All posts by samyuktaanair

I'm not the kind to spew profanities.

Your Self Care package for mental health is here!

  • Diet and Nutrition

A healthy diet is the most fundamental thing for maintaining your mental health. Considering that our brain and body function due to the food we ingest, metabolize, and reallocate within ourselves, it makes perfect sense that what we eat also must influence our biochemistry, which is a substantial part of mental health. Well, that doesn’t justify gorging on greasy pizzas because it’s your ‘comfort food’. However, let’s rumble things up in the kitchen. For that continuous, bovine like chewing habits, have dry fruits, oranges, strawberries, grapes and kiwis. Those greens like kale and spinach that makes a retching build up in your gut is rich in Vitamin B6, vital for converting tryptophan into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a primary role in mood, learning, appetite and impulse control. Another way of amping your diet is up is adding a fash of quinoa to that Gram-worthy bowl of salad, as studies have found a flavonoid in quinoa has a significant anti-depressant effect. And probably, indulge in some really tantalizing Dark Chocolate delight for dessert.

  • Exercise

‘Exercising and staying fit’ is the most common New Year’s resolution. Surely, how the events that have unfolded were quite unprecedented and there’s much energy spent in gasping at a new development every single day, however maintaining your inner peace and sanity during these tumultuous times is vital. Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood. Exercising also increases the lungs’ vital capacity and releases endorphins, which keeps your mood great and people wonder if it’s humanly possible to stay chipper without the morning cup of coffee.

  • Sleep

The relationship between sleep and mood is complex, because disrupted sleep can lead to emotional changes, clinical depression or anxiety (as well as other psychiatric conditions), but these conditions can also compound or further disrupt sleep. In fact, altered sleep patterns are a hallmark of many mental health issues. If you find yourself sleeping too little or too much on a regular basis, it’s important to bring this up with your doctor so the two of you can look at your total physical and mental health picture and decide if further tests or a treatment plan is necessary. Sleep deprivation can leave you feeling irritable and exhausted in the short-term, but it can also have serious long-term health consequences including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and depression. And someday those healthy sleep habits would would be a golden ticket to Spain’s Siesta Championship.

Is racism a much bigger issue than Coronavirus?

9 HORRIFIC MINUTES!! For 9 minutes Derek Chauvin, pinned down George Floyd, kneeling on his neck as the 46 year old black man’s woeful pleas ‘I cant breathe’ fell on deaf ears with three other officers watching Floyd’s distraught soul depart with no remorse. The horrendous murder in Minneapolis befuddled citizens across the globe, resenting this ghastly incident. Thus began a myriad of events in America that unleashed pandemonium in these already tumultuous times. worldwide. Americans took to the streets protesting vehemently, waving banners and billboards with fury, demanding justice against this heinous crime of police brutality. As police forces and the national guard have tried to trample the voices of the protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets, there seems to be no backing down among them. Their protest gained unprecedented momentum especially on internet with netizens going berserk, trending hashtags, people extending legal aid and financial donations, celebrities observing a moment of ‘Blackout’ on their social media pages.

This inferno of justice prevails worldwide with a recent crusade of shoving and dumping sculptures and statues of the tyrant, bigoted slave traders, colonial rulers, Confederate generals who have been glorified and idolized despite their brutal schemes and pro-slavery regimes. Powerful images of hordes of protesters jostling the statue of Edward Colston, a fraudulent philanthropist involved in slave trade into the Bristol harbor, United Kingdom. Along with the stone effigy of Leopold II in Brussels, Belgium being vandalized and disfigured and many revered imposters.

Alongside this anarchy there is the alarm death toll statistics due to COVID-19 which as of June 9th has crossed 1 lakh and 2.4 million confirmed cases in USA, 41 thousand deaths in UK followed by 3 lakh confirmed cases. Their respective urging citizens to abide by social distancing norms however, the palpable angst and fear that is prevalent worldwide. Furious protesters especially in America not deterred to crusade against these heinous crimes. It definitely made us question if racism was a much bigger issue than the current COVID-19 fear!

