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Am a contradiction of sorts. i love going out and having a good time with friends, and i can also stay home chill out over a book or a movie.. Am very passionate about writing, so give me a topic and watch me float away into wonderland... I Am crazy about music,books,friends and my doggie... :)

Sunday, November 25, 2018

In your shoes...

[Image: A fridge magnet at a friend's house]


For atleast 20years of my adult life, have had people tell me now and then how I was not in their shoes to understand what they are going through.. I have also been told, 

"Only when you are a mother, will you understand why I do/say what I do"

"Only when you get a family of your own, will you understand dynamics, why we pussy foot around some....etc"

Does one really have to be all this to understand the dynamics/drama and/or give out suggestions/advice?  Also there is no general standardised rule that mothers/wives/people follow right? 

For instance, just 'cos you are a mom, doesn't mean you will follow what the other moms do, or say exactly the same thing.. 

Each one is different. Each one's approach is different.. the lessons they have learnt, the things they bring to the relationship is different... Also, isn't it enough to have maternal instincts to act motherly?

Over time, it has become such a thing that I kinda know how the conversation will go and therefore many a times keep my mouth shut. Not because of fear but because I don't want to argue, don't like to justify why I said what I did...  

Ok, I agree I am not in whatever position the person is
Yes, I am not going through what they are
but then, as an outsider, don't I have a right to share my opinion? Am not thrusting anything on anybody... but can offer some insight or what I think are reasonable to valuable inputs...It also never ceases to amaze me how people come to me for help/suggestions and then at the end of it throw this whole "what do you know, you have no idea what am going through" .. Hey, dont go all judgy on me, am just trying to help... 

For example, I have done a brief stint in the corporate world. I was in recruitments and so I understand the psychology of those who are shopping for jobs, who are working in a company and their behaviour as well. Many a times, guys who take up an offer will not join, or they might join but leave within few days or will take off a few days without letting us know they were on leave and so on. 

Heck, I have taken off without giving advance notice. Not because I dint want to, but because I know any reason I give will be turned down or questioned. And similarly, the same would be done to other employees.

Today, when the maid or driver or cook at home take off unannounced, I get it.. On the contrary, I dont get angry or upset but figure a way around it. Gramma on the other hand gets all worked up, angry , sometimes she calls them and yells at them or asks them to drop whatever they are doing and come to work. Few occasions, they have, other times they havent. The anger then spills over to the next day.

When I tell her the psych of people and why they take off the way they do, she doesnt get it. She doesnt get that as an employer she is never going to accept the Actual reason, and therefore many a times staff end up lying or cooking up excuses. If they announce their intention a day ahead, they are going to hear no end of it, and if they take off unannounced, they will hear an earful the subsequent day... Sigh!! All I hear is "You dont understand, you have no idea how they think/work/operate".. and I quietly end up slinking away from the spot and controlling the tongue next time such a situation arises... 

Similarly, I also feel things that what works for one person might not necessarily work for another. Be it medicines or even things like movies, food at a restaurant or clothes from a particular store. Opinions, preferences & experiences are all so personal. People infact get touchy and upset if you dint like something they suggested.  

So these days even if I do offer suggestion or inputs to someone, I always end it with a "hey, you know what's best for you, after all you are the one going through whatever it is you are going through.. take care".. or "I went here, the food was good, give it a try, see if you like it" or "I bought a few shirts from xyz store, price was reasonable, they have sizes ranging from XS to 5XL, hop in if you have some time to spare"

Can never win this battle.... walk a mile in someone else's shoes and yet you cannot figure out what they want!! 

Monday, November 19, 2018

[Inclusive, exclusive...] Living life with a handicap....

Few weeks back I had attended an event that was all about inclusivity ( post-https://www.aartikrishnakumar.com/2018/09/inclusivity-and-everyday-ability.html).. that event in fact got me thinking- how accessible are most places for people with any kind of disability, be it physical or otherwise..  Here are two incidents I came across the past week that I wanted to write about.... 



Incident 1

It so happened that day before while getting back home, I shared cab with a guy who was visually impaired(blind).

