Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Vampires

Yes, this post is about the vampires. I am not talking about the sexy vampires called 'Cullens' from the movie 'Twilight' (however tempting it may be), I am here to talk about this mythical monster's real-life non-sexy counterpart - the emotional vampires. Odds are high that you have one of these demons lurking in the folds of your life. Emotional vampire is someone who zaps all your energy and makes you feel worse than you were feeling before.



There are many traits of vampires - narcissists, controllers, drama queens and victims.



I am going to talk about a vampire from my life today who entered my life a while ago. We started to hang out, created some amazing memories, slowly the vampire was comfortable with me and started sharing her fears, worries, stress, problems and confusions. I listened to her struggles in life and sympathized, empathized with her. At that point I did not realize how much negative impact it was causing me, I thought this is what friends do, they stand by when the other is facing problems.



She complained about studies, politics at work, family troubles, struggle finding a descent job, and then about the boy that she herself chose to marry after four years of courtship. I should have realized by now that vampires are going through perpetual problems as this is how they view life, even a paper cut is a big deal for them. They attract drama, create their own storms and cry when it rains.



And so it happened that she started having an extra marital affair. I kept telling her to not do that or at least separate from her husband first. She did none of that. Vampires seldom listen to advices or take actions on their mistakes.



My family and close friends asked me to disassociate with her saying someone who can have an extra marital affair have low morals and their conscious is dead. I wonder what happened to my standards, values and principles that I supported her throughout the affair (while her poor husband had no clue of what was going on), then her divorce and when the boy she was having an affair with ran away. In this phase I helped her find a job in Seattle in my company, helped her settle in this new place and made sure that I met her every other day so that she doesn't feel lonely and also looked for a match for her on dating sites (even though this was adding to my already existing stress levels).



It slowly hit me that the vampire was never happy even if good things happened to her. So if to cheer her up I said 'your mom received the most prestigious award in the country, you must be happy', to which the vampire said 'yes she did receive the award but she still has xyz problems'. The vampire never saw the bright side of life no matter how much one tried to divert her attention at it but at the same time she never failed to notice the good happening in others lives.


She would compare her mother's life with my mother. My mother is a housewife, she doesn't have to go through office politics and in turn is not rewarded with national awards either, she has her own share of problems that she is handling gracefully with a smile on her face. No need to mention that vampires always compare their own life with others and ask the question 'why me'.



She felt most other people have lives that are much easier than hers. One of the vampire's friend got a job in Google and her reaction was 'oh, she is the dumbest person I have come across, she absolutely did not deserve the job, she got it by luck'. 'Why?,' I asked 'people in Google grill in interviews, they are not stupid to lend her a job just like that'. Yet, she was stuck on her opinion.



Her constant lectures on 'luck' (which were many times taunted at me) made me annoyed one day I asked her 'In 12th you had 60%, did you deserve an admission in one of the best engineering colleges simply based on caste system reservations while so many with + 90% had to opt for low rated colleges? Or did you deserve admission for your MBA program which you got based on family ties? Everyone has some advantage in life and if you name it as luck then in that sense you have been lucky too'. She obviously disagreed and claimed that she deserved every bit of it because she has been through a lot in life! Victim consciousness defies logic.



I avoided telling her any good things happening with me, as that made her more sad and jealous. I stopped being myself around her. The vampires feed on your grief, loss or pain so for their lunchtime they want to talk about your worst phases, agony and sadness, once you vent they feel quenched. Misery loves company. Every interaction with her made me feel drained, negative and sad, may times even low self esteemed as I was taunted that I am simply lucky to have the good things.



To prove it to her that everyone goes through troubled times I kept telling her sad stories - derived from my life and others I have known. Once when she was going through her usual 'oh my life sucks' phase, to pacify her I started telling her a story from my life. I told her about my father - without going into details - he is going through one of the saddest thing that can happen to a person, when it happened my entire family was shattered, we went through shock and panic attacks, it has been 17 years and we still feel sad every single day about it and find it tough to deal with, unfortunately it has happened to the most beautiful soul we have ever known. When I told the vampire about my father - her reaction was 'at least your father is alive, mine is dead'.


 At this very instant I realized that the vampire has no empathy but just jealousy, comparison and disrespect for me. I started avoiding her and stopped sympathizing with her anymore. The vampire under any circumstances wants to prove that they are suffering more than anyone else in the world, they seek sympathy, attention. Saying that others are bad does not prove that you yourself are good, saying that others do not deserve things does not make you any worthy of them and downplaying other's pain does not prove that yours is bigger. She was going through problems because she created them for herself and dark is how she viewed life.


