Look out for Dustbins

Every time I am outside and I don’t find a dustbin, I ensure that I carry the trash with me till I find one. It doesn’t matter if I am walking or travelling by bike/car/bus/train. I ensure that that I drop my trash in the dustbin.

I stopped dropping trash outside when I was travelling to Cochin in Feb 2010. From then on till now, I have never thrown anything outside.

Last week, I was travelling by train with my family to Aluva, Kochi. We had many baggages. And on top of it, I was collecting trash (Our used paper plates, cups, etc.) and putting them in a separate cover. I couldn’t find any dustbin in the first few stops and hence I decided I will drop it in Aluva Railway Station which was our destination. (I do agree that the railway authorities should act swiftly and place a dustbin in the train. But when they don’t do it, don’t we have that moral responsibility to not litter outside)

My dad was furious “We already have so many baggages. Why do you want to carry one more with trash in it? Can’t you dispose it then and there? Do you think the whole nation will get cleaned if you do this?” and then the argument went on and on between us.

This isn’t the first time I am hearing these questions. When I do this, I am not appreciated by people around me. But in fact they mock at me. They ask me this standard question – “Everyone litters and throws things outside. What difference is it going to make if you don’t throw it?”, “Will the city become clean if you stop throwing?”

I also have some questions to ask,

  • Why do you pray for peace? Do you think your one prayer will impact the entire world?
  • Why do we crib that the city/nation is not well maintained when there is no effort from our end?
  • Why do most of us believe in this quote “Every drop makes an ocean”?
  • When we saw someone spit from the bus, we said “Oh Shit!” because we are little more sophisticated. But we never wore any such expressions on our faces when we threw something like papers/eatables (Probably spitting makes a city unclean and throwing papers/eatables doesn’t)

But anyway people mocking at me doesn’t make me give up. When you stand up for something, then be the change you wish to see. When I teach my kid not to litter, I wish to be consistent without giving any excuses. If I start saying that there is no dustbin, there is no this and no that, then my kid will also find 100 excuses to tell me.

I am so sure that I can’t change whole of India. I can influence some and on seeing them, others could get influenced. It is just like chain reaction. People do this with the hope that someday someone would say “Hey this place is clean or has far improved in terms of cleanliness”. We do things out of hope that things will get better.

I once saw 2 French people eating Chicken Roll in a small shop in Bangalore. Rolls are usually wrapped in a tissue paper. There wasn’t any dustbin nearby. After they finished eating, they carried the papers with them in their hands and threw it in a dustbin that was 200 meters away.

They could have thought “Hey this is India! Who cares?? Let us drop it somewhere”. Their discipline was evident.

A person who litters in India will not do it in foreign countries. They abide by external law and not by the internal one. To put it in layman’s terms, people lack discipline. When there is discipline, there is no need for law to enforce something on you.

To stop littering, you don’t need law. All that you need is discipline.

PS: What to do if you have trash and you don’t find a dustbin when you are walking? – Carry a cover, use your pockets till you find a dustbin. Am sure you will find one within 500 meters distance. And am sure you will find some solution to carry your trash with you (You might have a bag pack or you might request for a cover from a nearby shop or whatever. But there is some solution around)

What to do if you are travelling by bike/car/bus/train? – Collect the trash, place it in any area where there is space and put them in a dustbin when you get down in any of the stops or when you find a dustbin somewhere.

I have encountered different situations in the last 7 years to dispose my trash – right from papers to diapers. And I found a way to do it. Can you?

 

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Marks – They are just numbers and not life..

With the 12th results coming out and with the 10th results to come out, there is so much talk around about marks, State 1st rank, what the toppers spoke when they were interviewed, whether boys scored higher or girls scored higher, which city has the highest pass percentage etc.

Oh God! Why is there such obsession with marks? 

