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What social biases or stereotypes should we challenge to bridge the gender gap?

March 8, 2021

Categories : Blogs by our residents

It is a MAN’s world alright! That is what you are reminded at every stage in life. We distribute sweets at the birth of a baby boy and shed tears when a girl is born especially if she happens to be the second or third girl in a row. I was fortunate to have parents who accepted me as the third girl baby and even considered me lucky because my brother came after three years. And two more followed. Unlike most middle class homes where boys  went to more privileged higher fee charging schools than the girls did, we all went to the same good schools. Like my brothers my youngest sister chose science and math a as major subjects and I chose social science of my own preference. We breached the usual practice of engineering for boys and soft careers for girls.   Then comes the major hurdle in life. Boys see the  likely bride to be in formal settings and accept or reject the proposal. Thank God times are changing and girls are beginning to have a say even in arranged marriages at least in educated families. Yet the man remains the head of the family the final decision maker. Even in the senior citizens residential complex I live in, there is no end to the tales of male domination and female subjugation in marriage partnership. Note that at every socio economic level it is the woman who holds the family together and keeps things going in crises situations regardless of whether she is a home maker only or is also employed. I have often seen men fall apart in a crisis situation while women often gather an inner strength and carry on. However gender socialisation runs so deep that it is the man who is considered the head of the family. I have often  been asked “where is Saab?”  when going to register property in my name or call a carpenter to fix a furniture.   Then come the twilight years. Often it is  the stronger sex  that departs  first leaving the lady partner behind. It is amazing to see how this so called weaker sex the dependent  women come on their own and manage to carry on at times expressing their assertive selves hidden so far. At the same time when it is the man who is left behind I find the widower quite lost finding it hard to cope without a partner.A widow is expected to cope on her own whereas a man is permitted a second and even a third wife if the earlier ones depart. A man cannot cope alone. He needs a companion at every age!   Can we break the circle of gender socialisation? Of course we can and in some families we do. Yet it is often that women themselves are women’s worst enemies because they play an active role in perpetuating the myth of male superiority and that of women being the weaker sex instead of standing up and being counted.   T.S.Saraswathi Serene Urbana by Columbia Pacific Communities Block 4 706.

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What are the challenges you have overcome as a woman to live a happy fulfilled life

March 8, 2021

Categories : Blogs by our residents

A lot of credit for making a fulfilled life possible goes to my grandmother and my parents. Right from my early years my grand mother and mother instilled in me the value of education and the importance of learning to stand on one’s own feet. My grand mother always said” your hands should be held high to give , never in supplication to take” .Whether you marry or not you have to have an independent income. You may have three brothers but never be dependent on anyone. That stood me in good stead throughout my life.   All the same it was never easy. Despite the family support , at every stage I had to run twice as fast as men to be in par, as life showed that it is a Mans world. As an attractive young girl one had to learn early to protect oneself from the groping hands  of men who tried to take advantage of a child’s innocence. Strangely, danger did not lurk in the form of strange men but men known to the family, at times even close relatives .I clearly recall the strategy that my friends and I had while travelling in Chennai buses and trains as students to keep at bay wandering hands of male passengers . We had a sharp edged umbrella handle tucked under our elbows to poke any anatomical detail that brushed against us. That was convenient and sure worked!   In then male dominated  coed colleges after the initial reluctance to speak up in class one learnt to shed ones inhibitions encouraged by teachers and soon realising that we were smarter learners than our male counterparts!At work as a lecturer and then a university professor while there was absolutely no problem with students one had to learn to assert oneself with male colleagues very representative  of the patriarchal world. In order to be heard one learnt to speak up, to speak loud, even yelling if necessary at meetings where male dominance was the order of the day. Yet in mixed group research collaborations this was seldom a problem . The male colleagues in the group,  especially when from abroad, recognised our contribution and respected our views. That toned down the Indian male colleagues!   As for publications in national and international journals the blind peer review system that was followed eliminated the male bias .My work was recognised for its value not because of my gender. Hence name and fame followed . This enabled me to travel all over the world for conferences ,teaching, and collaborative work opening the windows of ones mind. Incidentally one came to realise that male dominance was not India’s monopoly though it was better disguised abroad.   However, one must admit that there was a price to pay for the rewards of independence and achievement. Having seen the male dominance in the family, despite otherwise progressive attitudes, one became wary of the submissive role expected of women in marriage. Hence no partner seemed to suitable and egalitarian enough resulting in a lonely path of ones own choice. Well as a  Jyotish  once commented on seeing my horoscope, “ Good you did not marry. Otherwise because of your independent nature you would have been a divorcee” !   T.S.Saraswathi Serene Urbana by Columbia Pacific Communities . Bangalore 4 706  

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Obsessed with food ?

