Parenting and education

I wonder if parents give a thought to what a school is, what education should be like? What our own role as parents should be?

As a parent, my role (and the school’s) is:
– to help the child learn acceptance of who he/she really is and get comfortable with himself/herself
– to help the child be independent
– to encourage the child to pursue her/his own enthusiasm without corrupting it with our prejudiced ideas
– to encourage effort, not push for results. Work is the reward, result is a by-product.
– to help the child build a sense of inner-worthiness that is not tied to social status, job, money, rank, etc

PS: We are merely facilitators, not enforcers. At the end, much is not in our hands. Learn to let go.

Who am I?

I feel confused.

As a kid, I felt very insecure. I felt like this frail looking ugly kid no one would like. I felt like this weakling who couldn’t stand up to bullies and defend himself. I felt terrified of being laughed at for my shortcomings.

Rejection scared me so much that I started masking my weaknesses. I pretended as if I was a brave kid. A rich kid. A smart kid. An interesting kid. Basically everything the society in general ‘admires’. All the time, I felt the opposite inside.

My masks helped me. The lies I told, the achievements I collected, all of them protected me from being exposed. It was a relief to not be exposed so openly.

Now, if my insecurities weren’t there, would I have needed those masks?

Nope! I wouldn’t need to impress anyone. And I could be at ease with being myself – with all flaws intact.

Everyone has flaws and everyone is a bit lesser than someone else somewhere in this vast world. Instead of resisting it and trying hard to disprove it, I would accept it.

Now, if I didn’t need those achievements to cover me up, what do I need it for? Do I need it at all?

If I don’t need it at all, and can discard the need for achievements, what becomes of me?

Who am I without my seeking?

Finding yourself. Losing your ‘self’.

For the last 2-3 years, I have been trying to be more of myself.

I used to live an outwardly driven life where others’ perceptions and opinions of me mattered… a lot. I wanted to achieve things, be respected and admired.

For some reason, since childhood, I’ve felt like an inadequate guy. Scared that our unforgivingly judgmental society would find out my inadequacies and reject me, I covered it up. With accolades, achievements, pretence and other props that made me ‘look good’ on the outside, but mattered less deep inside.

Those insecurities were my driving force.

Life was one goal after another!

I felt elated when I reached my goals and broken when I didn’t. The recognition I received when I reached my goals pushed me hard. That double edged sword also crushed me in my failures.

I couldn’t enjoy my successes because I couldn’t afford to stop. I couldn’t share my failures openly because I was scared of being judged.

Life was one stage play after another – I was an actor pretending to be an achiever. Never myself, never relaxed. Maintaining the house of cards was taxing.

Tired of running, I started looking inward.

I didn’t know much then. The first couple of years were empty, dull and depressing.

At that point, I didn’t understand why I gave so much importance to others’ opinion of ‘me’. My insecurities were embedded deeply inside and like most uncomfortable things, the mind buried it deep enough so that one doesn’t have to deal with it daily. It took a while and a lot of digging into to uncover the built-up anxieties and insecurities.

It became clear that I had bottled up childhood insecurities and was very uncomfortable in letting the world know of my shortcomings. I was scared of being rejected. That fear of rejection made me conform.

And when you conform so much, you stop being yourself. You chase the facades the society values – status, jobs, money, praise, etc. You essentially live other people’s lives rather than your own!

It became clear that my facades weren’t helping me in the long run. I had to discard them.

Discarding such facades is a deeply painful process. You have to open up unpleasant things about yourself and accept them yourself first, without judging. You have to be your own best friend and it is not easy.

Years of conditioning don’t go away immediately. There’s a lot of internal resistance. I think it is important to build mental immunity first before doing this. Without the mental immunity to handle it, one can drop straight to depression or even suicide. I credit my stint as an entrepreneur for having helped build a bit of mental immunity to handle this reasonably alright. I had two people with whom I could discuss nearly everything without filters, my wife and a close friend, and that really helped.

Once you cross the valley of facades, you’d think things would get easier. Nope!

As I kept peeling the layers of outwardness, hoping I’d find the ‘real me’, I didn’t find a ‘real me’, but only nothingness. The nothingness was extremely unsettling.

