Celebrating Ellen!

Came back from work, made a cup of nice hot masala tea and sat back to enjoy and cherish my last day at this apartment. Opened my laptop to savor some recent uploads of my favorite channels, some intellectual, other light-hearted. The first recommendation on YouTube was the recent episode of TheEllenShow.

As I watched one, and the next and the next, I couldn’t stop and had to watch all uploads within the past 24hrs.! Only after it ended did I realise I had been crying furiously through all those videos. The emotional decibel was just overwhelming.

I have been a fan of Ellen since I got to know about this comedian a few years ago. I remember I watched all available YouTube videos in one all-nighter. Unfortunately, I havent been a fan of TV so never had one since I moved out of my parents home. But that night stamped my love for Ellen. Until then, I hadn’t known a more brilliant female comedian. I remember even admiring her courage and grit to establish herself on a path which dint even exist. During the years, that respect diminished, or rather forgotten, but love strengthened.

Watching this commemoration of her ‘coming out’ episode’s 20th anniversary made me remember the admiration I had for her. I cannot even imagine, in my wildest dreams, the amount of courage, patience and determination it would have taken on her part, just to keep herself from suicide or similar destructive actions, let alone working. But she did it! And look where it led her. To heights she wouldn’t even have dreamt about.

The one lesson which struck out to me throughout this was –

Be true to yourself no matter what. You are made a certain way and you are here to be a certain person. So just be you. There is no need to conform or change. As long as you are truthful about who you are, which at the time may seem risky and full of losses, it will take you places you could not even have imagined.

Ellen

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An unpopular opinion

I attended this women’s tech club launch event in my area yesterday. It’s a very famous organisation with international footprint but dint have a local chapter. One of the ladies took it upon herself to connect with leaders of the organisation and setup the launch of the club in our area. Kudos to her efforts and for taking the initiative! We need more of you 🙂

The event was great! They had a terrific panel with female achievers from tech and non-tech background, food and drinks along with great topics on the discussion forum. I was thoroughly enjoying the event, albeit feeling a little disconnected since it was mostly the panel giving their own views and opinions on the topics. It would have felt better if it was more interactive but was good, nonetheless.

However, throughout the listening session I had only one thought going in my mind for some reason – ‘Why do only women need so much pep talk? Where are all the boy’s club discussing imposter syndrome and work-life balance?’ If there are any, they seem to be really clandestine! Or is this my ignorance?

I am really clueless about what prompted this question but after it came, it stayed. I kept thinking through the night and today as well. It’s odd isnt it? There were these amazing ladies encouraging us that we can have it all, its ok to not have it all at the same time, its ok to ask for more, etc. etc. and I couldn’t stop wondering if my Dad ever needed someone to tell him all this.

Frankly, I don’t think I need any of the encouragement being offered there; no offence to sisters who actually do benefit from it. I know everyone has their own story to tell. I have my own issues to deal with but none of them are anywhere close to the topics discussed yesterday. I am not looking for any pacifiers. I have a healthy level of self-confidence and self-respect. But hasnt anyone ever thought why do females suffer from self-doubt so much more than men? Why do we need cajoling every now and then? Is it our social upbringing, societal conditioning or brainwashing through the generations? I am curious to know!

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Too much negativity, anxiety

I did not make a post for last 5 days because of my new resolution – spending 2-3 days away from all and every form of social media. This includes Watsapp, Quora, LinkedIn, YouTube, WordPress etc. (it helps that I am not on Facebook 🙂 ) The weekend and my mood made it quite convenient infact.

I’ll be honest; I have been very anxious for the past week. I was seeing so much negativity all around me. Conflicting opinions at workplace, disrespecting and patronising colleagues, undermining relatives, all of this was just becoming too much. I was reading hate and mistrust in almost every conversation.

The sensible side of me was trying really hard to find a silver lining. Am I reading between the lines a little too much? Is the whole world really against me? Is everyone really trying to push me down a spiral? Why?