The first ‘Black Lives matter’ protest was initiated when a judgement on the shooting of Trayvon Martin was passed in favor of George Zimmerman and was let off the hook, scot free. This movement was nationally utopian and gained much acquiescence worldwide. It had shocked the conscience of millions. However, what changes the current scenario is the social media prowess for today’s situation. With millions of users glued to their phones, the protests in USA were brought into the public attention. This time there was no ambiguity in the injustice rendered against the innocent man, with recordings of the gruesome murder being circulated on the internet definitely awakened people. From guards manhandling protesters to George Floyd’s sad, poignant funeral service everything is present on the internet. People responded to the plight of these victims even through generous donations, promoting businesses run by the Black community or even providing them food services.

Also with a worldwide lockdown issued and unemployment, people have actually been able to take some time off their rigid routines and pay heed to these hate crimes. Simultaneously unearthing many such stories, like Breonna Taylor, a medical professional in Louisville who was struck at least eight times by the police on account of a ‘no knock warrant’ issued due to an alleged drug trafficking report. The spiking unemployment rate has definitely played especially in case of the African- American population. Also the appalling statistics of 2019 have quite contributed to this unrest. African Americans made up less than 14% of the population but accounted for more than 23% of the just over 1,000 fatal shootings by the police. The government paying no attention to the problems faced by the African Americans in terms of employment, housing, education this disdain definitely drove people to revolt against these current apartheid like times. So let’s question our anemic beliefs again, ‘Can we breathe now?’

The Coming-of-age genre (PRIDE EDITION)

In this era of seeking social validation, everyone is busy flaunting their intellectual millennial side. Posting stories of binging Nick Bateman’s stellar performance in Ozark while your Netflix’s ‘Continue watching’ flashes reality show cliché ‘Too hot to handle’ As the whiff of pretense fills our social media, one can never be in denial of a good coming-of-age movie. We often set aside our undying love for the action and splatter for a classic youthful, mellow movie. Whether it’s embracing the ‘Wednesdays we wear pink’ culture with the sassy Regina George from Mean Girls, reminiscing the Judd Nelson’s signature fist pump in the ending of Breakfast Club or even Hailee Steinfeld as awkward yet brazen teenager, Nadine in the Edge of Seventeen.
This blossoming genre often made audiences swoon. Either by propagating stereotypes of a dapper looking hottie falling for a demure, bespectacled girl or explored a more realistic approach of portraying the struggles and the bold nature of a teenager. The films that made the gravy train of this genre might have a very simplistic plot but truly wholesome and heartwarming. Formerly, with heterosexual protagonists exploring the journey to adulthood, films are now diversifying their crux and adopting a more queer sense and educating masses through powerful characters, shattering the heteronormative principles of society. Here’s presenting my favourite, 3 golden eggs of LGBTQ+ centric films.

  1. The Half of It.

Written and Directed by Alice Wu, the movie features a unique love story with a simplistic yet aroused, deep emotion. An introverted and aloof Ellie Chu, who is also a literature aficionado has a way of spinning beautiful written pieces with her words and philosophy. And then comes, naïve and adorable Paul Munsky, a mediocre football player with an undying love for his brainchild recipe of ‘taco sausage’ and the pretty, damsel Aster Flores. As our jock, decides to woo Aster by writing letters to her, he approaches Ellie for the task, unbeknownst of Ellie’s secret crush on the smart and witty, Aster. In the process, Ellie falls for Aster teaching us life lessons on the efforts one takes for their loved one, someone with whom you can escape the harsh reality and adores you for your true self. Even though your love might be unrequited, there’s always hope. It portrayed queer love, like an ordinary love story without glorifying it and also simple acceptance of another person’s sexuality without any beating around the bush drama . In conclusion here’s my favourite quote.
‘Love isn’t patient, and kind, and humble. Love is messy, and horrible, and selfish, and bold. It’s not finding your perfect half. It’s the trying, and reaching, and failing.’ – Ellie Chu

  1. Love Simon:

How to keep up with a messy love story? Well, keep a sketch pad handy to draft a web diagram, some uncalled for gasps and a tissue box for those waterworks as drama unfolds in teen flick ‘Love, Simon’. Rolling the carpet for our protagonist, Simon Spier a funny yet awkward high school student who has a poised and passionate personality. However, he’s discrete about his sexuality and keeps it under wraps fearing rejection. His entourage is small yet filled with interesting set of people, Nick, Leah and newcomer Abby. The film has all the key ingredients for a soapy, teenage drama. Simon exchanges heartfelt emails with a secretive pen pal ‘Blue’ under a pseudonym ‘Jacques’. As love blossoms and events unwind, Simon gets blackmailed for his emails. Throughout the story, Simon faces adversaries testing his friendships, being ostracized and bullied and the struggles of coming out of the closet. This film ended on a mellow note with and conventional happy ending. And also to know who’s behind those anonymous love notes, tune in with your feel-good kit.

