Tag Archives: yoga

The Indian lecture culture

Being lectured. And lecturing. The two sides of a coin. We all hate being lectured to. Nothing more annoying than that really. On the other hand, we love lecblablablaturing. When we get the opportunity to lecture, we believe we are wisdom personified. We just go on and on. We don’t get (or maybe we choose to ignore) that the recipient of the lecture is getting pissed off.

I’m Indian and this article is from an Indian standpoint. I’m not sure at all that this applies to other nations. In India we grow up and age on a staple diet of lectures. Everyone thinks it’s their birthright to lecture us. We just don’t know the art of stating things smartly. We need to make everything sound like a lecture. It starts with our parents. They lecture us for everything. If you dig your nose you get a lecture. If you climb a slide backwards you get an earful. If you eat with both hands – God forbid – you’ll be lectured about the demerits of eating with your left hand, until your meal is digested and passed out of your system.

Then we start schooling. That’s really 12 years of unending lecture sessions. Every subject teacher thinks we all need a lecture on diverse topics ranging from tidiness, discipline, running in the corridors, doing homework, presenting work neatly, revising your lessons, handwriting, asking permission to use the toilet or to drink water, doing extra reading on the subjects we are learning, eating healthy food, coming to school on time, polishing your shoes, cutting your nails, how boys should have short hair and girls should have long hair and not the other way around, revising your answer paper before submitting it, how to avoid silly mistakes in exams…and so on. On any given day, teachers can find many exciting topics and they unleash a flurry of words on a captive audience of bored students. I’m sure they are well meaning talks, but the student’s space out and go about their business of drawing nasty cartoons of the teacher in their rough note. Not a word of what the teacher says registers in the mind. Which is a pity, really.

You’d think, we’d be done with lectures once we leave school. But no. It continues in college. Worse still, here even the teachers graduate to being called ‘lecturers’ and they live up to their name! College lectures cover pretty much the same topics as the school ones. Only they are longer and more intense.

hairpullYou graduate. Hurray! And you think you’re done with lectures. You’re about to get into the corporate world. You’re free to do what you like. Think what you like. You’re officially an adult – who earns. But the joke is on you my friend. Because the lectures now come from all your bosses down the line. They get nastier in fact as each one takes out their anger and frustrations on you. Tips on how to do the job right. Do’s and don’ts. Rights and wrongs. These days you get to attend concalls from clients abroad and you hear lectures in myriad accents – on interesting topics like how to plan your work better and meet your deadlines.

If some of you are smirking out there saying, you’re a home maker and these office politics don’t apply to you. Well, I have news for you! If you thought your mother was the lecture expert, your mother in law, takes over the mantle with aplomb and runs with it wholeheartedly. How to cook healthy meals, how to maintain a home, how to manage maids, how to bring up your kids…oh yes the list is endless.

Apart from these regulars, random people also lecture you:

The auto driver – if you dare to argue about the exorbitant fare he demands, he will lecture you on the rising cost of living.

The vegetable vendor – If you so much as raise your eyebrows upon reading the price tag on onions, the vendor will unleash upon you his theory of how the government deliberately hoards onions, increases prices and makes money on it.

The milk delivery man – If you go OMG about the milk prices – you will be subjected to the above mentioned onion like lecture on government atrocity.

The digital set top box repair guy – He will give you the works about how to use your remote and set top box right. So that it never breaks down and you never need his services ever again.

The family doctor – If you come down with the flu or something, then the trusted doctor will lecture you on how to take care of your health. What exercise to do, what vitamins to pop in so that you build better resistance.

Your friends – Oh yes. If you’re stuck with the wrong bunch of friends – they lecture too! If you don’t attend their parties. Or if you attend someone else’s parties. Or if you go off for a movie without them. Or you plan a trip with some other friends…then they give you an earful.

Your housemaid – The housemaid bunks work. It is her birthright. If you question her, she will lecture you about how you live in comfort and get running water in your taps. She has to pump water and carry them in pots and buckets to her home. This makes her sick. How dare you question her!blah_00033341

Your siblings and random cousins – If you forget to make those mandatory calls or write those emails updating them about your whereabouts…then you’ve had it!

Your yoga teacher or gym instructor – Oh boy! The lectures you get! Let’s not even get started on this…

All this while, mind you, the lecture from parents continue. In India, parents assume they need to keep teaching you to do things. Even if you are 60, your 90 year old mother will scold and lecture you on how to do things right.

The flip side?

By the time we are forty, we Indians are masters at giving lectures on any topic. And why not? We hear it every day from every possible source. So do lectures piss us off. Yes! Do we love to lecture. Yes! It’s a vicious circle. And we are well and truly trapped.

Note: Definition of lecture
– speech read or delivered before an audience or class, especially for instruction or to set forth some subject
- a speech of warning or reproof as to conduct; a long, tedious reprimand. verb (used without object), lectured, lecturing.
- instruct by lectures.
- to rebuke or reprimand at some length


A different kind of journey

There is yoga. And then there is inner yoga. We all start off at the first level. When we decide to go ‘check it out’…(psssst…and hopefully in the process lose some weight). But once we go there we realize that we don’t really sweat very much and then they make us lie down and relax. A lot. A lot. A lot. So much so that you can hear at least two people snoring in class for sure. Duh.

Many of us give up on our yogic journey somewhere at this point.

For those of us who persist, the real benefits of yoga begin to unravel. Quietly. One breath at a time.

