Why Me??

Lately, I find myself looking up at the sky and asking, “Why Me?” Did it ever happen to you that you speak politely to a person, yet they respond rudely? Or have you ever boasted about your skill at a certain task, and you proceed to fail miserably at it. You never failed at this simple task, but that day when you have an audience, fate decides to give you a taste of defeat.

On one occasion, I set out to help someone who was in trouble. I genuinely put in my best effort, but somehow, I end up creating a bigger mess than the original problem. I felt guilty, but there is nothing that I could do to undo the damage. I was kicking myself all the way home for poking my nose on others problem.

Has it ever happened that you took procrastination to the next level and now you have only one night to complete your project? To add a little more spice to the existing problem, out of the blue, without even the slightest sign of a warning there is a power cut.

You just enjoyed a relaxing hot water bath on a cold winter day. Your mind now feels refreshed as if you meditated for an hour and your body can easily drift into blissful sleep. You turn off the shower and only then realize that you forgot your towel.

You make reservations for your favourite vacation. As the day approaches, you finish packing everything for the trip, you tidied up the house, watered the plants and did all that needs to be done before taking the much-awaited break. Then suddenly, out of the blue, you fall sick. Hating to give up, you pack medications and go ahead with your vacation with sheer determination, and not give up due to the minor obstacle (as you would like to think of it). Despite all efforts, upon reaching your destination you are so down that you can no longer enjoy your dream vacation.

It is at times like these that I feel like looking up to the heavens and asking God, in all sincerity, “Why me? why now?”. While my predicament could provide some comic relief to others, it leaves me feeling blue. It appears that I suddenly turned into a sitcom show for the fates above. I’m sure many of you have similar stories to share and please do share. At least we won’t feel alone.

Rangoli – Art Work On Floor

Recently we celebrated Sankranthi in India. It is a farmers festival that indicates the start of the farming season. It is a very grand celebration in villages with festivities spread over 3 days. I will not get into the details of how and why we celebrate Sankranthi, but I would like to speak about one key aspect of Sankranthi. That is the Rangoli or the Kollam that we draw to decorate our houses.

Rangoli or Kollam as it is called in South India is an art form, where we draw intricate and colourful patterns, flowers, or images on the floor with rice flour or chalk powder.

These rangolis can also be made with plain chalk powder, by drawing chain links around a series of dots to form patterns. here are a few examples of this style.

Drawing Rangoli has always been a hobby of mine that I get to indulge in during the festival of Sankranthi. I have tried quite a few patterns over the past few years. Take a look at some of them.

The festival of Sankranthi has many more aspects to it than just rangoli. You pray to the sun god Surya, fly kites, make special sweet with jaggery and sesame seeds, or peanuts etc. The festival basically indicates the start of the new farming season, so we also burn or get rid of the old articles in our house. If you are interested to know about the festival, I will do another post on that. This post has been about my love for Rangolis and their beauty.

Understand the problem before you set out to resolve it

We always speak about identifying the problem and working towards resolving it. But, there is an important step in between both of them and that is ‘Understanding’ the problem. As a matter of fact, understanding the issue is the biggest part of resolving it. I’ve heard many people say, “what can you gain by understanding it, just get rid of the issue”.

By not understanding the predicament, we run many risks. One of them is that our resolution to the issue might be incomplete. We could give the wrong solution that might check the trouble, but not resolve it. We could also end up repeating the mistake that caused the issue in the first place. 

Here is an example of an actual problem that was aggravated because of lack of understanding. An uncle in our neighbourhood developed a cough. Since it was winter, the doctor attributed the case to be simple cold and treated it accordingly. The cough persisted, so the doctor increased the dosage of the cough medicine. The issue was not resolved even then. The uncle changed many doctors over 3 months with no results. He got multiple chest x rays, blood tests, and cultures done to check for an infection. Due to the prolonged cough, he developed redness and soreness of throat along with severe pain in his chest muscles. He was not able to eat anything much and was feeling very weak and miserable.

In the meantime, he went to another doctor to try his luck. As it turns out, he was lucky. This doctor asked for all other symptoms apart from coughing and pains. He also reviewed food habits and considered the past history of my uncle’s health. Once he got a clear picture, he started his treatment. My uncle was cured of his cough. We were ecstatic and we asked the doctor the reason why his medicines worked while all else failed.

