Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Quotes, Stories Around the World

Kindness Beyond the Haste

“Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are travelling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.” Henri Frederic Amiel

Among the many conveniences of the modern world, one of the qualities that is too often lost in the melee of achieving something in our lives, is true humaneness. Very often acts and events related to sharing in society happen, where it involves giving one when having two or giving away the “extras” or “what we no longer use”. Yet when we share while sacrificing a bit of the materialistic pleasures for ourselves and not bragging about it; that merits a true sense of humaneness not restricted simply to what we can share if we have, but lending a hand whenever and how ever we can.

“Don’t let fear or insecurity stop you from trying new things. Believe in yourself. Do what you love. And most importantly, be kind to others, even if you don’t like them.” Stacy London

We all have our own set of people who we don’t really like or approve of. It may be true that they may done us harm at some point in our lives; yet we also have worn their shoes for time. As in there may have been many instances when we may have unknowingly caused hurt to others. No one can please everybody and one can never be always in everybody’s good books. We all have our days. Yet when ever we can, we should burn down all the grudges and learn to help. For man is a collective being, we learn from , through and with others. No matter who or what anybody has done to us at some time, be the reason to do them treat them unkindly when we can.

“It’s not our job to play judge and jury, to determine who is worthy of our kindness and who is not. We just need to be kind, unconditionally and without ulterior motive, even – or rather, especially – when we’d prefer not to be.” Josh Radnor

“In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10 year old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. ‘How much is an ice cream sundae?’, the boy asked. “50 cents,” replied the waitress. The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied a number of coins in it.
‘How much is a dish of plain ice cream?’ he inquired. Some people were now waiting for a table and the waitress was a bit impatient. “35 cents,” she said brusquely. The little boy again counted the coins. ‘I’ll have the plain ice cream,’ he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and departed.

When the waitress came back, she began wiping down the table and then swallowed hard at what she saw. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were 15 cents – her tip.”

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Posted in Daily, Food

Beyond the “C”

What connects Camellia sinensis, Coffea seeds, Kola nuts as well as the yaupon holly leaves, Amazonian holly guayusa leaves. The common factor is a simple but bitter, white crystalline purine, a methylxanthine alkaloid compound popularly consumed globally as “Caffeine”. The growing role of “caffeine” related beverages is evidenced by the celebration of March as the National Caffeine Awareness Month” by foodimentarians globally.

Like the two sides of a coin, caffeine has its’ own merits and demerits. Primarily playing its’ role as a central nervous stimulant as well as inhibitor of two major enzymes, phophodiesterase and adenosine; caffeine of coffee, tea as well as the medically available pure form has its’ indicated uses and merits.

From treating to preventing major diseases in neonates (like bronchopulmonary dysplasia, apnea of prematurity) as well aiding asthmatics in reducing their exacerbation; caffeine aids in reducing fatigue, drowsiness and improving coordination and reaction time. Imagine the endless night shifts, cramming before exams, pulling all nighters before the term exams in university and aiding to stay awake during classes after late night events; caffeine was always a life saver. In moderation, caffeine aids in reducing depressive symptoms as well as suicide idealizations.

“It was a pleasant cafe, warm and clean and friendly, and I hung up my old water-proof on the coat rack to dry and put my worn and weathered felt hat on the rack above the bench and ordered a cafe au lait. The waiter brought it and I took out a notebook from the pocket of the coat and a pencil and started to write.” Ernest Hemingway

Not just students or night shift workers, for the gym goers, caffeine helps in improving their endurance, aids weight loss as well as increase the training or exercise volume. Moderate consumption of caffeine reduces dementia and Alzheimer’s risk, neuroprotective for Parkinson’s patients, reduces liver fibrosis and cirrhosis as well decreases risk of throat, mouth, colon and skin cancer.

