Posted in Thoughts

Into morally dark areas

So I suppose I’m finally being the typical teenage blogger and creating a blog post about “serious gender issues”, except that it’s probably not going to be that serious because I don’t have any grave statistics or jargon to throw at you. This sudden outburst of thoughts on this topic is due to two recent life experiences, and I’ll try to make this post less about me and more about the topic, but oh well. Mah blog, mah rulz. *sorry, Suchit*

Not sticking to chronological order as such, I watched the movie Dangal this morning. It is a very woman centric movie, following the lives of two sisters, Geeta Kumari Phogat and Babita Kumari Phogat as they battled societal conventions to win multiple medals for wrestling on an international level. At almost every step they took towards their aim, there were a dozen naysayers, shaking their heads, passing unnecessarily sexist remarks and sometimes hindering the girls’ progress. From not allowing the girls to wrestle in the local arena, to almost banning them from playing at higher level tournaments, there is not much they were offered in terms of support or facilities. Even the government funding that they would’ve received in a utopic world was spent by the officials before they could claim it.

The movie left the audience with shining eyes and a fire burning within. It is indeed a proud moment to hear the national anthem play and watch an Indian girl win gold for the country. Her victory was the harbinger of hope for the girl child, so to speak, and left me feeling that maybe, after all, we are moving in the right direction, slowly but surely.

My thoughts on the same issue were in stark contrast a few weeks ago. I went trekking with a huge group of people, at Sandhan valley – the valley of shadows. It was a two day trek and in retrospect, I’d say I enjoyed myself a lot, in spite of the few scares we had there, which I shall now proceed to describe, in as neutral and level headed a manner as I can.

We were trekking downhill the first day, and were scheduled to have lunch at around 1, and reach our campsite by around 5. Initially, it was all pretty awesome, with rocks on both sides of the climb, occasional mountain rappelling and dozens of photographs in various poses, mostly of the fake candid kind. Obviously. But we soon realised how late we were running, when we did not stop for lunch. At all. Yes, we’d been trekking from 8 am and there were no signs of lunch even at 3 pm. We just munched on whatever biscuits we could find and kept walking.

The sun had started to set and we still had a long way to go. I’m not usually afraid of the dark, but trekking among dangerous rocks without light is pretty frightening. And rappelling without light… Oh well. It suffices to say that I have never been that scared in my life. When we did finally reach our campsite at around 10 pm, most of us were very shaken. There was no mobile network, which heightened the fear and anxiety that had taken over. I longed to hear my mother’s voice on the phone, because my irrational mind had convinced me that I would never get out alive and meet her again.

Why this sudden change of tone from debate to horror, you ask? Well, the Sandhan valley trek was where I experienced the same sort of gender privileges that people on the Titanic went through. “Women and children first”. The boys in our group stayed back and helped every last girl down the rocks, they made human chains so we could cross tiny streams without falling or hurting ourselves, they even carried our backpacks for long stretches. And in that moment, I did not point fingers, call it sexism or even question it in my mind. I accepted the preference my gender brought with it, happily and with a sense of gratitude.

Throughout the trek, I had it easy. Not because I couldn’t trek well; there were boys who were more injured or tired than I was – but simply because I am a girl. And that was perfectly fine with me. I got help on every step of the way, I got to sleep inside a tent while many of the boys had to sleep under the stars with nothing but hard rock beneath them, I got that extra sip of water when we were running short of supplies… The list is endless. And not once did I question it or feel like calling it blatant sexism. I’m not even sure if I would call it sexism, to be very honest.

I suppose a plausible explanation is that when we face adversity, we lose sight of some of our beliefs. Most of them, actually. In that moment, when we barely had any water left and the sun was beating down upon us and we were all on the verge of dehydration, had someone offered me alcohol then, I would’ve thrown all my teetotaller spirits out (pun unintended) and given in. I don’t know if I’m ashamed to say this, because honestly, would you rather die on a mountain at 19 just because you wanted to hold onto your morals or values or whatever? I digress.

I really don’t know how to conclude this, because I’ve said many unrelated things and after all of this, I’m not quite sure where I stand on this topic, really. On the one hand, it saddens me immensely, when I watch a movie and see an entire community discriminate against a girl trying to achieve something. But then again, when I am offered special privileges for being a girl, I lap them up, no questions asked. Sure, you may say that these are two very different things. They are, indeed. But isn’t feminism about equality? If we do away with the norms that treat women as less than men, shouldn’t the ones that treat women as more important or requiring more assistance go too? But if that were to happen, I would probably not have lived to tell you this tale, putting me in a dilemma that I have no answer to.

