They messed up too but the difference is they were willing to learn from their mistakes and most importantly they had no intentions of repeating their errors.

That is where the smarts are…in recognizing why the train is going off track and then doing something about it.

Don’t walk away.

Yes, I know, I am a great one to talk seeing as how you believe I walked away from the biggest prize of all…life.

I didn’t. I never would have. It is the mind that had been hijacked leaving the shell of a brain behind. Like a prisoner held at ransom that is what these prescriptions do. But while my sanity was in tact, I never gave up on anything. Even the steak at Caeser’s was underdone I struggled to finish it all or had it cooked again but I never left a morsel in my plate. Let no one say differently, if it was on my plate I dealt with it, never leaving the table till the job was done.

NO REFUGE IN BLISS

 

Life is funny. On one side of the spectrum people fighting to save their lives, stuck in no man’s land, staring death in the face.  Getting up in the morning to the sound gunfire, not birds. On the other, at exactly the same moment, people worrying about whether their hairdresser’s appointment will be possible. It must be wonderful to have a life in which trivia assumes such monumental proportions, where dinner list invitations are clutched like they were security blankets and the housemaid’s insolence forms the staple grist for conversation. It must be wonderful to have no greater anxiety in a day than worrying about what clothes to wear or whether it’s time to buy a new car or feel excited that you spent a mini-fortune at a Sale.

 

Rich people, indolent people, the lotus eaters of the world, fat and sleek and amazed forever that everyone is not as swathed in exquisite nothingness as them.

 

The best part about such people, for whom life never shuts a door but simply keeps opening windows, is that they can bring everything else down to their level, trivialise it with such panache and ease that you can come off sounding absurd and off-key, almost phony just for caring. Talk to them about Iraq or discuss global warming and they tut tut and wish to know what you are doing for the weekend…there are great weekend deals this year.

 

It always depressed me. Not in the clinical sense but in the incredible imbalance of values in our world.

 

It must really be wonderful to be so delightfully ignorant of everything except your immediate wants and desires and blessed enough to get them answered by lackeys responding to the imperious whim. No causes, no goals but today, to live life floating on material morass, unfettered by the folly of questioning it.

 

It must be wonderful never to be jobless or be short of money, or untouched by grossness, never to be helpless and vulnerable, to allow thought and knowledge of the other kind to penetrate the curtain and work you up. Wonderful to be placid and unmindful, just finger the pearls around the neck. If they break, so what? Go get another.

 

And then there are some of us who don’t wake up in the morning because they never went to sleep in the first place. Thinking of solutions to massive human hurt, stunned by the wastage, the prodigality of the haves against the nothingness of the have nots.The suffering and the exploitation, not just words but the actuality of it, the running artery of millions of lives, the sheer futility of fighting these odds.

 

In all my reading Buddha said the one thing that is certain is that there is misery in the world. It will always be there. So his father locked him in three palaces with orders that he should not see sorrow or loss or grief or death or pain or suffering.

 

Closeted, he enjoyed the bliss of ignorance until one day he went into the countryside and was confronted by the reality of life. It shook him. Bliss died away.

 

That’s  why some of us, regardless of age , have a heightened view of things, a distilled rage that is unable to blind itself to ignorance and therefore by logic denies us bliss.

 

For me, ignorance was not a harbour, never a refuge, I wanted to make the difference but I ran out of that one vital commodity…time. You have it. Do something.

GOOD REASONS TO READ THIS BOOK

 

This book my mum has written about me called Saturday the Sun went down. It isn’t a sad book. People look at it and then they feel this must be a sad and grief stricken story and life is grey enough anyway so let it go.

That is an unfortunate interpretation because it is truly an elevating book and one that talks at three levels.

 

On the first of a young man, myself actually and the achievements in his short life and the manner in which it all went so wrong.

 

On the second as a warning to parents and to children in campuses all over the world, young adults who are led astray by easily accessible contraband narcotic by prescription and they don’t get told of the dangers.

 

On the third a concern that the pharmaceutical industry that they have to get more responsible and this reckless nexus between the lobbies, the college administrations and the psychological set ups ostensibly designed to care for young adults but ending up dispensing ‘death’ by default calls for a concerted effort by the governments of the world.

 

We young people are given wrong information. We are told that these pills will help us calm and reduce our stress,which is caused by peer pressure, and life will be less complicated.

 

They never warn us of the impact on our minds.

The more you do the medicines the less it works.It works well for a while,then it works less and the pain is more.These meds themselves cause wild bouts of depression and horrible comedowns.I understand now that it was only these meds that made me take away my life.

These med’s lie to you about yourself and eat you from the inside.They tell you you alone make things worse.

 

Even so, my mother has made this herculean effort to get out a strong and valid message and much of here sincerity is reflected in a letter she has written to various school principals to encourage young students to read and identify with the contents or at least understand that college can be a challenge and you need to be warned and armed and ready for what is flung at you.

 

The reason why I am sharing the letter with you:

Dear Everyone (especially teachers and parents and oh yes, students)

I am taking the liberty of writing to you with regard to the book I have just released called ‘Saturday the Sun went down.’

 

 It is written deep from the heart and resonates with young people. While the central character is my 21 year old son who let go off this life at this very early age the book is not steeped in sorrow or negative in its impact.

 

On the contrary it is a celebration of life, however short, and underscores with great sensitivity the wonderful relationship between teachers and students, one that my son Mohit reveled in and gained so much from.

 

Much as I have taken pains to illustrate this aspect of teachers being crucial in formative years to a child’s overall growth and personality I have also brought to bear the role that parents play in being there as they mature and being aware of their priorities.

 

Mohit was the quintessential student, son, friend and mentor to the youngsters. I have taken his young life as the motif for the narrative while also pursuing the spectre of the pharmaceutical industry’s power and capability of derailing our children. This is something that parents and teachers need to grasp and understand that it is happening with far more frequency than we think. As such, I implore you to read the book in your capacity as teachers and encourage the young students to learn from it.

 

I won’t implore you because that will sound like I am pushing a book about me. In that lies the rub. The odds are that if you get down to reading it, this book could one day, if you are not keeping vigil be about you.

IF I HADN’T RUN OUT OF TIME

People might well ask that in my 21 years on earth what did I stand for and if there had been more sand in the hourglass what would I have done about it. I cannot really say what I would have achieved but I would have definitely done something.

 

Against colour prejudice. That hurtfulness is something I  never understood and it would make me very angry.

My mom had an inherent fear of dark skinned people.She was brought up with a very narrow perspective to life and I worked very hard to open her eyes to accepting all of humanity as equal.I tended to favour the shows by African- Americans ,when she questioned this preference,I told her they were the most talented people on earth,whether in Sports,Music or any other Art.When I was still in doubt of her total acceptance I would tell her “Mom if you continue with this I shall give you dark skinned children”This made my mom feel the pain I was feeling for this prejudice and she understood that skin color is simply a social construct.

 

From the need to see western visuals, as upmarket, to this famous producer and who said that is what the people want, they like to see white women and so, we give them what they want. To quote:

“Everyone wants to be fair and lovely.”

 

Not so long ago in the murky history of the IPL some dark skinned girls were disinvited from jumping up and down on the boundary stage because the spectators (who ostensibly had come to watch cricket) felt cheated. After all, if we wish to see a woman leap about the place let her at least be white.

 

But where this packaging reaches its giddiest limit is in advertising Indian products to Indian buyers through the prejudicial prism of ethnic whitewashing. You would think all babies are white in India. You would also be led to believe that electronics and top of the line transportation were somewhat given an extra octane if there was a blonde and blue eyed babe flung into the mix.

Some well known fashion journalist in India once wrote:For a rickshaw-puller who earns $2 a day, seeing a fair-skinned woman is an escape, a fantasy.”

Just reading it makes one cringe. I cringed big time.

In a country where my grandparents suffered colonization and dismemberment from their home-land,why do we still worship fair skin?From Bollywood movies to job interviews in the real world,to getting a part in the school or college drama,function or any occasion fair skin wins.All for Fair and Lovely.

