Appreciating the Body Clock

Appreciating 2016-01-20 – Talking about Body Clock and the importance of sleep cycles. Also discussing my relationship with sleep.

Every week I take a concept or event so I can say good things about it. Even negative aspects can be helpful sometimes. Welcome to Appreciating.

As I write this at 2 AM, I feel the irony of my actions in my torso. My appendages are protesting, asking for the sweet relief of sleep. Continue reading “Appreciating the Body Clock”

Appreciating Empowerment

Appreciating 2016-01-13 – Talking about Empowerment and breaking through a sense of failure. Also discussing women empowerment through choice.

Every week I take a concept or event so I can say good things about it. Even negative aspects can be helpful sometimes. Welcome to Appreciating. Continue reading “Appreciating Empowerment”

Appreciating The New Year

Appreciating 2016-01-06 – Talking about New Year’s day and new year parties.

Every week I take a concept or event so I can say good things about it. Even negative aspects can be helpful sometimes. Welcome to Appreciating.

Here we are again. You’ve been here before. It’s the time of year when you convince yourself that you are the paragon of discipline and consistency.  Continue reading “Appreciating The New Year”

Appreciating a Uniform

I discuss the psychological and social benefits of uniforms. | Every week I take a concept or event so I can say good things. Welcome to Appreciating.

Every week I take a concept or event so I can say good things about it. Even negative aspects can be helpful sometimes. Welcome to Appreciating.

I studied for 17 years in two Catholic institutions – 2 years of kindergarten plus 12 years of school at Don Bosco school, Kolkata, and 3 years of undergraduate study at Christ University, Bangalore. In 17 years, I have donned several uniforms. In doing so, I’ve found some great advantages in doing so, and I’ve also found answers to shoot down the issues people have with uniform dress code.

For me personally, the biggest advantage has to be of the psychological advantage you gain over yourself. Clothes maketh the man, right? The way you dress has a direct effect on how you behave, and you begin to associate the behaviour with the clothes. e.g. shorts might instantly bring up thoughts of comfort, relaxation, home etc. Jeans might be associated with going hanging out, leisurely enjoyment etc. This correlation can be used to one’s advantage. By associating a shirt, trousers and a tie with productivity or working hard, you can effectively motivate yourself to work by simply changing your clothes. I have personally found this to be very effective. If this is the first you hear of it, try to identify the associations you have in your head and try to take advantage of them.

On a similar note, there is neatness in uniform. Both the tried and tested design of the uniform, the pleasant aesthetic, and the self-pressure to look good and take care of your uniform help build a satisfying aura of cleanness and wholeness that you would not find in dirty, sullied jeans.

The school uniform of Don Bosco Park Circus
My uniform back in school. I revered it, kept it clean, and prided myself in wearing it.

Side note: The priest in the centre of the image was the Rector (principal) for the entirety of my high school years. He taught us all many things, but a personal conversation I particularly remember with him was when he taught me the importance of walking without making a sound. My shoes do not need to make a noise every time they hit the floor. I value that highly.

The uniform is a responsibility. Whether one takes it as a fear of getting reprimanded by an authority, or as something to take care of and invest effort in, the student learns to appreciate responsibility none the less. In some ways, it is similar to giving a child a pet, you give them something to be responsible for and they learn to appreciate the gravity of such an undertaking.

The uniform is also a responsibility in another sense. A strict, rigid dress code (like the one pictured above) also invokes a sense of unitedness and brotherhood in people. If you don’t believe me, and think that students don’t respect each other whether they wear the same uniform or not, think back to a time when someone from another school would aggravate one of your own. Often, someone, if not most, in the vicinity would band together.

My class uniform, which we only wore on special events.
My class uniform, which we only wore on special events.

Side note: The person with me is my friend Puja. She doesn’t believe people when they tell her she’s pretty.

My college didn’t have a rigid dress code – we didn’t all wear the same thing, so that sense of unity was a little diluted in comparison. Instead we had rules about the type of clothing to wear, subject to department and occasion – shirts, trousers and ties for men, the same plus a selection of ethnic wear for women. Some classes, like my honours class, had a two piece suit for special events.

