Festival day

August 22, 2020 § Leave a comment

I messaged a friend today, whom I haven’t seen for almost a year now. She works in the travel industry and business is tough for the company where she works. In fact she’d helped us get visas for a trip to Dubai in October and that was the last I’d seen her. Today was Ganesh Chaturthi, one of the biggest festivals in India, and I felt like I should check on how she’s doing.

Mid-morning, my parents, who live in Mysore, said some prayers and lighted lamps at home which we were able to see on a WhatsApp call. My sister also lives in the same town with her husband my nephew so they were all able to get together for lunch. They had a good day.

Later, in the evening, we went to our best friends’ — the ones with the twins — and he and I went for our customary walk. My friend had to pick up a few things from a nearby supermarket and we went there first and I was waiting outside to avoid adding to the crowd inside, and took this picture below of the bananas looking a bit forelorn, while waiting outside.

We had noodles, khow suey and spiced rice for dinner — delivered from a restuarant called Singapore Street — and had vanilla ice cream and gulab jamoons for dessert. We’d ordered the gulab jamoons in the afternoon from Bhagatram’s a famous sweets shop on Commercial street that my wife and I used to visit every once in a while in our much younger days.

We then spent an hour streaming songs on to their large Sony Bravia TV — from old Grammy winners to recent south Indian cinema hits. This was quite entertaining. We alo watched a bit of Arya Dhayal, a young lady who has become a bit of a sensation on Instagram for her fusion of Carnatic classical music with western pop. She’s even done her version of Bella Ciao, which more recently was made famous by the Netflix series Money Heist, I think. Our son and the twins watched Boss Baby on a laptop in the dining room.

At some point in the late evening, it rained heavily for a short while and stopped. Thankfully, this was after the walk. We talked about nothing very serious, and at one point fantasised about driving to Bhutan. The two wives also entertained each other a bit by looking up beach resorts that they’d like to visit post Covid19.

#festival #holiday #leisure #travel #walking #smartphonephotography


After the rain has stopped

August 19, 2020 § Leave a comment

There is this song that I want to whistle next. It starts as ‘Male ninthu hoda mele’ (After the rain has stopped). It’s from a movie called ‘Milana’ (union), in my native tongue of Kannada. The film was released to critical acclaim and commercial success back in 2007. The song has a haunting melody and poignant lyrics. The lyricist is Jayanth Kaikini, a well-known Kannada poet and writer.

It is the vehicle for the message that the heroine, played by Parvathy Thiruvothu, has had a change of heart and has fallen in love with the hero, played by Puneeth Rajkumar. But of course there must be drama, and the song comes at a time when the two are playing newlyweds with the wife seeking a divorce. That she is unable to express her new feelings to him is what the song conveys, and makes way for the denouement of the movie.

However, true to the movie’s title, the film ends in a happy (re)union after more emotional drama that the audience in 2007-08 must have enjoyed, given that the cinema ran for over a year in some theatres.

In real life, such change of heart, is probably rare. At least that’s my limited experience. In real life, people often tend to hold on to their pride and prejudice, leading to all-round misery. Much of this even, sometimes, comes down to just that mundane thing that we call habit. We habitually react in set ways that can irritate or even hurt a loved one.

It’s very hard for people to see the intent behind a gesture or a decision. Often, in cases like me — with my anxiety and depression, and before that, three decades of repressed feelings of all sorts — those gestures and decisions can also send things awry. And they did, in my life. The road to where I am today is potholed with the repurcussions of bad decisions and impulsive ones that hurt the ones I loved the most — my family.

Today, I’m much more aware of who I am and what I want, but at the price of having been a poor husband and inadequate parent for a long time. In real life, we don’t often get the chance to right the wrongs we’ve made. We’re forced to watch in mute frustration and humiliation, the consequences of our bad decisions playing out. That’s probably why Oscar Wilde called experience simply the name we give our mistakes.