It’s not like I haven’t seen/come across / interacted with such folks but this was the first time I was travelling with one. I had no issues but quite the contrary.. I asked how he used the phone and he also told her about a software he had installed that converted all text into audio and everything worked   on the Double click concept. After a few seconds I saw him holding the phone in reverse to his ear and struggling with typing something .. the page open was the Über help/support page and he was
trying to raise an Issue. 

I watched him struggle, and therefore proceeded to ask if he needed help, he explained that the earlier cab he had booked did not turn up plus the cabbie had done the ride without him in it and he had been charged for it and so to raise a complaint on the same issue... He then handed the phone to me with a warming and a smile "You have to double click everything, see if you can do it, else just guide me"

It took me good 5 minutes to even get the hang of his phone, how to use it leave alone complete the complaint... I kinda figured it out, managed to scroll to the right section and handed the phone back to him when I realised I was going to be at it all day if I tried to type text in the box. He managed to key in his grievance, asking me for help with spelling now & then and was finally done... 

Phew! I was tired.... And to think he goes through something like this a million times through the day.. Over the next few minutes till my destination arrived, we chit chatted and I watched him make calls, send Whatsapp messages on his phone. 

When we turned into my street, he said aloud "Have we reached, where are we, i have no clues" [in tamil]. I then proceeded to tell him where we were and asked where he had to go, and gave a ballmark sense of how long it would take and the tentative route to his office... 

We parted ways as I reached my destination. But I kept thinking "What if the cabbie was a shady guy, what if he just took this guy on a goose chase or robbed/hurt him?"... I shivered at the thought. It also made me realise how we take so much for granted. And how Google maps or Uber needs to do something to announce the location/navigation for the visually impaired. Else these folks are constantly at the mercy of others to take them around... Sigh!! 

think about it while I go clear my head and write about the 2nd incident... 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Keeping up with changing times or not …



Yesterday was Deepavali, the festival of lights, the day when people go bonkers over crackers and all that jazz…

Yes... Yesterday was Deepavali, and at my maternal grandparents place after 2 years of no Deepavali  [or any festival ---> 2015- Grandpa passed away, so no celebrations for a year, then an aunt passed away, so nothing for the next year… you get the drift] .. Gramma was up, and she had heated up oil for herself & me for the “Oil bath”. She asked me if I was gonna take an oil bath, and I told her “no, not today”… which was also the same answer I gave when she told me to wear something new [fortunately she did not give me a hard time about it and let it be]. Well, my other Gramma [dad’s mom] had passed away less than a month ago and honestly, I was in no mood to celebrate anything! 

Gramma being Gramma, went ahead and had an oil bath, called and spoke to her kids and sibling, wishing them for the day… She then insisted on wobbling to the kitchen to make Idli, chutney and insisted I eat some… I hate idlies, but then managed to plunge down 2 idlies… Also had a spoonful of Okkarai [a sweet we make for Deepavali]..

I found it quite amusing and frustrating that Gramma was being so stubborn about age-old traditions... And in many cases, I find it is the older generation that is behaving in this manner... 

Some questions that popped in my head were,
Are they afraid of reality that they hide behind these traditions?
What is it about traditions that they find hard to compromise on?
Why do they not go with the times/changes?
Are they averse to change? Is change scary?
Is it the fact that they are growing old that is unsettling? [had infact done a post on this sometime back- Read it here

Back in the days, Deepavali [and other festivals] meant the entire family landing up at this house and spending pretty much all day here…. It was also a day when we got new clothes and a small amount of money from our grandparents.  Now, with all of us grown up, things aren’t what they used to be. Even if everyone lands up here, they all scoot in different directions within few hours. It has honestly become just another day [ a day off].. And these days, we go shopping at random times during the year, unlike earlier... 

Strangely, am not big on traditions, probably because most of them don’t make any sense to me.. Family has no answers for my questions and am reprimanded with a “we do it, so you better follow”.... I am a bit of a rebel, but then, am not one of those who does things for the heck of it. I need logic, I need reasoning, history and all that jazz..