November 22, 2019

Categories : Blogs by our residents

The fly got tired of hearing the loud noises on the road. As it got hungry, it started looking for a place to eat. As it flew, it sensed a wonderful aroma from a nearby building. It followed the smell and entered the building through a window. Once inside, the fly found itself in a hall filled with the loud chatter of elderly persons, seated at tables and having food. The fly decided to look around for options before deciding on the menu.   A gentleman at one of the tables said, “The idlis are soft today and taste so good with the chutney.”   Another person said, “Yes, but the thickness, size and diameter of the idlis are small.”   At another table, a lady said, “The masala dosa is very good today.” The person seated in front of the lady said, “Yes, but the quantity of vegetables inside is very less.”   At yet another table, two elderly people were analysing and criticising the Upma served on that day.   (The fly tasted small quantities of all dishes when the diners were busy talking and did not notice it)   One gentleman was talking loudly with food in his mouth, even as the food particles flew from his mouth – left, right and centre.   One person appreciated the crisp Medhu vadas while her friend beside her commented “Yes, but the holes at the center are small.”   Another lady commented “The puris are soft and tasty,” to which, her husband replied, “Yes, but so much oil in the puris. Too much oil is not good for health”   The fly stopped by a table where two persons were having coffee. One said, “Ha! The coffee tastes just the way I like – hot, thick and dark – without any sugar.” The other person responded, “I don’t know how you drink such bitter coffee. I like my coffee light, with more milk and 3 spoons of sugar in it.”   The fly’s curiosity got the better of it and it tasted a drop of coffee from the cups carried by the bearer.   The fly heard many voices, and found some persons were smacking their lips with loud noise, some licking their fingers. Then it remembered the advice given by its parents –   Don’t be obsessed with food Eat to live and not live to eat Eat with your mouth closed Don’t indulge in idle chatter while eating Eat only half your stomach and quit for you have to be alert and swift when a human tries to swat you.   So the fly ate till its stomach was half full and flew to the next room which was empty and rest on a wall, away from the loud noise, until lunch time. This blog post is by Serene Urbana (Bengaluru) resident E.S. Sivakumaran.

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Give peace a chance

November 22, 2019

Categories : Blogs by our residents

“Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.”  – Wayne W. Dyer   We think of peace of mind as a destination and feel the need to chase it.   It is not easy to choose peace when we go through difficult times. Circumstances do affect our mental state, but by making the right choices, we don’t feel the need to control them.   Like other desirable states of mind, it requires effort but is always available.   What is the value of peace of mind?   Mind is efficient only when it is cool. It increases the intellectual power of a man. The cyclone derives its power from a calm centre. So does a man.   Seneca, a Roman Stoic philosopher says, “The mind is never right, but when it is at peace within itself.”   Make some room for silence in your life. It is an aid for peace of mind and helps the personality to grow. The power of silence is inestimable. Silence is a friend who never betrays.   Thomas Carlyle, a Scottish historian, rightly wrote, “Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves.”   Another aspect of mastering peace is to learn to manage our emotional state as it affects our mental and physical being and also our relationships. Peace of mind heals. Don’t trust your emotional reactions unless you are in full control.   “Sometimes it is better to be kind than to be right. We do not need an intelligent mind that speaks, but a patient heart that listens.” Anonymous.   At times we have questions, for which we have to wait for answers. Sometimes, we get answers to the questions that we never knew were there and sometimes the questions themselves become redundant. Many worries never come to pass. Keeping your expectations realistic and being in control of your emotions is the only way to find peace of mind, which comes with daily practice and patience.   This blog post is by Geeta Gopalakrishnan, resident of Serene Pushkar by Columbia Pacific Communities.    

