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NIDIA 24: Thirty years and then that one day..

When: 1 AM,October 28th, 2017

Where: Aboard AA 2311

My Uber driver today (from the hotel to airport) was a former professional boxer who proudly told me he was a first-generation immigrant and he loves coaching young kids. There are times in life when you start talking to strangers (in buses and airports) and realize you agree with some of their opinions about life. J is one of those people from my life. J kept talking and I suddenly felt an incomplete circle of thoughts in my brain complete itself.

Today it is 31 years since I was blessed to be born into this beautiful world. As I sit and type these words out thousands of feet from above the earth, I remember J and another conversation from earlier today that pushed me out of my slumber as a NIDIA. Also here I want to tell you why this post is very important for me to write. For several weeks now, battling through a personal crisis, I have stayed away from talking to every good friend I had (like literally. If you know me, and then I tell you I have become a silent person, that can tell you volumes I guess). I showed up for family events because family is one thing that grounds me and gives me the hope to keep moving ahead in life. Sometimes it is blood related, sometimes it is not. And it is hard to stay sad for a really long time when you have a family that will not quit until they see you laugh a lot. You take advantage of that blessing and hang in there so that you can preserve that humane side in you to pay it forward. It has now come to a point where I am overwhelmed by the concerned messages I receive from people everywhere and all that I do is flip through them not knowing what to say. So this communication is very important for me to tell you all that I am okay and am recovering.

Several weeks back, at work, I was assigned the task to read a book that one of the professors I work for had authored. I was to help create supporting imagery for a research project presentation. Click here if you wonder what I do at work.  I remember that week of the assignment. I had walked into my work supervisor’s room several times that week expressing my disbelief on how much that book’s content was making me uncomfortable and unhappy. What no one knew was that assignment made me sick in my stomach. It was hard to be reading the book and not connecting with it multiple times.  What no on knows is that I cried multiple times that week because of everything I read in it. You may be wondering, “Well wait, you call yourself a non-immigrant Padmini, this book is on immigrants! Not adding up?!”

When you live thousands of miles away from the home in a place where every day, apart from studying, working, staying healthy, a considerable amount of effort also goes into ‘fitting in’, you have to be careful. Careful to not let the process get to your nerves. Careful to not let someone tell you that you are not good enough to be among them. Reading Dr. Stewart’s book made me realize that no matter how much I want to deny it, I have lived some parts of those lives described in that book. I have struggled through some of those challenges. I have undergone similar micro-traumas like those immigrant students did in their lives. And over the time, they have only accumulated onto my mind. And my struggle was to keep going no matter what – to not let the dream die. There are some people in my life currently who are championing for me to gather my strength and nerves to move forward in my life. But mental health is complicated. In a common man’s language, broken spirit is hard to heal. No matter how best it can be restored, will a broken porcelain dish pieced together by the best expert in the world be the same as the one that has never been broken? Or as some may argue, will the viewer’s perspective decide if the patches make the mended one even more beautiful? Regardless of the point of view whatsoever, the key questions to ask for me are:

Do we have those best technicians available to us for mental health?

What is the best glue to piece a broken spirit together?

C, I know you told this to me before. But today, when I heard the same analogy from another woman, I felt a sense of calm in my heart.

Would just one average intensity poke on someone’s shoulder hurt the same as hundreds of pokes at the same spot on the shoulder for a really long period of time? If a person with Spinal Cord Injury came to you, what would you say to them? Would you talk to them the way you are talking to yourself? Think about it, would you be so unkind to them as you are being to yourself? Oh, or is it because their pain is visible and yours is not visible to the eye?