On the other hand, more than 400 milligrams of caffeine intake has been associated with health risks ( Health Canada limitations) while toxic doses are in the range of ten grams or more of caffeine (50 -100 coffee cups with 80-175 mgs of caffeine per cup). Adverse effects of caffeine have a physical as well as psychological manifestation. In the former group would include raised blood pressure, headaches, increase gastrointestinal motility, increase bone loss in postmenopausal women, stained teeth, increased eye pressure in glaucoma patients, loss of essential minerals like iron and calcium as well as decreasing collagen synthesis i.e. more wrinkles.

“As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?” Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes

From a psychological viewpoint, increase caffeine can lead to addiction, mood swings, dependency, anxiety disorders, tremors as well as irritability and sleep less nights. For the pregnant women, balancing the daily intake to two or less cups of coffee ( less than 200mg ) helps to reduce the caffeine induced pregnancy complications.

Caffeine consumption, highly depends on the way and reason we take it. From a simple homemade coffee to the “calorie laden coke” (laced with additional compounds) or the simple morning and evening ritual of tea, caffeine intake can be regulated. The more carefully we regulate the caffeine intake, the longer we can enjoy the merits than be affected by their demerits.

“Adventure in life is good; consistency in coffee even better.” Justina Chen, North of Beautiful

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Personal Musings, Photography Art, Quotes, Reflections

Finding the Harmony

“The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence.” Rabindranath Tagore

In the chaotic existence of the days, as we come across many people and numerous interactions, there is one set of people that I admire the most. They are open to all ideas, listen to entire narratives with infinite patience, kind to many but rarely allow others to interfere in their lives. They look for the truth by themselves, gathering their world bit by bit and at times with gentle subtleness, not paying attention to the surprised and condemning views of those around them.

“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity. From discord find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Albert Einstein

These kind of people are so rare being many-sided and beautiful. They are open to others, but they will never knock on doors where they are not welcome. They live in harmony with themselves, as their heart tells them. Usually they are considered insane, but these people love life, and she reciprocates them, giving them their best gifts. Harmony is the word that centers around these people.

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony.” Thomas Merton

The peacefulness and concurrence with each other cannot be born in a day. For harmony to be attained it needs each one of us to be aware of the expectations and requirements that encompass us as we adapt in our own particular approach to life. To be in concordance with others will happen when we are in agreement with ourselves, living consistent with our most profound feelings of what is genuine and what matters most. The joy of life can be seen exemplified through the quiet power of harmony. When the state of harmony is balanced, one often discovers that life blossoms even through the tired, difficult, bleak and lonely days. All we need to do is find and synchronize the rhythm within to the thoughts, desires and dreams in our mind. Though this may seem difficult, it is never impossible to do so.

“The simplification of life is one of the steps to inner peace. A persistent simplification will create an inner and outer well-being that places harmony in one’s life.” Peace Pilgrim

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Quotes, Reflections

Screen “Timed”

The other day, my colleague and I were sitting at a cafe during our break hours. While enjoying our coffee, it was interesting to note that couples or groups at various tables were mostly on their phones. In the case of singlets, I would be able to understand but for couples to be mostly on phones felt strange. Late that day, during my drive back to home, the similar situations were seen among the students waiting for or on the bus, passengers on the bus, at the grocers’ – everyone were on their “screen time mode” be it phones, iPads or tablets. The question that popped in my mind was “how much of screen time do we attend to each day ?”

The sad fact is we all live in our screens. Trips are taken to showcase photos as proof of fun, not vice versa. If one disagrees, then why do we cram up so much sights in one day to see when we go on a break instead of enjoying each hour that we spend.

Sometimes you have to disconnect to stay connected. Remember the old days when you had eye contact during a conversation? When everyone wasn’t looking down at a device in their hands? We’ve become so focused on that tiny screen that we forget the big picture, the people right in front of us. Regina Brett

Screen time has cost us our ability to talk. We lack communication primarily, because we are too busy staring at the screens, or tired from staring at the screen all day or we are too caught up on thinking about what is happening on the screen. Each one of us have our own coat of interests, acquaintances offline and online, yet when they interfere with our social bonding, family ties, relationships and health; its’ time to re-evaluate.

