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Of Sunshine & Strength: The Category 2 People

TRIGGER WARNING:

Some ‘well-wishers’ ‘advise me’ not to write ‘posts like this’ 🙂 but you know me better than that!

In my little understanding about human life, I learnt that there are a few broad categories into which human beings can be placed (while considering how they react with the spaces and events around them).

1. Some just keep changing their course of life as obstacles and challenges keep showing up.

2. Some stick to the path no matter what the challenges are.

3. And then come the third kind who will present chameleon hues to say ‘We are smart. We adapt according to the circumstances and grow up the ladder’ (trust me — adapting is significantly different from stepping over others and enabling a discriminatory and excluding system).

How we each respond to the space and events around us is deeply internal, and influenced by a multitude of factors ranging from our upbringing to socioeconomic statuses.

For the people belonging to category 2, the small percentage of luck to survive is critical. Success is hard to get for Category 2 people, and survival becomes an every day battle to wake up to.

What we saw this past week in news of a Bollywood star’s passing, was in my opinion — him missing out on the small percentage of luck. When someone who he pushed away would have come back and insisted that they stay and watch over him. It may have needed just that much of push back from someone whose help he refused. But now, we will never know.

For many humans like him, the journey is lonely. Not many understand what they are speaking and for the insecure ones who can’t match their (Category people) brilliance, eliminating them becomes a priority task to ensure that mediocrity thrives over rare brilliance. Brilliance in my understanding always leads to change and change is hard to process for the elite few who control a system. Here is where the status quo comes into the picture.

In Bollywood they call the root cause for these selective support systems — Neopotism

In corporate workplaces, I hear many Indians broadly use the term ‘workplace politics’

In Indian sports too, ‘politics/ego clashes with administrators and top coaches’ is cited as a common reason for brilliant athletes losing the races even before competitions begin.

In academia, depending on the geographical positioning of the individual, root causes range from casteism to racial discrimination.

I have faced it. In the form of both casteism and racial discrimination. I was bloody lucky to have had people in my life back then who said —

“No matter what, we are stopping what we are doing, we are sitting with you, we are not leaving you alone while you are battling this brutality!”

This was not my blood-related family. A few years before, these people would have been strangers in my life. If I didn’t get lost in this brutal battle of discrimination, nepotism or what ever fancy terms we humans use to describe the ugly side of human behavior — that is because some strangers decided that being compassionate, and caring for a foreigner was more important for them than to appease the status quo.

We all need to educate ourselves to be more compassionate!

There is a strong need to move beyond hashtags and memes that will fight for equity and fairness. I don’t mean to undermine the efforts of individuals who are making an impact through social media content. However, many of us who are still operating under strong biases assure ourselves that by sharing ‘I Care’ content, we are absolved of our every day behaviors where we discriminate, abuse and disrespect people who are different from us in how they live their life or eat their food.

And for the Category 2 people reading this, when feeling low, it is hard to reach out for help. One needs a lot of strength to be able to reach out and ask for help.

Let me also tell you, to allow yourself to feel vulnerable by seeking help — is the hardest thing to do. But on the other side of reaching out for help —

There is sunshine. There is healing. There is growth. There is strength.

For many people who view me as an accomplished person who is living the best times of her life — I have been to the dark side. In order to not trigger other’s pain, I made a conscious decision to not speak about my struggles for sometime. But mind you, what I place on social media platforms is selective content. So that must never make anyone who reads the content feel — wow what an accomplished personal and professional life.

So this post was to tell everyone who looks at me and says to me — I am lucky. I am accomplished. I am doing great things.

I never set out to do great things. I am a curious person who always chased interesting questions involving many social science variables. But what you see came to me at a cost. And I don’t ever want that for anyone in my life.

Having said that, I will conclude this post with what a friend once said to me:

Adi, why am I like this?

He simply said,

“Padmini, you are an authentic person. There are no two sides to how you present yourself in any sutuation. And today’s world is rarely like that. So don’t change. But learn to protect yourself while you stay authentic!”

My Category 2 peers, don’t be afraid to be judged. Just reach out for help. Pick the phone. Show up at a door unannounced. Don’t walk away from asking help. Some day you will discover the power in developing that habit when survival is the need of the hour.

And some day you will save many more lives by just being you and sharing the story of your survival.

Padmini seen here in a white and green salwar kameez and also wearing a matching face mask. She is  smiling while looking into the camera with a balcony herb garden and  colorful wind chimes in the background
Dressing in Style when your mom is bored during the COVID-19 lockdown 2.0

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NIDIA 22: Tears, Therapy and Truth

Over the years, I have faced a lot of backlash for my thoughts and ideas that take me forward in life. From the day I could see how surgeons can revive a dying patient on an operating table to the day I saw a child with severe spastic cerebral palsy take ten steps during gait training without a break: one thing became clear to me. Individuals with disabilities and challenges that concern their everyday health have always been redefining how we relatively look at success and failure. Across all domains. They have forever now been challenging societal stereotypes about succeeding in a task or failing to succeed in a task. History is the witness to who were observing, listening or cheering.
 