Identifying with white (you can read fair) people is still a major Indian sport.

 

The youth of India absorb what they are fed. If you keep giving a lion peanuts he will become a monkey. So, if there are enclaves of young men and women in urban India who believe in this myth and spend their lives like bizarre versions of Lady Macbeth wiping out the damn spots of melanin and seeking sanctuary in a future existence enhanced by a lightening of skin tones, then their sad and sorry priorities are nourished by a visual diet that underscores this perception

 

The self-deception by the retail market and the constant assault on individual self respect have created a complex. They have won and thousands of men and women do believe that white is the way to go. The indoctrination is complete. Even intelligent, successful Indians are fully paid subscribers to this cause. Film stars and celebrities sell skin fair gunk without any qualms. They allow their skin tones to be photo-shopped. Camera lighting is positioned to soften their colour’s intensity. Even those dance sequences are shot so that there is one very dark person who acts as a foil to accentuate the ‘fairness’ of the hero or heroine.

 

In the Malls fasion houses  place Indian clothes on white or ivory mannequins by the dozens. They have blue eyes and blonde hair.

 

Just try to observe an average Indian when they see a foreigner.

First would be the constant staring at their skin tone. (Oh my gord! Kitna gora hai wo!)

Second would be the thought of clicking a photo with him/her. (Premium and exotic class of humanity, they are.)

And render space. None of these would be extended to anyone with a dark skin tone.

 

So it goes on endlessly. The cloned Indian editions of world famous magazines fill their pages with white facsimiles. Commercial films have party scenes where the guests are largely white. Indian writers, by and large, spin books out of the semi-rural quaintness  of Indian traditions to intrigue a western audience.

 

Damn it all, white even rhymes with right. The indoctrination is complete.

 

And it made me very angry and I would flail against this even at a relatively young age. I don’t know what sort of crusade I would have conducted or how I would have rallied public opinion in my favour but I would not have sat silent.

 

 Maybe I would have taken my medical background and brought it to bear on public opinion. And I would have certainly thrown away any tube of skinfair cream.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GLORY OF FOOD

One of the legacies one leaves behind is food. Oh, I mean that seriously. After me my mother has made my favourite dishes into a citadel of happy memories. She has even gone a step further and created a restaurant in Mumbai’s Goregaon area called MAA incorporating Mohits Corner as a tangible tribute to me and my love for good food. For me it was a benediction and I was a stickler that every dish on the table should have the right amount of spices. To me even at that young age food and its preparations were of the utmost importance. I have always seen it as an art and a science. To me it is the subtlety of the dish, the balance of the ingredients. They must create a symphony and every such entity served with grace and style.I especially loved the Japanese food and taught mom to make some Japanese dishes,soups and appetizers.

 

I have never understood members of the human race who slobber over their food and kill it with spices and oils and what I call the ketchup tribe. Food must be enjoyed, savoured, recalled and given the status it deserves.

 

And it is with the same fervor that I believe in variety. You cannot continue to fall back on the same six staples every time.My mom used to mostly cook Sindhi food,Sindhi curry used to be my all time favouite with Aloo Tikki,every full moon day. I think I drove my mother crazy by insisting that experimentation was the essence of good cooking and one must continue to strive to build one’s ‘library’ of recipes.I would give her Thai recipes,Italian recipes and many other recipes.I love her so much that I always strived to up her skills. Today, she is not just the proud owner of a huge stock of incredible dishes but is adept at making them.

 

The love she gave to me and still gives to me from down there on earth is also ladled into the food she makes. Her education under my tutelage is paying off. I may not be there to taste it and enjoy but but I know that her reputation for making great stuff is being enhanced by the day.

 As for me, I could never eat mass produced food. Bake, roast, baste, marinate, let is stew in its own juices and make it for the individual, that is the secret of great cooking.

 

Let me tell you something. If you see food as a means rather than an end you are missing one of the great experiences of life. It is not something you cut and pour into hot water. That is not food. Food is a journey in which you map your path and then follow it assiduously. It calls for effort and it calls for a special kind of dedication. When you see it in its final stage, the sensation should be like reading a poem that has got all its rhythm right, a musical score where the musical notes fall into place.

 

You never overdo it or undercook it and only practice will give you that ability to judge the famous phrase in culinary discipline: just right.

 

Change your own attitude towards food and see how it changes your life and your values.I always believed Eat less but eat good.

 

Look for unusual condiments, different greens, try combinations you have never tried before, exult in your attempts to get it just right and then sit down and taste it, don’t just swallow it in a rush.

 

MAA will be a hit once it finds its place. It is young yet, like an underdone grill. But gradually, with the magic of ma’s  cooking it will begin to turn succulent and tender…the way life should be.

 

WHEN THEY MESS WITH YOUR BRAIN

One of my mother’s major thrusts has been to convince people the difference between the mind and the brain. They are two mutually exclusive entities and that does not change because most of us don’t see the difference.

For example, when these pills are dispensed on campus they impact on the brain and create chemical changes. They bring about mood swings. The minds resists it as much as it can, but if the brain triumps the mind, it begins to lose ground. The mind is powerful, have no doubts about it, and it can resist a lot of attack, so to speak. If it wasn’t for that defence the brain would have had a much easier time of it.  The mind can control pain, it can control emotions, it can provide that vital check and balance. The mind over matter theory in practice with the brain being the matter. But an incessant assault slows it down, allows the malfunctions in the brain to launch their insidious attacks.

 And when these attacks are initiated by chemically charged hostility on the brain from outside sources thereby changing its composition it is the mind that pays the consequences.

 Take the meds you have that are simply over the counter.No big deal. But they impact on the brain even though we erroneously talk about mind inducing drugs. Those are brain changing drugs that then compel the brain to hurt the mind.

Oh yes there is a common point that causes the two to cross. The brain also fights the foreign invader and wants be on good terms with the mind. It tells the mind well in advance that it is being struck by chemicals and together we must fight it. In the beginning the fight is with a sense of togetherness. The brain and the mind have a common enemy and they fight it shoulder to shoulder, each telling the other to watch out. But gradually, the brain begins to respond and react to this stimuli from outside and starts to let the mind down. The mind feels isolated and betrayed. What is wrong with the brain that it is sending all these wrong signals? Off balance, the mind begins to shun the brain’s impulses. But gradually, they start taking over and, after a while, the mind just gives up.

 

I had no mind to do what I did that Saturday morning. My mind was never wired like that. But when those legally dispensed drugs started messing with my brain (not my mind as we like to say, fooled as we are by nomenclature, like in mess with my mind) there was no fight left. You see the mind is not an organ, the brain is and that is why it is vulnerable to these influences. Your mind can be stable and totally normal but your brain can steer it into disaster. That is what my Mom has been trying to explain to people these past two years. The brain is the target because it can be manipulated and then it impacts on the mind.

William Salt, an MD puts it rather well. Your brain is part of the visible, tangible world of the body. Your mind is part of the invisible, transcendent world of thought, feeling, attitude, belief and imagination. The brain is the physical organ most associated with mind and consciousness, but the mind is not confined to the brain. The intelligence of your mind permeates every cell of your body, not just brain cells. Your mind has tremendous power over all bodily systems.

Right. Until your brain is victimised.

THESE INSIDIOUS STUDY DRUGS ARE THE MENACE

Mohit’s radiant smile

Every morning in America where I studied over 500 students climb aboard the prescription drug bandwagon and begin a regimen of pills ostensibly under the misbegotten belief that these uppers and downers will enhance their performance in studies. Others in larger numbers manage with consummate ease to obtain official documentation so they can begin to imbibe meds legally and become victims of a modern conspiracy that no one takes seriously even though there are more casualties than in a war zone. That is because campus is a war zone and the indiscriminate use of drugs is rampant. We just do not want to see it.