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Living peacefully, happily and actively in old age

October 21, 2019

Categories : Blogs by our residents

What is the definition of old age? The World Health Organisation considers age 65 and above as old age. This is the time when the various signs of old age start appearing. Those who are employed retire from their jobs at the age of 60. Suddenly, their hectic life comes to a stop.   While they work, they enjoy many privileges such as higher income in the form of fat salary, power and authority to control people, all of which comes to an end with retirement. All these changes are stressful for seniors, who feel this loss and experience emotional shock. Left with more idle time now, they do not know how to spend time. They get bored easily. They should develop an attitude of being active and keeping good spirits.     This is possible if their mind is not obsessed with negative thoughts of helplessness and declining functions of old age. They should spend time in meeting people and actively exchanging ideas. They should read good books, understanding and exchanging new ideas with others. They should spend at least an hour daily reading as it stimulates the brain and delays deterioration of cognitive functions.   They should not withdraw from outside activities. They should challenge their debilities. For instance, they should walk despite feeling a little pain in the leg. They should see their abilities /strength or what they can do rather than what they cannot do or their debilities. Being preoccupied with debilities leads to low self-esteem and poor self-image.   To reiterate, people who are beyond 60 years can still lead a reasonably peaceful, happy and active life, despite the characteristics of old age. Most old age-related problems occur due to a wrong attitude of looking at ageing negatively.  Instead, seniors should accept it wholeheartedly as a natural phenomenon, be confident that they are still left with their potentials and capabilities which they can use to lead happy and active lives.   Seniors should not brood over their social loss of not being able to connect with as many people as they could in their earlier years and consciously adopt change in lifestyle of a relatively quiet life in old age. That is, see old age in a new and wholesome perspective. Thus, they can add life to years rather than deduct years from their lives.   This blog post is by Dr A. Sreekumar Menon, resident of Serene Urbana by Columbia Pacific Communities.  

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IT’S GOOD ENOUGH

October 21, 2019

Categories : Blogs by our residents

Many of us do not put enough thought into thinking about how much is enough. We make ourselves miserable, endlessly pursuing more. Swinging between the extremes need not be the way to live our lives. The in-between state should be enough.   British psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott pioneered a way to undercut our reckless and never-ending want for more. In his clinical practice, he met parents who felt like failures because their children hadn’t gotten into the best schools or due to arguments around the dinner table or because the house wasn’t tidy enough. He observed that this agony stemmed from excessive expectations.   The concept of “everything” or “nothing” gets undue importance, and “something” gets lost in between. The charming concept of “good enough” was invented to serve as an escape from dangerous ideals. It can be applied generally across life, around work and love too. So how do we look at “good enough”?   A relationship can be good enough even if it has its dark moments. A job may not utilise all our merits and earn us a fortune, but if it gives us real friends, moments of genuine excitement, it can be “good enough”. Every meal need not be a gourmet meal, which does not mean it’s badly done. It’s still good enough. What if you lack passion? At least you share love and care that lasts. It’s good enough.   What if we don’t achieve our goals and dreams, at least we sleep well and spend time with loved ones. That’s good enough.   To remain sane, which has become a coveted state of being, we should follow the middle path or believe that “this is good enough” to help awaken the very best in us. We must make the most of the okay stuff that comes along as well. We should step back and acknowledge in a real way that our lives are good enough.   This blog post is by Geeta Gopalakrishnan, resident of Serene Pushkar by Columbia Pacific Communities.