All those things that meant so much to me suddenly lost their importance. There was nothing to hold onto – to anchor my life and strive for. Seeking of any kind, the very thing that gave my existence so much meaning until then, turned unimportant.

When you seek, it means you have somewhere to go. However, when you introspect deeply, you realise your seeking is just a facade for your inability to just be yourself. Your facade is your uncomfortable-inner-self trying to be someone else.

When you become comfortable with yourself, you don’t need the facades. Without facades, suddenly there’s no need to seek. It’s as if I spent a lot of time shedding my outer-self in pursuit of a true inner-self, only to discover there’s no such thing.

It’s been a year now – and I am a bit more comfortable with the nothingness or whatever else you could call it. It’s still uncomfortable at times, but then it has helped me shed baggage and travel lighter these days.

Tea review: Gopaldhara autumn ruby

The Gopaldhara estate teas have been a mixed bag. Autumn Ruby here. Brews into a bright orange liquor that has a mild honey smell. It tastes of a mix of honey and some ripe fruit. Sweetish, but not quite the way I like it. It feels as if someone dunked the leaves in a honey-fruit syrup to add this flavour as an after-thought. Zero astringency. Sweetish after-taste, but again, not quite the way I prefer it. 

Similar story with Gopaldhara Red Thunder autumn flush (2018) too. The biggest disappointment, however, is the Silver Needles white mix flush. All of them have this honey-fruit taste that feels like an after addition rather than a natural flavour.

Tea review: Korakundah organic green tea

Tried the Korakundah Organic green tea today.

It is green tea alright, but I didn’t find anything special about it.

Very mild woody kind of aroma. A sip wraps you in a woody and astringent taste that disintegrates slowly. After-taste is neither clean nor smooth, but isn’t harsh either. After tasting the White teas and Oolongs from the same estate recently, this one feels like medicine :(.

To be honest, I think I could have done a proper job of brewing. I suspect the water temperature was a tad too high. Will try sometime again at a bit lower water temperature.

Tea review: Korakundah Organic White tea

Today’s infusion was the Korakundah white tea. Another high-grown Nilgiri tea that yields a clear smooth liquor and has a meditative aroma.

As you slurp, you probably notice the floweriness first. The sweetish fruitiness kicks in much later and stays on for much longer leaving you with a clean soft after-taste, just like the one you get after you’ve just brushed your teeth.

At Rs 510/50gm, it’s not cheap – but then you could steep it several times. I infused my leaves 4 times and still got solidly good liquor. Was even tempted to brew a 5th time.

One of those clean, soft and meditative kind of teas with a very distinctive flavour. Loved it!!

Tea review: Korakundah Organic Oolong tea

My first tryst with Korakundah Oolong tea.

Pretty mild, flowery and fruity tea. Has a strong aroma that is distinctive of most Nilgiri teas. After a few sips, one would notice a flowery taste (jasmine?) and as it washes down the back of your throat, a mild peachy taste that lingers on.

Gulp it down and it is as good as hot water. Slow down, close your eyes and let the flavours unfold slowly – only then would you appreciate this tea.

Another note, this leaf is definitely for one brew only. On second infusion, the aroma was almost nonexistent (did I steep it wrong?) and the taste was much mellowed. My amateurish knowledge says that high grade oolongs could be steeped multiple times. Nevertheless, it appears to be a lovely delicate tea.

Baggage of dreams

It was his first TEDx speech.

He rehearsed for yet another time on the way to the venue. A lot of people knew about his achievements already. This was his chance to let them know the story behind it – the pain and hardships he had to undergo to make it happen.

Not every seedling becomes a tree!

Dreams don’t just fructify out of thin air. They need intense effort, discipline and dedication. They need a lifetime of sacrifice. Stuff that people with broken spine simply cannot manage.  Continue reading

Tangled

Should I do it? Would I be able to live with the guilt? I kept thinking.

My mind wandered to the day when I first met her.

I work as a consulting neurologist and movement disorder specialist here. It would have been just another day in the hospital, but for this particular case.

Adhira was referred to me by our neurology resident Dr Kumar.

Continue reading