As someone told me earlier this week, “Sri, you do you first!”  Seldom will we have an opportunity to sit across the table from leaders who will look you in the eye and say that to you. You take care of yourself first and then worry about the rest. I remember them also telling me this. “Sri, if you take all the inner dialogue that you have and make it into a person and let them stand beside you, you wouldn’t be able to stand that person for one moment. We need to teach ourselves when to not hear to it.” This is the most profound sentence I have heard in the last sixty days of my life. This birthday, yet another blessed day when I got to be with my family, I made a decision to be kind and compassionate to myself first. And that also I will seek help as much as I need and won’t shame myself for asking help. I wrote this post for many reasons. Some of them are:

  • I am okay and I am keeping to myself. One of these days, I hope to find the glue that will fix the broken porcelain that I am today.
  • I have talked to many of my friends over the years who discussed with me the shaming that surrounds taking time to heal (I know everyone doesn’t have that option but for ones who have the privilege, don’t disregard it. Use it and help someone because it makes you stronger). Especially when you are on track to achieve a ‘goal’. I want to let everyone reading this to know that we cannot shame/silence the help seekers. Nor can we say that seeking the help of a psychologist is a sign of weakness. It is a science and like any profession, there are greatly knowledgeable people working in the field and then there are the others. So educating ourselves about it before shaming someone seeking help is important.
  • We cannot normalize a person’s suffering as a process of toughening them up for life. If I have a rupee every time I heard this sentence in my 8-full time years as a student, I would not have needed a humongous education loan from SBI.
  • We cannot negate or devalue a person’s human experience because they have put up a brave and dignified presence always. I write this point particularly because in the last sixty days I had people say to me things like, “Oh! You are so successful, you are so capable. You are such an achiever!” Some of them may have some truth to it. The fact is, I am not. Keeping in line with my desire to share only positive stories or life lessons on this blog, I never wrote about the experiences that have severely challenged me as a non-immigrant in this country. The experiences that made me feel very low and worthless. Disregarding the pain of being treated like that is what led me where I am today. Also I wrote this post because my mom says if in her younger days she had a way to express her views like this, she would have shared her life lessons with more people around her. She says when I can write my thoughts down, I should put them to good use.

Thousand miles away from where I call home, I found comfort in the questions that two women asked me about who I am ( I guess that is why I am drawn to qualitative research and interviews. The beauty of this form of research is: within its principles, every voice counts, every story matters). While there are many loved ones that care for me, pray for me and have positive thoughts for me everyday, meeting these champions made me realize that I lack compassion for myself. So as I turn 31 and am trying to bounce back from this crisis, I want to request all of you who read this to:

Be respectful of any pain you face in life. Don’t tell yourself it is okay to get a ‘little’ hurt in the process. No hurt/pain is little. It only keeps layering more pain onto itself. That is the complexity that surrounds our human minds.

No goal/desire in life should take you to the point of choosing between loved ones that care for you and success that may kill your inner joy (that success becomes pointless if you become a mean person in that process).

It is okay not to be able to fit in everywhere we go.

You do not know what great hope and joy meeting you brought to my life C & K! To keeping the promises and making every day count with self-care and compassion for myself. Thank you for the laughs and sharing your stories.

Karin Korb on the left in a black top, Padmini in the center wearing a  white Kashmiri kurti with colorful embroidery and Candace on the right wearing an elephant grey t-shirt. All the three women are smiling their hearts out while looking into the photograph. In the background is an open air drinks bar at a hotel with two uniformed bartenders on scene.

Note: To all the junglees of my life who will text me jokes about the porcelain dish comparisons, I will personally come to beat y’all up 🙂 Please don’t! Is emotional post pe kachra math karo kameeno *hugs*

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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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Classic Carnatics to Mesmerising Mass Beats.

Every day I settle down to write the daily post, I begin to wonder what I will be writing about. Had a sumptuous Sunday meal just now J.Well the menu’s a typical telugu  one (keeping in view the number of overseas friends and relatives who read my entries daily i keep away from writing it’s details 😉 )Last night was tough with power cut, but see it is technology again that has saved me .I had my laptop fully charged and the saved playlists saved me.

How time stands still when music takes over....

How time stands still when music takes over....

Music has always been an integral part of my life. And the genre spans over a huge range. Nothing in particular like a favourite artist or band. Most of the times, language is no barrier- Latin beats to carnatic classical, everything entices me.  But ya M S amma’s rendering of the timeless carnatic music  always is a divine solace for me. While I have continued to train myself always in rendering vocal music  I always selected the versions to be either carnatic or telugu light music.

But when it came to something that kept my mood upbeat or lifted my spirits, the choice has always been too shocking for people who know me. To all the readers who are familiar with telugu music my choice of songs always revolves around mass and folk beats.36-24-36 , aakalesthe annam pedtha, and nuv whistle esthe Andhra soda.. J)

It startles me when I hear my peer group speak of Akon , Linking Park and whatever.They never attracted my ears as much as these local “mana” beats attracted my attention. And ya I do listen to foreign bands too 😀 But they are a bit oldies. ABBA and Boney M . Ya! My choice of things has always been different from my counterparts.My friends and relatives always make fun of my choice of music. But I feel music transcends barriers of language,genre and importantly TIME  for me.It is something that makes me forget my worries, soothes my tense nerves and importantly permits me to learn it so that I can sing it to myself whenever I feel like. One reason as to why the typical popular bands and music don’t  appeal to me is, the lack of clarity in music and lyrics.Though all the bands don’t  give music like head banging stuff, I don’t feel relaxed singing a slang filled English number that has more of words that vent out the frustration in the singer than give some solace to the singer. May be the music  can transport me away from my low spirits or something for sometime, but it doesn’t give me any peace of mind.

 How singers put in their heart and soul into the song to make it such a great masterpiece itself wonders me. I always feel How time stands still for me when musicz plugged in  !!!

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Technology keeps me Ticking…:)

Heavy holiday meal, air conditioned room and a relaxing environ to just sit and do your work leisurely… Ideal work environ for me… Sometimes it makes me wonder how I have been evolving constantly.. I spent all my growing years in a close knit family with so much of love and affection to consume that I always felt I would get obese with all the good traits they were passing on to me… 🙂 

I would be lying if i’d say it was making me better everyday. I grew to be very dependent on my family for my mental strengths and everything when it came to taking things head on in life. Things changed and today I am more than happy to call myself the member of a Global family! 🙂 

Today, we are scattered all around the world i’d rather say(coz i consider even the lane next to my home also to be a part of the world ). We seldom speak.It is all  about me and mom these days.

How we wake up at sevens and eights these days and how we smile and fall back to sleep daily. 🙂 Rewind ten years, we used to react so differently to the same situation-Wake up rush about with chores and rush to our respective worlds-schools and offices.

How we skip nutritious food and binge on junk stuff at times these days. 

How an unopened mail blinking in the inbox from my dad brings a smile back onto my tensed face during exams..He is growing up to be a techie freak too these days 😀 congrats pa.

How an offline from my twin calls me with my nickname….

How my niece’s screams make me go ga ga over her again and again… The best valentine gift I ever got. I am happy I never got committed to anyone else before and today am happy with the gift i got on the best 14th feb of my life.

Rewind ten years again , I used to cry badly if my dad returned late from work(These days I am suprised if he returns early:D).

How I got scared if my sister got angry at me…Now a days it worries me if she isn’t angry at times 🙂 

All those years I spent growing each day with increasing love and addiction towards my family, most of my waking hours used to give me a constant fear- What happened if we all had to part ways in future.

Today it doesnt bother me much even though I spent most of my days alone. I dont miss them.May be I should thank TECHNOLOGY  for that.May be because I am able to stay in touch with them so much that I have been able to compose myself better in their absence too. And ya Me and My Sister- We fight bad these days too.Thank god itz in e amils now….thank god her office networks are not permitting messenger’s usage or she would yell at me on call and ya mobiles have jammers 😀 ) and the arguments are endless.Still IT helps us avoid exertion due to stress.. we beat the stress out on key boards 😀 and ya we have good biomechanics so no worries, fingers are still in good shape. BTW akka i presume your doing your hand exercises 🙂

And ya Momz learning to SMS these days 🙂 another big relief for me .She managed a TINCKU for THANK YOU the other day…(that too with the T9 on )

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