I must admit that it is extremely hard to cut the vampires out of your life completely, even though you know it is the wisest thing to do because you are so sucked into their world of worries that somehow you feel that you owe it to them, so we still were in touch and would meet once in a while.



It so happened that last year I was going through the lowest phases of my life, I was stuck in a black hole, the more I tried coming out of it the more it sucked me in.



During this time I met an old friend who went through 8 chemotherapies. I listened to her problems, shared mine. Though I wasn't going through a cancer treatment she didn't downplay my worries. "Shit happens and it is sad," she said "but fighting spirit comes naturally when you look at the many beautiful things that life has to offer, just enjoy every bit of the beauty". I could instantly relate, this is my attitude. Life is beautiful inspite of the problems. The sky, colors, relationships, nature, dancing, painting, reading, movies, creating, consuming, being able to live with two legs, two hands, functioning eyes and organs, still having hair on the head... everything is beautiful.



I realized that everyone around me and including me is going through minor-major issues, but no one is a drama queen filled with negativity, jealousy, comparison or the why me attitude.



Not to mention the vampire was nowhere around when I went through my troubles, vampires do not add any value to your life, it is always debit from your emotional bank and never credit. I of course came out of the black hole of my worries by taking actions on my mistakes, vowed never to repeat them again and by engaging in activities like meditation, dancing, reading and painting rather than complaining, gossiping and comparing.



A short while ago the vampire told me that she got married and bought a new house, I congratulated her and asked her why didn't she tell me about it when it happened, she said she has been busy with everything going on and then listed the number of problems that are keeping her busy. "You could have sent me a message" I said. To which she mentioned that we have nothing in common now, we are in different phases of life and have different lifestyles.


I wonder what took her so long to see the difference? We were always different, when I listened to her crib for hours or when she stayed with me until she found a place to live or when she was dating and breaking up - we always had different lifestyles, decision making patterns, attitudes, aptitudes, interests, energy, belief system and outlook towards life.



The vampire stops being around you when you say 'buck up you sissy' and deny to be their crutch, they simply find new crutches who support them better. As they say - a friend in need is a friend indeed, for the vampires they are always in need. Finally, she was out of my life entirely, I felt used at the end, it is a sad feeling but there are no regrets only lessons. I have no one to blame but me for the distress the vampire caused me, no one had put me in a prison and made me listen to her.
But at the same time I feel extremely relieved as I don't have to be around this toxic person anymore, even as a formality.


Whether it’s negativity, cruelty, jealousy, the victim syndrome, or just plain craziness, vampires drive your brain into a stressed-out state that should be avoided at all costs, I know it is hard to do that if they are your family members, colleagues or childhood friends. Vampires are affecting your physical, mental, emotional well-being in more ways than you understand. All I have to say is let go of the people who dull your shine, poison your spirit and bring you drama. Simply cancel your subscription to their issues.


I stumbled upon an article on emotional vampires the other day and it dawned on me that it is not just me who has been a prey to their blood-sucking nature, there is a huge research on this personality type. I wish I had read the article long ago, that would have saved me energy, time, emotion and undue stress.




Here is the link - https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/11/14/how-to-avoid-being-drained-by-energy-vampires/   --- don't miss the 'Vampire assessment' section.


And here is a good book on the topic - Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Good TV shows

These TV shows are also available on Netflix instant watch.

1. Happy Valley - a little off the topic from the review - the women around me are scientists, doctors, leaders, engineers, homemakers and some really strong personalities like my mother's maid in India has a disabled husband and the way the maid supported him and brought up her kids on her own is outstanding. Fortunately or unfortunately I do not know a single woman who wears a bikini and dances on item songs around 1000 drunk men like the way shown in Bollywood films. May be those filmmakers have their mothers, sisters, wives, girlfriends, daughters in those kind of businesses so that's the way they portray women in their films. Anyhow, look at the way 'we' the women are shown in shows like Happy Valley - absolutely stunning.

2. Stories by Rabindranath Tagore - Tagore is the first (and the last?) Indian to receive Nobel prize in literature and you have got to read his books or watch this TV show to understand why. They are all convoluted stories with grey characters. I could not believe the way he has portrayed women in his stories, they are so rebellious and strong for that era. All the actors have done a fabulous job, I loved this show.

3. Stranger Things - I couldn't stop watching this science fiction and finished it in 2 days, there are just 6 episodes. Superb acting by all the kids in this mini-series (though it is not made for kids). I highly recommend that you watch it!



Saturday, July 30, 2016

My opinions on opinions

As children we go about our life of jumping, running, screaming, playing and doing whatever we want without worrying about any kind of opinions that people are forming about us, until our parents remind us "what will people think".