Finally, uniforms bring about a sense of equality. Race, religion,caste and financial well-being disappear under a uniform. The social parameters of your identity are wiped away, and a new defining element of identity comes through elements of uniform. While I was in uniform, I was not a brown, upper-middle-class Vaishya Hindu with ancestors from Haryana. I was, and am, a Bosconian, a Christite, and an Oracle employee.

Flags, emblems, badges and uniforms are all for that purpose. They wipe away the divisions we create amongst ourselves. They are there to be symbols of unity.

The most common arguments against uniform are that of comfort and of stifled self-expression. I fail to understand this. Cotton trousers are some of the most comfortable leg-wear I’ve ever worn. Shirts help me feel more important. What may be a matter of bad tailoring cannot be blamed on the entire concept of a uniform. And how is self-expression completely blocked by uniform? You are not in uniform all the time. Your expression need not be defined through your fashion. Uniforms give back with interest what they take away from your identity.

There’s any number of things that can be said here, but at this stage, it is better to open it up to discussion, rather than carry on with a monologue. Let’s discuss this in the comments below. 🙂

Hopefully this helps you appreciate the importance of a uniform dress code. If you know of something that needs to be appreciated more, please leave your suggestions for future posts in the comments below.

Keep an eye on this space for more Appreciating same time next week. Next week’s post is about “Obsessive Mothers”.

Appreciating a Father

Appreciating 3 – About fathers. | Every week I take a concept or event so I can say good things. Welcome to Appreciating.


Every week I take a concept or event so I can say good things about it. Even negative aspects can be helpful sometimes. Welcome to Appreciating.

In a sexist world skewed against women, mothers occupy a relatively more revered position as caregivers, protectors and providers. In contrast, fathers, while often getting some credit as the strongest man in a child’s life, largely go unappreciated because the focus, not undeservedly so, is more towards a mother.

Barring the absence of a mother, or the presence of an abusive one, fathers get the short end of the stick. While it is true that children tend to gravitate towards one parent, there needs to be a healthy amount of respect for and communication with both parents. Since Father’s Day is this Sunday, I thought it is a good time to appreciate my father, and fathers in general.

At the time of writing this, I was only a couple of days removed from watching the new Hindi movie ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ (tr. ‘Let the Heart Beat’), I appreciated the movie for its multi-layered characters, and while the movie shoved in our faces the otherwise subtle traits of the characters’ personalities, it was a far cry from the typical one-dimensional, stereotypical characters in the Indian film industry (colloq. Bollywood).

Note: Spoilers in the following paragraph.
What struck me about Anil Kapoor’s father character was the tensions and fears that he’d vent by being overbearing, and by making others around him feel lesser, though most of the time he’d do it unintentionally. His worries about his business translate into the pressure he puts on his son, and the snide remarks he makes to his wife. He also takes his daughter for granted, being of the old-school, outdated way of considering a daughter as “paraya dhan” (tr. “Others’ wealth”, “Estranged money”)*. It is therefore very satisfying, very cathartic, and on a personal level, very therapeutic to see his redemption when he apologizes to his wife, stands up for his daughter, and puts himself in harm’s way to let his son have a measure of freedom. In three scenes, he goes from a tyrannical dictator and a conniving businessman to a caring husband and a protective father. Perhaps the reason he resonated with me so much is because he reminds me of my own father.

My father is not oppressive, but his language sure is. It has taken me the better part of eight years to understand that. He means well, and he is much more world-wise than I gave him credit for, but his manner of speaking and some of the words he uses get on my nerves very quickly. He is also quite overbearing, and he feels this need to get involved with and solve every problem that he remotely comes into the vicinity of. The problem is that he’s too short-tempered to do anything but dismiss it.

For the longest time, I couldn’t stand my father. He came across as controlling yet distant, obnoxious and uninformed. It was when I moved out (to study in Bangalore) that the situation improved slightly. The distance meant that I could cut him out if his personality became too much for me. That allowed me to start appreciating his better traits, and I started talking to him a lot more when I had begun job-hunting. As my sister pointed out to me once, I have a complex where all I want to do is impress him (I hated her for it), so it made sense that I consulted him during that time.