  1. Call me by your name

The landscape of this movie transports you to the charisma of Italy in 1983, nestled in a beautiful villa where love blooms between a doctoral, research assistant Oliver with a suave and debonair and the American edge and 17 year old Eilo, a reserved boy who becomes wary if developing feelings for his father’s research assistant, Oliver. He keeps his sexuality closeted and eventually ventures in a daunting adventure of love with Oliver. The stereotype of opposites attract comes into play as the relationship between Oliver and Eilo blooms into something cherishing and worthwhile. Oliver is smart and confident, though he does not acknowledge and turns a blind eye towards Eilo’s surging feeling however eventually he pours his heart out. This movie explored bisexuality and not only perceiving it sexually but in a form of sincere adoration for one another. It’s also pretty obvious to fall in love, when the setting around is a beautiful, ethereal Italian Riviera. I guess we’ve found a new addition to your travel bucket list too.

Wild Thoughts for the WILD!

Indian mythology has always been known for aeons, symbolizing creation, destruction, evolution, values and morals. This magnum opus had the significance of animals as it’s crux. Fables of birds and animals etched on the monoliths of temples, in our holy books and manuscripts and shrines dedicated to pay our respects. The supreme deity, Lord Ganesha who bears the head of an elephant, mighty Lord Hanuman the divine vanara or the fiery and raging Narasimha (half man and half lion) or Nandi, Shiva’s beloved stead are some exemplary symbols of animal worship. In a culture dominated by throngs of ardent devotees fawning over and worshipping these incarnations, the current heinous instances of animal cruelty have shamed and besmirched our cultured.

A recent instance of animal cruelty which garnered attention from millions was the ‘intentional’ feeding of a fire cracker laced pineapple to a pregnant elephant in Kerala’s Palakkad district leading to it’s very tragic death. The elephant had wandered into the village in search of food and was fed the death seasoned fruit by a few locals and it burst in her mouth, leaving her jaw fractured and in unbearable pain. The firecrackers laced pineapple was meant for the wild boars that destroyed the farmlands of the locals. A thorough investigation was then conducted against the suspects.The incident was gut wrenching and left the nation appalled. Albeit, recent claims from the Kerala Government and Environment Ministry stated that the fruit was accidentally fed by the locals. However, this inhumane nature cannot be justified as our nation reeks of countless animal cruelty encounters.

Another poignant incident that took place in Bilaspur District, Himachal Pradesh on 6th June was when a man was arrested for allegedly feeding firecrackers mixed wheat balls to his neighbour’s cow. The poor bovine’s jaw was completely shattered as seen in a video uploaded by her owner, Gurdayal Singh. Netizens broke into angst demanding strict action against the notorious neighbour. In a country where communal dissent prevails at the mere thought of sacrificing a cow for it’s meat with worldwide debates and mob lynchings there hasn’t been much action taken to curb such tyrant practices.

As bigoted and narrow minded religious fanatics spark communal disharmony on banning processions led by elephants that are beaten, tortured, made to stand for hours adorned in heavy ornaments. Or even, harvesting conch shells or defanging thousands of captured snakes for Nag Panchami and sanctioning such practices in the name of ‘upholding and protecting the religion’. It does not seem unusual to cast a blind eye on such instances.

As numerous, graphically disturbing images resurface on the internet of dogs with legs tied together just flung into rivers or a few merciless locals parading with a dead, beaten up leopard it really makes us question our conscience. Though our religious beliefs have become quite anaemic at this juncture it’s time to curb this gut wrenching cruelty as humans and in the name of humanity. Educate children on caring for animals, make sure you report any kind of malpractice to an animal care centre or helpline. Starting small by purchasing only cruelty free products and refraining from engaging in any sources of entertainment that propagates animal abuse.