Now comes a phase when we have the awareness that we are being observed and everything that we say or do (or don't say or don't do) is under scrutiny and judged by others. And so start the inhibitions, I don't know maybe you are born to doctor parents and want to be a ballet dancer, now your own heart might worry "What will people say".


In order to rise above this, to do what we want and also to not worry so much about our image it is important to realize that people who are forming opinions about you are:


1. Too busy with their own crap to spend too much time on you, the focus on you will die down soon. Also they will most likely find someone new to pass their expert comments on.


2. They are forming opinions based on their own perspective, upbringing, experiences and open or closed mindedness, they are not necessarily right or wrong, good or bad, true or false.


3. Most of them are good at just judging and may be not be doing anything else with their life. They are obviously talking about you even though they themselves are in deep shit.


4. The other day the BFF and I talked about how people get fat and never realize the importance of exercise and good diet, it was a good discussion while indulging in a big piece of cheesecake. We soon realized the irony of comments and laughed out loud (we both are overweight and nowhere close to being healthy). Not everyone realizes the irony when they pass their opinions. Opinions are ALWAYS hypocritical.


5. People talk about others as it gives them a momentary pleasure of feeling better even though proving others are doing bad doesn't prove we ourselves are doing any good.


5. People talk more about things that they want but can not have. Maybe you want to start your own business and people talking about it brings you down then realize it that they lack the courage to do it and so all they can do is talk! May be you are flaunting a bikini at a beach and people start gossiping/ passing comments, trust me they all want to be able to carry it off like you do (I know I do) but they can't and so I say people who do not or cannot do something start criticizing it, like I review movies even though I don't know how to make any ;-)


See how people talking about you is never about you but always about them?


Ignoring people's opinions is a skill that is necessary for everyone, be it artists or plumbers, to create what we want and simply to live our short lives happily on our own terms.


Be free, do what you want, create what you want to create. As long as we intend no harm no one but we ourselves should decide who we are and what we are meant to do. We are more than able to follow our own compass. We must live our own truth no matter who may be offended because trust me at all times someone or the other will be offended!

Don't bother shutting people up because they never will. Don't let people's unwanted and hypocritical opinions weigh you down as you would be able to fly high without all that weight.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Wonder

I know a girl N, she is the most beautiful girl I have ever seen in my lifetime. She looks a lot like Madhubala (yesteryear actress). When we were little N was always very quiet and didn't play with anyone. She was tagged as being arrogant, the one who has a superiority complex. And why not? the one who looks good has to be haughty, isn't that our prejudice? N's resemblance to Madhubala was so uncanny that even she had a hole in her heart (just like Madhubala). So the reason she didn't play or interact much with anyone was because of her health/ stress and who knows may be she actually had inferiority complex because she wasn't 'normal' like the other kids.

Here is another story of a brilliant person X, working at an amazing position, always cheerful, extremely confident and the most vibrant person I have ever met. X is born with a physical deformity which has been a subject of laughter/ pity and the very people who made fun of /or thought lowly of X are nowhere close to being as smart or as good a person as X is.

Good looks are not your achievement and bad looks not a failure, it is simply a game of statistics, probability, nature and genetics. There is no reason to feel any sort of complex for belonging to one of the category or being prejudiced about people belonging to one of those categories. 

Wonder is the name of the book - it is a story of a boy born with a genetic disorder that makes his face look all mushed up. He goes through many troubles - from school admission (though he is brilliant) to acceptance from the school kids (even though he is super funny, goodhearted kid). It is a serious topic, handled beautifully and lightly. I wish every single adult and child reads it. Good for ages 5+. 

*The world would be an awesome place if we get admission/ job/ opportunity/ respect based solely on our skills, merit, intelligence and not based on our looks, gender, caste, family, class, sub caste, religion or nationality. 




Monday, June 06, 2016

Good movies on Netflix

Awesome movies on Netflix instant watch this month (June 2016):

(in no particular order)

1. The boy in the striped pajamas
2. A walk to remember
3. Good Will Hunting
4. Like father like son
5. To kill a mockingbird
6. Amelie
7. Little Boy
8. Tell no one
9. Girl with the dragon tattoo series
10. Waking Ned Divine
11. Touching the void
12. Shakespeare in love
13. The kids are alright
14. The English patient
15. About Elly
16. The best offer
17. Following
18. The bank job
19. 13 going on 30
20. Piku
21. Talwar

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Goodreads Challenge

In 2015 I took a Goodreads Challenge of 40 books, and ended up reading 45 books so it didn't feel much like a challenge. Half of them were audio books, thanks to my hour long commute each way on weekdays. Audio books help me keep away from road rage! 