I was trying to find a way out of all the frustration reeling inside me and just 2 thoughts came as a possible solution, to calm myself down and think more rationally –

  1. Avoid social media for some time
  2. Think about all the encouraging and supportive people around me

And it worked! 3 days without social media indulgence and instead, talking to parents and friends gave me the perspective I was looking for. It brought me back to the person I am; happy cheerful optimistic and determined. It changed my point of view regarding the situations I was feeling resentful about and I could see them from a more mature angle. I could even think of a few ways to resolve them without conflict or friction.

Thinking back and analysing the situation, I can only give my hypothesis, which may or may not be accurate.

You see, we are living in a world of data. A world of insurmountable amount of data, rapidly changing data, coming to you as fast as it changes. Frankly, most of it is garbage but its being served to us nevertheless. So much exposure to media for 16-18 hrs. a day will definitely have its ill-affects.

I realised I had been reading heavily about feminist content, government policies, celebrity issues etc. on a daily basis. I really feel passionately about all of these (except the celebrity updates 🙂 ) but the problem was that more than 80% of the content presented to me was negative. Females sharing stories of sexism and gender-biases without a solution at hand, talk show hosts debating govt. failure in doing this n that, celebrities getting into scandals, people accusing each other of intolerance, patriarchy, narcissism, anarchy, corruption….the list can go on and on. Consuming so much negativity for 15 hrs. a day is good enough to send a person into severe depression in a week! And I believe that’s what happened to me.

I agree there are issues which need people participation and attention but I don’t need to digest everything on my platter throughout the day, every single day. Because it doesn’t end. Unless I use my own discretion and stop at some point, it really doesnt end.

It’s good to be aware of whats happening around the world but it’s equally important to have a balance between positive and negative news in your feed! After all, its business for them and there’s no such thing as a free lunch!

AwayFromSocialMedia

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What’s on my mind? Ladakh!!!

These past few weeks I have been consumed with just one thought – Leh, Ladakh! It, indisputably, occupies the #1 spot on my bucket list and dream vacation locations. I have been planning and preparing since about 6 years now! Every year I spend weeks reading about it, making notes, thinking about tentative dates when it would be easier to get leave from office etc. etc. But in the midst of all this dreaming, the doing never happened and my dream remained a dream.

I remember, in 2015 I came the closest to finally crossing it off. During my Holi vacations, I saw an extremely detailed travelogue from a solo female traveller about her recent trip to Leh/Ladakh and that was it. I sent an enquiry to my favorite travel booking company about the years bike trips to Ladakh. They sent the itineraries and as soon as I saw one of the trips was planned during my birthday week, I knew it was a sign! I immediately sent them a confirmation to reserve a slot. In fact I remember the guy even replied back saying I asked for itineraries every year almost thrice but never replied until now. That was true.

Wasting no time, I told all my friends. Finally this year I was going to take a birthday trip to my dream vacation spot. The dates were in September and I couldn’t wait for the 5 months to pass. But, that trip dint happen again!

In August, I got the opportunity to travel abroad for work. My first onsite! You wont believe but it was a really tough decision to make. I took around 2 weeks to decide between my first onsite and my dream trip. It might sound crazy to some of you but a few might be able to relate. Of course I ended up going abroad for work but it did dampen the fun a little and my heart wasnt as happy as it should be.

Fast forward 2 years and here I am, planning a family trip to Ladakh in June! I went abroad but my vacation was always on my radar. Ladakh never left my dreams! This year, by a lucky coincidence, everything was falling in place to help me plan the trip. And that’s what I have been doing since a month now.

The tickets are not yet booked but all research is done and details collated. Now all I need to do is stalk the flight prices for a few weeks and book the day they are the lowest.

Wish me luck! It’s not easy planning a family trip in India while sitting in the US 🙂

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Civility and Restraint on Social Media

After bearing the burden for a month, I am getting this thought off my chest now.