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The sound of music

August 5, 2019

Categories : Blogs by our residents

Nightingales and cuckoos are well-known and admired for their musical calls. Parrots, European goldfinch, American Robin birds, sparrows, peacocks and many other birds call out in soulful and musical notes. It has been scientifically proven that cows produce more milk when exposed to melodious music. It is also found that music stimulates the brains of birds, animals and man, alike.   The frogs croaking by the pond-side at night have a rhyme and rhythm, and so do the crickets and bumblebees. The constant whining of the mosquitoes may be annoying to our ears, but for them, it is a musical communication, informing each other of the availability of fresh human blood to be syringed out! However, if they “sing” into the ears of a musician, he may take it as a musical challenge posed to him by the mosquitoes. While people find an elephant orchestra amusing, it is believed that the elephants themselves find it calming and derive happiness from it.   Indian botanist Dr Jagdish Chandra Bose has scientifically established the fact that melodious music stimulates the growth of plants while violent music and sudden loud noise stunt their growth. In 1961 students and faculty at Annamalai University studied the effect of music on paddy fields. They found out that the fields exposed to Nagaswaram music of Rajaratnam Pillai every morning over a period of four months grew faster and better. There is a need to apply the melodious music therapy forward in various fields of human life.   Melodious music, whether it is eastern or western, has its effects and needs to be enjoyed within.   Non-melodious music, which is too noisy and uncomfortable, particularly to senior citizens, is preferred by youngsters. In a recent turn of events, researchers from Denmark have made a detailed comparative study of the melodious and non-melodious music and published a report on the effect of music on the protein chains of Amygdaloid bodies of the human brain and DNA changes. The damaging effects of non-melodious music are well brought out in that study.   Music is now being used for therapeutic purposes. Special children such as the ones affected by Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy or autism (to a mild extent) have shown improvement when exposed to Indian melodious music. So, it makes me wonder if we can use this therapy to bring about a positive change in criminals or terrorists? Can we use music in operation theatres, especially in pediatric clinics, to ease the tense atmosphere? Or perhaps to cure psychosomatic diseases particularly in senior citizens who feel lonely?   That’s some food for thought.   This blog post is by Dr Rajaram, resident of Serene Urbana by Columbia Pacific Communities.

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Listening Vs Reading

August 5, 2019

Categories : Blogs by our residents

The well known saying, “knowledge is power,” is true. A knowledgeable man can meet the challenges of life and become more successful. There are two main sources of gaining knowledge; one is through listening to informative talk or presentations and the other is reading books. Out of the two, reading books is the most important source. We get only a limited opportunity to learn from listening. The information conveyed through a lecture can in no case be as exhaustive as that in a writing.   There are other limitations to learning by listening when compared to learning by reading. Our mind can grasp much faster than we can speak; there is always idle time for the mind while the spoken words get imprinted on it during which the mind wanders. In other words, other alien thoughts pass through our mind which affects the concentration of the mind on the spoken words.   Another snag in listening is that we judge the ideas conveyed by the speaker while listening; this process is called “scheming”. While we scheme, we miss out on what the speaker is communicating. Our attention to the talk also depends upon how interesting the speaker’s presentation is. Even in the case of a sincere listener, it is difficult to hold his attention too long as boredom and other distractions tend to creep in.   When listening, the listener’s role is generally more passive, unless he tries to put himself in the position of a speaker, with empathy, which is a rare skill. When reading, one can adjust to the comfortable pause of reading. While reading, the time is his own. He can reflect on what he reads. Reading allows us to exercise our brain more intensely than listening can permit. It is within our control to keep the reading environment calm. While reading, our mind is in a deep state of concentration, the state of which soothes our mind and keeps us calm and composed, like we experience in meditation.   Reading activates our neural system and slows down the decline of memory due to the ageing process. It also enables us to organise information logically and cultivate patience. The information gathered through systematic reading gets embedded deeply and more clearly in our brain than information stored through listening. It is only through sustained reading habit that one can develop true scholarship.   However, with the advent of computers and the internet, reading has taken a backseat. At this rate, reading will soon become extinct and the material progress of mankind may reverse. The need of the hour is to restore this invaluable human ability by facilitating book reading sessions followed by discussions. Libraries, in particular, should organise such programmes periodically. Along with promoting reading skills, writing habit should also be promoted.   This blog post is by Dr A. Sreekumar Menon, resident of Serene Urbana by Columbia Pacific Community.

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Interesting facts on Cricket

