The fear behind…

fear-girl-in-bottle

“It’s not what we don’t know that gets us in trouble; it’s what we know for sure that’s just not true.” –Mark Twain

Voldemort was a great wizard. He did terrible things but great, like Ollivanders once said. Then why hunt down a mere baby? Why give him so much importance? His fear of death.

Many epics, tales and history is based on this tyrannical beast – FEAR. Trace Hitler’s motives, Aurangazeb’s actions. Behind the greatest war in the history of mankind of which the longest poem was written – the Mahabharata, lies the fear of a coward who unfortunately also wanted a lot of attention – Duryodhana.

Scratch that surface of power, greed and tyranny and you’ll find the actual mastermind behind these terrible actions – fear.a

Fear is a terrible catalyst. Mixed with great ability and a dash of greed it has created history in the form of war and rampage. But fear is not the property of the powerful alone. It permeates everywhere.

In the minds of mediocrity it creates the basis for many lives – excuses. Look carefully. Behind the veil of anger and busy talk and the ‘I don’t care’ lies a deep seated fear. Fear of failure, fear of responsibility, fear of uncertainty, fear of change, fear of making mistakes and even fear of success itself.

Fear is a creation of the ego. If you examine any one of your fears, you will see that it refers to a future possibility, not a current reality. Fear is almost always tied to a negative idea about something in the future that has not happened and probably will not happen. It is the emotion that is generated by thinking about some dreaded possibility in the future.

Fear traps and locks us away within our comfort zone. Yet fear often develops as a result of a lack of understanding, information, resources, experience or perspective. If you lack all these things, you will naturally lack confidence, and as a result you will fail to take the action necessary to achieve your goals and objectives. Consequently you will tend to make excuses about your life and circumstances in order to help boost your self-esteem. However, all you’re doing is creating the illusion of security. You’re simply masking the pain by taking a pain killer. The pain is still there, and will continue to persist until you finally overcome your fears.

We must become tone deaf to egos whispers of fear and its unreasonable demands of power, control and safety. Fears have great power when they’re inside your head. They grow and mutate into giant trolls. But by being aware of them, you can bring them outside where they no longer have control over you.

Trauma of filling forms.

I love to write. It is a known fact. Even before I had the audacity to call myself a writer, I have thought on paper.  It really did not matter if were writing my thesis paper, a short story, blog post or even plain to do list. The scratch of pen on paper is my biggest source of happiness. In fact to me free writing is a form of meditation.

Is it a surprise when friends and family want me to write their notes, edit their work or better their resumes? Not really. But expecting me to fill immigration forms at the airport is assuming my writing is just a scribble. But surprise! Guess who ends up filling all the forms? From school to travel, admissions to immigration, I have become the official form filler.form-fillophobia-the

And I hate it. Don’t know what is it about those forms but I just hate the thought of filling them. Maybe its the small space where you have to write all your details. Maybe I don’t like writing my name, in full, about six times in three pages. Or maybe it is because I don’t like telling so many details.

The hate factor increases tenfold when it is an online form. It is time consuming, slow and many times the server is incompetent to keep up with the traffic. Between every sale cart and abandonment of sale in my life is an unfilled form!

You have autofill you say? Many sites have disabled this. Intensely frustrating it is when you never know how long and to how many pages the form filling will go. Playing a maze game with my credit card details is not something I appreciate. And the most important of  all, why do you need so many personal information? Many times I feel I’m filling out a dating or marriage bureau site for a purchase of something trivial.

The best part of this frustration is, I spend half an afternoon coughing up my personal history to anonymous website and in 3 days when the delivery comes, the guy has no idea what is my postal address and calls me up to verify.

That’s just another half hour talking a moron through the city traffic to my house.

I really must love writing if I am ready to put up with this every time.

Stay connected, Create history – The power of alumni network

Friendship, fun, continuous talk and always a shoulder to lean on – that’s the joy of school life.

When we spend six hours daily for years an institution, we imbibe its values and its identity and in essence carry them with us as learning or experience long after we leave the campus. And then suddenly, years later, a chance encounter with a friend, an article in the newspaper or similar incidents in the lives of our children brings those memories of our alma mater hurtling through our minds in a rush.

Of course Facebook, WhatsApp and LinkedIn has made the link stronger and has given a new dimension to school friendship – the alumni network.

The alumni network is a school’s recognition and celebration of past student’s achievements and a storehouse of opportunity to its current students. It is in essence a network of Godfathers to each new recruit and an arm extended in help to every member.

Schools, colleges and Universities are radically changing the way they support the alumni, supplementing quarterly magazines and annual reunions with year round networking and communication.

Lifelong friendships, the collaborative community, and common connections with other alumni are among the most powerful benefits of an alumni network. The relationships built here gives us the power to move ahead in our job, change our career, and even relocate around the globe.

Some colleges call back the students with job offered, some benefit with fund raising and campus recruitment. Scholarships, campus access and referrals also form a major part of many alumni network. 

Alumni network is the backbone of recruitment. 94% of recruiters and human resources professionals surveyed by Jobvite (2013) credited LinkedIn as being the go-to source for recruiting. Facebook rose to second place, with 66 percent of hiring professionals using it as a source for recruiting, and Twitter placed third, at 52 percent.

The test of success of this long term fraternity association and bonding came during the recent recession when alumni network world over helped thousands of laid off employees get newer jobs.

Whether an alum is an entrepreneur striving to grow his or her company, a young professional seeking to accelerate his or her career path, or a venerable old grad mentoring others in appreciation for past guidance received, the alumni network is a vibrant and efficient platform for such “value exchange.” Childhood friendships indeed are the sweetest.