Anyone else thinks we are becoming more hostile towards each other due to this increasing culture of chats, watsapp and texts, which is limiting (or rather putting an end to) face-to-face conversations unless absolutely necessary? I have certainly started feeling this way due to a few recent happenings.

Sometime back, I received a few long mean watsapp messages, or rather virtual letters, from my flatmate where she recounted her frustration over some of my actions. I was surprised by the malicious language she used because we had been quite friendly with each other, had dinner together and spoke about our lives almost on a daily basis. Of course we dint like a few of each others quirks but there was never an ill intent. Bear in mind that we talk at home almost daily!

I read the messages multiple times and could only conclude that they were sent in a fit of anger or irritation over something else. They weren’t thought through. My anger was building up as I was reading through them line by line. They were offensive and disrespectful, to say the least. Even though she wasn’t in front of me, I could sense the malice in those words. Of course I could be wrong, couldn’t I? And that’s my point!

Wouldnt it have been better if she discussed these things bothering her personally with me? I am sure it would have hurt me less. I always deliberately bring it up multiple times with all my flatmates and encourage honest conversations so that we can avoid unnecessary drama and speculation.

But these days, people find it easier to send hateful messages rather than face the person and confront or engage in a debate. Because it looks convenient at the time. There is nobody looking them in the eye and judging. But do people really think sending an angry text message hiding behind virtual media is an act of bravery? Really? Are we becoming so delusional? If anything else, its cowardice! And it holds grave repercussions.

And then there are those who think bringing down one another on social media platforms will actually change the world’s opinion! It just proves that you have the IQ of a peanut and you don’t have enough sense or maturity to engage in a discussion or bring some quality thought to the table.

When you talk to a person face-to-face, you empathise better and respond in a more dignified manner. It gives you time to form coherent thoughts and reduces the chances of saying something that you might regret later. Offline conversations miss out on the tone and the expression of the person conveying the message. They eliminate any restraint or filter you might have. You feel angry, the person is not around, there is nothing stopping you from insulting him/her through a quick message. Had that option not been there, you would have waited until the person was in front of you and most times, by then your anger would have subsided.

I hope we all grow up and use our brains a little more. Hiding behind screens and pretending to be bold or courageous doesn’t fool anyone, except yourself maybe. This is how we are loosing out on social etiquettes and mutual respect. This is like going back in time, forgetting civilization and behaving like savages.

We really need to discourage this culture and make people (yes, force people if we have to) have more personal conversations or we would end up fighting a very brutal and impersonal virtual media war. And as history has proven time and again, there are no winners in a war.

Also, words stay!

The next time you feel like barraging someone with an angry tweet or comment, just take a deep breath, count till 10 and give it a thought if doing this would really achieve anything other than spreading hatred.

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Of Debates and Disagreements

I have been lucky enough to be brought up in a family where healthy debates, discussions and disagreements were an integral part of our younger years. My parents used to encourage us to ask more questions all the time .

I remember, on our day trips, Dad used to keep throwing general knowledge questions at us through the entire trip. Questions like, do you know which point is considered the centre of a town, why are trees planted along the roadside, what do those milestones mean, and so on and so forth. It served multiple purposes but two of the most important ones were –

  1. It built our curiosity and analytical thinking
  2. It made us more observant, developing the habit of being vigilant of our surroundings.

The analytical thinking promoted another habit – questioning everything. It has served me good but sometimes it becomes my Achilles heel. I do not possess the quality of being agreeable. I don’t trust people very quickly. It was furthered by me following advise from people and ending up with huge losses many times. So now, I do my own research about every little piece of detail and information.

Most times, people get furious when I question something that has been going on for years. If I ask why, they give me a questioning look as if I am the stupid one. This applies at office as well as in my personal life.