 

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency nearly 12 percent of college students reported using one or more types of prescription drugs (including antidepressants, sedatives, and stimulants) that were not prescribed to them within the last 12 months. College students have a higher likelihood of misusing prescription stimulants, often referred to as “study drugs,” when compared to their non-college peers.

 

What a lovely sound that has: study drugs. Sounds so harmless and pleasant like a tutor holding your hand and taking you to your degree.

 

Well, get this straight. It is a death knell. If it does not kill you prematurely it will scramble your brains more effectively than a chef does his eggs for breakfast.

 

The DEA goes on to alert parents who, for some reason, dig their heads into the sands and do not want to see it. Oh, no, not our child, he or she would never. And we do not tell them because we are afraid to hurt them, afraid of their reactions, their dismay and disappointment, their shock and all that comes with it by way of recriminations. So, instead we go to great lengths to conceal the drama unfolding in our heads, sometimes exploding with the sheer pressure of it. And then, when we have become zombies we end  up hurting them even more because now they cannot understand where it all began to go wrong and it is so difficult to explain that we didn’t tell them to protect them from the fallout. As difficult as it is to explain that we are no longer by then masters of our own minds, having sold it cheaply for a false haven. Now, we are propelled by a malevolent and inner force against which we are helpless. Even our screams for help are silent. How then can anyone hear us.

A person who is suffering from this darkness cannot enable themselves to get help.How can a person who is drowning and so far underwater even call out for help.

 

I did not decide at the tender age of 21 to leap off the mortal coil and end what could have been an exceptionally gratifying life. It was done for me by the goblins created in my mind. How can I explain that I had no say in it. I had been mentally kidnapped under the premise and the promise that this regimen of meds would be salutary and good for me, not scorch my brain and bruise my mind.

 

Which is why I keep going back to the responsibilities of the adults, especially teachers..and also parents. Get out of the sand.

 

This is what the DEA says:

 

Parents – be able to talk knowledgeably about prescription drugs with your children

 

Faculty members and staff – be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of prescription drug misuse, and know the available on- and off-campus resources to refer someone for help

 

Students – learn the facts and talk to your parents or another trusted adult (e.g., professor, coach, friend) about concerns you have about prescription drugs

 

Finally the big one, that underground marketplace: Don’t share your prescription drugs – they were prescribed to you, not someone else. That is bad enough that you are on them.

 

 

And the book is out

And so the faithful came. Over 100 friends,relatives,neighbours,former teachers and media gathered at the India Club on Oct 24 to witness and participate in the release of the book about me. Saw my mother and father stand on the stage and present the first copy to the Acting Consul General of India Mrs Sumathi Vasudeva whose touching speech moved everyone visibly. She too has suffered a grievous loss of a grown child who was also 21, and shared with grace and dignity her own experience. The title of the book Saturday the Sun went down resonated with her because her tragedy too happened on that day of the week.

I was there in spirit and was delighted to see Nargish  Khambatta and Nina Kataky,two top drawer educationists along with maths whizz Herman Gomes. Iconic business tycoons like Vasu Shroff and Ram Buxani added a certain zest to the proceedings while Dubai’s most famous photographer  and historical recorder Ramesh Shukla also made an appearance.

It was wonderful to see Mohit’s  friend Anusha making it to the evening.

Friendly faces,men and women who cared enough, to share a slice of closure with my mother and father.Through the mist in his eyes I saw my dad walk taller and straighter for the first time in two long years.

As for my mother what a woman.They did a reading from the book referring to Erin Brokovich and her fight against corporate contamination. In her own way my mother has been as resolute and unwavering in her desire to caution parents of the risk of campus  prescriptions and their menace.

She hasn’t won the war yet but in the 21 years I knew her it was this detetmination that most impressed.She is a fighter and even Dad knows she won’t let go.

Wish my sister Vidhi had made it but it wasn’t possible so please do send her the tape.

I may not be there but she will be warmed to see I haven’t been forgotten.

Oh yes and thanks for making it a relatively no speech affair and keeping it light with wine and cheese and some good conversation.

I hope people read the book and get the message.These are your kids,wake up notice the difference,look out for the warning signs,get the facts and keep up with New Research and Current Inittiative, and do something about it.

We are so far under water drowning that we cannot call out to anyone for help so it is your duty since now you are warned about the warning signs to reach out to a loved one.By being informed and sharing what you know you could save someone’s life.

PRESCRIPTION FOR SAFETY

While there may be a little inconvenience in the beginning and people on prescription meds may need to adjust the new UAE rules on bringing in stuff are longterm sensible.

Prescriptions mean nothing. Up until now that was a piece of paper taken on trust but now even this document  comes under scrutiny because it is these prescription meds that are the most sinister.

Some doctor gives you the ‘calmer’ the ‘sleeper’ the anxiety crusher,the anti depressive,the upper and the downer and you are soon reduced to a creature of habit,dependent on pills and capsules. One day you cannot access them and gloom descends,thick and forbidding and totally overwhelming,holding you at ransom.

Now you cannot sleep.The pain spikes. Anxiety,like an angry sea boils within and depression sits like a stone in your head.

My kingdom for a pill,just one.

How are this tribe any less hooked than a junkie? Just because you didnt get your fix in some sleazy tunnel or tenement but were given it by a pharmacist in a white coat with a bill doesn’t mean you are safe. Yes,of course it is easy to be beguiled because these are not wrapped in dirty little bags exchanged  surreptitiousy by some dealer.These come in silver strips and little pretty bottles and have you in thrall.

I should know.Been there done that. And thr havoc it played with my synapses and my senses,all of it wrapped in mentor concern.

Look at the price I paid in the end.

Just a medical student trying his best to learn, to seek and not to yield. Not finding enough hours in the day to combat the workload and converting sleep into a luxury,give me a pill.

So from me to all of you let me tell you they got it right in the UAE. They will monitor the meds and more luck to them.

WHAT I WOULD HAVE DONE

Thank goodness they are making the launch of the book an event that is light and pleasant and offering a little wine and song. That is so much more reflective of me as a person than some maudlin and sentimental wake which would make people uncomfortable and awkward. They would then have to stand around wondering why they came.

Much rather this occasion was like an art show with some crisp conversation, a positive reading or two of the book and in all a pleasant evening whether they buy the book or not.

Thanks so much mum and dad for not making it morbid.

I did a fair amount in my 21 years on earth. I read,I thought and I spoke…of things that angered me and needed attention. Like the sting of racism,the rage and helplessness of poverty and social injustice, the agony of hunger, the scourge of disease and perhaps most disheartening the perfidy of mankind.

 

I saw a lot of that. The ease with which we let each other down,the deceit and the betrayal, the broken promises,the bullying and the carping, the false friendships built on slippery slopes of expediency,all of us using each other as we hurtle towards the inevitable end.

 

Yes indeed I saw a lot in those few years. Any regrets? Yes,of course. That thanks to the pharmaceutical brainwash dressed up in robes of concern I let go of the rope so soon, long before I was able to do anything concrete about the things that bothered me.

If I had not been a victim that morning to a turmoil within that I never understood, a torrent of cataclysmic confusion over which there was no control,like a non swimmer in a rushing river just giving in,not giving up…I believe as a doctor I would have made some tangible contribution to what one can best call the greater good.

 

If this book can speak for me and project to you who I am and what I stand for and in doing so caution each parent,every teacher,every student to come together and talk,discuss and confront the menace of legal drugs being so freely prescribed on campus there will be a benediction. It must be done and done now.

Very nice!  I think it’s perfect!  Love it!

 

The Freudian Slip

So the book is being launched in dubai and then later in major Indian cities. Mom has called it Saturday the sun went down. Hmmmm, it  has a certain rhythm to it and it does refer to the day in the week I decided to take that horrendous step.

 

There you are you have the Freudian slip in all its glory. In all honesty I did not decide anything.it was decided for me. Herein lies the rub. It so easily slides off the tongue…I  decided!!! No way. Think about it. I was 21, well on my way to getting a coveted degree in the medical line, enjoying warm and affectionate family ties, wanting for nothing really. And I loved life. Books, music, food, wars over the the issues of our times, racism, social injustice, poverty, hunger, conditions that demanded a war and I was a frontline warrior.