War for the Planet of LIKES (starring billions)

Remember when we kicked off 2019 and greeted with the news of the cosmetic tycoon Kylie Jenner’s baby announcement. The netizens broke into an absolute frenzy gushing over an Instagram post of her baby girl’s itsy-bitsy fingers wrapped around Jenner’s finger amassing over 18 million likes and being crowned as the most liked picture on Instagram. However, the Instagram royalty was poached by a picture of an egg that set out to dethrone her post and garnered over 24.5 million likes and counting. Well it definitely managed to create a lot of hubbub but also proving the clout of Instagram likes once again.

When Instagram was launched in October 2010, it started out as a mainstream and lucid social-media platform that allowed its users to share their pictures and videos. But then as its user demography kept surging, so did the insatiable hunger for likes among Instagrammers. ‘Man is a social creature and is preceded by the society,’ even the girl who constantly posts about how ‘Quarantine is basically her daily lifestyle.’ As humans we always have this certain need for social validation and approval from others like some tribal ritual of passage; be it in reality or social media.

Now this virtual validation can seem all roseate and promising, fractionally. The Instagram likes you get, even those 11 likes on your buck-toothed school picture  or that exotic beach picture of you in a dainty sarong gives you a morale boost; an assurance that people out there see you as a fashion icon, beauty guru, tech savant or a motorhead and support your passion, hobbies and interests. And as you nestle into this soft cloud of validation it becomes your driving force to broadcast yourself, as you are despite your struggles, credentials, race, complexion, gender. It helps people break free of their inhibitions and openly discuss about ‘body positivity’ ‘sexual harassment’ ‘mental health’ ‘climate change’ ‘world peace’, ‘empowerment’.

This monopoly of likes ended up paving the way for an elite clique of social media influencers. These users start out as any mundane instagrammers, but as their content and post gain attention and likes, their account grows. The encouragement motivates to post fresh and unconventional material. Then to gain the upper hand there’s shrewd use of popular hashtags. Their posts can be accessed by many people with similar interests. In succession, these influencers start rolling the ball in popular culture on different turfs, posting health and fitness regimes, composing music, food that tingles your palate, setting fashion trends etc. As much as this posse has helped in various social and humanitarian propaganda, they eventually usher in several sponsors and investors for marketing and promotional purposes. With brochures and pamphlets becoming outdated, businesses have adopted ‘digital marketing’. As popular businesses and raw start-ups have ventured into these uncharted tides, it has built up their marketing, brand promotion and networking forums. 

From getting your dream freelancing opportunity to a site retailing a popular celebrity’s wedding attire you were doting on, these companies build up their online businesses through posters and ads having a good, dexterous hook and manipulate the users, increasing web traffic on their site. Further more the websites that you browse track your events, searches and interaction as cookies, out of which brands gain mileage and hence curating those Instagram ads. Lately, humble entrepreneurs hailing from modest backgrounds being a whiz in their craft but lacking resources for trade and marketing have found solace in Instagram. As they solicit likes for the samples of their work and thus, it becomes a popular profile. 

Albeit the scale seems to be tipping to the positive side, one couldn’t agree more when it comes to the growing inferiority complex and the hunger for likes gnawing upon users especially teenagers. A cloud of insecurity and unhealthy competition looms over one when another individual gets more likes or has a better lifestyle, clothes or a house. It pushes society towards the brink of materialism and shallowness, followed by snide comments and slamming on social media. This insanity often drives people to depression, existentialism and in worst cases even suicidal. People often lose their individuality, putting on a facade which could make the most desirable. 

In retrospect, with an ongoing pandemic, people are frantically preaching our race joining the Dinosaurs, Dodos and the Rhinos too. As much it’s inevitable, let’s tone down the melodrama and take a leap of faith. Reach out to people positively on social media, if you scroll past a random post aimlessly, probably double tap. And next time you’re out for brunch with your friends, stop taking 50 snaps of your croissant and espresso for the aesthetics; it’s time to gain a few likes and comments in reality, because it’s not always ‘#All for the gram’.

Do School Students Get Holistic Learning?

As a parent, there are many pressing matters when it comes to your child’s future. Quoting something from the parenting manual would be, a dip in your child’s performance in a petty monthly test. The disappointment frown which follows and the thoughts of your child becoming a failure among their peers lingers in your minds. Parents always pin their dreams on the children and push them to study harder. Albeit, education should not just mean excelling academics but also becoming well-rounded individuals. Gaining knowledge has been set aside by acing tests or stack piling trophies and accolades. And this unfavourable situation has it’s roots well established by the education offered in schools.