 

Sketching credits: Suchit Kar

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Posted in Random, Thoughts

The Instant Gratification Monkey

https://youtu.be/arj7oStGLkU

 

From the Keys of a Chronic Procrastinator

 

The YouTube link in the beginning is a TED Talk. Specifically, the one that granted this post it’s title. In case you didn’t guess, the talk is about procrastination. The speaker is a blogger, Tim Urban, writing at http://waitbutwhy.com/wait-but-who. Here’s how he breaks down the mind of a procrastinator: there’s a Rational Decision Maker, which is the same as the mind of a normal, non-procrastinating person, and an Instant Gratification Monkey. There’s also a Panic Monster, who however isn’t a permanent player. So what happens is the Rational Decision Maker does exactly what he sounds like. He thinks a situation through and comes up with the sane thing to do.

 

So, say I have an exam tomorrow (I do have one the day after, but anyhow), the RDM will tell me to stop this right now and get down to study. The Monkey is the one that messes all this up by saying go on, do what you like, finish off the whole post at one go. Then, read up on the different kinds of biriyani in India. And if you’re done somewhat early, reorganise your Music folder.

 

The Monkey wants immediate fun. The here and the now and the this. FUN. NOW! The RDM works more rationally, and thinks of longer term stuff. So giving the test well gets me a good grade which increases my chances of having a better job and so on, but may not be very interesting or fun at the immediate moment. The RDM is a grown up in these ways. It’ll allow you to relax and everything, but only on times that are actually relaxation times, like Sunday afternoons when all the chores are done. The Monkey is more of childish and wants, well, instant gratification.

 

And so, when the deadline is tomorrow and it is crunch time, the Monkey will want… well, anything that might make it happy. And thus, it descends down a spiral of worthless unproductivity (there’s a very nice Lennon quote which goes “Time enjoyed wasting is not wasted”, but try saying that when you find yourself watching all of Taher Shah’s masterpieces on YouTube) until it gets to the point where it’s now or never, and if you miss your chance then, you miss it forever. And that’s where the third guy, the panic monster steps in. What he does is, he scares the hell out of the Monkey and hands the control over to the Decision Maker, who then makes the best of a bad job. And this cycle loops for whatever work a procrastinator does.

 

The life of any procrastinator who wants to get anything done involves setting traps for himself that may somehow force him to get stuff done. Take for example, me. Resolving to wake up early and get lots of work done, thus making the day nice and productive (inner self sniggers), I decided to get one of those puzzle solving alarm clocks (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.kog.alarmclock  | I never sleep through alarms, but I do snooze a lot of them, which is just as bad. These apps make you solve puzzles to turn them off, or even snooze them. Sounds perfectly ghastly, is so too). Day one of the new alarm, I go to bed at 12:00 am, confident that the new alarm will do it’s job and wake me at 7. At 7, the alarm wakes me, interrupting a particularly nice dream involving a chocolate sauce fountain. I turn off the alarm, uninstall the app and go on sleeping till 8:30. The Monkey, well rested, ensured my day was a very wholesomely happy one.

 

I could give you a bajillion examples. The countless times I stayed up nights trying to finish homework. The night before exams, crashing through the entire semester’s worth of knowledge in hours. The blog articles written after missing three posting deadlines and multiple stern admonitions from Aditi (who am I kidding? Aditi just nudges me ever so gently as yet another deadline whooshes by). And the cycle repeats. Relaxation and delay, realisation and panic, rush and regret. And so on.

 

So I have decided to stop. It’s sort of simple really, to kick the habit. And it’s not that bad. “Everything in moderation, including moderation”, and so on. That was Oscar Wilde. And he was right. Mild procrastination increases creativity. Letting those ideas marinade at the back of your mind really helps them cook, so to speak. And once in a while maybe it’s good to let go and relax. Emphasis on ‘once in a while’.

 

So I have to make detailed timetables and timelines, dividing upcoming tasks into bite sized chunks and arranging them in such a way that I don’t get bored. I’ve got most of it planned out in my head. I’ve even allowed little breaks for relaxation. So all I need to do is make an actual timetable or feed it into my calendar. Heck, I’ll start on it tomorrow. Till then, remember people, consistency, punctuality and a serious approach to work is key.