After the 12th results have come, I have heard 4 instances of students committing suicide and that is precisely the reason why I am writing this. There could be more instances as well. Seriously why is this happening every year? Are marks so important than ones life? I plead to parents to place less emphasis on marks as they really aren’t the deciding factor of ones life. 

Swami Vivekanada says “We want the education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one’s own feet”. 

I am sure you will be able to answer these questions,

  • How much did your son/daughter score in Maths and Science?
  • How much do you want your son/daughter to score?
  • What/Where does your son/daughter aspire to study? 
  • Do you think he/she takes enough efforts to achieve his/her goals?

Can you answer these questions,

  • Does your son/daughter know to fix basic electrical/plumbing faults?
  • Does your son/daughter know to correlate the concepts learnt with the outside world?
  • Does your son/daughter know what is good for the environment?
  • Does your son/daughter know how to plant a tree and nurture it?
  • Do you know what kind of attitude towards life your son/daughter has?

If you can answer at least half of the questions like these, then hats off.

Why are we stressing so much on marks? What benefits does it give you? It only leaves your kid with health problems/mental stress after 17 years of education.

People see education as a way to make money. If you believe great marks will give you great jobs, yes it might happen. Am not denying it. That is how our stupid society is built and they trust marks, marks and marks. Someday say the economy is in shambles and people are thrown out of their jobs. What will people do? How many will have the guts to face life? They never learnt life skills as part of their mark oriented education. 

But if you educate your kid with life skills and with sound knowledge like how Swami Vivekanada says, then you leave your kid with the abilities to handle challenges effectively, abilities to lead a company, abilities to scale greater heights soon as the foundation is strong, abilities to venture into ’n’ number of things and a lot more.

My kind request to all parents is when you get to know the marks of your children..

  • Whatever the mark might be, appreciate your child for the effort that he/she has taken
  • Don’t compare his/her marks with someone else’s. Each child is unique. 
  • Everyone makes mistakes and mistakes occur at any moment even without our knowing. For some students, such mistakes might occur in board exams as well. All this is part and parcel of life.
  • Don’t pull their self esteem down by criticising them

My kind request to students..

World is full of opportunities and you can create a niche one for yourself as well. So please don’t quit life or lose your hope. Just stay positive. You are the future of the country. Jai Hind!

Life or Luxury?

When I was a kid, I heard these time and again from my parents and people around me.

  1. Let us see who eats and finishes first – I would gulp the food and say “Yayyyy I am firsttttt”
  2. Let us see who runs and touches the wall first – I would run with all my heart and say “yayyyy I am firstttt”
  3. Let us see who comes first in this game – I would take shortcuts to finish the game first and would shout in sheer joyyy

These basic expressions/statements place emphasis on the word “FIRST” and kids start presuming that coming first is something unbelievably awesome. This concept of FIRSTTT doesn’t end at home. It continues even after the kid joins school.

When I was in 1st standard, I took part in the running race held for kids. School decided to shortlist good runners from that large pool of little ones and conducted a race for them. Finally they selected the top 3. I ran hard and came 3rd.

Post the race, the winners’ announcement was about to happen. The MC (Master of Ceremony) was all set. She calls the 3rd place winner – “The 3rd place goes to Anand”. I calmly came and stood on the podium. Claps come in from the audience.

Now she calls the 2nd place winner. The 2nd place goes to Ashwin. The kid calmly comes and stands on the podium. Claps come in a little louder from the audience.

And now she calls the 1st place winner. With all the stress that she could manage with her tongue, she says “The Firsssssttttttt Placeeeeee Goesssss ttttttoooooooooo – Anishhh”.. And the audience without their knowing clap hard and loud for a long time.

You should have looked at my face and the other kid’s face on the podium. We felt that the attention given to first prize winner was much more than our prize itself.

Look at the stress that is being placed upon Firstttt. It might sound great for the comperer but it doesn’t sound great for the kids’ future.