The drawback of modern communication is that we “message, chat or pictorize” but we don’t communicate or really know how one is feeling or understand and listen to each other. Consequently we lose out on real love, kinship and bonds; instead we get swamped by bouts or periods of loneliness, inattention, superficiality and emptiness. There are many instances in families, communities or campuses, where individuals live under the same roof but know squat about each other. Privacy should be respected, but knowing basics of whether you like tea or coffee, vegan or not, healthy or unwell, address or one’s dislikes and likes is essential to forge and maintain bonds.

“It’s not just about limiting screen time; it’s about teaching kids to develop good habits in real life As well as managing their screen time.” Cynthia Crossley

The worst hit from excessive screen time are families. They live together but sit in their gadgets, completely oblivious to each other speaking “different languages”. Parents and children forget to talk to each other. There are exchange of words but no connection, intimacy, enjoyment or relaxation to just be together. “The key is to teach them how to be safe with technology, because ultimately, we want our children to be in charge of technology, rather than feeling technology is in charge of them,” as said by Elaine Halligan, London director of The Parent Practice

Knowing to delegate screen time is necessary, as each year in life happens only once. Adults can’t relive their childhood years like their children. Each one will grow up quickly and time will fly. Kids will grow up quickly, and we will not be able to sit with them, read books or just have some fun. We adults might find it late to spend time with someone dear, because life in general is lived quickly. We need to distribute our time to one another. When “screen time” becomes “screen life”, its’ time to change before we too get swiped by a tap.

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Reflections

Converse to Communicate

Ideal conversation must be an exchange of thought, and not, as many of those who worry most about their shortcomings believe, an eloquent exhibition of wit or oratory. Emily Post

In our day-to-day life, we come across many people of different personality types, various behaviours or views, and going through their individual set of emotions at the various phases in their lives. Yet a common thread running through all the people we meet either at work, neighbourhood or market is conversation. The latter can range from being a casual nod to a simple greeting of “Hello, How do you do ?” or talk of the weather, politics (regional to global), work and the daily happenings.

A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. That’s why there are so few good conversations: due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet. Truman Capote

Unfortunately not all of us can strike a conversation at the right time or a fruitful one which doesn’t end up in a war of words or ideas. This art has come to a point where social messaging and screen talk leaves one more comfortable than being engaged in a face-to-face conversations. The sad fact is real communication doesn’t grow from written words but meaningful exchange of words, ideas, thoughts, expressions and emotions.

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. George Bernard Shaw

Yet when conversing makes us uneasy, tactless, upset or bored to the point of losing people, breaking relationships and friendships; it is time to introspect and sift through the mind to find out what went wrong. There are a few tips that I often find helpful when discoursing with others.

1. When you know something, but not asked; it helps to keep quiet and listen.
2. When you are at the receiving end of a talk, learn to be silent to listen. Two can’t talk at once for no one would be able to hear then.
3. Do not interfere in other people’s conversations especially when standing in a sub groups of group.

Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something. Plato

4. Answer the questions, but do not elaborate to the point where others’ get a faraway look, start yawning or contemplating other activities’ in their mind.
5. When you want to tell something before you start doing, hold the tongue. For don’t tell others before time, until you have done it. Instead switch over the talk to interest, advice or opinion.
6. Do not tell people of their shortcomings, unless asked.

Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing. Rollo May

7. When feelings are hurt or reproached, keeping quiet with a smile and walking away really helps.
8. When the talk seems unfair or unjustified to you; say the same with reasoning, quietly and calmly.
9. Speaking abruptly, out of context or with excitement doesn’t help in the exchange of ideas or flow of words. Instead simmer the glee, watch their eyes and body language and then explore the ideas running in the mind with context to the situation at hand.

Conversation should be pleasant without scurrility, witty without affectation, free without indecency, learned without conceitedness, novel without falsehood. William Shakespeare

Ideas, talk and words are like milk. Once spilt, can’t be completely retrieved. As Shannon L. Adler had said, “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t being said. The art of reading between the lines is a life long quest of the wise.”