Watching beautiful stories, countless of them from the sidelines, sometimes being a minute part of these efforts, it is a job satisfaction that can never be described in words.
 
My last physical therapy case as a physiotherapist was a young stroke victim (38 years old) with right side hemiplegia. He was originally from Rayalaseema. He was also undergoing other treatments during the same time. I particularly state this here because I want many of my non-rehabilitation profession friends and family to know a fact.
Recovering from an illness, rehabilitation after accidents, re-training to handle a sudden disability: all these processes are complex and need so much help. It is never just one service provider.
One of the very common things you will see happen in countries like India is, rehabilitation services that families strive to provide for their loved ones often times include a spiritual component. And he was a believer in the help his parents were bringing to him from a spiritual perspective. And I think that is why working with him has left an indelible impression of my mind. How he was motivated to heal and was willing to stay involved. Often times it is so much dependent on the individual.
 
In about 10 days I think:
  • He progressed from not being able to hold the pen to being able to hold the pen.
  • From not remembering me to remembering every morning that I was his PT and that my name started with either P or B (even though he couldn’t yet write them down).
  • From needing full support to take a few independent steps to being able to stand up from a chair independently.
  • From tearing up every time I helped him hold a spoon to laughing out loud every time he dropped it down and I had to collect the glass beads back.
For someone like me who was trying very hard to heal from a terrible time in that college, working with him was the best thing to have happened to me then. I will never say he inspired me. I hate to apply that term to his situation or any other rehabilitation scenarios. His effort and the pain he battled everyday to make it through each session, they are indescribable. Nothing is inspiring when you see a person struggling every breath to take a step or to lift a small wooden block. For people who are really involved in their work as rehabilitation specialists, those are what I call the gut punch moments. The real moments when you are constantly reminded to not do a lousy job (because you had an annoying drive to work and for reasons like that) because someone’s ability to eat independently or self-care without dependence in future is solely relying on the chance that your care and training will be helpful to them.
 
Today I went through one of those evenings where you sit in open cold and you cry your heart out! You cry because that is the best thing you can do for yourself and that is only thing in your control. 15 minutes into the crying, face in my hands, palms wet with tears, I see his face when we last time said bye byes. I remember so well. He held my hands in both his hands and kept patting them while talking. He said to me, “You don’t know how much these few days will always mean for me in my life. You have the ability to be patient with people like me. You should continue to do the good work that you have learnt after all these years in college. Your problems will vanish someday. So choosing to leave the profession because of what people did to you because of politics is a wrong decision. And anytime you want to give up, remember my face and tell yourself that he will not appreciate it”
 
Why I wrote this today:
Social media was thrust upon our lives with no advance notice. It has now become a big part of our lives. For someone like me, I very carefully choose what I post on my social media (primarily because I don’t want to pain people with the challenges I have to face like everyone else). There have been several days like this in my #GradLife so far. When I have felt completely alone as the only Indian women ever to be here doing what I have done so far. So don’t ever assume that what I am trying to learn here has been easy so far. It is not as rosy as it looks on the social media. In extreme situations when possibilities for success look bleak, I remember his therapy days and ask myself.
Is it harder than the therapy days he persisted through for progress?
The obvious answer I hear my mind give me is NO.
 
The amount of kicking and screaming I have done to life every time I faced a challenge will blow everyone’s minds. Over the years the way I have been defining success and failure in my life have changed. The seeds for those thoughts though, were sowed during those therapy days when I worked with that young man from Rayalaseema.
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Where: Shenoy Nursing Home,Secunderabad
When: 1986, October 29th
Who: This is me. Yes, Jussri. Since I’ve always posted pics of others here I thought, this article would be the best only if I put in my pic.

I post a lot of pictures of random people and scenes on my website. I like to spread goodness around me. These days I meet a lot of people who often ask me if I am a photographer. Well my answer would be a yes-no. I have forever used photography as a medium to attract people to read my scribbles. Alongside in life I developed a love to capture other people smiling. That is how I ended up taking assignments. But if you ask me who am I?

I am a qualified Physical Therapist working towards contributing back to the field in my little way. Photography and writing help me spread the good things that I was brought up with.In two days from now, my parents celebrate their birthdays which are on May 9th and 10th :)[Yeah yeah, both are Taurus(eans) 🙂 ]. This post would be the only best gift I can give to them. Having talked about the ‘ Why’ part of this write up, I will now move to the ‘what’ part of it.

Every time we rushed home to complain that the teacher caned us bad,my mother’s standard question round was the first wall to hit. I swear to God I have never hated anyone more than my mother all those years. At times I felt she enjoyed making us feel bad.She would start her conversation like this.

