January 18, 2015 By
January 11, 2015 By
“I think we judge talent wrong. What do we see as talent? I think I have made the same mistake myself. We judge talent by people’s ability to strike a cricket ball. The sweetness, the timing. That’s the only thing we see as talent. Things like determination, courage, discipline, temperament, these are also talent”― Rahul Dravid.
I’ve already mentioned that I’d be using what’s left of my holidays to readjust my game-plan for 2015. After some introspection, I realised that one of the areas that I needed to work on was discipline.
I’m nowhere near as disciplined as I should be and I guess that’s why I have so much trouble with procrastination. So, I decided to read up on discipline and different ways that other people managed to stay disciplined.
I stumbled upon r/getdisciplined, a subreddit focused on people trying to get disciplined. And I read a comment by a user (u/ryans01) that was pretty incredible. They brought up a concept called “No more zero days”.
Basically they talked about not having anymore “zero days” ― days that you didn’t do a single thing towards your goals. So, if it’s 23:58 that night, and you didn’t manage to do anything―read one paragraph or do one push-up, whatever your goal is, do a little something towards achieving that goal.
Just don’t have anymore “zero days”. Those “non-zero” days will add up and gradually it’ll be easier to get up and do something.
Lots of people talk about the importance of motivation and getting motivated. And I used to think that I needed to get motivated before I can get something done. But the thing with motivation is that it’s based on you feeling like getting something done- and feelings can be so unreliable.
If something upsets you, or if you’re feeling a little rundown or in a bit of a bad mood, the chances that you’ll feel like getting through a Powerpoint on the Pituitary Gland instead of curling up in bed with an episode of 30 Rock are pretty slim.
I used to wait around for that feeling of motivation, but most times, I could never really muster enough of that feeling to actually get things done. And then the deadlines would inch nearer and nearer, and driven by panic and the desire to not fail, I would burst into a flurry of activity, getting things done at a manic pace, just in time to hand in the assignment.
But now I’ve realised that all this time, people have been putting the cart before the horse. Motivation isn’t the key ― action is. You need action to get motivated, not the opposite way around.
So what if you’re not feeling motivated? That’s fine. The key is to just make a start. Don’t look at the fact that you have 500 more pages to read through. Just say that you’ll read one sentence or just a paragraph. And more often than not, you’ll want to keep going.
And even if you don’t? At least you still chalk up another “non-zero day”.
It feels good to get things done, to know that you’re that much closer to achieving your goal. And the more you do, the more you’ll be inspired or motivated to keep going.
Here’s to no more zero days!
December 28, 2014 By
(This article may contain spoilers about the Hobbit movies [of course, I’ll try not to spoil anything, but I can never be quite certain]. So if you haven’t seen it [you should see it ASAP] you should probably stop reading now and continue on with your life.)
“Go back to your armchair, Master Baggins. And your books. Plant your tree. If everybody valued home like you did, the world would be a merry place” – Thorin Oakenshield.
Being the dedicated true believers we are, my family and I saw “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” at its first showing at the Princess Theatre. For the first time ever, after seeing a movie, I felt dazed, like I was floating in a dreamlike-state.
And let me tell you, I have seen a LOT of movies!! I had so many emotions that I couldn’t process. My feelings ran from euphoria to anguish and everything along that spectrum. I don’t think I’ve ever been as moved by characters as I was in this movie.
I hadn’t read Tolkien’s novel, The Hobbit. And that’s unusual for me. Usually I read the books and then I look at the movies. I’d read the Lord of the Rings trilogy when I was much younger and then saw the movies. And I loved the movies, but the books just weren’t my cup of tea.
I can appreciate Tolkien’s writing and his incredible world-building skills, but, I’ll tell you – it was a struggle to get through (more like plough through) his books. I think I just lost patience with the pages and pages of songs.
So I decided not to read the Hobbit. And when I heard about the movies coming out, I stood by my decision to not read the Hobbit, I decided to trust Peter Jackson and accept his pronouncement on the Hobbit as “canon”.
But of course, both books and movies have their pros and cons. With books you get so many details, especially with a writer like the Oxford Don, Tolkien, steeped as he was with Anglo-Saxon history.