Posted in Family and Society, Life, Quotes, Reflections

View at the Harbor

As a part of the holiday break, as I live pretty close to the sea; we, the entire family, had decided to spend the morning day at the docks and the beach. That was when I had noticed the hustle and bustle going around. Boats were coming and going, some unloading their catch whereas others were simply travelling for the fun with few capturing few seconds of the delights of the water and nature. Amidst all this, few children were playing on the docks with some passerby slipping in their greetings for the regular boats. On the other hand, some boats came quietly and left, with no greeting or exuberant shouts of joy for fellow boats. The resemblance between the activity at the harbour and our lives are pretty striking.

“Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.”
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Tales of a Wayside Inn

In life we too have our own set of voyages. Yet on these journeys, we come across a number of ships. Some ships are close ones, while some are strangers. There are those who indirectly go with you in life, not really influencing but being present for some reason. There are those who come close to you and change the course of events in history. There are comings and goings. Some will leave a mark in an instant; others even after having been present for years nearby, will not touch the strings of your heart. It is impossible to predict who will stay with you; sometimes close ones let go of your hand on the edge of the abyss and suddenly strangers will hold your outstretched hands and grasp you tight. We can go on the same road, but look in different directions. We can go on different roads but suddenly we stop at an intersection. And no one knows what will happen in a minute, month, year.

“When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused.” Rainer Maria Rilke. 

By entering into someone else’s life or even barely touching it, we leave in it what will become another beacon on the darkest night for him. Be kind, gracious and sincere. This is neither a weakness nor a vice. This is a force that has no price or boastful pride. Say important words to the people who are dear to you in time, because they are of the greatest value especially when we don’t have a guideline or guarantee of how long they can wait for us, or when will they be called. Everything that is so important to the heart has their own time or expiration date. Every word and dded will last only for so long, to the time allotted or it. We are all strangers in this life, closely or partially intertwined with each other. Each touch to your soul, like yours to someone else’s, leaves a mark in the book of destinies and changes the course of events. Be careful, touch carefully.

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Stories Around the World

Love the Dandelions

“I was a dandelion puff…Some saw the beauty in me and stooped quietly to admire my innocence. Others saw the potential of what I could do for them, so they uprooted me, seeking to shape me around their needs. They blew at my head, scattering my hair from the roots, changing me to suit them. Yet still others saw me as something that was unworthy and needed to be erased.” Nicole Bailey-Williams

A man who took great pride in his lawn found himself with a large crop of dandelions. He tried every method he knew to get rid of them. Still they plagued him. Finally he wrote to the Department of Agriculture. He enumerated all the things he had tried and closed his letter with the question: “What shall I do now?” In due course, the reply came: “We suggest you learn to love them.” ( adapted from Anthony de Mello’s The Song of the Bird)

We all have our own set of “dandelions” like a difficult boss, hectic work load, nosy neighbours, gossipy community member who we encounter on a daily basis, a disorderly household or even the unruly hair that refuses to settle down; the list is endless. While we would be able to change few of them them, the others would be in the category that we can’t change despite countless efforts, manoeuvres and attempts. What we can’t change, we shouldn’t fight. When we learn to accept and find a way to work around our “dandelions”, we achieve happiness in all the other good parts of life. There is a whole wide green lawn out there, yet only when we kick off our shoes, step into the green blades (scattered with the dandelions or not), we learn to enjoy the sense of beauty that nature offers us.

“Dandelions, like all things in nature are beautiful when you take the time to pay attention to them.” June Stoyer

In our lives, at work, in the neighbourhood and community and even among our extended families; there would be “dandelions” cropping every now and then. Yet these “dandelions” have their own beauty. As seen through nature and in various places, dandelions are not always considered as weeds. From being a medicinal herb to being cultivated as a crop for dandelion wine or tea, their uses vary on occasion, place, purpose and requirement. Likewise, when we learn to enjoy every “dandelion”, their beauty and abilities will be appreciated. Remember the fun memories with dandelions in our childhood. Be like a child with the “dandelions” we find in our life, curl the stems in water, blow out the seeds, paint them and above all, make cherished memories having fun.

“Dandelions are just friendly little weeds who only want to be loved like flowers.” Heather Babcock