This year I have taken up a challenge of 50 books. 

Here is the list of best 5 and worst 5 books that I read last year -

Best 5: 

1. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
2. The Martian
3. The Sun's Heartbeat
4. The Devotion of Suspect X
5. Confessions of a Shopaholic 

Worst 5:

1. Landline
2. Dollar Bahu
3. IQ84
4. I am Malala
5. Zen Garden (Marathi)

Are you on Goodreads? my username is rasikamahabal.


Friday, May 13, 2016

Girl, Goddess and Audrey

1. The girl on the train -This book has a very gripping and fast paced story. I finished it in two days, I just couldn't wait to find out who the killer was. Would I recommend this book? only if you like mindless murder mysteries, 3/5.

2. Undomestic Goddess - I didn't enjoy Undomestic Goddess, found it way too dragged and illogical (even for Sophie's standards). I give it 2/5.

3. Finding Audrey - This is the best book written by Sophie Kinsella so far (I have read all her books), it also happens to be the best book I read this year so far. I give it 5/5. Another good book by Kinsella is 'Confessions of a Shopaholic'.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

April 2016: Book Reviews

1. Future of the mind -- Michio Kaku

'Physics of the impossible' is a very good book by Kaku, if you have read it then 'Future of the mind' is kind of repetitive information. I didn't enjoy it much. 2/5.

2. Is everyone hanging out without me -- Mindy Kaling

I have read biographies by Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and this time Mindy Kaling, all I can say is next time I will make sure I read biographies of people that I know about (reason being my ignorance) or have a liking towards ;-)

I am sure it is hard for anyone of Mindy's size and looks getting into Hollywood and making it big. This book is about her struggle and entry in showbiz. I thought it was alright, would give it 3/5.

3. Fifty shades of Grey -- E L James

I read this book because everyone around me seemed to have read it. This was the first time I read a book in the genre erotica. I am pretty sure there are better books written in this category. If you omit the sex scenes in this book there is no story left and the writing is very poor. I give it 1/5.



Monday, April 11, 2016

Equality

*When I want to share my experiences-thoughts-opinions here it brings a few restrictions on how much information I share. I do wish sometimes to have an anonymous blog but then I do not like to read things that are written anonymously, it takes courage to own up to what you write. In this post I am trying my best to convey a point without revealing too much information as there are other people involved as part of the experience.

Scene 1: Lady L is praising a female F who happens to be married to a person living in a joint family. 'You know Rasika, in her new house F cooks for 10 people and is not even allowed to eat until the elders finish their meals. F is so courageous, she is dealing with it amazingly'. (F in this scene is highly educated and married into a rich family).

First of all I couldn't believe my ears then I had doubts if I was still in the year 2016 or had time traveled way in the past. After a few seconds of shock I said to L 'You know what would be courageous? It would be to say 'I am a doctor (profession changed) and I am not going to spend my life cooking for 10 people, let's all take a few responsibilities each and also I will eat/drink and do things when I want to'. 

L was flabbergasted. I could see it in her eyes that she didn't think of my opinions highly. I could see myself getting tagged as a mad woman. 

Lets's forget about F for a second, we don't know her side of the story, she may be on the verge of rebelling against things. I get frustrated at women who are of type L. How much ever one tries to convince them they don't understand that they are equals, they are their own masters and so are the other women and all humans. They are stuck in the norms of 'gender roles' dictated by the society. These women badmouth those who are living on their own terms without being succumbed to social pressures.

I was raised as an equal by my parents, I did not know there exists inequality based on genders until I saw the outside world. Obviously there are women who are not brought up in such environment and they take daily insults and controlling by others as a way of life, so 'eating when you are hungry' is revolutionary for them. 

Scene 2: I encountered the characters like in scene 1, no really! they do exist in the world. One day at a dinner party a man asked me to stop eating, I looked around and to my surprise it was only men who were having dinner. I am not talking about an uneducated family here, they are all (including women) highly educated and working people. Have you encountered this in India that the women eat only after men are done eating?

Without worrying too much I continued with my dinner. What is the worst that could have happened? They would have thrown me out or tagged me as stupid? Who cares what these kind of people think about us…?

I understand that many women do not understand that they even have a say in things but then there are women who understand it and still keep quiet. In my observation they keep mum because they worry about their image. They do not want to be tagged as a bitch, they want to be revered. According to the society only sacrificing motherly obedient ladies are respected and they would rather adhere to the norms than being called names.