In movies, those details flit past you so quickly with the faster pace telling the narrative visually, that the experience is more impressionistic.
Reading is a bit more of an immersive experience: imagining what the characters look like and sound like, and reading about this world almost exactly as the author intended. That doesn’t mean movies aren’t immersive in their own, but it’s more of the world the director creates.
And nowadays with their action and 3D and beautiful landscapes (CGI or otherwise); they really transport you into the new world.
Additionally there’s the musical score – one of my absolute favorite facets of movies. The musical score of a movie can sometimes make or break a movie for me. And for the Hobbit movies, the musical scoring was one of the best I’ve ever heard.
I realised that the dazed feeling I had after seeing the last Hobbit movie was the same feeling I usually get after finishing a really, really good book. When reading, I usually get completely sucked into the world I’m reading about, I get so caught up with the characters that it takes me a while to get readjusted to the real world. I feel like I’ve known the characters my whole life and I care about them like I would a real person.
I don’t normally get that feeling with movies or TV show – yeah, I care about the characters (sometimes too much), but I’ve never had that complete immersive experience. When I walked out from this movie, I felt dazed, like I was just in Middle-Earth and I had this acute sense of loss, like I’d just left several good friends behind.
This movie really showed me that movies can get you to care about characters as much as books can.
(As a side note, I think I did a good job of leaving out spoilers about the movie. So I strongly recommend going to see this final installment of the Hobbit trilogy.)
And happy (early) New Year!
December 21, 2014 By
“Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.” ― Cheris Kramarae
The idea of feminism has changed so much over the years. But somewhere along the way it seems to have morphed into something unrecognizable.
For some people, to be a feminist, you have to hate men and treat them all as “male chauvinist pigs”. And God forbid, you have “feminine” qualities! Sell out! The irony is that Gloria Steinem, one of the founders of the modern feminism movement (and of Ms Magazine) was about as “feminine” as you can get! And she’s still beautiful at 80.
But feminism isn’t against femininity. That girl who wants to paint her nails, take time to do her make-up and throw on a dress, isn’t less of a feminist than a girl who wears pantsuits and hates wearing makeup.
Feminists aren’t deluded that only women are sexualized by the media. Feminists don’t believe that society only pressures women. Feminists definitely don’t believe that all men are budding sexual predators.
It’s these faux-feminists that spout their man-hating diatribe that give actual feminists a bad name. That’s why there are blogs like “Women against Feminism” sprouting up.
A cursory scroll through some of the posts there shows that they don’t seem to be against actual feminism, they’re against the pseudo-feminism that’s being accepted as what feminism has become. Feminism is just saying that females should play a greater role in defining what “femininity” is all about.
Why should a woman who chooses to be a stay-at-home mom be treated as being less of a feminist than a woman who chooses to be a career woman? The whole point is CHOICE. That’s what feminism means to me – wanting EQUALITY OF CHOICE not wanting some utopian “equality”. Especially when to be “equal” is being equated with being “identical”.
Females can be equal in to males without being identical to males or their roles. All I want is to be free to choose to go to college and get a job or to be free to choose to get married early and start a family.
To me, when if I’m told that no, girls can’t be doctors – that’s when I have a problem. And the awesome thing is, at least in Guyanese society, I’ve never experienced that sort of discrimination. Not in my family …not in my village or in my school.
So I’m not about to fight for “equality” as “identity”. Because I’ve done biology, men and women aren’t built the same – men are better at some things and women are better at some things. Men and women are different and we have to begin to stress how to better deal with differences – rather than making everyone into one melange.
I could spend my whole life wishing for “equality”, and it’ll never happen. I’ll never be as strong as a man who’s my height, because I don’t have high levels of testosterone. I wouldn’t even know who/what to pick a fight with to sort that one out. Evolution?
But equality of choice – that’s doable and that’s what I want. And that’s not settling – that’s just being realistic. All I want is to be able to make my own choices and be able to follow them – whether I want to be a bodybuilder or an astronaut.
That’s what feminism is to me – not this spiel about how men are “pigs” and an empowered women equates to just a career woman.
I hate that in some circles the word feminism has become a sort of bad word with women jumping to point out, “Not that I’m a feminist or anything”.