That’s the road I’m taking now. It’s a really long journey and if I need to continue and reach the end, I need to shed a lot of excess baggage. The first thing I’m trying to load off is my inhibitions. You know, that horrid thing in your mind which tells you this-looks-tough-I-don’t-think-I-can-do-this. Yeah. That. Drop it. And don’t look back. You can do every asana there is under the sun. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not for another two years. But eventually, you’ll get there. Believe. And you will. The good news is this percolates into everything you do in life. There is nothing you cannot do, if you set your mind to it. It’s an amazing feeling, this quiet self confidence you develop within you.

There is a flip side to this as well. Don’t punish yourself. Don’t look at what others are able to achieve and develop a complex. This is about you and your body. Push yourself. But know when to stop. Listen to your body and eventually the body will give in to your mind. Be patient.

It’s amazing how this can be applied in life too. Sometimes we punish ourselves for being too thin, or too fat, or too dark, or too pimply or for having perennial bad hair days…well, it does not matter. Really, it does not. Perish those thoughts. Come to terms with who you are. As long as you are healthy and feel happy from within, there is nothing to sulk about. Stop worrying and feel at peace with yourself.

Another baggage I need to shed is my ego. This one’s a little harder. (Pretty much like the elusive padmasana and chakrasana!). It’s taken permanent lodging in one corner of my mind. Like an annoying guest who refuses to go away. It pops up unnecessarily and poisons my mind. If a client rejects my work – I feel anger. How could they! My work! I put my heart and soul into it! And so on and so forth. But fact remains that it makes me dive deeper, explore other dimensions and come up with something better. Rejection is good. Failure is even better. This is what I tell my ego. It’s not listening yet. But I need to keep trying.

There’s much more to learn. Much more to let go. I’m realizing that every day. With every inhalation I’m learning something new about myself. With every exhalation I’m realizing that there are things I need to let go. It’s a long journey. But I’m happy to have taken the first steps. Who knows where this is going to take me. But honestly, who cares about the destination. It’s the journey that’s invigorating. The destination will become clear one day.



Dream Catcher

Dream Catcher

Dream catcher
Dream catcher
Where are you?
My dreams float in the air
Like clouds of cotton
They go here and there…
What if a strong gust of wind
Blows them away?
Oh dream catcher
Do come. I pray.

I saw this quaint thing called Dream Catcher when I stumbled upon some tribals while on a visit to Kodaikanal. In their unusual Tamil dialect they explained to me that this spiders web kind of thing with feathers hanging down is a Dream Catcher. Hang it where you sleep – he told me – and it will catch all your bad dreams.

At that point I had been having a recurring nightmare so I was intrigued and I picked up one of those things. Then I went home and hung it outside my bedroom door (don’t ask me if bad dreams walk in through the door!). And sure enough the nightmares stopped. Ah the dream catcher works.

How simple life would be if we had a Dream Catcher for all our happy dreams. Why doesn’t anyone work on one such gadget, I ask! Lest I forget let me list down those dreams…

Dream 1
A cozy sea-side villa. Absolutely minimalistic, airy and filled with the therapeutic sound of waves lashing on the shores. Dream catcher may please give me the land and the right amount of money needed to build a house the way I want it.

Dream 2
Well…if the ever so busy, globe trotting Mr Merchant Banker – Chetan Bhagat can do it – so can I! Be a novelist I mean. I know my limits (even in my dreams) – I don’t want to be a JK Rowling. I’ll just be a writer who writes simple, magical stories about normal people. And then, I’m pretty sure, I will have 3 idiots from Bollywood running behind me to buy story rights. Or – more lucrative – I can sue them for robbing my story and not giving me the due credit. The public will support me, for I will be the underdog. Muah haa haaa

Dream 3
Travel travel travel. Now that I will have plenty of money after suing a Bollywood producer I will not need to work. So I will travel. And in absolute style. Someone must organize everything for me and I will simply board the plane and enjoy the sights. I particularly want to visit South American countries and the awesome rain forests.  Next loved destination is Africa – for shopping and forest safaris. Tunisia and Morocco for their incredible architecture and craft (specially their delicate glass paintings), Jordan for the dead sea and Petra, Egypt for its pyramids, New Zealand for its views, peace and quiet. Grand Canyon, Niagara, Victoria Falls, Angel falls…well lets just say I want to take a peek at all the wonders of the world (natural and man-made, old and new). Plus plenty of travel within India – specially Kashmir, Srinagar, Jaisalmer,  Ladkah and Shillong.

Dream 4
A wardrobe full of super trendy clothes (wearable ones of course – not the skinny model types) and comfortable footwear. From Indian to Western I need it all. Something for every occasion. And there must a team of people that will work at replenishing it with the latest outfits. I will have the money…remember…

Dream 5
A young, handsome, personal fitness trainer and yoga instructor (male only) who will come every morning and keep me in absolute, age defying shape!

Dream 6
I shall also own an organic farm – not far from my beach house. There I will have trusted people to look after the farm, its activities etc while I’m globe trotting. When I’m home I shall choose to chill either at the beach house or in my farm – plucking fresh fruits and munching them and having farm fresh meals. Ummm…that’s life.

Well…you see how modest my dreams are. They just end here. The Dream Catcher will then be passed on to my daughter. So someone smart out there please do design such a gadget. My dreams are waiting…

Note:  I’m rather busy at work. When I’m busy, I’m stressed. When I’m stressed I lose it. I mean I’m mentally not all there. This post was written in such a state of mind. If you’ve read through it…poor you :)