This past month, my relationship with him crossed a certain milestone. I am now able to comfortably talk to him about things. Although I have to manoeuvre the conversation in particular ways to get my points in, it is a far cry from several years ago, when major conversations would end in tears. This improvement helped me, in part, overcome a bad depressive state, and I felt good enough to start blogging again after a gap of three months. I think that in itself speaks volumes.

Now as Fathers’ Day approaches, I’m going to send him something, because I know he likes and expects a gift, but is too proud to admit it, and obviously won’t ask for one.

Hopefully this helps you appreciate the importance of a father figure. If you have a story about a father figure, let me know in the comments below. Suggestions for future posts are welcome. 🙂

Keep an eye on this space for more Appreciating same time next week. Next week’s post is about “Uniforms”.

Appreciating the power of Smell

Appreciating #2 – about cleanliness and good smell| Every week I take a concept or event so I can say good things. Welcome to Appreciating.

Every week I take a concept or event so I can say good things about it. Even negative aspects can be helpful sometimes. Welcome to Appreciating.

The world is both a big and a small place. In the span of the universe it is not even a quantum of mass, but in the context of environment, it is on a scale beyond anything the average human mind can fathom. As such it is a blessing and miracle that we are given not 1 but 5 (basic) perceptive senses to experience the beauty of the world.

While we are heavily reliant on our eyes, and honestly no perceptive sense organ should be taken for granted, it is the power of smell which is the strongest. Smell affects us deeply – it generates the most lasting memories, evokes the strongest reactions and perceives the finest differences. Read More here.

If you read the outgoing link above, then you might already appreciate how smell can be a powerful factor in mood and behaviour. I recently started dabbling in smell, and have found that it has an immediate strong positive effect on my mood. EDIT: A fellow blogger, Aseem Rastogi, has released a post about smelling good just two days ago, read it here –> Transition of Thoughts

Bath time for me would be quick and painless. The routine would be get in, get wet, lather, rinse and get out. This worked for me most of the time, but as I grow older, a simple bath like that doesn’t even get the smell of sweat off me. So I invested in some products, which all happen to smell good. (Please note that I’m not advertising the products. These are simply ones that I’ve tried and liked enough to write about.)

  • I’ve been using Dove soap for a while now.
  • On a house restocking trip with friends, I picked up a Fiama Di Wills ‘Aqua Pulse’ body wash, because it came with a free aftershave conditioner.
  • On another trip, I literally asked a friend to point out the ‘girliest’ shampoo and picked up a L’Oréal Total Repair shampoo, because it came with a free Total Repair hair conditioner (Do you see a trend?).
  • I had previously gone to a pharmacy to buy an anti-bacterial face wash, and picked up one by Moistrich (lemon, apple and honey if I remember right).

I don’t use all of these products every time I take a bath, opting to cycle, but if I’m ever feeling really down, I go in and sort-of pamper myself. I take more time, 30-40 minutes versus my regular 15. As a result, I come out feeling fresh, energized and motivated. Each product leaves a strong, fresh smell and they all add up to make me feel better about myself.

Having struggled with bad feelings and self-destructive thoughts in the last 9 or so months, I welcome the fact that a tangible item is able to alleviate my mood. Tangible things are things I can control easily, and I can leverage these easily controlled items to control the more difficult thoughts and doubts. For the same reason, I changed the layout of my room several times this year, and put up vinyl stickers to add some substance to my room. It is why I keep a can of air freshener in my room, and it is why I sometimes do additional cleanings of my room myself.

A clean environment, both visually and fragrantly, can do wonders for you, and I’m afraid I’m not doing enough justice to that with my words here. A little literary rut here prevents me from elucidating it to you and so in lieu, I ask you (apologetically) to try it for yourself. Heard of the line “Clean up your act.”? Take that very literally, and you will find your productivity, happiness and sense of fulfillment all rising.

Here are a few tips to help you do that:

  • Shower/bathe everyday. WITHOUT EXCEPTION. Use some fragrant products if you can, especially to clean your face.
  • Make sure you wear clean and sufficiently airy clothes.
  • Apply a dab of aftershave, even if you haven’t shaved. Your gender/sex doesn’t matter – having that strong smell right under your nose will wake you up for a good half hour. I prefer aftershave to perfumes and deodorants.
  • Clean your house and declutter. Clean inside cupboards, and clean your floors. Use fragrant floor cleaners and aerate your house by keeping doors and windows open. Opening windows for a couple of hours in the morning can do wonders.
  • Keep a can of air freshener in your room. Spray once every 4-6 hours.
  • Here are other simple things to do to make your house smell nice – Read Here.

