Memory is a weird thing. It seems to make you forget the most important things of life and ensure that you remember the least significant of things that happened around you. I either completely forget the birthdays of friends I have known for a long time or embarrass myself by wishing them a month in advance. The craziest part is I clearly remember the birthdays of some long-lost acquaintances whose faces I can barely recollect. My mother had the habit of keeping things safely, only she forgets where she had kept them. She usually brings the entire house down every time she starts looking for something that she had kept safely.Did I mention that memories are weird? Well, they always take you on a detour and you almost forget what you wanted to say in the first place. I wasn’t planning to talk about my mother. In fact, I wanted to talk about one of my English teachers from school.

Advertisements

I was skimming through my news feed and for no reason, I was reminded of Carl Sagan. I repeated his words in my head – “We will know which stars to visit. Our descendants will then skim the light years, the children of Thales and Aristarchus, Leonardo and Einstein”. I glanced again at the piece of news I was reading and I was overcome by a sickening pain. The news was all about the NEET fiasco.

China has banned the usage of a few Islamic names in the Xinjiang province. This is a Muslim majority province and such an action is supposed to impact children who would be named Imam, Hajj, Islam, Quran, Saddam, Medina etc. These names are supposedly heavily loaded with religious extremism and must not be considered by families for their children if they are to get hukou (household registration) and other state services.

I delighted myself with the joy of spending an entire day in front of the gates of the Central Jail in Bengaluru along with a friend. On retrospection, it sounds like a stupid idea to wait in front of the gates of a prison for whatever reason. However even the stupidest of ideas leave you with an experience worthy of writing. So here is my recollection of how the day unfolded.

I was taking a break at my cousin’s place at Mumbai before starting for the onward journey to home. My niece was about 10 years old then. It was evening and we were talking of studies, sports, music and every other activity she was involved in. At one point, she made a comment – “Chachu, aap chaai bahut peete ho kya? Chai peene se hi aapka rang aisa ho gaya hai.” (Uncle, do you take tea often? Your color has turned into this because of this.). Her mom who was sitting in a corner, feeling embarrassed cut her short and told me – “We have told her that she would become dark if she drank tea, just to keep her away from it. Please don’t mind.”  I couldn’t say much. Here was a kid who had been taught that dark people didn’t exist in the world. People became dark only because they overdrank tea.

“Results indicate that complete retirement leads to a 5-16 percent increase in difficulties associated with mobility and daily activities, a 5-6 percent increase in illness conditions, and 6-9 percent decline in mental health, over an average post-retirement period of six years. Models indicate that the effects tend to operate through lifestyle changes including declines in physical activity and social interactions. The adverse health effects are mitigated if the individual is married and has social support, continues to engage in physical activity post-retirement, or continues to work part-time upon retirement……. Retiring at a later age may lessen or postpone poor health outcomes for older adults, raise well-being, and reduce the utilization of health care services, particularly acute care.”
(Source – The Effects of Retirement on Physical and Mental Health Outcomes –  Dhaval Dave, Inas Rashad, Jasmina Spasojevic)

A couple of days back, I woke up to a text message that said “Celebrate Women’s day with Levi’s!  Buy any women’s jeans and get FLAT Rs.750 OFF on your next Levi’s apparel. Only in exclusive Levi’s apparel”. I instinctively reminded myself to look out for offers in home decors. Later in the day as I walked into my office, I noticed a lot of women clad beautifully in sari and I could hear the men wishing them a “Happy women’s day”. My social media timelines were filled with greetings from men of all sorts – men who can’t crack a joke without mentioning their wife or marriage, men who believe women can’t be intelligent, men whose daughter is a princess, mother is a goddess and wife is a maid, men who believe women ought to dress appropriately to avoid being raped and more.

On a normal day, I do not use alarms to get up in the morning. The body clock adapts quite efficiently. On days when I want to put double check-posts, I set an alarm. However, on such occasions, I get up well before the alarm time to actually sit and listen to the alarm music when it goes off. I had been meaning to attend the Mangal Arati (the morning prayers in Indian temples) at the Ramakrishna Math, Ulsoor (Bengaluru). The Arati starts at 5 am sharp. So I had to start around 4 am to reach well in time. This was on 25th of February. Though it was difficult to break the inertia of sleep, once broken, it was all energy and exuberance in the arctic breeze striking against the face. The night was not over yet. The morning was yet to arrive.