December 14, 2014 By
“I just think we’re living in a time of massive, amazing change, like the Industrial Revolution on acid ” – Kelly Lynch.
I’m pretty sure that I’ve mentioned before that I use Skype a lot – and by a lot, I mean all day, every day. I could search through my old articles to confirm, but I’m in the midst of studying for finals and I am also too lazy to check.
But I’m 248 per cent certain that I have before because Skype pays me a lot of money to promote their product by mentioning them at least once a month in my articles. No that’s not true – that’s just my wishful thinking.
But seriously, this little app on my phone has been a godsend ever since I started Med School here in the land of Carnival. I’d like to point out that there is nothing Carnival-like about Med School – there’s a lot of frustration, anger, tears and the occasional excitement over holding a brain or a lung.
Those are the things they happen to conveniently leave out of their “Visit Trinidad” brochures, I’ve noticed.
But am I homesick? Yeah, I am – we’re a pretty close-knit family and while I was looking forward to finally getting out of the nest, there were lots of butterflies about how exactly I’d be able to fly on my own.
But Skype really pulled through for me and I could see and hear the rest of my family – it was kind of like I was back home – kind of. But yeah, we could trade “What did you do today” stories, my Mom could see I was keeping myself well-fed and I could feel that I hadn’t been banished to Siberia.
My Dad tells stories about him going over to New York to study in the early 70s – about how he would rush to the mailbox every afternoon when he came home to his apartment, praying for a letter from “home”.
It might take a month for a letter to be sent and the answer to be received. Skype has made those kinds of letters obsolete. My Mom can take me over to the living room and show me her latest obje d’art while I can show her how I’ve evolved into a domestic goddess – my room is now always spic and span (except during Finals Week). As you may know by now, I enjoy cooking (when I don’t have exams looming that is) and improvising new dishes. But what do I do when I want a reasonable facsimile of Mom’s home cooking? I just Skype her – and Mom can show me what she means by “a little of this and a handful of that”!
As a young person growing up in this age of the information and communications technology revolution, we take much of the change engendered for granted. And I’m sure we’re not appreciating the effect the gradual cumulative change all of this will have on our lives.
It’s like I read of the unnamed young man in “Miguel Street” going away by ship to London. Today, it’s just a hop, skip and jump away. Has London gotten nearer?
And with innovations like Skype, if you don’t want to hop, skip or jump…then with a touch of a button on Skype you’re in any other country where you know someone. Last week, returning from India, my Dad walked me around the lounge at New Delhi Airport!
All hail Skype*!
*Although come to think of it, I mostly use FaceTime now. What can I say? I’m fickle.
December 7, 2014 By
“There is no need to request You, Oh Durga,
To protect and save us.
For does the mother on whom children solely depend,
Ever need such a request?
And So our salutations to You;
So pray the Gods to You.”
As a Hindu young woman, who happens to worship God as female – in my case specifically Saraswati, in whom all knowledge reposes and emanates - I’ve sometimes wondered how some Hindu men who also worship the Divine in her various female forms and incarnations, can inflict violence on females.
But of course, violence against women isn’t confined to Guyana and certainly not only to Hindus.
It’s just that since we Hindus are supposed to have elevated women to the ultimate Divinity, I was kind of hoping our menfolk would’ve seen us as in a bit kinder light that those from other religions that insist that God is a man.
In Hinduism, by contrast, while God is ultimately beyond categories – including sex or gender – the conceived female aspects are actually endowed with the Shakti – or animating power.
In other words, the male manifestations are posited as completely inert without the female. Can’t do a thing! So we have, for instance, the Creator Vishnu with his female counterpart Lakshmi. She’s the power behind whatever “creation” – or “projection” if you chose – that’s going on. One third of Hindus are “Shaktas” – whose major object of worship is the Mother in her various manifestations.
In all his human incarnations – whether as Ram or Krishna – Vishnu is accompanied by his Shakti. As Ram, for instance, his double is Sita. Bringing matters to the human level then, supposedly to provide a model for us to imitate.
When one marries, the woman is said to be “the Lakshmi of the house”. In offering prayers to the Divine, the male householder is incomplete and the offerings aren’t accepted if he’s not accompanied by his “Lakshmi”.