 

My whole argument has been that the decision is taken out of our hands. That’s the whole thrust of my stance and the working title of the book “Murder by Medicine” was a lot more on the target. I think Mom decided against it because it was too provocative, and could not only expose her to legal wrangles, but also scare readers away. From tragedy it would move into the realm of accusation and I imagine she didn’t want that. Also, the element of protectionism is also there. My lovely sis Vidhi, is also doing meds and she doesn’t need the hassle.

 

Guess no one can do anything to me now that I am not there so what the hell, time to bite the bullet. Tell it like I see it. Those damn pills supposed to calm the stress, reduce the pressure, they might do that in capsule (ha,ha that is a cruel play on the word) but with that questionable agony comes the agony. You lose control like there was this giant had at your back, propelling you forward over the cliff and like with the siren’s call you just go with I,t even as part of you says, stop, this is not done.

 

Thousands of young people deluded into believing that they are not adequately armed to complete a strenuous course without the crutch of drugs. Yes, let me say it. These are not placebos or comforters, these are legalized narcotics that play havoc with your mind.

 

And because as you become more dependent and the confusion that broils within and creates this mental fugue turns supreme you learn the tricks of how to cover your tracks. When there are still clear patches in the head and you can think straight and the con game being played on you is beguiling you into a sense of mesmerizing captivity you think you have found the miracle. So you quickly pick up, how to hide the dependence. With isolation, pretence, deceit, anger, create a wall between you and loved ones, so they notice the difference but dare not ask.

 

At the same time you also learn very quickly how to conceal the dosage. The pills in the inside pocket of the duffel bag, in a pair of shoes, a secret cavity, the back of the drawer, the cliched sock.

 

And then you hire two good lieutenants called Exasperation and Impatience to keep the curious away. But more about that later.

AND THE BOOK IS OUT

Mohit with his friends at C0lumbia University NewYork

I guess sometime soon there is this book coming out about my 21 years on earth and what I was all about.

 

What do you know…it is today. Published and printed, hot off the press.

 

I know my Mom has worked pretty hard on it these past two years and it pains me that I went and did what I did to cause my parents and my sister so much grief. That was never the intention. My love was unqualified and I was a gentle guy, not given to drama or theatrics. In fact, if any of my friends were to categorise me they would say, oh, Mohit, nice chap, private, quiet, well behave and smart.

 

So then, if I was all these things why did I shuffle off the mortal coil like Shakespeare said. What prompted me to be so sensational as to prematurely end my life.

 

Look at it this way. In retrospect as I see my family devastated and trying to wring some sense out of the tragedy I can safely say I had nothing to do with it. Really, that Saturday morning I was a bystander to my own end. I had no role in it. It was as if an invisible hand was moving me towards that sliding door and the balcony. The mess in my mind and the way we young students are often cajoled and coerced into these pharmaceutical regimes to give us the energy to get through the mountain of studies is an issue few people wish to grasp because it is a stinging nettle and it is better to pretend it will go away if we do not recognize it.

 

For that I have to give my mother huge credit. Like a terrier with a bone she does not let go. From that day when she lost me and a part of herself forever she has gone on this unremitting crusade to warn other people and tell them to check out their young kids especially in pressure cooker courses like medicines.

 

She has researched the pharma conspiracy with single-minded dedication and tried to bridge the yawning gap in credibility that exists between the ease with which one can legally access these toxic mind changing drugs and the ability of parents to suss it out when they meet their radically reworked children on vacation or visit.

 

To that extent Sheetal Devki Mulani, my mother, has used my loss to great advantage in that if through this book which she camouflages as a tribute to her son she also sends out a clear message to thousands of parents bewildered by the rules of this brutal attack on their offspring under the garb of concern. If she can wake one parent and have that parent stop the rot and say, wait a minute what are you feeding my semi adult children and why are we not party to this on campus conspiracy, yes we notice the changed conduct and yes, we want to know why, her work will have been successful.

 

Read the book. It smacks of an honesty and a mother’s love, a son who never intended to hurt her or his dad or his sister and a truth that has to be faced. Too many young children on too many campuses are being drugged into submission and no one wants to talk about it.

 

I haven’t yet finished this subject. For now, mother dearest bless you for taking up the cause. I know I didn’t go in vain.

NO ONE IS YOUR JUDGE BUT YOU

When anyone looks back at their lives, short or lengthy, there are some defining moments. In themselves trivial but they leave the impact forever. Some are positive others as corrosive as rust. A teacher or a parent has the power to limit you or help you touch the stars. I remember so clearly that a certain teacher told me I was destined to be different, march to a different drumbeat and take great comfort and satisfaction in my non conformity…not to be afraid of it, but to embrace it and walk on and on and on. For the 21 years I was on earth, this encouragement stayed with me like a lantern on a dark night. The solace that a passing remark can make is immense. By the same token a harsh remark can not only,just hurt for the momen,t but become a scar on the psyche.

It can be from body shaming, a teacher mocking your size or height or lack of it, your face, your features, your voice and leaving you whistling in the wind. We always talk of bullying in schooldays, as something that, children visit upon children. We never really acknowledge that perhaps the most damaging bullying comes from teachers often through a chance remark.

 

It could be anything. You have acne and a teacher calls you spotty. Mocks the treble increase in your voice, and you are now afraid to speak. Jeers at your imperfect first ever public address, or elocution, or debate and even though you know you are good you never want to go up, on stage again. Laughs in your face and despairs at your effort to write poetry or prose and tells you that you will never be a writer. Never say never teacher, because now I not only need to fight the competition, but now I have to wrestle with your indictment.

 

It happens more often that you think. Teachers have the power to destroy your self confidence and turn you away from your ambitions to settle for a mediocre nothingness because they made you dislike yourself.

 

And if it isn’t body shaming it could be a classroom embarrassment of ridiculing your work in front of everyone, so you want to die of shame and you are scarlet from embarrassment and you can never get over it. The class clown, because the teacher willed it so.

 

Then there is the in between where the bullying is subtle and as sharp as a stiletto. The teacher does not give you that free rein he or she gives a favourite. The bitterness and the resentment rise in the throat but it is that one mark, that A+ kept elusive and praise heaped faintly never fully.

 

I have been a victim of that. Patted on the back but always pulled in a bit, just short of the other guy  regardless of how hard I tried until the frustration does begin to get the better of you and you give up trying.

 

That is the error we make. We are young and vulnerable, and we want that recognition like a thirst, and we don’t get it, so we conclude that we are not good enough, we fall short. Big mistake. If you are one of those, also rans, the one on the podium, but second, just do not give up. That teacher is not your yardstick for the future. See it as a hurdle that has to be overcome, don’t fall down, you know how good you are.

 

I did fight. Very hard. And many a time my innate common sense told me that I should be at the top of the class, the cherry on the cake, not the icing and now when I look down upon my footprints in the sands of time I know how smart it would have been to see it as a spur and not as a hindrance.

 

So remember this, fellow student. Don’t let them get you down because they are graceless. You know that in the end, the only of yourself is yourself.

 

THIN END OF THE WEDGE

 

Just as much as there is a price to pay at some point for being the favourite son or daughter there is also a penalty for those of us who are not. This is how it works. The favoured one gets all the breaks,wins the confidence of his boss,is allowed liberties not extended to the others and has it really good for the time this togetherness lasts. One day like, most for well,things it ends, but till then, the rest have to suffer the indignity of not being given their due. Always the second choice, never getting the music to stop for them in this bizarre game of musical chairs.

And it is not just at the office or in the selection of a sports team or a promotion that this sort of thing happens,if actually starts in school where ambitious parents and their nexus with teachers creates the first rings of favouritism and the fragility of idealism is exposed for what it is…a a non existent mirage.