Now from smallest of games, let us move into education and here the environment just doesn’t spare a kid. Everyone wants to grow toppers and rankers in their homes.

I grew up scoring good marks and I came first almost in all the classes till college but ultimately I wasn’t educated for 19 long years. I mean I couldn’t apply what I learnt. It was all about racing ahead of others.

Racing.. Racing… and Racing ahead in life…

It doesn’t stop here. This attitude grows up with us. Once we start working, we start comparing ourselves with our peers and we evaluate our standing. Be it in terms of designation, salary or whatever.

I sometimes crave to go abroad after seeing my friends in different parts of the world. But why is that craving there in me to go abroad? If I think why I am in India and why my friends are living abroad, I have only one answer. I chose to study in India and they chose to study abroad or they got a chance to go abroad or they decided to go abroad to make a living. I don’t find any other difference. But still why do I crave? It is because of what I have heard till now.

From when I was a kid, I have heard tons of statements like these from my parents, relatives, friends.

  • Rahul is in a very nice company. He is earning Twentyyy Lakhs..
  • This girl Neha grew quickly and is with the designation “Director”. She must be minting money
  • Wow he is in the US. Wow he is in UK.. He is earning so much there. He went onsite and he bought a house. Great!

Wow factor is in the LUXURY is what we are conditioned to believe. And that is why most of us go towards it.

We start comparing ourselves with others, we begin to compete fiercely with just the motive of earning more, living abroad etc, we get stressed because that is not what we want to do and finally we lose our happiness. Some go into depression as well by getting way too stressed about the situation they are in.

Is all this worth it?? You get a chance to live your life just once. Just F*** the luxury.

Coming first, earning more, living abroad – What is the obsession with all this? The core purpose of life is being happy with what we do. But when that happiness is lost, then what is the purpose of having such obsessions.

Kids come with a fresh mind always and they always see things equally. It is we who do slow poisoning in their mind. And this poison starts killing the kid’s happiness in different ways when it goes to school, college and work.

Let us not emote in awe when we talk about luxury. Appreciate the man who earns Rs.5000 a month and also appreciate the man who earns Rs.100000 a month. Let us not emote in awe when we here the term ‘first’. Appreciate everyone who has attempted/tried whole heartedly. Let us not emote in awe when we see someone go abroad. Appreciate every country and its positives.

17 promises to my son

Hey Ishu Kutty,

On your first birthday, we promise you certain things in life and these promises are blurted out straight from the heart.

  1. We would try our very best to give you exposure to many things around to the maximum possible extent which would help you find out what you love to do in life. It could be anything. We mean it. It could be anything.
  2. We wouldn’t care about marks but we would care about your practical/real life understanding of what you read.
  3. We wouldn’t let you down in times of crisis or when you are at fault. We will be by your side and give you the space to learn from your experiences
  4. We shall instill ethics in you not by preaching but by behaving.
  5. We wouldn’t degrade you however silly a question you ask or however silly an act you do. Everyone is silly at times and everyone doesn’t know everything.
  6. We wouldn’t get influenced by what others say about you or we wouldn’t compare you with others. We will always trust you and your abilities.
  7. We will raise you without any caste/community influence. Probably we will request you to be a part of one community which is humanity.
  8. We would give you more experiences than materials.
  9. Your mom and I might have small fights but it doesn’t mean end of the world. We will still love each other. Like you and your friends will fight and patch up in sometime, so will we. But we promise we wouldn’t fight in a way that disturbs your mental peace. We know the best gift a child can get is ‘parents loving each other’ as this helps in creating a conducive atmosphere for the child to grow up well in life.
  10. We will be a kid when you are a kid, we will be teens when you are a teen (Just talking about the mindset. Our body will not be as flexible as yours but we shall try to keep ourselves fit :)) and we will stay away when you feel you want to have a life of your own.
  11. We will keep ourselves updated to be in sync with you and your environment when you grow up
  12. We wouldn’t trouble you by expecting much
  13. We promise to react by putting ourselves in your shoes whenever you narrate an incident and not react based on how we would have reacted to the situation
  14. Just because we are elder to you, it doesn’t mean we will be right in our views and we won’t listen to your perspectives. You can voice out your perspectives at all times. We will accept your perspectives whole heartedly in anything that we discuss 🙂
  15. We will involve you in every decision that we make as a family. We wouldn’t separate you thinking you are too young. Young minds have great ideas is what we believe.
  16. We will give you loads of hugs in the years to come 🙂 We feel a hug can heal your internal wounds, give you emotional contentment, boost your self-esteem and many more 🙂
  17. Last but not the least. Just because you were born to us, it doesn’t mean we own you. You can be who you are.

