It’s been years since I held the paint brush. Not that I was great at it in the first place – don’t be fooled by this painting…it is merely paint between the lines for adults – and as you can see I’ve not quite painted between the lines !
I have resumed painting as a means to calm down. I am hoping that I will get better than this as I paint more. Or maybe not. My eyes are not what they used to be.
For the uninitiated, the painting is a still from the Mahabharatha, a Hindu Epic, which, like all epics tells the tale of the war between good and evil. This particular still follows the story of Arjuna (the warrior) losing heart about fighting a war against co-human beings, and the charioteer Krishna teaches him in 700 verses, how duty must be performed without attachment to consequences, after which the dude picks up his weapon and goes about killing his enemies.
I don’t like to see the story literally – war is never good – but symbolically. The “war” represents life . We cannot give up, but continue to go about doing our stuff with no attachment to the consequences. This is pretty much how I see the Bhagawad Gita, and aspire to follow.
As I bite into a slice of bread slathered with butter and sprinkled with sugar, I am transported to the days of innocence where life was lived without fear of calories, cholesterol, and cortisol overload. Ignorance may have hastened deaths, but the fewer years lived were at least lived in the blissful absence of conflict. This thought summed up my turmoil since morning.
Sundays are days of rest for most people of the world. For me, it’s the day that my convictions and conscience conflict with convenience, and I am in a perpetual state of irritation. Let me explain.
I am not an idealist, but like every human being, I have a few convictions. Three of the convictions that lead to my weekly sabbath mood swings are the following.
All people are equally deserving of rest and recouperation (although I often forget that I am part of the “all people” too).
Water is a scarce resource and saving it starts with every individual, and
I have to play my part in energy conservation.
While the three points seem disjoint, they come together to plague me on Sundays.
The Indian lifestyle generally employs domestic help. My domestic help comes in every morning, washes dishes and clothes and sweeps the floor of the house. The domestic service is not unionized, and thus there are no rules of employment. But my first conviction rebels. So, my maid gets Sundays off work, as she rightfully deserves. The woman, who has been with me for 17 years now, asks me to not do anything on Sunday, and leave things for Monday when she returns, but that goes against my conscience. “Day off” must not mean “extra work the next day”. So, I do all that she does on Sunday, so that when she returns on Monday, she gets her usual quota of work.
Yes, it’s lovely and all, but there’s a devil in my mind that occasionally throws a tantrum – especially when the body is behaving particularly perimenopausal. “Why must she have Sundays off?” “Why can’t you just leave the clothes for her for tomorrow”, etc. The conscience stands there with a disapproving nod. I go about my duties, cursing it.
Now comes the second conviction in the list above. I am one of the few households in my country that does not have a washing machine for clothes. We (my maid on weekdays and I on Sundays) handwash the clothes and hang them out on the balcony to dry. Reason? Water conservation. Handwashing uses far less water, and conserves energy (the third conviction). My cousin chides me that I am living in a distant past, and need to get off my high-horse of idealism into practicality. The devil nods along, but the conscience wins every single time. My current maid does not mind hand washing, but when she retires and I hire a new one, I may need to bite the bullet, since I hear that maids refuse to handwash clothes anymore.
The third conviction, in addition to leading to the refusal to buy washing machine, involves the hot Indian summer. It’s getting hotter by the minute in these parts of the world, and while my devil sits on top of the air conditioning unit with a come-hither look on its face, my conscience tells me that the migraine is worth the conservation of energy. The latter gets cursed.
Sometimes I wonder if I am doing this for Brownie points from the universe or to feel superior to others. Then I decide that even if the ulterior motive is selfish, I’ll continue to hold on to them because every single drop of water makes the ocean.
The best of newspapers and the best of science media writers proclaim in their headlines
“180 deaths after vaccination”
“173 recipients died in 71 days of vaccination”
In a nation that is heading for a tsunami in lieu of a second wave, and in a country where misinformation and superstition dwarfs science, such headlines can only be catastrophic.
Here are the numbers released by the government. The sceptic in all of us believes that the numbers are underreported*, but even when underreported, the numbers aren’t bad.
Yes, 173 recipients of vaccination have died. Of the 61113354 Indians that have received at least one dose. That’s six crore jabs. Or 61 million jabs.
No, I am not reducing the 173 to statistics. Every life is precious. My heart goes out to the families of the 173 people who died. They should be alive. They died.
But if we were to only look at the numbers, 173 of 6 crore (or 61 million) vaccinations translates to ONE death per 340000 people vaccinated.
