Reflections

If you had asked me about positive thinking and meditation I would have said hmm and smiled and changed the topic. I wasn’t taught about it. We didn’t talk about it. I wasn’t exposed to the concept of introspection and reflection. Were you?

I think as humans we do it anyway. To a certain extent. All our actions are thought out. Some more well than others. As humans we are constantly thinking assessing taking actions and then living with the consequences.

Somewhere in the evolution of humans we have stopped putting ourselves in the shoes of the other.  We have stopped believing that we will face the consequences of our actions. We have come to believe we are invincible.

Unfortunately we are not. We are all accountable for our actions, words, even thoughts.

Some of us have been blessed with some more humbling experiences than others and perhaps that leads us to be more thoughtful. Reflective as I would call it. Perhaps that makes us carry a bigger burden. Perhaps that makes us more sensitive.

I just hope it makes us better people.

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Happy New Year!

Wow 2020 already?!

Is anyone else conflicted by the statement “End of the decade”? If I remember my calendar well, the calendar decade doesn’t end until 2020 is done with.  A new decade begins until 2021. Who am I to remind people that 1 AD immediately followed 1BC. There was no 0 in that transition. So the start of a decade always have a 1 and not a zero which means we aren’t actually done with this decade. Anyway 2020 is here and it is proving to be quite the start already.

I can’t remember the last time I wrote for the sake of writing. I can’t remember the last reader that read because they enjoyed my writing either. Then today a post popped up on my feed. In the comment section readers asked what was I doing practicing medicine, I should write. I do miss writing.  I miss writing well. I don’t do that any more. Perhaps that is what I should focus on. Things I like doing.

I have ended the year with even more disappointment in people. I have realized that my way of being kind to them is by letting them go. There is no point in trying to make sense of any of it. I fully comprehend that I am not perfect. I have my flaws and I can end up hurting people as well. So rather than letting the pain go around I say to them, lets all just let each other go and be on our merry way.

I would like to end this post on a high note. Perhaps a gratitude, perhaps a resolution, perhaps something else. I have none of that to share as of now. I do hope however that I will have more to share, to write about and uplift the blogosphere space.

Until then, I hope you have a fantastic new year!

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First impressions and my true identity.

When I first came to the US, I was starting my journey in the fourth country I would be calling home. I had enough experience to know that I was truly starting all over again.

India was home. I was born there, it was a natural habitat. Even though today it would be a new place all over again. Nepal was medical school. I was just thrown into adulthood, professionalism and a very steep life learning curve.

Another stop and then I found myself in the US. President Bush was about to end his tenure. Hillary Clinton and a rather unknown Black Senator were making political waves. I had more family and friends in this country than the ones I had left behind. I could put on a fake British accent but I was determined never to be fake again. Having lived in a developed country I felt I had the right gear to take on America.

Boy was I wrong. The first week I landed here was the Virginia Tech shooting. The country was in shock. I was in my own state of shock, was this the country I was going to immigrate to? My chosen country to adopt seemed kind of crazy. What was more interesting was that some of the people who knew I was a doctor, blamed the doctors for not identifying the mental health issue that this young immigrant student was battling. Sorry people; guns kills people, people without guns cannot have the effect. Also this country loves to blame doctors for everything is a lesson I learned very early on.

Racism was rampant but it was very subdued. I have had the “brown doctor” experience in UK. In the US it wasn’t so in your face when I first came here. To America’s credit, I lived in Philadelphia and New York. Both cities are used to immigrants. Things have changed. The loss of civility is the biggest casualty of the current political climate. I have now been in this country for more than a decade. That is long enough time to feel at home and all of a sudden I am very aware of the color of my skin and passport.

Identity crises became a real thing. African Americans are not all black people. There are Africans, Caribbeans and just dark people. Can I call them Black but that would not be inclusive. Can we have more categories? What about the people who have mixed race parents? Do they have a category? What does Asian mean? You mean I am the same as a Vietnamese? When I first came here, there used to be limited options to talk about my ethnicity or race and I never felt like I belonged. Things have changed and yet here is a lot of room for improvement.

Indians. Oh man Indians! They would have been the biggest shocker to me. I met Indians that immigrated 30 years before I did and that is the India they remembered? They didn’t manage to keep up with today’s India. That’s been my biggest fear. I will not keep up and I never want to be that Indian. Then I met the kind of Indians for whom the US was just a paycheck. They didn’t want to assimilate, they didn’t want to learn to speak English, they don’t care about the local politics. They just cared about their paycheck and somehow still didn’t leave their India behind. Well that’s not why I moved to a different country, so that was a bit scary. The final kind and actually my least favorite kind were the Indians that hated other Indians.

I understand people are different. I understand that we may not want to be clumped with a particular kind. I understand our own insecurities, but I don’t understand hatred.

So when I first came to the US, I knew I would embrace my Indian-ness like no other. I am proud to belong to a country that speaks over two dozen languages, where the culture and food changes every 200 kilometers, where people follow different religions and cultures and yet respect a single flag. So yes there maybe Indians who are different from me and who I don’t identify with, or don’t even agree with me but I am proud to be from India.

That one decision has helped me stay grounded thus far. So US of A, your landscape maybe changing and challenging, but this immigrant has her roots deep.

 

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How alone can this journey be?

Not a soul that can hear my steps,
How alone can this journey be…
Did I bring this upon myself?
I’ve stood strong in solitude for so long
Being strong in solitude is all I know
I no longer feel the warmth of another
There is no one to feel
I weave a web of perfection, this is my lie to believe
My faith is so strong, everyone believes it with me
This web so dense, I no longer see the light
I am on this journey, how did it get so lonely?