Hopefully this helps you appreciate the importance of a good smelling environment. Suggestions in the comments for future posts and shares on social media are welcome and appreciated. Keep an eye on this space for more Appreciating same time next week. Next week’s post is about “Fathers”.

Appreciating a good Greeting

Appreciating 1: A good greeting | Every week I take a concept or event so I can say good things. Welcome to Appreciating.

Every week I take a concept or event so I can say good things about it. Even negative aspects can be helpful sometimes. Welcome to Appreciating.

I took a trip to my hometown Kolkata in May for a family event. It was a fantastic week for me – having had just recovered from a severe depressive bout, I was thrilled to encourage my improvement by meeting a lot of people, and I met people I hadn’t seen in years and then some. Beyond that, my father took me to his tailor (as we’ve done several times before) and I gave measurements for two new suits (for future events) and they are very awesome.

But the most important thing is that my relationship with my father improved by leaps and bounds, because he was suffering through something, and I stood by him, and apparently that meant a lot to him.

So it sucked a lot when I made a stupid mistake and left home without saying goodbye.

My flight was for 6 in the morning. I was out the night before. My mom had instructed me over the phone that when I came back, I should ask the security guard on night duty to hail a cab for me in the early hours. She had apparently said 5 AM (“paach” in Hindi) and I heard 4 AM (“chaar”) which is what I relayed to the man.

He got me a cab at 3:40. Both my parents were asleep (having set an alarm for 4:30). I decided not to wake them up and left. Even as I got into the cab, I knew it was a bad idea. I felt terrible all the way to the airport, and even more so when I got a call from my now awake and very heartbroken parents.

A goodbye is often taken for granted. A parent might instill the habit in a child, but as the child grows, s/he may drop the habit over time, and this might be mistaken for a sign of maturity or growing up. However there is nothing mature about skipping parting words, and there is nothing needy about a parent or a loved one hoping for greetings (whether they be goodbyes, hellos, or anything else).

Greetings are essentially acknowledgement. They don’t have to be verbal. A full discourse, a quick hello/goodbye, a slight nod or bow, or even a smile can mean the world to a person, without them even realizing it. When you greet someone, you acknowledge their existence and you tell them they are important – small reaffirmations that they matter. You know how it is said that it is the little things that count? These fall under those little things.

Proper goodbyes, both in regular use (everyday moments) and important use (special events), can make a world of difference in intricate manners.

The best goodbyes are hopeful ones – direct ones such as “I’ll be back.”, “Let’s meet again.”, “See you around.”, or indirect ones such as “I had a great time.”, “This was fun.” all indicate a hope of meeting again. In fact, my mother trained me to not say “Jaa raha hoon”*, instead opting for “aata hoon”** whenever I step out of the house.

By employing hopeful greetings, both hellos and goodbyes, in your regular interactions, you can set foundations of comfort, ease, and familiarity in your relationships. These foundations shall remain strong, and ensure that you make good impressions on people.

Try them out for yourself. As you ease into the habit of using hopeful greetings, you will find noticeably less hostility and misunderstanding in your communications.

* ‘Jaa raha hoon’ –
pronunciation J-aah ruh-haah hoo(n) – very slight nasal n at the end, may be skipped
     translation “I am going.”

** ‘Aata hoon’ –
pronunciation Aah-taah hoo(n) – nasal n; soft t, sounds as if spoken with a lisp – made by flicking the tongue off the edge of the upper teeth, unlike a hard t where the tongue is flicked off the roof of the mouth
translation “I will come.”

Hopefully this helps you appreciate the importance of a good greeting. Keep an eye on this space for more Appreciating which will be regularly posted every MONDAY at 9 AM (IST). You can subscribe below in the footer to receive each post by email, or bookmark the front page to remind yourself. Next week’s Appreciating is “The power of smell”.