“Nuvvem chesaavo cheppu” ( First tell me what did you do)
Well, it was difficult to hide facts from her.
“Memedho arusthonte kopam lo kottindhi sister( Yeah, yeah we were yelling and sister caned us[I studied in a catholic convent and we called our teachers Sisters(nuns)]

Then she would start her reverse engineered explanation for the entire situation. You are three kids for me at home to take care. I still find it difficult to manage you. How can sister make 60 students quite in 45 minutes?
I think it is justified she caned you guys!
Justification for the caning done!
No more arguments your honour.
And we disperse. This was the order of our life all through out our schooling.
Everytime there was a complaint from us, my mom went back to the root of the issue. Looking for the cause.

Fast forward many many years and I am in my General Medicine lecture. Day 1. Dr Joshi. A veteran general medicine specialist from our hospital was taking our first class.
Two things he spoke that day have remained in my mind forever.

1. Developing an inquisitive mind.
2. Believing that every problem/obstacle had a cause for it at a grass root level.

20 years of listening to those two lines and a professor telling you the same point in a medical school!
I really needed a break from listening to the same stuff every where i went. Looks like every one has same mothers like mine. But having been through medical school, surfacing out of a hell hole with minimal scarring, fighting my way through tough situations in life, I can never thank my mother enough for teaching me my basics right.

In these days of arm chair activists and anti-arm chair activists, I want to send out a plea.
Look with in yourself. Are you doing absolutely the best thing right now?
Are you able to show the strength of your character in testing times?(by not giving into temptations and short cut ways to success and wealth)
Can you say a No to yourself and strike a balance in the temper times?

Well, when I was tested, I asked myself these questions.More precisely,I was taught to ask myself these questions.I have always been this, ‘ drops of water make an ocean’ kind of activist for social causes. For all of you who are bugged by the over motivational videos and shows that keep cropping up around you every once in a while:
Stop watching television
Pick a hobby
Make a to-do list
Appreciate little things
Spend time with the elders in your family , let them tell you stories from their life
Count numbers when you are angry.

I never liked growing up under the iron hand rule of my parents. Today I absolutely cherish those moments. Today I am glad I grew under their parenting.

For all the challenges I faced,I surfaced unscathed because I was taught one best thing right.

Problems are mere situations and the solutions are right within them if you look at the roots, routes and causes.
Here’s thanking my parents for giving me an excellent up bringing. I thank God for letting me be your daughter folks 🙂 Have an awesome year ahead.

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of Roots, Routes and Causes

I am a qualified Physical Therapist working towards contributing back to the field in my little way. Photography and writing help me spread the good things that I was brought up with.In two days from now, my parents celebrate their birthdays which are on May 9th and 10th :)[Yeah yeah, both are Taurus(eans) 🙂 ]. This post would be the only best thing gift I can give to them. Having talked about the ‘ Why’ part of this write up, I will now move to the ‘what’ part of it.

Every time we rushed home to complain that the teacher caned us bad,my mother’s standard question round was the first wall to hit. I swear to God I have never hated anyone more than my mother all those years. At times I felt she enjoyed making us feel bad.She would start her conversation like this.

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Love and Luck

Yeah I know! Long time no see 🙂
This is no Valentines Day special, nor am I eating chocolates and counting rose petals 🙂

Clicked this at the Boston Harbour, Summer , 2011. When I shot this, I was amazed at how much they were in Love. I have been looking at this photograph for almost 8 months now trying to frame a few words.Always fell short of words. Today brought these words to my head 🙂

When you spend your time in the company of wonderful humans who can,

Laugh without rules,
And give without blues,
Life becomes a ride worth driving,
And Love happens to be a boon worth sharing.

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Why am I in love again….

I must accept I am very indisciplined when it comes to blogging. Never mind coz I haven’t signed up any contracts 😀   Last few weeks in my life have been so normal and peaceful that I sometimes ask my siblings to pinch me to feel it is all so real. From the day I have landed in this country I have been coming across so many new things that the list goes endless.

I just love the almost zero pollution environment here.

The traffic discipline!!!! amazingly depressing…sometimes i feel like walking out of the car running away. I know i know the safety first thing …so good about it but ya i miss the hyderabadi autowallah’s torture turns . You can be sure to end up on a hospital bed even if you are following traffic rules 🙂 . Here your saved from that .

The houses how perfectly planned and lined up they are!! I feel the best part about them being like that is how much ever junk you dump around , the houses still look great!So ideal for someone like me.

The way some stranger on the side walk looks into your face and wishes you a hi how are you doing today with a sunshine smile..

The way people binge on tempting calorie filled foods and the way they just rush to the gym to burn it all out. Balancing acts huh!!! 🙂  Just the way they sit back and enjoy life unlike so many of us who are always on a run to achieve things than accomplish them.

The way you can take up any hobby that appeals to you just by walking into a store. The way they stack up their stores meticulously. Ah!! how I dream of a day when I can wake up and become a carpenter when I want to make frames for my photo works. (the outcome doesnt matter you get to try your hand at it atleast buddy)

I hate to compare it all with anything back home just for some reasons like how much we lag behind when compared with them.

WE have a very small piece of land with too many humans eating out of it.

So with no comparisons I can say I just am in love with this nation for many more reasons. The list will never end.

I shall scribble again!!! See ya…

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