Now that we have made many promises, we might slip away a few times from them not intentionally but by mistake due to the circumstances that surround on that particular day. To err is human. 🙂

Happie birthdayyy in advance Ishaan. We love you so much. Loads of hugs and kisses from dad and mom 🙂 As I end this, tears roll down my eyes for you brought in so much happiness in our lives 🙂

 

Happy Birthday Wifyyy

3 years back, I used to walk alone in the Anna Tower Park early in the morning. There would be greeneries around, trees swaying like pendulum, cool breeze greeting me with warmth, birds chirping around and singing for me and no one on the pathway. When I was walking in this serene environment, out of the blue a thought struck my mind – Wouldn’t it be nice to walk early in the morning with another hand clasped with mine?

Ah I was lucky. Probably my thought was loud enough that a cupid’s arrow struck me. It just took few months to clasp my hands with the cupid’s hand.

  • Her eyes defined expressiveness
  • Her voice defined sweetness
  • Her thoughts defined clarity
  • Her actions defined purity

Now life looks more beautiful. And now during the morning walk, the same serene environment looks pristine.

She was there as a friend,

Whenever I needed support

She was were there as a candle,

Whenever I was in the dark

She was there as a Chef,

Whenever I preferred home food

She was there as a reminder,

Whenever I forgot something

She was there as a competitor,

Whenever I fought with her

She was there as an ATM,

Whenever I needed money

She was there as a Financial advisor,

Whenever I messed up with money

She was there as Google,

Whenever I needed ideas

She was there as a teddy bear,

Whenever I needed a hug

For all that you have done, a thanks wouldn’t suffice. 🙂

Love you loads… Wishing you a very very happy birthday and loads and loads of happiness in life 🙂

Your smile is contagious. Keep smiling and am sure it will spread throughout 🙂

STA-STA-STA-STA-Stutterers – ACCEPT THEM

I was born with a stuttering defect. The first time I stuttered, my parents noticed me saying “P-P-P-P-Play” and they noticed me stutter few other times. I grew up to go to school. I was teased at school by other kids for stuttering. They called me “A-A-A-A-Anand”. I had the question “Why me”? I would be fiercely angry and I have hit few people and I have cried few times as well.

I have such bad memories in school sitting in the back of a classroom. When the teacher told all students ‘everybody is going to read a paragraph’, I skipped ahead to my paragraph and with the fear of being mortified, I read the paragraph enough number of times so that I wouldn’t stutter and stammer when I am called upon.

My parents encouraged me and really took good care of me so that I don’t lose my confidence by comparing myself with my peers. They took me to the speech therapist and I practiced hard. I got rid of it when I was in 7th or 8th. I used to stutter very very rarely at that point. It just couldn’t be noticed after that in fact. The sense of relief was bigger than anything else at that point. But it just left me to visit me 3 years back. I started noticing it again.