I don’t really know when things changed [or was it just I changed?], but it has been a decade or so since I have bought/burst a single cracker, half a decade since I stopped shopping for new clothes [will have something new in the cupboard, that I will wear for a short period of time just to satisfy the family]… I am also not big on the whole wake up at 4am, take oil bath, have Idli for breakfast kinda routine that goes on at home. I dont get it, never did, never will I guess.. It has become just another day, if you ask me! 

I honestly don’t remember what Deepavali was like growing up, as in - did we come to Chennai for the festival, or did we celebrate it where we were... Did we go visiting the few relatives we had in that town or just stay home, or did my dad’s office have parties we attended…. It is like that part of my memory has been wiped out clean…

Yesterday, I was glad this gramma was off to uncle’s house and I would be home alone….

I was glad I dint have to endure a family lunch, be around folks who went on and on about random stuff, or stay cooped up in my room doing my own thing…

I actually had a good day – went for a movie with a friend, and rest of the day was spent at home with Floppy.. we talked, watched some TV, he ignored me awhile going off to lounge under the sofa, whined about the nonstop crackers and well we had a fun evening.. J

How was your Deepavali/ Diwali? 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

All about Inclusivity

Curious, I walk into the YMCA Swimming pool area around  7.30am, to see a whole bunch of people huddled in one side of the place. This was my 1st time here, and the pool was quite impressive. Also saw quite a few taking swimming lessons, while few others were showing off jumping in on the diving boards on the other side. 

Why was I there?  It was for this event.... 
Event Inclusive Scuba Diving. 
In collaboration with Adventures Beyond Barrier Foundation.
PwDs: Mobilized by ABBF; Cerebral Palsy beneficiaries from Vidya Sagar, Chennai (www.vidyasagar.co.in)

I spotted a friend and walked towards the group that was setting up for the morning event I was there for. The first person I heard was Divyanshu Ganatra. from Adventures Beyond barriers [Pune].. 

His 1st question was "how many of you here wear glasses?". Whole lot of us raised hands and said we do. He turned and asked towards my direction if it was a disability. I replied in affirmative, cos without my glasses everything is a bit of a blur. 

His next question was "How many of you have had friends/classmates/People around them [not relatives] who had some form of disability?. Again, quite a few raised hands, some shared their stories. 

He then went on to talk about many of us take certain things for granted which is difficult for those with physical disability. We had to get over three steps to get to the swimming pool area which would have proven difficult for those in wheel chairs or crutches.  How true right? We just walk over and don't think much about the others who cant manoeuvre these.. 

It was then that he disclosed he was completely blind, but was able to do a lot of things thanks to the support available. 

His final question was "Is it possible for me to learn to fly?" Few of us responded with a loud Yes, some said No, one said AR.. He said "no no technology, I fly on my own".. I again said "yes". He then asked "How many of you would travel with me if I was flying the plane". I happily chimed in a big Yes. .... Few seconds later, he disclosed that he was a Certified pilot.. {how cool is that} I was inspired~!! 

From there, the Scuba diving team [of Temple Adventures] headed by Arvind took over..  He gave instructions, tips, and taught the small bunch who were gonna give it a shot some pointers and lessons.. How to breathe under water, how to communicate with hand gestures and so on... It was so cool to watch the level of excitement among the crowd, infact some said they have done scuba diving before.. And here I was hesitant to take my 1st step to learn swimming.. Sigh! 

The next hour was spent watching the folks in wheelchair, the amputees take to the water and do a full lap underwater wearing the oxygen tank on their back with the instructor guiding them along...  It was amazing and heart warming that so many inclusive activities are made possible to these folks, who are no different from us...  This is the 2nd time this event is happening in Chennai, I hope many others join in and make a difference... 

Many a times, we are the ones with a mental block or problem. We look at them differently, and sometimes they are invisible to us. It is time to change our mindset, be more aware of those around us and this extends to brands/businesses as well.. Make sure you have infrastructure that allows every single person to access the space with ease,a ramp, railing, anything!!