You don’t want to believe it at first. You are the reserve on the team,the stand in,the understudy,the option not the choice. And the choice is the favourite one and it could be because the parents are rich and powerful,he is  teacher’s pet, the shoo in, for the debate team,the leader of the pack,the captain of the first XI not because he is better but because the ability in the rest of us is diced and muted.

While active favouritism is one, spur  discrimination is another. You can call it the negative pole. A teacher,a department head,someone with decision-making authority over you decides to keep you down, encourages with brakes on, in second gear and you know from the limited traction that your potential is being throttled. Why? There could be many reasons. An absence of chemistry,some parochial bias, even your religion and caste can come into play, anything that makes the exercise of power arbitrary and unfair.

At the school level the prejudice could be a great deal more trivial. Perhaps the teacher had a run in with the student’s parents and now the child  has to suffer the consequences. Sometimes, most commonly, the teacher is upset by a display of brilliance and if that upstages the fragile ego again the student ends up with the thin end of the wedge…oh,so you think you are smart?

I don’t think people realise how much harm they cause the young psyche by being hostile when their duty is to positively exploit potential. In a perfect world that would be the key. Then again it isn’t. So it doesn’t get realized, that choking a talent is as bad as sticking a knife in the ribs.

The sweet sound of whistle blowers

Most people have not heard of Dr John Rengen  Virapen nor are they likely to because people
like him don’t get the platform to spread their message.

The good doctor declared war on the pharmaceutical industry
of which he was an integral part. Was drummed out after he found conscience and
a whistle which he blew.

Whenever you feel that drugs rule your life and your best friend is a plastic case with the days of the week on each compartment where you keep your daily dosage go Google his name and shock yourself.You can also google Gwen Olsen a Pharmacist who lost her niece to this menace and she being in this industry and her niece staying with her couldn’t figure things out until they lost.Do we have to loose our precious loved ones to rise above or we will rise anyway and put a stop to this menace. Whenever he gets the opportunity the man who legally imported Prozac into Sweden tells it like it is.

The base of his argument is that the pharmaceutical industry has no interest in making you well. On the contrary it wants you to be ill so it can dispense drugs to you. In its scheme of things the highest priority is given to ailments that are long-term.This doctor has spoken at length about Prozac and how it causes suicides.The number one side effect of Prozac is suicide and during the trials the results from London showed they had lost children as small as three years.How can anyone explain this greed and lust for money. The prevailing and pervasive attititude into which I walked  in unknowingly because the Therapist and the Psychiatrist lied to me. They diagnosed me with Anxiety and ADHD,and started medicating me.They put me on Strattera,Zoloft,Sertaline,Seroquel,Klonopin and Vyanse.How could I at 19 metaboloze all these heavy and toxic medications with such severe side effects,I want people to know what it can do to families and children.How much I have pained my mother who is still not able to register my loss.She seems fine from the outside but only I know what she is going through.They let you think that one doesn’t matter.They expect that a certain percentage are going to suffer these side effects and that is ok with them.But it is not ok.There is one and there is one,and there is one,then 100,then 1000,10,000 and it is not just one.One is too many and it goes on and on and on. The drugs own you then.

Have you heard  of ADHS they say you have ADHS.The last” S” stands for Syndrome makes it a sickness, which they cannot prove so they change the word to Disorder.This way they changed the” S” to” D” calling it Disorder.So now they are safe to label you guilt free ADHD.Since now unlike syndrome where you have to prove or do a test for Disorder you need neither. How do they measure Serotonin in the brain during the trial.It just cannot be measured.They have done the name change 1000 of times.They say they are doing this since they have studied and they know better,they have an educational history and they are more powerful,so you cannot fight them.

Probably the western influence against which my mom tried so hard to save me.I was trying to make her more western and she was rubbing her Indian influence and roots on me.Mom always knows the best. She always looked at western values with some skepticism and I say this time round she was right.Deep down even I was indian though I was influenced by western thought that I had to be mature and keep my problem to myself,I couldn’t be a baby and tell my mom my problems.I had acquired the maturity of western thought to deal with the problem alone.The old fashioned Indian way seemed too regressive.American bearing with its thoughts and reasoning was often in total contradiction to the Indian behaviour,with it’s feelings and intuition,which even when juxtaposed,excluded each other’s insights.I did not realise this was not a problem but a trap laid out for me in which under peer pressure and stressful  environment I fell prey to.

The industry has such a close nexus with  media that its conspiracies are ones of paid
for silence.

The issue of side effects is sidelined while the virtues of
the FAB factor are lauded.

Features,Advantages and Benefits are how it is packaged to
the public with each new

Medicament  while the
negatives are muted.

Although the Virapen tribe are increasing exponentially as
they confront themselves with their disillusionment and even guilt over having
‘hands which are dirty’ the battle is long and hard.Even the old are not spared
and the industry targets them without remorse.

The fight can only enter the even field of play when we the
people join the troops and resist and question our dependence on drug regimes
that are soaked in wealth and want us to be ill for the healthier we are the
more they lose profit.

It is when you hear such statements of intent that the
outrage eclipses the good of which even the whistle blowers agree there is a
lot of out there. Medicines that help and bring relief are also there so we
have to ensure we do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Somewhere there
has to be a via media where lives are not extinguished from greed and
coldblooded love for profit.

Mohits

TOXIC LITTLE CIRCLES WITH A GLASS OF WATER

So in the past few columns since we started this ‘rescue’ mission I have put the dice squarely on parents for not calling their young adult children when they notice things going awry. It is all very well to say we trusted the learning institution and then moan the fact that you also had faith in the psychologists and psychiatrists and never ever dreamt that they would mess with your child’s mind. Well, they do and it is time to wake up and smell the coffee.

The level of awareness in the past few years and the deluge of anecdotal information coming in on websites and over the Net indicating and indicting the free and liberal dispensation of college campus prescriptions is no longer hush hush. Everyone knows that this so called assault on anxiety and depression and other such goodies is also an assault on the young brain and scrambles it just like one would an egg.

Yes, the beguiling part is that it starts slow and muted and in the beginning you do not even notice anything except that ‘feel good’ vibe. It is only later and research will bear me out when you are well and truly hooked that the dosage is upped and you see saw confusedly between relapse and withdrawal, the two toxic states of mind like bouts of seasickness fogging the brain and the mind and yet, in some way, doing a Puff the magic dragon captivity of your thoughts.

At this point there is no breakdown. You are afraid. Afraid to let go the plastic peace you get. Afraid to continue. Simply afraid to talk about it and share the fears. Bottle them up, pretend they are not there.

Above all wrapping the fear like luggage at the airport in transparent sheets of sadness so no one can open the box. This takes energy, adds to the exhaustion and feeds the demons that now have a far more free rein over your behavior.

Then comes the next level of the mental breakdown. The itching, the irritation, the crawling skin, the extremes of cold and heart, the absolute inability to rise out of bed in the morning and the dread that seeps like winter cold into the bones.

If there is degeneration and irreversible damage to your brain structure, you do not  know it. You do not even guess it. All you have is this fuzzy idea that something is out of kettle and you cannot get a handle on it.

It is cold comfort that fresh research today shows you can fight the good fight with right nutrition and a readjusted lifestyle. Now you tell us. That this benign option exists to shoving pills down our throat and mangling our mindset.

Of course, the meds do not work. Of course, they make things worse. Of course, they systematically destroy us.

But you market the mirage and someone will come to the false oasis seeking a slake of their thirst. The problem is with those that create the mirage for selfish reasons.In America they advertise and push these medications on almost whoever they think is a soft target.You really have to take the bull by the thorns to avoid getting into this trap.Not only does this take a lot of courage but a lot of knowingness,and how can you have knowingness when you are not aware of this.

If only I had done a little more digging. These facts are stated in Robert Whitaker’s Documentary on Harm Done by Psychiatric drugs.

Well known Psychiatrist Dorris J Rapp MD says that these medicines cause depression, dizziness,body pain, suicidal thoughts, heart diseases, metabolic defects, heart attacks, strokes ,increased blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, just to name a few side effects. Pleasant, isn’t it.

Even when you stop taking these meds the shaking, twitching and the jerks in the body do not go away.What’s wrong?

Nothing.

Why are you twitching?

I am not.

Yes, you are.

Leave me alone, I am fine.

Damn and they leave you alone.  It wasn’t the depression that got me in the gut. It was the upped dosage of stuff like Zoloft, Klonopin, Vyanse and others that I often threw away because I did not want to be dependent but they got me in their claws anyway, pushed me step by step to the end of the road and the final cliff, the only relief  to the silent scream.

They call it drug induced psychosis. Yeah right.

THE WRITING ON THE WALL

This one is for parents.

Especially and with good reason, You are the first bastion, the initial wall on the road to collapse, the octroi post where you can tax your kids for the burden they bring to the home.

That is the first reckoning. That vacation back into the bosom of your family. It is faced with trepidation and stress ad longing and love and warmth and subterfuge and deception. Topmost among the list is the need to conceal from Mum and Dad and prying siblings the new tablet diet you are on. Most of us use peppermint breath freshener tins to keep them in. Some of us scrape the surface to obliterate the markings and make them look innocent. Then they can be mixed with actual Altoids or Fishermen Friends and only which are which. We do not want to be placed in a position where we have to explain what the hell they are or why we are having them. The biggest fear as we board the aircraft is running out of them. This can happen because we stay away from supply chains longer than we thought, rush our dosage because of certain stress factors like tension at home, parents fighting with each other, the claustrophobia of being with family, the sudden return to childhood discipline, the shrieking voices within becoming even more shrill.

The first few days are okay. Love is in the air, comfort food on the table, your childhood favorites, welcome change from Ramen noodles and cold pizza. Your own bed, your old clothes, a shelf of books you could not take to varsity. You then find your patience at an end. Your privacy which is so important on campus is up for grabs. In a line that never ends comes an army of your friends (and theirs as in parents) snooping neighbors  who cannot mind their own business, aunts and uncles marinating advice that has not been solicited and obnoxious little cousins with closed minds clinging to mobile phones like lifelines.

It is a Kafkaesque comedy, cruel and invasive. One day, it happens. You lose it. A meltdown of epic proportions sparked by something so insignificant it is almost ridiculous. Your rant shocks everyone, they reel back and try to understand where all this is coming from. Their tolerance is even more infuriating, for God’s sake stop being so accommodating.

A little voice inside tells you to back off or else you may give yourself away. So you slide back into normality. Which relieves your immediate family and they chalk off your irrational behavior to an aberration that happens. Parents are by nature cowards when it comes to their children. They find it very hard to take them on. And I say to you call them on it. If you notice on furlough that they are acting odd, son or daughter, go for it. Check the pills. Check the love for ‘peppermints’. If they have lost weight dramatically or become plump do not justify it, go in there and find out why. If they are too cold or too hot or sit in the desert sun, binge on food, are sullen and snappy and rude and unlike their loving selves, do not accept it. Investigate. Let them lose it, let them shriek and shout and throw those ugly tantrums, it does not matter, you are doing them a favor.

It sounds simple. But it isn’t. We are so good at intimidating you. Ten days left for departure, you are already soggy with emotion, we have you in a corner and we will pummel you into surrender without even breaking a sweat.

Why is it so difficult for parents to read the writing, to see the signs, to ask each other, why is this train going off the tracks.

Instead, they will rationalize  and empathize and pretend nothing untoward is occurring.

It is. See how it is. For God’s sake. For your child’s sake.

Vidhi, Has dedicates this song to Mohit as a Raksha Bandhan Gift

Mohits

TIME FOR PARENTS TO SMELL THE COFFEE.

And so it comes to pass that you have graduated to the levels of dependence. These harmless looking little pills are not your friends but you don’t know that. For the moment they are best buddies. They are the light in the dark tunnel of despair providing that surge of energy so needed to tackle the workload. And you feel no guilt because you have no idea of their diabolical impact on your mind. In the beginning as the tentacles start circling your brain it is little shifts in conduct and sensation.

It varies from person to person. Some have sudden rage episodes or crying jags. Some sink into depression while others wrestle with demons and gremlins that now invade their minds and disturb the mental equilibrium. We takers of the tablets seldom share the fear of registering these changes in our mindset but it is a safe bet that if we did we would discover common ground. Feeling claustrophobic, a maddening desire to tear open the curtains to let in the cleansing light. Paradoxically, a need to seek the shelter of the deep and impenetrable darkness. Acute feelings of cold and heat, a digestive system engaging in its own series of convulsions and tiny worms of doubt  slithering in the byways of the mind. If we did talk and were honest and open and stopped wearing facades kept in jars on our faces for what we want the world to see. Everything, but the pain of our puzzlement. These were professional doctors and mentors and they knew what was good for us…or do we dare ask did they, do they.
More importantly did they care for what it does to us.
My first inkling. An unusual desire for chill. I would need to ice the room with the air conditioning  and it was never enough. Then without much change in diet I began to get puffy, a sort of soft pudginess accentuated by clothes not fitting.
Part of me wanted someone to solve this mystery. What was going on. Most of me wanted to play let’s pretend and deny anything untoward was happening. Parents are the first to know things are away. They sense it. But we intimidate them, put them in a corner. Become snappy and withdrawn, fool them into believing it is the pressures of a different routine, a fresh culture that is different ,even a richer feed at the trough, they want to be understanding and accommodating and you want scream at  them  for being so blind so they cannot see the agony writhing like snakes inside their offspring. Then again, why should they when we make so much effort not to let them know.

So we carry on, the symptoms if you can call them that, rising and abating like the tide, good days and bad days, the dependence increasing incrementally until even we begin to deny that there is any abnormal reaction. After all ,this is now the norm. Welcome to Zombieland, take me to your leader.

Often, young students don’t want to go to their home country because they don’t want the family to see the shift in conduct and appearance. Home is now not a comfort zone this is.

So, if you have a young adult and he or she is ducking the issue and ducking the face to face talk and ducking coming home and sounding different, don’t duck it. Wake up and smell the coffee.

IT’S THE CHEESE IN THE MOUSETRAP WHICH GETS YOU

I always said if you think money makes you rich think of all the things in your life that money cannot buy. Great parents who are annoyingly patient and understanding when their offspring is being unreasonable, a sister I wouldn’t trade for a king’s ransom, my health which I treasure, the music in my life, the freedom of my mind to think, thoughts that no currency can purchase, the esteem of friends because I must have done, something good in my years on earth, nothing comes from nothing, the fortune to have good teachers who signposted the way forward, the words of authors no longer alive, leaving legacies to provoke and stimulate the mind, animals who are unconditional in their love, five hundred things you take for granted like it was your imperial right instead of the benediction it really is.

All for free. And I am at the door of the psychologist’s office, marshalling my mental troops. Why am I here? I recall asking myself, berating myself, you don’t need a shrink, why are you doing this, you are not sick, you be cool, you can take the pressure.

Always have.

Yes, easy to say, night after night the endless process of learning, day after day the assignments and the tutorials, dark sunken eyes propped open by toothpicks, hunger gnawing at your vitals even as you have no appetite. Words cascading in a torrent without respite.

I need to share, to lighten the burden, to feel kinship, no one knows what this hell is like and I will not lose, I am not a loser, all I need is a little help from my friend.

She is a friend in five minutes. In ten a confidante and by the time the minute hand circles past the half hour we are co-conspirators in the raid of the pharma factory.

They do it so well. With such practiced ease that you are beguiled into believing you have discovered salvation. See, it cannot be all bad, after all, everyone is on something and these are the experts.  They make the studied recommendation.

She ropes me in, her concern so genuine that my misgivings melt like wax in a flame, she is now telling me that what I need is something to calm my nerves, relax and feel in control.

Spot on. Control is what I want and if I can get it by giving it away so be it.