In 2019, 151113 people died in road accidents in India. Assuming that all of the 1380004385 people of this country are out on the road at least now and then, there’s one road accident death per 91312 people. That’s thirty seven times more number of people being killed just by stepping out of their homes than being vaccinated.
If we are not going to get vaccinated because we could be the one in 340000 people that could die, we shouldn’t be stepping out of our homes ever again, because the odds are stacked worse against us on the road.
I wish science writers would report responsibly and not scream out misleading headlines that trigger mass hysteria in an already hysteric population.
“The consistent mispronunciation or misspelling of one’s Asian name — questions and requests for you to simplify or change your name — do take a toll on one’s individual psyche,” she said. “Names reflect your presence, your being, your history. When people constantly do that, they’re not acknowledging you — as a person, as a human being.”
I am a wordsmith by profession. I write, edit and proof read documents of all types for a living. I have three main clients – a hard science R&D company for which I write research proposals and grants, a mainstream media company for which I write dumbed-down reports on current research going on in my country, and a tech company for which I occasionally write articles on the overlap of technology and life. Apart from this, I edit and proofread research papers by students all over the world for a pittance. Thus, for the past many years, I’ve never been without a task to complete every single day, often even on weekends. While I have indeed taken a few days (maximum 5) off work, I’ve never turned down work – I’ve merely asked for a little more time to complete the work due to the small break that I would be taking.
The past three weeks, I took a sabbatical. A full one. I politely refused editing/proofing projects, I took time off from my regular clients, not with the promise of getting back to it in a few days, but a clean cut, wherein I shall not think about work. I needed it sorely. Much as I enjoy my job(s), I think a decade is a long time to have awoken every single morning with a to-do checklist in my head.
The excuse I gave myself for the sabbatical is that I needed to be with my child as she prepared for her board exams, but the truth is that I haven’t been doing that either. I’ve been surfing the net, reading the news, taking siestas and doing some self-care to handle the intense anxiety that has been wrecking havoc inside my head lately.
I am easing into work today, surprisingly reluctantly. The earlier times that I’ve taken the brief breaks, I would rush back to work willingly. It’s probably just inertia, and once I start, the wheel would turn. My powerpoint is open for a review outline that I must work on for the next few days, and yet, here I am blogging.
More bed-time talk, the topic being the show Lucifer that is currently keeping the 17-year old in a state of utter rapture these days.
Kid: I don’t know why the show makers won’t let the hero and heroine get together soon.
Mom: Because then there would be only one episode, and it would become impossible to draw out the non-story over a million seasons of eye-gouging boredom.
Kid: Any way, moving on to the story, Lucifer is finally unmasked to Chloe. When he kills Cain, he gets his devil face and chloe sees it.
Mom: So, now she believes that he is really the devil, no?
Kid: Yeah, but then she goes on vacation and Lucifer is all pining and depressed.
Mom: So, tell me again, who is chloe?
Kid: God, you never pay attention to anything I say. Chloe was born because of god’s miracle, and so Lucifer’s not invulnerable when she is around.
Mom: Wait a minute. You say Chloe was born because of god’s miracle? And Lucifer is god’s son? Then they are siblings. How can they romance? Eww..
Kid: No, they are not. God is not Chloe’s father. He just did a miracle so that chloe’s mother could conceive with her husband. He’s like a divine gynaecologist*, that’s all.
Mom: What crap? See, in the Mahabharatha, the sun god helps Kunti conceive Karna, and is considered the father of karna. Not a divine gynaecologist. By the same token, Lucifer’s father, the god is the father of Chloe. Which makes Lucifer and Chloe brother and sister, and it’s incest.
Kid: But the bible is not the mahabharatha, for god’s sake!
Mom: That’s true, though, and this won’t be the first example of biblical incest, what?
Kid: IT’S NOT INCEST. You always ruin everything.
*”Divine gynaecologist” was an inspired comeback, in my opinion.
This is a very specific question about a specific, geographically centred topic.
My relatives who live in Bangalore always get me rusk and biscuits that are out of the world. They shop at a specific iyengar bakery in Bangalore. They’ve taken me there once, and there’s always a one hour wait to buy stuff there because of the crowd.
I cannot for the life of me get these types of rusk and biscuits (you know, the butter-biscuit variety) in Chennai.
Even biscuits I can live without, but those rusks….
Does anyone know of a place in Chennai that I can get good rusk? The branded ones (Brittania, modern etc.) are a sad excuse for rusk, especially after having the Bangalore bakery ones.