As students what we learn constitute the major building blocks of our personality and character. The morals inculcated by parents contributes about one-fourth while knowledge provided by schools contributes to the rest. These become the impetus to one’s actions which defines a person. Tapping into a student’s artistic, poetic, spiritual or social approach should be something that schools should work towards and adopt a holistic approach in learning. In philosophy, holistic refers to a belief that all aspects of something are linked to one another and can be comprehended only as a whole. A Classic example of holistic learning is Nobel Laurette Rabindranath Tagore’s Shantiniketan.

(Clockwise) Rabindranath Tagore mid discourse; images of present-day Shantiniketan.

Shantiniketan (abode of peace) was Maharishi Debendranath Tagore’s brainchild. He stumbled upon the beauty of the area during his boat ride through Birhaum. What started as a spiritual centre welcomed everyone unbiasedly was transformed into a learning centre by none other than Rabindranath Tagore. He which envisaged a deep-rooted education for students from different cultures and connecting them to a wider world. His model school, was based on the Vedic tradition of Bhramacharya Ashram provided education end to end with teaching students their responsibilities, duties towards the community. The classes were held under the canopy of Chhatim trees, in open air scrapping the claustrophobia in a classroom. Thoughts and teachings would flow freely, a curriculum melding the traditional learning with western principles. Students were at a liberty to explore other unconventional talents, absorb about the nature and also fortified to give back to their society.

Holistic learning aims at developing a child’s physical, emotional, moral, psychological and spiritual intellect. It teaches children to create relationships with the environment, community and the people around them. Mainstream education deals with mechanical, scientific or logical aspect of a subject. For instance, a student is taught the processes of pollination in a flower and the botanical features, however schools ignore to teach them how to capture it’s beauty on paper, serenade about it’s attractiveness, pen down a poem on that fragrant garden or be entranced by it’s fragrance and escape into a moment of bliss. Dissecting a flower and plucking it to examine is easy, but there is an significant moral we disregard, ‘Plucking a pretty flower we love merely makes us more driven to be possessive over things we love, instead of caring and treasuring it.’ As an alternative of teaching them the harmful effects of global warming push them towards connecting with our nature emotionally and feel the sense of tranquillity in nature.

Dear readers, I’d like to ask a simple question that has popped in my mind. How often were you or your children taught in schools to respect it’s ancillary staff like the administrative staff, janitors, bus drivers or even those in your surroundings like the domestic help, the housekeeper, security men or even your usual vegetable vendors. The Government has definitely listed their services as ‘essentials’ but have we ever looked up to them with awe and not pity or even disgust. We often look spitefully at such professions, but left out on schooling them the value and contribution of every individual in the society. Shoving a few clothes or making generous contributions into a donation box for the distressed hit by a deluge is not identified as ‘social work’. Seldom do schools encourage students to visit an orphanage or rehabilitation centre or a hospice for the aged to volunteer. Hardly any students have experienced the delight of giving a few moments of happiness to someone specially abled, helping them sketch a drawing, playing a hand at cards with an ignored veteran, the satisfaction after a good deed is fleeting yet cherishable. They are always trained to aim for more, best college or job opportunity.

Volunteering fosters a sense of responsibility and humanity.

Students need to be taught that nothing appears in black and white. As much as being determined to be successful is a positive approach, neglecting unconventional talents and tagging them as a distraction would just confine you to a small, mundane space in life. These interests help in escaping from the clock-tuned routine, keep you productive instead of slipping into a phase of depression, boredom and self-loathing; It helps you stand out from the herd, giving you those additional soft skills to make you a confident, strong-minded individuals. Your perspective of the surroundings changes with a different slant towards your society. For instance if you’re passionate on pursuing a career as a health professional but also have an interest for graphic designing, then it’s time to embrace it and hustle hard. Probably the future has an opportunity in store for you to open a clinic and guess who’ll be designing some catchy, promotional material for it.

Spanning through a few pages in History, we stumble upon many examples of the outcomes of a passé, regressive society. Adolf Hitler was a tyrant, ruthless dictator. However, his memoirs have mentioned his passion and dreams of pursuing arts. His father, like most parents detested his dreams and forced him to pursue a mechanical course. If his father gave wings to his dreams, probably events like the Holocaust would’ve never unfolded and Hitler would be known as a renowned peaceful and terrific artist.

If Hitler was an artist…