A simple thing as getting my parent’s passports. When we dint receive the passport even after a month, people started asking did we pay the 3000/- fees. I was surprised because I did not know about this fees. I started reading about the steps again to see if I missed some fine print in the process. I could not find any mention of any money to be paid anywhere. When I mentioned this, people gave me dumbfounded looks. Such has become the ubiquitous existence of bribery. But I refused to budge and kept calling the passport office about the status every week. Finally, in another month, the passports came, without us having to warm anyone’s palm. Just because something has been going on for years, doesnt mean it has to continue the same way. Question everything. You never know when you might become an agent of change.

In my observation, people confidently give you advise in a blink even about topics regarding which they might have minimal to no knowledge. And if you don’t do your homework, you end up loosing.

My Dad was having trouble getting his pension released from office. After about 6 months of wait, people told him he should file a case in court because as per law, his pension should be released immediately after retirement. My Dad told me this and I started to research about pension laws. Unsurprisingly, there was no such law! There are only guidelines for offices to release pensions as soon as possible. If the person feels he/she hasn’t received the due even after a considerably long wait and his money is being held without any reason, he/she can approach the court. But technically, no law has been broken if you havent received your funds yet. So don’t fire your guns from someone else’s shoulder.

Also, with the extensive reach of social media, misinformation and misguided data has become so prevalent that for the innocent public, it’s almost impossible to know right from wrong. The ‘fake news’ as we call it, is everywhere. And how would a person who just got to know that he/she can read news online, know which are those “fake” news channels or fabricated story promoters?

The only way to save yourself from spiralling downward through this malicious network of corrupt information era is to have more healthy debates. Analyse and discuss topics and issues within your network. Hear opposing views and propose your counter point. Separate the pros from the cons. Most importantly, do not circulate information which you yourself have not verified. Because there is no dearth of morons who believe every hateful propagandist story they see online rather than using their brains.

The more perspective you have, the more you will grow and the more maturity you will reflect. The world is not black and white. It’s foolish to assume that you can pick a side and spend your life there.

Change is the only constant. The only way you can keep yourself sane in this generation is to talk with people and engage in conversations, rather than sitting behind the veil of social media screens and indulge in silly agendas.

This attitude puts me in bad light more often than I would like, but I am happy to take that risk rather than make uninformed opinions about something that I have no first hand knowledge about.

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2017 Writing Challenge/Introduction

Hi!

With this post, I officially launch my 2017 writing challenge. Through this, I am challenging myself to write at least one post everyday.

A few days back I read this answer on Quora and was instantly hit by realism. It felt like my recent life, word by word. I have been doing exactly what Tom did, ending with no concrete plan towards my dream even after 5 years of knowing it. But hey! Its never too late to begin. So here I am.

To start building a disciplined habit of writing, I thought a blog would be a great idea. This would help eliminate the usual excuses like, not having a pen and paper handy. Hence, wordpress.

The next important aspect was to make it anonymous. This would help me write with more freedom. I dont want the unnecessary burden of thinking about people’s judgement right now. I have another blog and have realised that I am extremely cautious these days about my posts. How is the content, am I sounding too preachy, will this offend any of my friends or relatives etc. So some anonymity for now would do me good.

And then, the most important question. Why do I need this habit? Because like Tom, I dont think I am a gifted writer. I consider myself a storyteller and I have numerous thoughts at any given point of time, like everyone else. When I talk, people listen to me. They take me seriously. But when I write, I can see my thoughts do not come across very coherently. The point is made but it could have been done so much better. Anytime I read any of my older posts, a thousand edits and improvements are staring at me right in the face. I figured, the only way to get better is practicing on a scratchpad, right? As we know, practice makes perfect!

By the way, I am not exactly a teenager. I am in my late 20s but I do think like a grandma (sometimes/most times?). The blog title is deceptive but intriguing, right?

Do invite your friends to be part of this writing challenge if you like! The more, the merrier.

Godspeed!

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