That was the time I was pursuing my passion “Toastmasters” (a forum for public speaking). My aspiration is to become a trainer and toastmasters served as the right platform for me to learn and experiment with public speaking. I was 5 months into it and I found myself doing well. Suddenly I noticed me stuttering few words. I became conscious about it. The more conscious I became, the more I stuttered. I feared if I would feel the same way like when I was a kid after so many years. Now, I tried to elude speaking in Toastmasters. I feared to stutter because people there knew me as someone who could talk fluently. I didn’t want them to know. The more I pretended, the more I became conscious and the more I stuttered. I stuttered in front of my club members. People looked at me bizarrely. “Does Anand Stutter?” was their reaction and “WTF! I didn’t want this” was my reaction. I didn’t like my weakness getting exposed to a larger audience. Slowly I was trying to get over it. I realized that to get over it, I had to accept the fact that I stutter but it was very hard.

Not only here, but in many places I feared stuttering. One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter. Given below is a list of incidents,

  • There were times when I struggled to tell the bus conductor my bus stop’s name “Thirumangalam”. I said Th-Th-Th-Th-THrumangalam” and I felt embarrassed when the co-passengers looked at me.
  • There were times when I ordered carrot juice at office and stated that particular name for 15secs – “Ca-ca-ca-ca-ca-carrot juice”.
  • There were times when I felt inferior in front of people who spoke fluently
  • I have held myself back with the fear that I would not communicate my idea well
  • I felt awkward to speak in front of public. I still remember the day when I stuttered in front of 200 people while giving a presentation in my MBA days. I felt totally out of place.
  • The fear if I will stammer in front of a new person i.e. if he would get to know my weakness
  • Even when I attend interview, this stuttering which is natural to me is taken as a sign of nervousness.
  • When my bride search was on, I had the fear if I will be accepted by my partner. Will she think that our kid will also have the same problem and will she neglect me? Yes I have been accepted and thanks to my wife.
  • Post marriage, I fear how to face my in-laws and talk to them without stuttering. If they get to know that I stutter, they would think that I have ruined the life of their daughter. The only person whom I told about this problem before marriage was my wife and I never told her parents.

Fear, Fear and Fear… I hated it.. Fear was almost eating me..

I came across another story which made me write this blog.. A good friend of mine stutters like I do.. He got married recently. He shared his feelings with me 2 weeks back. This is what he had to tell me,

———-My wife keeps telling me “Talk slowly so that you will not stutter”.

I tried hard but sometimes I did make mistakes. I mean I spoke faster and I stuttered. Sometimes because of the presence of in-laws, or new people around, or some sort of stress, I was nervous and I stuttered more.

I once took my wife to a get-together with my friends.

I was so enthusiastic to meet my friends and with the same enthusiasm, I spoke fast without my knowing and I stuttered more times than usual. Immediately after my friends moved away to take their plates for dinner, my wife questioned me “Now why did you stutter? Did you notice why you are stuttering? It is because you are speaking fast. How many times do I tell you to talk slowly? You just don’t seem to listen.”

From that day onwards, whenever I meet with my friends or her friends especially, I become very cautious and I mostly don’t speak a word. When my close one is so watchful of me stuttering, I am pushed to a situation where I have to be cautious. Becoming more and more cautious is making me feel more inferior and it is making me pretend more in an unnatural way. I somehow feel very depressed about this issue. I wanted to share it with you. I would have felt very happy if my wife would have said “I don’t care if you stutter in front of people. All that matters to me is you expressing your views with all courage and completing your sentences without any inhibitions”.———

He wept in the end. I was able to relate to his emotions completely.

“Watch your stuttering, watch your stuttering.. Why did you stutter now?, Talk slowly etc.” When one asks/says these time and again, it hurts very much. Even if one asks this in a concerned manner, it hurts very much. What many people don’t understand is that the stutterer knows much better about his problem, about what he is doing, about what he has to do than the other people around him/her. There is no use in pointing it to them. It seems to them like someone is pointing out at their limitations. Telling someone to watch it every time only makes them more conscious about their way of expressing. By doing this, expressions seem lifeless. To add life to their expressions, try listening to them without taking note of their stuttering. It gives the stutterer immense confidence to talk to you. When someone is with you and stands by you how much ever you stutter, then confidence just oozes out in no time.