(I could write many more scenes but then it will be size of a book ;-) I will stop here as you get the gist).

I stopped celebrating Bhaubij, Rakhipaurnima/Rakshabandhan, Padawa and such where the men are worshiped and in return women get gifts. No wonder men get an ego boost since childhood as they see women worshiping them every now and then. I don’t want to have it the other way round too, nobody is worshiped and nobody is a doormat is the ideal scenario. 

When I asked an eight year old girl why do you celebrate 'Bhaubij' and worship your brothers why isn't it the other way round? her answer was simple 'I asked my mother the same thing but she forces me to do it'. So even an 8 year old sees and understands inequality.
Though her soul requires seeing, the culture around her requires sightlessness. Though her soul wishes to speak its truth, she is pressured to be silent. Pressure is to be adequate in whatever manner the authority, the culture or traditions define it. 

From the time girls are toddlers they are taken captive and domesticated. Strong willed girls are told they are wrongheaded and improper. Generally suffering starts at an early age at no fault of their own and is caused by the cruelty of ignorance or intentional meanness of others. The basic self of the psyche is wounded early on. When this happens, a girl begins to believe that the negative images her family and culture reflect back to her about herself are totally true. The girl begins to believe that she is weak, dependent, unacceptable, inferior and that this will continue to be true no matter how hard she tries to reverse it.

Don't impose traditions/culture on your daughters just because you yourself were a victim, because you didn't have the courage or were not allowed to speak your mind. This is 2016 and we are still fixated on raising goddesses. I don't care if the world calls me a bitch, I take pride in having my own mind and the fact that I don't let others dictate what I do with my own life.


There was a time when women were not allowed to go to school or vote. (I am glad that I was born in India because the situation for women is worse in a lot of other countries). We have come a long way. In today's time I feel many of us are rising up and acknowledging that there is a better way, a way called equality. We are changing but the momentum is slow. As we grow and become our higher selves, we need to send out ripples of change to those around us. The possibility exists that without protests a revolution will happen and another significant shift could occur in our lifetime...


Monday, March 07, 2016

The Demon Haunted World

A couple announced to a group of people present at their house that they were expecting their first child. Everyone was happy but one man in the group said 'I checked your horoscope with my astrologer and he told me there is NO chance until next year'.

There are three categories of people here:

1. The astrologer - who thinks every person's destiny is written and he has the power to predict it. I wonder how can anyone predict sperm count, suitable conditions of the womb and free time that the couple was going to find to make babies! How can the faraway planets play a role in anything?

2. The man - There are millions of people like the man in this scene who are satisfying their curiosities by showing their horoscope and also of the people they know (without consulting them). These people should keep their curiosities to themselves and not spread ignorance.

If everything that we do is already written then what is the point in living this life? Unfortunately astrology is more famous in India than astronomy. Everything that people do is checked with an astrologer - including the name of the newborn.

3. The couple - They are the type who write their own destiny, still they were stressed during all the months of pregnancy thinking 'what if the astrologer was right'. Well, they have healthy kids now and they produced them without checking with any astrologer. If someone tells you that according to horoscope you are not going to get promoted this year don't trust it, also don't blame your failures on some far away planets going retrograde.

Few years back a lady on a road asked me to give her money when I denied she said 'My goddess will curse you, bad things will happen to you'. I found it ironical, if there was a goddess cursing or blessing someone then why would this lady herself was begging on the road? I left the scene but from a distance I could see many people giving her money. Reason? Simple - Fear of unknown.

Every single person is scared of the unknown be it the future, entering a dark room or the reason of our existence. Out of our fears demons are born they are nothing but superstitions. Don't get me wrong I myself have had many superstitions, I read horoscopes at one point of time. But as we read, gain more knowledge, ponder over things and reach our higher selves we need to spread the word of wisdom.

It reminds me of a movie 'Little Boy', someone tells the little boy in the movie that he has the power to move things. Then this boy tries to move mountains, land, ocean and everything. One fine day there is an earthquake at the same time when he is trying to move land - the game of probability! And then everyone starts calling him a miracle, that is how superstitions are spread.

People in India still believe in black magic, this has nothing to do with how much educated they are.

The Demon Haunted World is a book by famous astronomer Carl Sagan. He talks about several superstitions around the world. It helped me get rid of some of my superstitions like 'buri nazar'  (A look or stare believed to cause injury or misfortune to others).

I highly recommend it to every person from all categories - The astrologer, The man and The couple.

*This post is dedicated to Narendra Dabholkar who struggled all his life to free Indians from superstitions like black magic, he was murdered in 2010.