#anxiety #anxietyanddepression #depression #cinema #movies #films #music

Anxiety hack 2 — Pick a hobby

August 17, 2020 § Leave a comment

Today, I made a small list of songs to whistle. I’m fairly good at whistling. Over the last two months, I’ve been posting videos of me whistling various songs, on Facebook and Instagram. Typically 90 seconds to two-minute videos. It has become an engaging hobby, to identify a song, practice it through the week and post the video by the end of the week, usually, although I’ve posted a couple of them during the week also.

This process of picking a song and putting in a little bit of practice every day of the week before it’s ready to be posted, and then shooting the video itself — nothing fancy, just the phone camera turned on selfie mode — has all become something that distracts me from my anxiety and helps bring it down.

Thus far I’ve whistled some 10 songs, mostly old Hindi hits, but I’ve begun to add Kannada, my mother tongue, and plan to whistle songs in other languages too. For example, I was trying out Stevie Wonder’s Part Time Lover this morning. It was playing on the radio. I also want to attempt Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. And of course songs like The Sound of Silence, Annie’s Song and Scarborough Fair. Then are a whole bunch of Grammy winning favourites I might try.

Of course I’m guilty of constantly checking Instagram and Facebook to see if my friends or others have seen the video or if anyone has liked or commented on it, but that all helps distract away from my anxiety. Then, having posted the videos, there are opportunities like updating one’s ‘stories’ on Insta and FB, and since these vanish after 24 hours each, it’s something I also look forward to — the chance to recycle older videos via the ‘stories’ section. Again, the anticipation of doing this, typically in the late evening, after my walk or after dinner like now, helps distract away from the anxiety.

So maybe this is another anxiety hack I’ve discovered for myself. Of course I’ve read that having a hobby is a good way of tackling anxiety, but before I started posting these videos of me whistling, I didn’t really know it first hand. So if you’re like me, fighting irrational fears and ruminating on bad scenarios everyday, pick a hobby that you can easily pursue with minimum fuss — something that you can do almost anywhere at anytime.

#anxiety #depression #anxietyanddepression #hobby #anxietyhack #music #whistling

The sound of silence

August 16, 2020 § Leave a comment

I learnt this new word today — anomie. The Merriam Webster dictionary says one definition of this word is ‘social instability resulting from a breakdown of standards and values.’ Another, is also, ‘personal unrest, alienation, and uncertainty that comes from a lack of purpose or ideals.’

How did I come across this word? I was looking for the meaning behind the famous Simon and Garfunkel song, ‘The Sound of Silence,’ with the opening words ‘Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again.’ And I came across this opinion piece written by a senior psychiatrist: https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/sound-silence

Paul Simon wrote the song in 1963 and 1964, when he was 21. The opinion piece I linked to above is from 2017, so well before Covid19. But if you listen to the song and read the psychiatrist’s piece, in which the doctor uses Simon’s song to argue for listening in silence and listening with empathy, they both feel so relevant today to someone like me, who is battling depression.

And the forced incarceration in our own homes and, partly as a result of that, in our own minds that has come about due to the pandemic is an added dimension.

I’m not without purpose or ideals, so I feel no anomie, but I’m battling an inexplicable fear of everything, because of my anxiety and depression. This was today one of my questions to my therapist during my weekly Sunday session with her. Why have I become so afraid of something as mundane as taking a walk down the road, for example? Why have I become so desperately afraid of getting up in the morning and getting to work?

The answers lie deep in my mind and in the mean time, I’ve to often push through that fear and take the help of medication to get things done. Sometimes I’m so afraid that I can’t work, so I’ve to do other things like folding the washed and dried clothes, or washing up at the kitchen sink or cutting vegetables — these three are my staple activities when I’m too anxious to work.

Through all this, I hear a great, oppressive silence that loud music with earphones plugged in can’t cure.  I can’t articulate any of this to my wife because when she looks at me, she feels the same oppressive silence. And she’s been looking at me stuck in my rut for some two years and eight months now. So some times she rages at me. To change. To see what my condition is doing to her and our son — my family.

#anxiety #depression #anxietyanddepression #thesoundofsilence #simonandgarfunkel

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