So what goes with all this wife beating and violence against females in our society?? Why hasn’t our elevation of women as Goddesses increased respect for women? Well for one, in the “modern” world, we have all accepted that “religion” is just one aspect of “life”.
Religion as a seamless, integral way of life is “old fashioned” and “backward. Traditional Hinduism, we are convinced, can’t be “modern”. So our menfolk worship the Mother of the temple in the temple and then knock around the Mother of the house in the house.
The view that the man is the owner of all he surveys – in reflection of the Fella with the grey beard who’s floating in the sky above looking down at us – undergirds what is called “patriarchy”.
In modern Hindu homes, unlike the original model of society in which the female was equal in her own domain, boys and men are still socialized to see females as “their own”. And in a capitalist society, this becomes translated as their “property”. And more to the point “sexual property”, which he “jealously” guards.
If we’re ever going to get rid of this mind numbing violence that’s inflicted daily on females, this structural power imbalance between males and females which starts in the home – ironically by mothers – must be eliminated.
What was it they said about “the hands that rock the cradle”? It can help to make “ruling the world” a bit more fair.
All hail the Devi!
November 30, 2014 By
I try to follow the goings on back home as best as I can. The internet makes that feat achievable just by a few taps on the old iPad’s virtual keyboard! But with finals looming tomorrow, I must confess that I’m not so up to date on the intricacies of the “No-Confidence” maneuvre versus the “prorogation checkmate”.
Now I want to make this very clear. Contrary to what many of my friends and acquaintances back home might believe, I’m not too enamoured of politics. My Dad’s foray into that vocation gave me a whole new perspective: it’s not one that I would want to make my own.
But on the other hand, everything that I’ve learnt up to now has made it clear to me that we, the ordinary folks, ignore politics at our own peril. And it’s a grave peril.
You see, even though we may be taught differently – politics pervades every ounce of our being and every second of our lives.
Its challenge is basically the same with all the social institutions we create to make our lives a little better or simpler or just. We create these rules on how we ought to behave but pretty soon – and evidently inevitably – they take on lives of our own.
Take this expression that’s being thrown around so casually back in Guyana – democracy. It sounded so simple when I was in Primary School. We all sat around in a circle and decided what game we ought to play.
We voted…and even though our game mightn’t have been chosen, we were always consoled by the thought – “next time”!! And when you came down to it, the other persons’ games were also fun to play!!
Now I know by now that running a country is much more complex than selecting a game to play. But really, are they so different in their goals??
With games, the object is to have fun and in the end…all games are fun in some way or another. Now in running the country, I always thought the goal was your make life “better”.
And while we may differ on the specifics (for me “better” means being able to sleep longer during rainy day…under my coverlet!) I really do suspect that in general we all want the same things.
We want things like a decent job, good roads and radio disc jockeys who don’t talk too much. So when I see the life or death intensity with which politics is played in Guyana, it frightens me.
It’s not as if it’s like in the old days when there were severe differences in ideologies and so on.
From what I see, all the parties in Guyana seem to have the same perspective on how to get going with developing our country.
So the intensity must have to do with deciding who will get into power. Over here in Trinidad, I don’t get the feeling that the politics is so intense. At election time…things do heat up, but never allowed to get out of hand like in Guyana. I’ll never forget being trapped in a bus on the Agricola Public Road while cars were being burnt in 2012.
It looks like whether through prorogation or No-Confidence, elections are in our near term future. I just hope that our political leaders don’t raise the temperature too much. And as far as democracy is concerned – it’s our duty to participate and let the politicians know how we feel.
I’ll be voting for the first time, this go around, you know.
November 23, 2014 By
This semester we’ve been covering the nervous system. I’ve always been fascinated by the brain and all of its neuronal connections, so I was definitely looking forward to this section (and terrified because it’s an enormous amount of material to cover in a relatively short time).
Well, it did turn out to be an enormous amount of work, but thankfully, it turned out to be really interesting as well. I’m even more intrigued by the brain now than I was before.
For our anatomy lab sessions, they usually provide us with several brains to examine. And as I looked at all of these brains just resting on trays, being lifted up, flipped upside down, poked and prodded by curious med students, I started to think about how we were being kind of cavalier with the organ that once held someone’s memories and thought and emotions – their whole life story, really.
