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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Why we love life's little boxes

We all love them, those little boxes that we like to keep our lives organised into because that gives us a semblance of control over our lives. Or so we like to think and believe until something or someone comes and shakes us out of that belief. As I learnt to my discomfort, just the other day.

Life's Little Boxes
( Image from  the internet)
My life is planned to a very large degree and I have certain days of the week allocated for different activities that I’m involved with. Since most of them entail leaving the house by about 8.30am, the cleaner has been clearly informed that the car must be cleaned and ready by 8 am, (just in case I decide/have to leave home somewhat earlier).

And this is an arrangement that has worked rather well for some time. That was until last Tuesday when I reached the car and to my surprise found him just about starting to clean it. The time was already about 8.25 am and I had to leave, with or without that cleaning. Approaching him, I probably had a certain kind of look on my face, and he knew exactly what had caused it. So in anticipation of what I would say to him, he started to apologise, but I wanted to tell him once and for all that being late the next time was a complete ‘no-no’. 

All he did was just lift up his trouser leg and show me a huge bandage covering his foot and right upto his ankle and tell me, “Madam, Yeh chot lag gaya hai.”(Madam, I’ve hurt my foot.) I did not know where to look, let alone tell him anything more. Managing to barely mumble words to the effect that I hoped that he had shown it to a doctor, I got in and started my car. 

But not before I heard him say, “Madam, I’ll finish the job right after you return.”


Then there was this other time when I saw a well to do individual approaching his vehicle in a public parking and start shouting at a poor man cleaning his vehicle. The reason for that - apparently the man was cleaning the car with water that was not too clean. 

That moment will remain etched in my mind and heart forever. The sheer anger and contempt on the man’s face as he shouted at the cowering thin and tired man. But even more, the look of shame and humiliation on the victim’s face as I passed by... 

Life's little boxes-inexplicable sometimes and very hard to forget most of the time.

( Excerpt taken from my column 'My Take' in Muscat Daily.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Truth is often stranger than fiction-Trump wins the American Presidential poll

Truth is often stranger than fiction and no where  has it been more apparent than what the world witnessed a few  hours ago when Republican Donald Trump defeated the front runner Democrat Hillary Clinton to win the elections.  Accordingly Trump will become the 45th US president after a stunning victory, which had political pundits al over the world reeling in what can best be comically described as 'shock and awe.'
The Republican nominee defied pre-election polling to claim swing states, winning the key battlegrounds of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Standing at the Trump election headquarters in New York after the results had been announced,  he  told cheering supporters that Americans must now unite and "bind the wounds of division", after a gruelling, acrimonious campaign.
Global markets plummeted, with the US dollar diving and gold prices surging.
As poll counting went late into the night, it was clearly Trump's shock victory in Wisconsin that put him over the 270 out of 538 electoral college votes needed to win the White House.

Trump with his running mate Pence

In what might be described a a possible moment of stark realisation, just a few hours earlier, Hillary Clinton had  suggested that she might be going to lose the US election.
The Democratic candidate posted an Instagram tribute to her staff and supporters as her chances of winning plunged on the election night.
                                Hillary Clinton on Instagram
"This team has so much to be proud of," she wrote on her official profile. "Whatever happens tonight, thank you for everything."
Millions of pages will be written in as many magazines worldwide over the coming days, weeks and months on the hows, whys and whats of this shock election victory but my top of mind thoughts as I close this piece are:
Changing times clearly demand changing solutions - as to whether Trump will be the harbinger of that change remains to be seen.
Can't help but wonder - what were Hillary's thoughts as the final results came in- when she realised  that she had lost and picked up the phone to make that congratulatory call to Trump- who then started his thank you speech with that very same thought and in a complete turnabout, actually thanked Senator Clinton and her family for their contribution to the US of A.
And finally, the year 2016 and another American Presidential election has concluded, but the world is still waiting for the day when a woman will become the President of the USA.

(NB- References and pics from BBC News website)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Moments that matter

Talking to your friends, and really 'listening' to what they have to say.

Or sharing your own 'real' thoughts with them, without couching them in polite tones. 

Because one does so much of it in maintaining a 'public face' anyway.

Taking a walk on your own. 

Or with a friend - on the beach, in the hills , in a park or even in your own neighbourhood.

A walk on the beach (Muscat, Oman)

Stepping into another person's shoes, and just for a moment realizing where they are coming from, and why they think, feel and behave the way they sometimes appear to (sometimes to your irritation, perhaps?)

Standing up for another person's rights, because you realize that they aren't able to get what they really, really deserve.

And having the courage to and persistence to ensure that you finish what you started.

Giving some of our time, and some of our enthusiasm to those are lonely.

For reaching out to a lonely person is probably the one of the things make us realise how thankful we really ought to be for all those who we have today.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence

According to the Urban dictionary, the phrase 'the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence', refers to the way we tend to look at other people’s lives and things that we don't have in general, through rose coloured glasses.

In literal terms, this comes straight from the idea of looking at a neighbour's lawn and seeing it as better looking, healthier and overall greener then your own when in reality you’re just ignoring anything negative about it and downplaying everything positive about yourself.

Hmm, could it be greener perhaps?

Here's a classic instance which really puts it in perspective.
Friend1- 'You’re so lucky, you went to a great college, have money and you’re so smart and will probably accomplish more by the time you’re 30 then I will in my entire life.' 

Friend 2- 'Are you serious? I’ve always envied you. People expect so much out of me. I’ve never been able to have a life because of studying and other schoolwork. If I get less then an A, people freak out like I got an F. I may accomplish that much, but with all the pressure on me I’ll probably be insane by the time I’m 35. In so many ways, I wish I could just be a regular guy with normal expectations and a normal life.' 

Friend 1- 'Wow, I honestly never looked at it that way. I guess it's true that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence!"

Looking at it from a very personal perspective, I always wanted to wear spectacles when I was a girl in middle school. In particular, the large, square, black framed ones which I had seen someone wearing in a movie- Quite possibly, Ali Mac Graw, the heroine of Love Story or someone very like her. I begged and pleaded with my parents for a pair and one day they finally caved in. I guess i must have been so painful that they actually took me to an opthomologist's clinic and asked if I could get a pair of those spectacles with zero power.

The man was clearly puzzled and asked me why on earth did I want to wear spectacles when I didn't need them? 

'Because they look very smart', I answered in a flash.

'Beta, don't you know that even if you were to wear a pair of spectacles with zero power, they will slowly, but surely lead you to a pair with real power. So its much better that you learn to live without them and believe me when you are older, you will thank me for this piece of advice.'

I hated listening to him but eventually I did. 

Many decades later ,I (mentally) thank him every now and then. 

Sometimes I wonder was  it really because of him?

As it happens, till date, I am not using even a pair of reading glasses...

Then there was a time I wanted long, straight  hair. Simply because my favourite Hindi film  actress Simmi Garewal had hair like that. Now that wasn't so difficult to achieve as I was naturally blessed with long, straight wavy hair and with a little bit of professional help, Ive managed that. 

Does that give me happiness? A definite yes!

Then again, many of my friends with long, straight hair have told me time and again, how they long for curly/wavy hair. Over the course of years, many of them have done exactly that and are happy with their choices.

The same can be said for one's height, weight, colour of eyes, colour of skin...the list is an endless one and its really difficult to draw the line. After all, where does all this end? Exactly where it started or does the goal post change somewhere along the way?

Questions, questions, questions, with few if any real answers.

And so I come back to where I started- "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence."