Featured

Will the compassion last beyond COVID-19?

My thoughts today-
COVID-19 has taken over the world stage. As infections rise to an alarming number of 1.6 million globally, and with the whole or most of the world locked down, I am feeling compelled to share some thoughts that have been troubling me for the last few days. While it is encouraging to see that the whole world is coming together to combat this challenging fight against this extraordinary virus that does not differentiate between rich and poor, urban or rural, powerful or weak, Prime Ministers or clerks, I wonder why is this difficult time so different than other difficult times and tragedies that the world has seen and is going through as we speak? Why is everybody so in sync and collected this time?

Isn’t it just because it has now been proven that this pandemic affects the affluent, the powerful, the middle class, anybody and everybody alike so the world is taking note of it because we want to save our own precious lives?

What I find strange is how we have rarely given a thought or paid attention to the 1.5 million people from low-income and marginalized populations that die every year due to Tuberculosis. Or that about 3 million people do not even get the treatment for this ailment at all. This is because unlike COVID-19, TB is predominantly a poor man’s disease that breeds due to unhygienic and impoverished living conditions. It is contagious, but it does not affect affluent people as they are not exposed to those living conditions. I wonder if any of today’s self-sufficient souls, with well-stocked kitchens, secure homes, working-from-home status and maintaining social distancing have ever felt or done anything for these 1.5 million dying each year? They are just numbers, merely statistics for all. On the contrary, as COVID-19 kills rich and poor alike, the whole world seems be together in its fight.

I wish that this wave of compassion and empathy that has now suddenly but pleasantly emerged in the world stays for times to come, and that some attention is given to the eternally existing humanitarian catastrophes that continue to affect the world population. As an example, there are more than 71 million refugees around the world, some in camps, some in very dangerous conditions. There are people dying in hundreds of thousands due to HIV and malaria and much more. In India itself, there are now 5 million internally displaced migrants in isolation camps getting barely enough to eat, no money at hand, nowhere to go. All this due to incredibly harsh measures against the poor to enforce the lockdown. Wish it was handled better with some empathy.

People that are in their comfort zones are able to follow the precautions to prevent spread of this virus, but they often very comfortably look at the underprivileged with disdain for furthering its spread. Unfortunately, it’s not that people stuck in deprived conditions aren’t serious or sane, or do not love their lives or of their loved ones, or are not sensible human beings, or want to expose others to the deadly virus. They are simply unfortunate. We cannot blame them for prioritizing their day-to-day survival over the spread of the pandemic. We have to be sensitive to their conditions, their psychology and their limitations when it comes to blaming them. We need to push for a collective action to create conditions that enable them to take the measures necessary to contain the spread.

Featured

While at home..what to do?

So many lives have been lost and disrupted by the deadly corona virus all over the world. My heart goes out to the families and friends of those who have lost their loved ones. As the situation continues to escalate, we must try to stay safe and not expose ourselves and others to risk of catching the virus. So stay at home please!
I have been reflecting on the “side effects” of the social distancing being practiced across the world: people are working from home with nowhere to go, no pubs, no bars, no restaurants, no cinema , no theatre and no socializing. WOW ! That is big!
To add to this, fewer flights , fewer cars on the road , less industrial pollution – perhaps Mother Earth is healing.
I wanted to write this post to offer some suggestions to people who are not used to being at home all the time and are in a dilemma about how to stay productive. If you are not used to it, it can be challenging to stay disciplined enough to be productive. However, this situation also could present a great opportunity to do those things that we never otherwise get the time for.
As for us, it is good to see Manoj at home now, though he is working most of the time with his conference calls and desktop big screen installed on the dining table. But it’s good to see him around all day and I try to make the most of the time that we get together at doing things for which Manoj never had the time or gave any attention to, like looking at family videos and pictures.
This is coming from my experience of being at home for the past few years. After you are through with Netflix and other binge watching, you might need something else to do.
Here is what you can try:
1. Dig out old home videos and watch them with the family – they could even be running in the background while you work or take a break from work at home.
2. Cast pictures on your phone on the TV screen. Trust me, you will enjoy it. Your family and any companion at home may have never seen these pictures ever.
3. Find out where all the board games are hiding in the house. I can assure you, this will be the quality time with the family that you have not had in last many months.
4. Think of what you always want to do if you were not working full time or having to go for work each day. Do it now.
5. Try your hands at things you have never done, maybe cooking , some Arts and crafts, abstract painting, gardening at home, growing plants in water or jars or make some lamps out of used wine bottles. Pinterest actually has lots of great ideas. I am sure you will find something very interesting for you to do and you will be proud of yourself when you make something out of nothing.
6. Read the books you never got time to read.
Remember this opportunity of being at home with the family with nowhere to go may not ever come back again (not that it should come back, at least not in this kind of medical scare situation), so make the most of it.
Bonding does need some time and undivided attention for all.
Featured

Photo Culture..3

Continuing from my earlier posts on photo culture, I have to say that recently I have been taken aback by the undying love for perfect pictures at family events and celebrations. You would think that the most important purpose of these events would be to ensure everyone savours the moments, ceremonies and rituals. I have been both amused and annoyed at times when it seems that the primary privilege of doing so has been bestowed on several teams of professional photographers who get the best access and view. Not only this, they often have to push back the invited guests to ensure pictures are perfect.
I wonder what happens with these professional photos taken at private events. And to what end? I have witnessed first-hand that by the time the pictures are printed and ready to be shared, the intended audience is lost. I think the majority of those pictures/recordings are only seen a few times later likely by close family members who are privy to that professionally created memory. At some events like this, it seems like invited distinguished guests and family members are secondary guests and the photographers are the most important and primary ones.

Considering that it is important to create memories of the event in pictures and save them for future.. I feel instead of paying big money to these photographers with big bodies and big equipment blocking our view, there could be a couple of tech savvy family members taking pictures or a drone camera that does the job without making guests feel secondary, even though at the cost of not having some perfect pictures.

What do you think? Have your experienced something like this?

Featured

Photo Culture..2

As I mentioned in my earlier post, there are many changes happening in the world that I am just not able to fully grasp. Continuing on the trend of talking about photos, I wanted to share some thoughts and see whether my friends can share their experiences to help me learn more on this topic.

In today’s maddening photo culture, life seems to revolve around the camera. If you wear something nice, eat something good, go to a beautiful place, meet friends, celebrate an occasion or simply go to work, the first instinct is often to take a picture.

It commonly seems that if you go somewhere or do something without taking a picture, you have not been there or have not done it.

This and the innumerable selfies that people take worries me that this is a sign that society is moving towards more self-centredness.

I wonder — what are the unintended consequences of this phenomenon?

We have taken many technologies for granted without fully understanding their broader social impacts. In this case too, I fear that the easy access to taking countless photos, and the way this is promoted in the media and popular culture, is leading to society falling prey to the natural human tendency of narcissism, in some cases perhaps even bordering on a diagnosis of NPD (Narcissist Personality Disorder).

What do you think?

Do you think our photo culture enables/promotes narcissism?

Is this a problem? If so, how can we solve it?

 

Featured

Torn Clothing

Following up on my last post, here are some of my thoughts on a trend that has baffled me since I first started seeing it many years ago. Would love to hear from you on whether you agree or if you can enlighten me on what I’m missing.
Why would you pay top dollars for torn jeans?
This seems pretty straight forward – we mend or throw away most of our clothes that have tears in them. Why doesn’t this apply to jeans and certain other kinds of clothes? With most of our other clothes we seem to concur that a tear, rip, stain or other damage isn’t acceptable — not just because it looks shabby — but also because in many cases the comfort and durability of the clothes are compromised.
I have noticed this trend rise and fall for many years and have been perplexed by how people blindly follow this “fashion” while ignoring their own comfort or rationality. Is it because some celebrity wore torn jeans in a certain way someday and that led to a cascading sequence where others followed, and now their friends followed as well, so now it’s our turn to follow the crowd to look cool?
Perhaps some say that they actually like torn clothing for its artistic value. This may well be the case for a few, but the vast majority of people I know that may say so, don’t seem interested in any other form of art.
Early in the onset of this trend, seeing ripped clothes would genuinely have prompted me to sympathize with the person wearing it. I might even have offered to help them out or share a good used pair of jeans with them. In fact, I still get this strong urge to sympathize with people wearing ripped clothes for fashion, even though I know they are financially able to buy a good pair of sturdy jeans or any other designer clothes for that matter. They are in fact sometimes paying hundreds or maybe thousands of dollars for the ripped ones when they could get a perfectly untorn pair for far less. This is especially ironic because this trend originated from a rejection of corporate society and the status quo.
This contradiction is even more clear if you think about how those less fortunate may feel when they see privileged people intentionally damaging their clothes — at best it may be blissful ignorance, at worst a cruel form of mockery.
Young kids blindly following a fashion trend could be forgiven to an extent, but what amazes me is when people who have seen the world for decades get into this follow-the-crowd syndrome and wear torn clothes while paying through their nose. Where has the sense of value for money vanished? Jean or denim fabric is iconically known as being sturdy — it is supposed to last long and provide durable protection from the elements.
To cap it all off, to me, torn and ripped clothes just do not look good on anybody!
So please let me know — what you think? Do you wear ripped jeans? And why? Help me decipher this bizarre trend! Looking forward to your thoughts.
Featured

Story of My Tiramisu

I got the first taste of my now favorite dessert- Tiramisu, about 20 years ago right here in Kenya. I loved it the first time I had it in a small Italian restaurant in Hurlingam, Nairobi. It was made to order with freshly brewed coffee and liqueur, resulting in an incredible taste, delicate flavours and a hot and cold mix that I didn’t find anywhere else in the world for over 20 years. It was always different, sometimes good, sometimes bad, but never as amazing. It had not occurred to me to try my hands at making it myself until I had a really terrible one at a new dessert outlet in the modern wing of Village Market in Nairobi. The dessert place was so fancy, but the Tiramisu was so bad! I could not see how difficult it could be for an expert desert chef at a high-end cafe to make a decent Tiramisu.

I started out by looking for various recipes available online, but all asked for lots of cream and cheese. I tried a couple and then came with up my own recipe that uses all the essential ingredients and follows the general process but makes a moderately less rich Tiramisu. Having made it so often for the last year or so, I now find it to be the easiest thing to make! I feel now it is time that I share this on my blog for my friends to try and enjoy. Check out the Quick recipes page on my blog to see the full recipe..Quick and Easy – My Tiramisu

Gopesh Mehra, our papa, that’s you

Jan 25, 2018

 

It is 20 years today that destiny snatched you away from us. We have missed you since then. You have been in our thoughts each day. No words can describe what you were to all of us in the family. Your untimely departure from this world was not only a loss to the family but also to the Indian sports world. Here are a few words that Meizu has put together in an attempt to encapsulate your life and career.

Gopesh Mehra (born 12 June 1932) was an Indian publisher, journalist, and sports administrator. He was the founding Secretary General of the Archery Association of India.[1] and First Secretary of the Asian Archery Foundation. He served several terms as a member of the Indian Olympic Association[2]. He also founded and published the news magazine Sporting News from 1985 to 1987 and authored two books on international sports tournaments.

He was born in Chandni Chowk, New Delhi in India.

Career

Mehra began his career as a sports journalist with The Hindustan Times . He also reported for The Indian Express and The Motherland, an English daily newspaper published in New Delhi. During the emergency, he joined Samachar, the newly merged national news agency.[3] Samachar was closed after the fall of Indira Gandhi’s defeat in general elections.

Mehra then joined United News of India (UNI) where he would go on to cover major international sporting events including cricket series in United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan. Mehra also traveled to Montreal for the 1976 Summer Olympics, Edmonton for the 1978 Commonwealth Games, Tehran for the 1974 Asian Games, Moscow for the 1980 Summer Olympics, Los Angeles for the 1984 Summer Olympics, Seoul for the 1988 Summer Olympics, and Bangkok for the 1970 Asian Games and 1978 Asian Games[4]

Mehra took early retirement from UNI after he was transferred to Calcutta as the Eastern Regional Manager for UNI. He covered the cyclone in Orissa in 1980.

He was a special correspondent with Associated Press for the 1982 Asian Games held in New Delhi.

Publications

Soon after the 1982 Asian Games, Mehra started a weekly news magazine Sporting News that ran for 2 years from 1985-1987.

Mehra also authored two books–Asian Games: A Book of Records (1982) and 1979 Pre-Olympic Games Moscow (1980). He also produced two TV shows for Doordarshan–Yoga for fitness and Asian Games preparations.

He was a member of the Press Club of India and Delhi & District Cricket Association.

Education

Gopesh Mehra attended the Ramjas School in Darya Ganj, New Delhi before completing a BA (Honours) in English Literature from Ramjas CollegeUniversity of Delhi. He then completed a Masters in History from Hindu College, University of Delhi. He was an ardent sports person and played cricket for both Ramjas College and Hindu College.

References

  1. http://www.indianarchery.info/history.aspx
  2.  http://library.la84.org/OlympicInformationCenter/OlympicReview/1976/ore103/ore103ze.pdf
  3. Mehta, D. S. (1979). Mass Communication and Journalism in India. Allied Publishers. ISBN 9788170233534.
  4. Mehra, G. N. (1982). Asian Games : a complete book of records. Rupa & CO: Calcutta.

External links

http://vintagerarebooks.blogspot.ca/2016/07/asian-games-complete-book-of-records-by.html

 

Day 48

Day 48.jpg
Very few people would know or believe that you have had the ultimate, exhilarating experience of getting arrested on US soil. Sounds scary, but you also never underestimated the importance of having fun. So, yes we all had fun in that situation too.
It was when we were going to Canada for a holiday with my mum, dad and you. This was from our earlier days in Kenya and we were transiting through Amsterdam and US to Canada. The border security officer at Amsterdam airport was perplexed to see so many passports together and somehow missed checking if you had a US visa. We were not stopping in the US, so we did not think a visa was needed for you to switch between planes. My mum and dad had US visas, but we did not think they were going to use them for that trip!
So, you arrived in the US airport without a visa. The immigration officer simply said ”We are arresting you and you will be deported”. You just laughed and looked at us. We then explained the situation to the officer and he said they would hold your passport until we boarded the flight to Canada. Our layover was a few hours at one of the busiest airports in the world. There were no places to sit, and here you were- supposedly detained. You were held in a nice waiting lounge (though there were a couple people in handcuffs there), away from the crowds. We all followed you and the whole family enjoyed the lounge! We all had fun and enjoyed the moments when a lady Marshall accompanied you to the washroom. One could say to us- how stupid can we be to not get a visa, but no one looks stupid when they are having fun!

I was not ready..

I was supposed to be ready when my most loved and favorite person left us this past Sunday (October 15, 2017). We all knew she had been bravely battling cancer for three years. Her health was declining in the past few months, so I was supposed to be ready to say goodbye. After all, she was in her late seventies and had other medical conditions. I am not a child or even a young adult. At my age, I was supposed to be ready. The family and I knew the end was coming, so I was supposed to be ready. Her health was declining in the past few months, so I was supposed to be ready to say goodbye.DSC09280

But I was not.

I’m not sure how to cope with the grief of forever physically losing Sudha Mehra, my second mother, my mother-in-law, my best friend, and my favorite person in the world. I don’t know who to talk to for endless hours about everything under the sun. I don’t know who to tell about everything that I feel and do each day.

Even though we can’t see her anymore, I know that she is there with me, with all of us in our hearts. We were lucky to have such a great mother, and even luckier that we were able to spend so much time with her throughout her life and especially so much near the end.

Grief does not end. Rather, grief comes and goes. And then it comes again. The process does not have to be hurried. I will not let anyone belittle this loss, make me feel guilty for grieving deeply, or hurry me through my grief. I am entitled to feel all of grief’s intricacies and all of grief’s intensity. I want to take my time and live with her memories.

I want to remember her as the lively and loving person that she was and celebrate her life. There are so many memories of her that come to mind so it would be next to impossible for me to pick a favorite.

She was so keen to enjoy life to the fullest while keeping up with, and often exceeding, the pace at which the world was changing. She had the courage and desire to do things that even some youngsters have not done so far. A little motivation and encouragement got her to take computer lessons in a foreign land in a classroom setting, take swimming lessons at the age of 65, experience river rafting, try out a canopy walk at 200 feet above ground, enjoy dog sledding in minus 35 degrees temperature, and much more. She was one of the most tech savvy people at her age, well ahead of her time in many ways in using a smartphone, laptop and iPad. She played video games on a Game Boy almost a decade ago, and continued to maintain a profile on Facebook and Instagram as a way to keep busy and stay connected. The best way that I can think of paying a tribute to her is to post her memories each day on social networks for 77 days, one day for each year of her vibrant life.

The void created by her sudden death is still hard to grasp. She was someone that we took for granted would be around for much longer.
A vibrant soul, one who literally lit up the room whenever she entered. She was full of joy, right up until the end.

She thrived on social interactions. Her glow, her smile, her gentle touch made her friends easily and people didn’t forget her. All one had to do was start a conversation with her and she became friends with many a stranger in no time. Mumma was a popular lady and would welcome company with open arms.

Her knowledge of Hindi, the proverbs or muhavaras was simply exemplary and so impressive. She was always quick to pull one out of her memory at the right time and make the conversations even more interesting. It pains me to think that all of that is gone with her. I learnt so much from her about our family traditions, religious rituals, cooking Indian delicacies, crafts like knitting, embroidery, shuttlework (which is almost extinct now) and much more. I will miss those festival times when we would all sit together, chat endlessly and prepare sweets and savories.

Thank you mumma for everything you’ve given us and the warmth we shared during your precious time on earth.

Mumma, I know you would surely have found a way in the heavens to check your Facebook account, let me say to you- I don’t know how I will cope without you and will miss you more than words can say.