It turns out the reason for my uncle’s cough was not in his lungs or throat or any infection. My uncle had an acidity problem and suffered from acid refluxes. His throat was damaged because of the acid reflux and this irritation in his throat led to cough. When the doctor gave him medication to cure his acidity, it removed the root cause and his cough was alleviated. 

This example of acidity causing cough might be a one-off situation. However, it helps to highlight the point that understanding the problem is the best way to resolve it. Try not to rush to solve the problem rather, take time to understand what is transpiring and why it is occurring. Then formulate your plan to save the day.

Göteborg – Sweden

The first time I heard of the port city of Göteborg , it was concerning the Volvo headquarters and the car manufacturing unit. My father, an engineer, was very interested in the place and went to Göteborg to visit that factory. Sadly, my knowledge of the place was limited to this single fact. This Nordic city is steeped in a rich heritage and history. I give you a small glimpse of the vibrant sights and sounds.

The first thing that captures your attention is the network of waterways and canals around the city. They offer tours around the place on these canals. The city’s tram service is another fascinating way to views the sights and sounds of the city.

The city hall or the Gustav Adolf’s Torg is a majestic building that houses the main government administrative offices.

Göteborg has many outdoor cafes, bistros and eat-outs where you can enjoy a lazy brunch while you appreciate the weather.

History enthusiasts have many places to visit in and around Göteborg. One of them would be, the Tjolöholms Slott, which is a magnificent castle that located is south of Göteborg. Another incredible place to visit would be the Bohus Fortress which is over 700 years old. The Gunnebo House and Gardens is an 18th-century manor. Regrettably, we were not able to snap any good photographs of the place.

I have sourced a few photographs from the website: https://www.goteborg.com/en/

There are many more hidden gems that Göteborg has to offer. Hope to visit the place to catch up on all the amazing sights that it offers. Oh!! I almost forgot to mention about the nature reserves and gardens that Göteborg has to offer. There are many beautiful gardens to visit like the Rose Gardens, Jonsered Gardens, Gothenburg Botanical Gardens and many more. If you are interested in the place, carefully plan your trip to many time for all this and more.

Freedom of Speech: Privilege or Fundamental Right

Freedom of speech is the freedom to express one’s opinion without fear of consequence or retribution. It is considered as a basic human right that every citizen should be accorded. As such, many countries around the world list freedom of speech as a basic right of their citizens. They proudly proclaim that every citizen has the right to express their opinions and voice their concerns.

The citizens of most countries, may have the right to speak, but what about the consequences of said speech?

There has been a recent wave of activism around the world in countries like the USA, Hong Kong, India, France, Middle East, Philippines, South American countries etc. We get to see which countries truly offer freedom of speech without retaliation to its citizens.

While one country bans journalists, another imprisons dissidents. Some countries even resort to a military crackdown on protesters or order silent kidnappings and assassinations of these speakers. All this happens while they proudly declare that they offer freedom of speech.

The reason that I am speaking, on this issue, is that I want to make people revaluate all the fundamental rights that they are offered. Many countries say that it’s citizens have the right to free speech. Yet, all speakers are effectively hushed at the end of the day. Anyone who raises questions is extracted and jailed or simply killed.

Does this happen in your country? Do you see activists raising difficult questions and living to tell the tale? For this exercise, don’t consider the conspiracies that keep floating around in social media. Make a quick check of all the social activists and if they are free or jailed or worse. If they are still continuing their work, then it is a good sign for civil liberties.

A tweet or a facebook post stating that our government is becoming fascist does not make it the truth. The fact that these people are allowed to speak badly about their government daily is proof that democracy prevails.

Just enabling free speech does not exempt the government of all wrongdoings. However, it gives the citizens a chance to question their leaders, ask pertinent questions regarding policies. They can speak up and discuss all the obstacles in the path. Citizens can now negotiate an amicable end to any disagreement. Every democracy can function only when there is equal participation from all sides. To participate in a democracy, Freedom of Speech is the cornerstone value.