Nivar

Our first cyclone for the season is on its way.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast that Cyclone Nivar is likely to move west-northwards and for the next 12 hours and then northwestwards before crossing Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts between Karaikal and Mamallapuram late in the evening on November 25. The IMD said that that Cyclone Nivar will cross as a severe cyclonic storm with a wind speed of 120-130 kmph gusting to 145 kmph.

Stay safe people.

Panic

A friend’s husband died of post-COVID complications yesterday. He leaves behind a distraught wife and an equally distraught 17 year old daughter.

Another friend’s brother died of COVID two weeks back. He leaves behind a 21-year old motherless daughter.

It’s not getting better folks – it’s worse than it was in March. We’ve just become more desensitized to it.

In Hindu Mythology, there is an apocalyptic scenario where a warrior God rides a horse, and wipes out worlds. Who said that horse must be a mammal?

PS: The formatting options on this new editor is terrible. But heck, we’re all going to die, who cares.

The genie

There’s a fable in these parts, in which, a genie (‘bhootham’) is released. It wrecks havoc, and people wonder how to control it. Then one wise man gives it tasks to do – difficult tasks, such as cut down the mountain, drain the lake and transfer the water to a different place etc., and the genie is happy. But the moment the task is done, and there is no other task to supplant it, it gets into mischief mode again. This tale gives rise to the saying “Bhoothathukku velai kudutharpol” – like giving tasks to the genie.

This, my friends, is not a fable. The genie is real and alive, and lives inside my head. Two weeks of joblessness, and it was wrecking havoc with the mind, body and routine. Since yesterday, insurmountable tasks have arisen that require me to work 27 hours a day until January, and the genie purrs like a stroked kitten.

I don’t have time to analyse this insanity that’s me. Bye bye havoc, welcome panic.

Let’s make jam

I am going nuts not having any “work” work to do (at least none pressing) and waiting for results of a bat-crap crazy election (get that popcorn out please) that has absolutely nothing to do with me, other than the fact that if one wins, I’d get more projects from defense and if the other wins, there’d be more from the department of energy for me to do.

But until then, I really really need a plan. Maybe I’ll make jam too.

And now for something completely different

I am sick of watching the news and getting riled. I shrug my heavy shoulders and tell myself that this is not my circus not my monkey. What better way to cheer oneself up than to gross out the teenager?

AT the lunch table:

Kid: It would be nice to be a mermaid, no?

Mom: No. You won’t be able to walk.

Kid: Why do you need to walk? You can swim no?

Mom: Might as well be a fish then, why be a fish with boobs?

Kid: Appa, can we please not eat with amma anymore?

**

The past week, I’ve been utterly jobless. No deadlines, no backlog work. I thought it would be relaxing, but it hasn’t. Feeling tired of not doing anything. Thankfully, deadline work will start soon. The only down side is that it would overlap with my kid’s big exams, and I hope it’ll be fine.

**

Covid seems to be ever so slightly falling here, although I am afraid to stretch that thought further. People I know have got it, and have recovered. And people are far less fearful of it than before. The vaccine can’t come soon enough though.

**

What a year, huh?

Stream of (un)consciousness

For the first Sunday in seven months, I don’t have backlog work or unending domestic chores to catch up on.  Yesterday I was excited.  Imagine Sabbath in which every single minute is not planned. “I am going to chill out and relax to the hilt”, I told my daughter last night.

Come Sunday.  My minimal life-sustenance chores are done. No office backlog.  Yes, I have some teaching to do, but that is not “work”, I enjoy it.   And that’s only later in the evening.  I have a few hours to myself to do what I want, to relax, to calm down, and to let the brain go on slow-mo. Sit on the easy chair in my veranda, read a book to the background music of rains. Easy, right?  Wrong.  I have forgotten how to relax.  I sit for about half a minute, and then I am up and about, wandering pretty aimlessly and rudderless, stressing about relaxing.  I ask my daughter what I must do to relax and she throws my stuff to her back at me “Take a deep breath”.  

Still on the loose end, I sit to write and the calm descends.  Writing is the only source of relaxation for me, it seems.  Is it pathetic that writing is both work and play to me, and my life starts and ends with words that I put on screen? 

My other non-work activity these days (reading has been relegated to bedtime so much so that the moment I pick up a book, my mind gets ready to sleep, sad life) especially when I am doing mundane activities like cooking and cleaning , is listening to podcasts, tedtalks etc.  A few months back, I listened to news podcasts, but they depressed me too much, and so I switched to other types of talk.  Depending on the day’s mood, I listen to talks about health, nutrition, brain, neuroscience, traditional medicines, meditation, Taoism/buddhist philosophy, lifestyle, minimalism, and positivity/passion.  Yeah, middle age.

This morning, as I was washing the dishes, I listened to a surfer talk about her passion of saving whales and dolphins.  I silenced the mind’s pesky questions like “how is making thousands of origami whales helping to protect whales?” and “who protects the trees that are cut to make the origami whales?”,  and instead chose to focus on “passion”.  I didn’t see the talker, but she has been surfing for forty years, so she must be as old as or older than me.  Yet, she has her passion – she surfs, she travels around the world talking about and making origami whales.  While I feel wistful at the kind of impassioned life these people lead, I also feel a bit irritated.  These people are a privileged lot,  who can afford to do it.  For a start, this woman is American, which means that she doesn’t need a visa to go to many countries in the world and has a strong dollar value, which makes it affordable for her.  I, on the other hand, belong to a country that needs a visa to go to the toilet, and as much as I might like to spend my life making origami animals and call it a passion, I can’t. 

Sour grapes.

Another talk I listened to was about the blue zones in the world – places where people lived longest.  Much of it is common sense.  Active life, eat healthy, and have a healthy mindset, along with being blessed with long-life genes (yes, there are long-life genes) – all contribute to  long life.  Two particular Japanese concepts practiced in Okinawa, a blue zone, intrigued me (if there’s rebirth, I want to be born in Japan)…ikigai and moai. Ikigai, I feel, is just the Japanese version of our “Karma Yoga” – do your duty without attachments to outcomes – one of my aspirations at which I consistently fail.  

Moai is a group of life-long friends, who meet frequently “to gossip, experience life, and to share advice and even financial assistance when needed”.  Traditionally, children as young as five years of age are grouped and they make a commitment to each other for life to meet regularly with their moai for both work and play and to pool resources.  

I can relate to the concept of moai.  I have my own moai. I have two friends who have stayed with me from kindergarten -that makes it 45 years now.  We live in different continents now, but still run to one another (digitally), for fun, venting, support, comfort and sometimes just because.  It’s not like we can do anything for each other in a physical/materialistic sense, but I find that just a small chat helps me deal with the curve-balls better.

I also have two other friends I have picked up along the way.  These two are also my in-person moai.  I meet them regularly, and can feel a mental reset whenever I do.  So, I think there’s some legit about the concept of moai afterall.

Do you people have moais?  

Navrathri began yesterday. This year, I have not gone full-monty and merely placed a few dolls at the prayer nook rather than the big extravaganza of other years, thanks to covid.  I can’t invite people, so what’s the point?  There’s always next year.

Happy Navrathri folks.

What’s news?

If you, like me, are sick of starting your day with the newspaper and being miserable for the rest of the it, start your day with the following news papers:

Global news: https://www.positive.news/

Indian news: https://www.thebetterindia.com/

Indian news: http://thepositiveindia.com/ (Their technology section is particularly good)

More Indian news: https://positivepostofindia.com/

USA news: https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/