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.