She is telling me we will start slowly, with a very low dose and I will feel better for it. Somewhere in there that low dose angle absolves her of being reckless, calms the patient into a state of self-delusion and the thought of anxiety being banished is exciting. There is a niggling doubt that you are stepping into a quagmire but you cannot back off, you need a friend, remember. Everybody needs a bloody friend, it’s the defence against loneliness.

There is now a gentle shift into the possessive ‘we’. We will work this together. We will get you put things right.

My goodness, there is something wrong, it has to be put right. It is now collective. We are in it together.

She is writing out a prescription. I am golden. Sorted.

Then why do I feel like I have just been soiled given away something I cannot pin down. Could  it be peace of mind, the price for chemical calm.

 

CAUGHT IN THE VICE TRAP OF TWO CULTURES

And so when you are waiting and stressing and wondering where this gold brick road will take you ultimately, you begin think a little of how crooked the turns in this road are, how steep its hills,  and how difficult it is to stay on the straight and  narrow.

Not so long ago you were in an Indian environment choking on Indian values jostling  to break the shackles and get the hell out of Dodge garh so to speak. And everything pointed to America or Australia or Canada you just had to get out of this rut with its sticky tar of larger family  politics, nosy neighbours with no better agenda than to pass judgement soaked in malice, parental friends armed with their tacky trinkets supposedly the symbols of success and therefore indicative of wealth.
Then one day you were on a plane being flung at 750kph in to another planet unable to grasp how dramatic and breathtaking the leap was.
To be both American and Indian fighting wars on both fronts having to explain everything, give reason, why are you the way you are, a barrage of questions against which you were poorly armed.
You had to wear a protective armour, sort of hide under a patchwork quilt of  perfection so fragile it was that an eggshell was forged metal in comparison.
Playing let’s pretend became second nature, an Indian in America like an enigma wrapped in a riddle. And the past never let go, did it, it rode your back, the incessant explaining, the intrusions painted in love and concern, cerebral but toxic care packages that made you accountable.

I would lie in bed at night and calculate idly how much energy it took  to be squandered to look perfect on the outside and if you feel something different than sadness, any other emotion then you are inherently flawed so that fear of being stained by your peers more than marked prevents you from reaching out.  You seek the shelter of introverted silence, it’s easier.

After all, if there something needs address it means there is a flaw and it is in you. And we cannot have that, can we?

I saw this frantic stuffing away of real feelings all around me confusing and so very dismaying. A little bit lonely, a little bit sad, but no sounding board to share these thoughts as two cultures snapped like lobsters at the corners of your mind.
If you try to help somebody who has depression or who needs a little soupcon of understanding, a shoulder, a little tender, loving care then there is something wrong with that person. It has to be. How dare you be anything less than perfect. And I then dare to ask if the basic tenet of every value is to be good to the next person, then why do we err and hurt others because it makes us feel better about ourselves.
Echo answers why.
I used to see it, that scheudenfreud enjoying the pain of others relishing it like mustard and mayo.
So the charade goes on, passed from generation to another, like a river in  spate, unabated. The hypocrisy, the pantomime of life played out in paler colours, the muted cry for help stifled lest it be seen as evidence of a fracture of the senses, not wanting to help open the buttons of your mind because their fingers are far too  clumsy.
On campus you see them, sunny smiles and sunnier dispositions, their wounds skin deep but wrapped in a gauze of self-doubt and low self esteem because they ‘re young and they are lonely and that is a tightening combination.
Tomorrow is another day. Maybe the psychologist will listen. Aren’t they paid to listen?

THAT FIRST STEP INTO HAPPY HELL 

You make the appointment with the Counsellor. It is a week ahead. It is always a week ahead. I guess they are busy flinging clods of advice at dozens of us. You would have to declare an emergency for them see you the moment you ask to meet them.

The office has a depressing sameness to it. Minimalist, to the point of emaciation in terms of décor. A few certificates are framed on the wall underscoring the Counsellor’s pedigree and there is the mandatory family photo on the otherwise clean table indicating warmth and obviously designed to make you feel more at ease.

They always offer you coffee as if it was a panacea for all ills and as friendly a gesture as a hug. If we have coffee together, we can be friends. Pewrhaps confidantes.

Then, as if you have all the time in the world they come at you from an acute angle, pointless questions about you, your family, the dog, the canary in the cage.

Come on, you have been there, you know exactly what I mean. Harmless questions creating little pieces of your jigsaw which they will then use as the big picture of your evaluation. And if you are a parent reading this with children studying abroad and you drop that data into teacups at your social soirees and market their departure as a triumph remember your child in the counsellor’s room has just taken one giant step into denuding his mind to strangers and allowing them to intrude and take over that space.

Oh, they are very good at it, so gentle and understanding, sparring with you, acting like those fencers do, cut and thrust, inveigling you into saying things you said you wouldn’t.

You are now knee deep in the Counsellor’s liquid concern and it is drenching you and now that amazing chemistry kicks in and you feel guilted into nodding in agreement to whatever he is saying.  A few more sessions are needed, we will fight the goblins in your mind together, this is our battle.

The move across from lonely me to togetherness is done so deftly that you do not even realise you have been mobilized and are now a freshly recruited soldier in the pharma child army.

But wait a minute, it is not the Counsellor who gives you the medical prescription, it is the psychologist. So to get there you have to go this route. You have to nod assent and accept that more rounds of talks are needed and these will be good for you, so see you Friday at 4 pm and we will take it from there.

Except that in the quiet morning there is much despair. Sleepless nights, fuzzy minds, criminally heavy workloads, shortage of pills in the dorm or the ‘contact’ as you are engulfed in wave after wave of uneasiness and a gnawing claustrophobia, the only port in storm Friday 4 pm and you begin to yearn for it. The Counsellor understands you.

No one else does, no one knows what turmoil there is within. And then, it is the first time you refuse to pick up the phone from your parents five thousand miles away. Let the phone jangle and play its corny tune I don’t want to talk to them, they will ask the same questions, switch off the Skype, we can always lie that the Net was not functioning, stop with the ringing, Friday is three days away, three long unending days.

It is ringing again, why can’t they leave me alone, I am fine, I am okay, there is nothing bloody wrong with me. Is it so difficult to ask for a little space, just a little space, how will I ever get this work done.

Friday comes and Friday goes. So does Wednesday at 3 pm and the next Monday at half past five for a longer one on one and finally the 65 million dollar question; would you be averse to meeting a psychologist.

Averse? A shrink. Are you crazy, you thinking I am crazy.

Not at all. The meeting could do wonders. Everyone who takes a little therapy comes out the better for it.

Then they offload the responsibility. “We only recommend it if you are agreeable and open to the idea, it is just an idea, no pressure.”

No pressure???? Are you kidding, it is the psychologist who is going to give that prescription, remember, make nice, say yes, who cares.

You find yourself signing up for a second tour.

Another step into the war zone. You wanted to go, you nodded like a celluloid doll, the Counsellor only did what you asked.

No guilt, clean hands, unlike Lady Macbeth.

Here I come, Monday at 3 pm.

GETTING AN ADULT INTO THE MIX

The first pill is invariably swallowed by the second and the third and there is always a crisis,an exam,a special study session and not enough minutes in the day.you need that little pick me up,oh come on get that monkey off my back,it’s no big deal everyone is doing It. From that point the leap to the I am not getting addicted,I can stop anytime is a small one.

At one moment around here when the post high depression kicks in like a malevolent cloud and fuzzes the brain there is a passing doing that romping in the Valley of the dolls.

 the dolls isn’t all that benign an excursion. It has got consequences.

What one can do in this phase is seen the shelter of a friend in the same boat.if that is too in your face then take an afternoon off,latch the door and begin floundering through the search engine forest looking for key words,cold comfort and sanctuary. The bleak scenarios are easily dismissed it isn’t as if you are hooked,you are just checking out of curiosity,get a feel of what it is all about. Days of this diet and you are ready to drop it in total except for that niggling doubt. Why does everyone say there is a change in your behaviour. You are quiet, snappy, withdrawn put on weight ,lost weight, stressed, what’s up.