August 5, 2019

Categories : Blogs by our residents

Although the World Cup is over, the cricket fever is still on! For lovers of the game, here are a bunch of interesting facts that are hard to believe.   1.Sachin Tendulkar played for Pakistan before India Sachin Tendulkar played for Pakistan before making his debut for India. During a practice match between the arch-rivals at the Brabourne Stadium in 1987, Tendulkar was a substitute fielder for Pakistan.   2. Sanath Jayasuriya has more ODI wickets than Shane Warne Believe it or not, Sanath Jayasuriya has taken more ODI wickets than Shane Warne. While the left-arm Sri Lankan all-rounder has claimed 323 wickets in 445 ODIs, the legendary Australian spinner has taken 293 wickets in 194 matches.   3. Inzamam-ul-Haq claimed a wicket on the first ball he bowled in ODIs Former Pakistani skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq has a unique record of claiming a wicket on the very first ball he bowled in ODIs. On November 24, 1991, he got the wicket of West Indian great Brian Lara at Iqbal Stadium in Faisalabad. Lara left the crease after offering a catch to wicket-keeper Moin Khan.   4. Peter Siddle – the only bowler to take a hat-trick on his birthday Australia’s Peter Siddle is the only bowler in the history of cricket to take a hat-trick on his birthday. He did so during a Test match against England at Brisbane on November 25, 2010.   5. Mahela Jayawardene – the only batsman to score a century in WC semi-final, final Mahela Jayawardene is the only batsman to score a century in a World Cup semi-final and final. The former Sri Lankan captain scored a 109-ball 115 against New Zealand in 2007 World Cup semi-final and hit a 88-ball unbeaten 103 against India in the final of 2011 World Cup.   6. Wasim Akram’s highest score in Test cricket is higher than Sachin Tendulkar’s Legendary Pakistani pacer Wasim Akram’s highest score in Test cricket is 257. On October 20, 1996, Akram scored an unbeaten 257 against Zimbabwe at Sheikhupura. It is also the highest score by a number eight batsman. On the other hand, Sachin’s highest score in the longest version of the game is an unbeaten 248. The Indian maestro scored a double century against hosts Bangladesh at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka in December 2004.   7.Courtney Walsh remained unbeaten maximum number of times It is a fact. Walsh, the former West Indian fast bowler, played 132 Tests. In 185 innings, he scored just 936 runs at an average of 7.54. However, he remained unbeaten 61 times and his top score was an unbeaten 30 (against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on December 24, 1988).   8. Richard Stokes witnessed Jim Laker, Anil Kumble taking 10 wickets Richard Stokes watched only two Tests in his life. At the age of 10, he witnessed Jim Laker taking all 10 wickets against Australia at Old Trafford in 1956. Forty-three years later, he was at the Feroze Shah Kotla ground in Delhi where Anil Kumble took all the 10 wickets against Pakistan.   9. Leslie Hylton is the only cricketer to be hanged for murder Former West Indian pacer Leslie Hylton, who claimed 16 wickets in 6 Tests at an average of 26.12, is the only Test cricketer to be hanged. He was hanged on May 17, 1955 in Jamaica on charges of murdering his wife.   10. Vinod Kambli’s Test average is better than Sachin’s. Kambli scored 1084 runs in 17 Tests at an average of 54.20, while his childhood friend Sachin Tendulkar scored 15,921 runs in 200 matches at an average of 53.78.   11. Chris Gayle is the only batsman to hit a six off the first ball of a Test West Indian opener Chris Gayle is the only player in the history of cricket who hit a six off the very first ball of a Test match. The hard-hitting Caribbean batsman achieved this feat against Bangladesh at Mirpur in 2012. The bowler was debutant off-spinner Sohag Gazi.   12. MS Dhoni has not scored a century outside Asia Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the holder of many records. One of them is that he has not scored a century outside Asia. Mahi has scored six Test centuries and ten ODI tons, but all of them are scored in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.   13. Lala Amarnath is the only bowler to dismiss Bradman hit wicket Amazing! Lala Amarnath holds the unique distinction of being the only bowler in the history of Test cricket to dismiss Sir Don Bradman courtesy of a hit-wicket. It happened at Brisbane in 1948.   12. Gavaskar was out off the first ball of a Test match thrice Sunil Gavaskar, the former Indian skipper and the first man to score 10,000 Test runs, was dismissed first ball of a match thrice. Gavaskar was out to Geoff Arnold at Edgbaston in 1974, to Malcom Marshall at Kolkata in 1983 and to Imran Khan at Jaipur in 1986. Interestingly, Sunny shares this unique record with Conrade Hunte, Chris Gayle, Sanath Jayasuriya – who were dismissed for zero on the very first ball of a match three times.   13. Sir Donald Bradman hit only 6 Sixes Legendary Australian batsman Sir Don Bradman hit just six sixers in his entire career. Sir Don hit five sixes against England and one against India. Apart from hitting two fives in his career, he smashed 618 fours in Test cricket.   This blog post is by Dr A Sankaranarayanan, resident of Serene Adinath by Columbia Pacific Communities.

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