Movies – Healthy escapement or perverted pleasure?

It was one of those evenings last weekend when I was actually free and burning to enjoy a few hours watching a movie. I had even imagined the cheese popcorn and cola slush that I’d order. So there I was dragging my husband along to a multiplex for options. I had to choose between two movies I had no plan of watching. One was a social drama involving girl-trafficking and another was about a tornado.

We decided on the tornado and my popcorn. It was much later after the movie ended that I kept thinking about the choice I had made.

As humans we talk of being good, kind, and yet the movies we watch are horror with murder, rape, vampires and even dystopian sleaze both from this planet and the outer galaxy. More importantly, my nagging discontent on my choice of movie was, why I chose to watch one form of death to the other. What makes us watch horror, adventure and sci fi?

Maybe we feel sitting in that cozy seat we are safe from the happenings of the story. We seek the thrill like a roller coaster ride because we are confident that the seatbelt is safe and the ride will end shortly with the hero whom our subconscious mind has identified with, wins ultimately.

So I wonder, are movies a healthy escapement from stress? Is it our own perverted way of unleashing the badass in us? Seeking a thrill that in real life is frightening but in a theatre is safe?

And still my original question of why a killing by tornado was preferable to killing by man? Maybe because to me tornado is a fantasy, living in a place where it’s occurrence is unheard of. On the other hand the evils of human trafficking are real and the fear may lurk long after the movie ends.  In a movie where the tornado is the villain, the human race becomes the hero and we feel good about ourselves, but in a social drama the villains are part of our society and it becomes difficult to accept the hard truth of our species in graphic detail. So maybe it was escapement after all.

 

My favorite ladies

I was 19 when I first fell in love with the dramatic Scarlett O Hara. Later that year I was inspired and awed by Dagny Taggart, who has tried her best to turn at least few of my nerves to steel. But they were not the first.

The complex and often prim characters of Elizebeth Bennet, Jane Eyre and Emma have grown up with me replacing my childhood friends, George (Famous Five) and Nancy Drew. Of course for a period of eight months I completely lived in Malory Towers every daydreaming moment.

And then I met an insufferable know-all who later blossomed into a steadfast and brilliant character that held the friendship and the story of Harry Potter – Hermione Granger. Compared to the trying to be individualistic females, Hermione was a breath of new air. She brought about a change in the way not just me but the world looked at a female fiction character that Eowyn, even after killing the witch king of Angmar could not.

Kick ass female protagonists were in!

Recently, Katniss Everdeen, withstanding her emotion related (or lack of) waffling still stole my heart. Anyone who could shoot like her should be given King Arthur’s sword as a prize.

Today every book I read has a female hero. Tris Prior was truly dauntless. Though ruthless, the girl with the dragon tattoo – Lisbeth Salander was brave.

I miss Tinker and Cinderella and Barbie, but I am more worried on what will happen when Katniss grows up?

Female protagonists in YA novels have become heroes while their counterparts in the adult fiction are still fighting for a bit of space with men. The role of women in trying to reconcile is the most often cast story. I wish we had female Shelock Holmes, Micheal Morreti, captain Jack West Jr.

Will batwoman come to the rescue please?

Coffee and writing

The robust flavour, the complete aroma, those addictive little beans ground to perfection, to wake up daily to this heavenly brew… that is life. Mine at least. I am a coffee addict, have been since childhood. Have loved every moment of my school years, waking up to mummy’s hugs and a mug of freshly brewed filter coffee… the drip,drip magic of south India. To wander in the silent morning, to lose myself in the innocence of my desire, before the day began. This was before I realised that not everyone made coffee like mummy.

But that did not stop me from tasting the instant coffee that makes even fresh milk taste stale, or the watery nauseous puddle that passed for coffee at hostel. I have even gulped the railway station brew that somehow tastes like a chemistry experiment.

Was it a surprise when a coffee maker became my first independent purchase years later, only to realise I cannot wake up to its aroma, I need to get up before to brew it.

Today the same little beans with its simplicity, freshness and constant companionship have become my soul mate. Through the aromatic cup curled up on the sofa with my husband watching the sunrise, the relaxing cuppa later while sitting alone with my laptop, sipping slowly as I watch my thought mingle with the fragrance of coffee. Other times I have depended on the caffeine buzz to give me a fresh idea. A quick break at Starbucks after shopping while the kids munch on muffins, many a day has been saved by a substancial amount of this redolent brew.

But the choicest memories are those silent moments with my laptop, writing to my heart’s content sipping away into the night.

Coming Home

The dousing squall greeted me with soft sweet drops on my face and a churning sludge around me feet, spoiling my slippers. I quickly hurried to the car park. Rain, sludge or bog, this was home.

The smell of the city is always the first thing I notice stepping out of the Chennai airport. I revel in my olfactory trail trying to separate individual scents – the various trees, shrubs and flowers, the humid air, exhaust fumes and a unique scent of civilization; of having lived on this part of the Earth for more than 2000 yrs.

A taxi was waiting for me. After dumping my belongings, two massive suitcases and folding myself into its frayed seat, smelling of diesel we set off.

“Shall I turn on the AC?” the cabby asked

“No. I like the city air” said I.

We sped on towards dawn, through my city that was still asleep. The soft rain created a gauzy curtain and blurred out the details but I saw through my mind’s eye, memories of this busy city that would spring to life in a few hours. A rush to work, school, and college mixed with the shouts of vendors, kirana stores and little temples at every street corner.

As we came towards my street corner, I knew my mother would be waiting, filter kaapi freshly brewed, smiling from the balcony.

An act so simple yet so profound in its permanence. Do I love my city for the journey it is or for the destination – my mother’s smile?