That you can handle. Shrug it off. Slip into denial and be jovial even if that is the last thing you feel. Then your parents get into the  act. Those painful ‘beta’ strewn inquiries while you struggle to control your impatience, get off my damn case, this is a crazy workload ,if you were loaded with half of it you would go crazy, yes, I am eating okay, no not pizzas, yes I promise, yes, got to go now, love you, phew.

Then you feel bad because you made them feel bad and you didn’t want them to feel so but they can truly get on your nerves with their questions.

Maybe in a saner world we would respect the ‘respect’ our parents are giving us and the space and how do we tell them that inside we are hurting. Easier to be gruff and waspish.

One day comes the reckoning. No great revelation because the need that you don’t believe you have is superseded the unavailability of the pills. It is not as if they are mints that you can buy at the drugstore, the stuff, contrary to popular opinion, is not that openly on sale. And it costs, no is peddling out of love. It is a hardcore business.

So back to chasing digital breadcrumbs on the Internet and checking out how to get a prescription. They lead straight to the office of the university psychologist and you think, okay, let’s do it, get a proper medical assessment of things as they are not as they should be., May be I need the counselling, perhaps if I get an adult into the mix this endless dizziness in the head will stop.

You make the appointment for next Monday because they are heap busy, not easy to give a whole hour, five days to go and the little box on the table has only two blue pills left.

Guess will have to make do.

THAT FIRST PILL AND THE SELL OUT !!

You never really know when the slide begins.   That specific point when you need the chemical support to keep you going. What triggers the impulse? It could be a B+ grade when you were expecting at least an A. You are affected by peer pressure, Everybody in and around you telling you “However smart you are you cannot get into Medical School”. The camp between the expectation and the reality sinks your boat. Doubts filter in like shards of ice and you begin to ask yourself if you can hack it. The college workload stares at you like an impassive mountain, impenetrable, looming and evidence of your pending failure. Panic licks at you as you wrestle with that twist in the pit of your stomach. You will have to give up half way, the dream will crash and you will have the dangling albatross over failure around your neck. The pressure is intolerable and waves of claustrophobia   close in on you. Nobody can understand what is going on inside me-not even I myself. I have no control over why I am feeling that no matter how smart I am, or good on paper, it is simply not enough. I tell mom when she asks me “Mohit why are you quiet and not responding” ”Mom everyone here says ,you cannot get into med school however smart you are “to which she responds in that case “Do not do Med School “she also tells me “Mohit you are so smart so don’t get into that pressure of what people say and she tells me if you being so smart are facing this hurdle, what about others who might be not that smart “and I reply to her “Mom the entire class is with the Therapist all Asians “so she doesn’t understand the gravity of the situation being miles away when I tell her the entire class is with the Therapist. Therapist means only counselling no Medication.

Now, you are hurting. Here is where a counsellor comes into the picture You need somebody to talk to. The counsellor seems to be nodding and listening to you and drinking in what you say. At some point you do feel you are understood and someone else in this crazy world can understand a little bit of what I am going through. Taking advantage of your toxic med environment she tells me “You know you feel sad because you have a chemical imbalance in your brain. Just take a pill and it will even you out. I bought into her philosophy thinking she meant well and good for me and no way she can harm me since she is my doctor and better educated and equipped to understand me than Me myself or my family. Take one of these, opening a tin that once housed mints but is now a repository for little blue and cream pills designed to give you that moral support.

No way, you resist because these are narcotics, not your scene, way to help, a one-way ticket.

But your eyes are glued by a lack of sleep, your head fuzzy with the funk of losing out and the long haul of the week ahead is intimidating at best and corrosively frightening at worst, so you know what, one dam tablet tonight won’t matter, it’s not as wit will mess me up or form a habit, just for now, till that midterm menace of an exam is over. And you can hear the devil cackling evilly because he knows he’s captured you in his net and is rubbing his hands with glee.

What sadness can do to yourself, and self-esteem. You are no more smart, just frail like everyone else. Now you are hurting and no way you can resist because these are narcotics, not your scene. These medications are not like your regular ibuprofen tablet. These are high grade-high risk medication which are supposed to be given only under surveillance and guidance.

So you take the little blue one and offer thanks because you wouldn’t have been so happy doing this if you knew what you had so easily done. You sold your soul but you don’t know that. Why should you. The surge of plastic energy, that engineered clarity, the rush of adrenalin gives you a new confidence. This stuff works. You have the capability to tackle the studies, be up all night get that elusive grade.

Bring it on. I am invincible. One little blue circle full of magic, it cannot be that bad, I have made a new friend, my little bridge over troubled waters.

You do that and convince yourself that this is okay, everyone is on something so what the hell and you have taken your first step towards hell. There is no coming back.

The whole felony committed upon yourself is so beguiling like the sirens song luring you towards the rocks but you are helpless. The music is so sweet.

 

 

–  MOHIT MULANI

Mohit Musings – Beginner

There is something ethereal about this blog or column or whatever you may wish to call it. In the 21 years I was on this earth I left a mark. With my thoughts, my ideas, my values. They live after me and always will. So this is not so much from beyond the pale as a sharing of those ideas with you and the conversations you and I going to have each week. See it as a forum for debate, an activity I was exceptionally fond of and excelled in. Because unless we know each other’s views how can we get consensus.

You might ask; what happened with me, to me…the why and wherefore of how even in our young and not yet fully matured minds we find ourselves often shepherded into corrals without our permission or enough data to know why something is being done. My peeve is not that someone messed with my mind but that you cannot use the canopy of concern and caring in medical terms to cover up the messing up of someone’s mind. That really pisses me off. I was hooked all the while thinking and believing that this regimen of tablets and upped milligrams was helping me handle the strenuous pressure of medical school in New York.

 When I came back on that August 2016 break I was bouncing like a balloon. Even the sanctuary of books which I love and often escaped too offered little comfort. I had become high strung and snappy and I knew it, knew this transformation in my behavior was hurtful and confusing but I could not help it.

Every week we are going to talk issues in this space because when I look down from above I am convinced that there are far too many of us young men and women made subservient to uppers and downers and anti-anxiety pills and anti-depression capsules until they rule us and the clicking of the turnstiles at the global pharmacy makes good music in financial terms. But we are the ones paying the  bill.

The question that rose in my mind and then was tucked away was whether we were victims of a gigantic conspiracy that we do not see because the herd instinct takes over. After all, if everyone is okay with it then it must be okay. If psychologists and trained psychiatrists are sic-ed upon us unsuspecting students and they prescribe these dosages they would surely know what they are doing.

Even as you and I share our thoughts on various subjects ranging from the hypocrisy in society’s fabric to racism to political skull-duggery to the trafficking in children and women and the exploitation of the weak, of caste and colour and corruption we will talk in earnest. Because these effect the legacy being given to the next generation and we, the young, have to be responsible now before we are gurgled down the drain. No more casualties.

There are so many things to be furious about. Hunger. Wastage. Disease, Poverty and its choke. Greed. The systematic pillage of the planet. Hatred. Violence. The victims of a hundred cross fires.

It is the idealism of the youth that has to form a defence.

I have one more point to make in this first message. Parents, don’t be afraid to check out your kids if you find noticeable changes in their behavior. You do not have to ‘understand’ them, you only have to understand that something is not quite right. Don’t let children intimidate you. Often there is no distinction between a cry for help and a cry of ‘leave me alone, I am fine’ anger and outrage. We know so well how to scare parents into submission. But the price is huge.

I may not be there in person but my words and thoughts live on. Matter is indestructible and so is everything we have ever said or written or believed in. Every week, I will share these perceptions and expect you to pick it up from there so we create a vat of liquid introspection and address issues we would normally duck.

You people are my voice now. But the thoughts are mine. All mine.

 

 

Mohit Mulani