Just looking at the brain, sitting on a tray, drenched in formaldehyde, it doesn’t look especially impressive. You see its general shape, all of its fissures and gyri, pick it up and it’s not even that heavy.
But then when you learn about the parts of the brain and about what each part does, it blows you away. You learn that this strip of brain in front of this central fissure – that deals with motor activity – and this part behind the fissure – that deals with sensory information. Each part of our brain is specialized to do a specific task.
All of it got me thinking about what makes us who we are. I started thinking about how our brain stores all of our memories and experiences, processes all of our emotions and controls how we act and behave – all of those things that make us who we are.
And I realized that I found a new way to procrastinate – by having an existentialist crisis. And I also realized that my brain is thinking about itself. And I started to worry whether our brains are actually separate sentient beings that are tricking us into thinking that they’re a part of us.
I mean, all of our scientific discoveries have been by people using their BRAINS to think. And these brains could make us think whatever they want to think – they control EVERYTHING. I don’t think I’m making sense anymore.
I mean, my brain is the one coming up with these thoughts – it wouldn’t just give away its masterplan to me. But who is “me”? If I’m my brain, that mean my brain is talking to itself about itself? I think I’m having another existentialist crisis right now. I’m just going to stop this right now.
Moving on, it really is very exciting learning about the nervous system. It’s pretty cool knowing what nerve controls my eyelids. And if I ever get stabbed in the back (literally) at least I’ll know what parts of my body will be affected depending on what level of my spinal cord gets injured.
I’d just like to point out that this does not mean that I ever want to get stabbed in the back- either figuratively of literally.
November 15, 2014 By
In the judo-Christian notion of “heaven”, apart from the harp-strumming angels, the landscape is all lush and green with flowing rivers and luxuriant vegetation- at least that what I derived from growing in in a Christian-dominated country. I quickly concluded that Heaven was what you didn’t have and absolutely wanted. For me as a Hindu who doesn’t have to believe in “heaven” or “hell” and all that, I’m free to put my own spin on the concept.
For me heaven is a very rainy place. I just love the rain. To be more specific, I love the rain when I’m in bed. Really! So I guess heaven is a rainy spot with a comfy bed in a snug home and a roof that doesn’t leak.Some of the most pleasurable moments of my life have been waking up when the rain’s just started to fall and then burrowing down into the sheets for a little more of that sweet slumber.
So as you can imagine, I really hate having to get out of bed to go to class when it’s raining. It’s cruel and inhuman punishment, I think.
I mean, lying in bed, sometimes in that in-between reality connecting the dream-world with this harsh one here: isn’t this when you have your most creative ideas? The only problem is that we don’t remember anything when we’re roused. But we do retain that feeling of thinking “deep thoughts”. Not too coincidentally I’m studying the brain in school right now.
The rains have arrived over here in Trinidad. This means that every morning, when I look outside I’m greeted by the complete opposite of a sunny Caribbean paradise. It takes me probably at least 3 tries to get out of bed on those mornings. I’d try to get out of bed, only to be hit by a blast of icy coldness and I’d have to retreat back under the covers, to think about whether going to class was worth possibly catching hypothermia.
Invariably, the rational part of my mind wins over and I reluctantly stumble out of bed, get ready and bundle myself up in my coat, boots and about 15 layers of clothing. And then I get to class and still end up freezing, and I start to wonder whether that “rational” part of my mind is actually more masochistic than rational. What happened to all the “facts” I learnt in Geography about “tropical weather”??
As I wade my way back home through flooded pathways and torrential downpours, I start to re-evaluate my life and think about the things that really matter- like a nice hot cup of coffee, a hot water bottle and a blanket. Those thoughts help to get my through the storm. When I get home, it’s a struggle to extricate myself from the gazillion layers of clothing I’ve swathed myself with.
As I flop down onto my bed wearily, after grabbing a hurried bite…and burrow between the sheets. Thoughts of equating hell to going through all of that for a one-hour lecture recede.
I guess it’s kind of worth going through all of that for the aftermath, when you put some coffee to brew, curl up under a blanket and just sit listening to the rain falling… and falling… and falling.
November 9, 2014 By