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At Odds

We are living through a very polarizing time. Be it our politics, our religious freedoms, parenting strategies, what it means to be in love, climate activism, our personal expression, feminism.

Whichever sphere of life we chose, I find that people are in a constant battle of proving themselves right or perhaps superior is what they wish to feel. Does it have to be that hard I wonder?

Just because motherhood isn’t one person’s calling doesn’t mean a helicopter mom is necessarily a bad thing

Just because the world is moving towards right wing nationalism, doesn’t mean secularism is a bad thing

Just because one chooses to not believe the science, doesn’t mean being passionate about climate change is bad thing

Just because one loves to cook and be home proud, doesn’t mean they cannot also be a true feminist

There are no absolutes in life. We all live through a spectrum. Can we just agree to disagree? Respectfully?

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I belong!

It had been a while, so I asked to go to the temple. It is very uncharacteristically characteristic of me. My husband thinks my motivation continues to be the wonderful South Indian food of the temple canteen. Ever so often it is good to be in the company of the almighty. For me it is a place of quiet conversation.

I haven’t always felt at ease in this setting. Today, I move about freely. I know the spot I stop to bow my head, I circle about the Shiva lingum, not once but 7 times. I try to verbalize my list of wants; not exactly what comes to me naturally. I always pray for wisdom to know and do the right thing.

We walk towards the room of Raashis. I have never understood the point of this room. I follow my husband without any reservation. As we await our turn to enter, I hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet. I see a little girl dressed to the nines in traditional Indian attire. She is absolutely adorable. She catches me looking at her with a huge smile. She smiles back. I look up to see her father holding her tiny hand. I think, they are raising her kindly.  She knows to smile at strangers that are smiling at her. It is something I don’t see that often in this part of the world.

We go round this room and leave when the husband is done. My husband makes a few more stops as I wait to end this temple tour on my favorite spot. I don’t feel so out of place anymore. I have my own rituals that feel right to me. I have found my path to communicate with god. Sometimes I just communicate with myself and that suffices.

I am amused to see two very young women amongst the devotees today. They could be Indian, but then maybe not. I cannot tell. I am amused and happy and puzzled. I take myself to my favorite spot. I sit down slowly, painfully aware of my weak knees. I am sitting on the floor in front of the large, center stage Ganesh. I cannot recall the number of times I have sat here in quiet conversation, praying, fighting with god, crying. I have come here at every joyous occasion and wept in full submission to god at my lowest. I have questioned my faith and what I have got for that faith on more than one occasion.

Today I am just happy to be here. I notice the two girls again. I wonder if they are lovers. Are they here for blessings? One of them comes and sits close to me. The other one approaches the priest. I can hear a conversation in English. The priest has asked her to wait as he takes the flowers from her offering. I can tell she is very unsure of the next steps. The girl next to me emanates some tension. I am intrigued. I look back at the girl with the priest. I catch her wiping a tear and my heart feels suddenly broken. I find my own tears well up to the brim.

I wonder what sorrow brings the two girls here. I know I have sat at that very spot vulnerable and miserable wishing no one the pain I have endured. I wonder what is making this girl cry. I wish I can tell her, the pain will become manageable. The girl sitting next to me is now deep in thought, perhaps prayer. I decide I will respect the privacy of these girls and continue my own conversations with god.

Not even a moment later, I see the girl next to me has joined the weeping girl. They are deep in conversation. I wonder if they are just friends, and not lovers after all. I could be that friend  to my own childhood friend. My mind wanders to her. I just spoke to her the previous night. I think of all the times I had wished I was with my  best friend. I sense my bile rising when I think of all the wrongs she has faced and I wasn’t there to give her a hug, say a prayer with her, let her know that things will be okay over a cup of tea.

I am now crying with audible sniffles. I miss my friend. Perhaps I miss knowing someone has got my own back like the two I see here. I miss close proximity. Whoever said technology has brought us closer is wrong.  I would have liked some hugs or a hand on my back as I curled away from the world in my own misery. I would have liked to make endless teas for my friend when she had to do it all alone.

I know my sobbing is pure catharsis. If I can only get another moment of this outburst, I will be much better the rest of the day.  I can feel the husband has finally caught the wind. He is worried, but lets me be.

I have finally made that connection with god. I have had my quiet conversation even though it is through tears. I also know that I finally belong.

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I have a problem..

Social Media addiction.

Washington Post published an article on Social Media Addiction . I don’t necessarily answer yes to all the 6 questions, but I know that social media is one of the reasons I am behind on a lot of projects. It is affecting my productivity.

This needs to stop and hence I decided to do some research on the condition and share what I find. This isn’t a Meta-analysis for all you nerd/geek friends of mine. It is my first google search and see what I came across.

Oh man, so International Journal of Environmental Research And Public Health has written a comprehensive review of Online Social Networking and Addiction.

Great my work is done here!

Ha, who am I kidding.

So how do I stop with reaching to my cell phone? I have written three posts in one week. Something I haven’t done in over a year. Am I trying to find something else to do in lieu of the phone? I don’t know. All I do know is that I don’t need to be on social media. I don’t need the social validation. I don’t need to follow the lives of absolute strangers. I don’t need to make new friends.

I need to find time for myself, for my work, for the actual living people around me. I need to reign in on the virtual and celebrate the real.

If you have any tips on how to do that, please leave me a comment below.

 

 

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