Having said all this, I did try out few things to overcome this.

Firstly I accepted that I stutter and I reiterated that to myself. Secondly, I accepted that I can stutter in front of people. This made me less conscious. Then I figured out some other ways to overcome it. I am not sure if stuttering can be cured but I am very sure that stuttering can be minimized to a larger extent by doing the below mentioned things.

  • First step is to bring your breath under control. Do yoga
  • Take a breath after 6 to 8 words are spoken
  • Talk slowly
  • Try out different pronunciations or accents that make you stutter less or that eliminate that stutter. US accent made me stammer less. I tried it off late. US people place stress on a lot of words and I similarly I tried placing stress on words like “Ifff, areee, orrganizedd” and that helps me cope up with the stutter in an efficient way. But I am still finding a way to cope up with my mother tongue Tamil.
  • Last but not the least, Environment to serve as the greatest support

Guys, when you find anyone who stutters, take time out in listening to him/her. He/she might piss you off sometimes by uttering a word for 10 seconds by stuttering, but you can give him immense confidence by listening to him so keenly. You can make or break him with your actions. Environment plays a major role in grooming stutterers. I hope you will extend support to a stutterer when you meet one next time.

Priyanandhan , my good friend has come a long way in life after he joined toastmasters (A supportive environment where one hones his/her public speaking skills). He was confined to himself. He felt he was neglected because of his stuttering. When he found people who accepted him whole heartedly and provided him the warmth, he grew in confidence from a person who wasn’t able to utter his dad’s name to a person who is inspiring many with his speeches.

To conclude, Breaking words is not a sin, but breaking hearts definitely is.

Please share this blog with your friends to create some amount of awareness.

JOG (Joy of Giving) Daily

The trip from Chennai to Pondy was on. I challenged my wife that I will cover the distance in 3hrs.

“Remember you will have to cross Chennai traffic as well. There is no way you can do it” she said

Deal!!

We got into our car. The gear moved from neutral at 1PM. Drove fast through the traffic, kept honking and reached the highway and went at an average speed of 80KMPH. I never allowed vehicles or passengers to cross the road. I either kept honking or I turned the headlamp on and off. Finally we reached Pondy when the clock ticked 3:58 sharp. Yayyy!!! I was happy that the small deal between us was accomplished.

We checked in into  our hotel “Sea side guest house” in Pondicherry  and threw our bags on the couch. I opened the balcony and was awestruck at the view of the sea. Without any second thought, I pulled a chair and sat there with my head tilted. Thoughts were running mellifluously like the sea’s music. Thoughts were flowing so rapidly that a wave of change was about to happen.

Let me cut short the long array of thoughts..

“Whenever I drove in heavy traffic, I wanted to be the first person to move ahead of others.

If the signal wasn’t working, I would want to cross first.

I always became restless to reach the destination as soon as possible.

What about the people who try to cross the roads on the highways? Or on the normal roads? Who waits for them? Why shouldn’t I wait even if others don’t?”

And a lot more….

There was another deal while coming back from Pondy. This time a deal with self…

Every time I saw people struggling to cross the road, my gear shifted to neutral and I stopped rather than honking or switching on and off the headlamp and moving ahead

imagesCrossing

I still remember two very old people heaving a sigh of relief after crossing the busy GST highway

I still remember women and children pointing one of their hands towards me with palm open saying STOP plsss.. And not to forget the expression on children’s face after they crossed the road – oh so priceless.. 🙂 One jumps, another laughs, another hops.. ha ha children are awesome and their expressions – heaven 🙂

By doing this again and again, my inner self was at peace and I saw happiness surround me. The joy of giving made me feel jubilant.

The joy of giving is always beautiful. Try and you will cherish it for sure.. 🙂