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.