Saturday, July 30, 2022

hands-not-free

i have this strange problem: i try to minimize the amount of distance i need to walk when i'm trying to get stuff done at home. whenever i'm passing through a room, i think of all the things i need to do, and pick up the involved items. 

sometimes i forget what i'm actually supposed to do though. a couple of days last week i spent 6 hours with dirty socks in my pocket: i was supposed to deposit them in the laundry basket, but i completely forgot - i passed the laundry basket twice, and only remembered when i was trying to get something else out of my pocket and grabbed my socks instead. it took me longer to recall what i was trying to do with those socks than it would have to walk to the laundry basket and drop them in!

other times, i end up with too many things in my hands, and as a result, i need to do everything slowly, sometimes even depositing things on the floor and moving them bit by bit as i pass each room where i need to put them away.

worst of all though is when i have so many things in my hands that i attempt to do the wrong thing with the wrong object. in fact that's what inspired this post: I was leaving office, trying to get my coffee mug to the sink (to wash and put away), water bottle to put away, access card (which had the keys to my locker), motorbike keys, banana and orange peels (which I had eaten at my desk), and phone (to check for traffic). end resut: i almost tossed my phone into the bin instead of the peels.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

the refugee crisis

i was in a small shelter. shelter was barely appropriate term to call it: it was more like the dilapidated, crumbling remains of a shelter. it measured barely 12 by 6 feet, and the roof, if one could call it that, was just haphazardly placed sheets of wood/plastic. light filtered in from a couple of openings - these seemed to be collapsed window frames which had been propped up with stones/rubble. i peered out of the nearest one: in contrast to the dim insides of this shelter the sun was blazing bright outside. however, this shelter was adjacent to another similarly dilapidated one, and both of these shared a wall with a taller building, in a similar state. the other side was barely a couple of feet away from another building in a similarly bad state. between the two shelters, there was rubble and scrap planks of wood.

the air outside was still and there was no sign of movement or other people.

i shifted my attention back to the shelter i was in, and looked past the collapsed timber beams to the other side. a woman sat there, her back to the wall, an infant in her lap. she was trying to rock the infant to sleep, humming what might have been a lullaby, and the infant didn't make a sound or move, so it might very well have been asleep. the woman was dressed in tatters, and didn't look like she had bathed in a while.

the air was still and i felt trapped, even claustrophpobic in this tiny space.

I then realized that there was, in fact, a dark passage leading into the building this shelter shared a wall with. i was barely able to see into it, but it was just a few feet long and ended with a door. I tried the door, and it opened into a bright room.

I was back in my parents' apartment!

I closed the door behind me, and thought about what was back there. in a moment, mom (she must have heard the door) walked into the room from the kitchen and asked me how I was.

I told her there was a lady and child in a small room behind that door.

she told me they're refugees.

that's when I woke up.

Monday, July 18, 2022

retribution or support?

I happened to comment on a post about "mansplaining", asking if there's anything a man could comment there without being dismissed as an instance of mansplaining.

The amount of negativity a man earns by just virtue of being a man is... overwhelming.

I wonder, would it be easier to make the world a better place for women if every conversation about issues that primarily affect women would not be so overwhelmingly targetted against men (as opposed to the problematic behaviour itself, even if that behaviour is exhibited by the majority of men)? In other words, if a man chooses to try to make a difference (which every man should!), would it be more productive to offer retribution for the rest of his ilk and his/their past behaviour, or support?

And if it's not clear if a man actually exhibits the behaviour being discussed, would it be more productive to give the man the benefit of the doubt before coming to that conclusion? Or does the generalization make things easier to discuss, and making a few men feel bad for no fault of their own acceptable collateral damage?

The responses to the comment led me to conclude a few things:

  • Mainsplaining is so common that many women do not feel the need to quallify their statement about men
  • Mansplaining is so common that some (many?) women do not even realize it - they simply assume men know more
  • Most men and women fundamentally disagree when it comes to "can we talk about a problem without trying to solve it?"
  • The women involved consider "shut up if it doesn't refer to yourself" as a valid approach to take. It appears the men involved (myself included) do not. Is that because we're muddying the waters? Is that because the majority of men who'd comment on such a post are the ones who are either not guilty or blind to their faults?
  • When men do the gender-neurtal equivalent of mansplaining to other men, they are simply branded condescending (or, as one man would say to another: a dick). And it happens a lot, and men either ignore it or call it out and move on.
  • I need to stop taking claims about "men" personally, as I would be as guilty of inflicting collateral damage on women who have been at the receiving end of this sort of behaviour far too often for far too long.
I have not concluded whether retribution or support is the most productive line to take though. It's unlikely I will be able to make that decision.

Friday, July 15, 2022

toilet humour

 dad loved toilet humour. and some of it barely even qualifies as humour 😁

i remembered one of his favourite "jokes" today (you can imagine the situation that reminded me of it - I won't say more):

father, father, i confess
i went to the toilet and made a mess
the paper was thin and my finger went in
father, father, is it a sin?

i have no idea where he got that from. it seemed even more contrived because we don't use toilet paper in India! as a kid, i just assumed he made it up (although I'm now quite sure he didn't).

anyway, to make the rhyme loosely resemble a joke, he tacked on:

and the priest said "no problem, use thicker paper next time" (which I'm quite sure he came up with)

another of his favourite ones was (you might have to say this out loud and quicvkly, possibly more than once, to get it)

"hoof hearted, ice melted"

yeah, frequently I think of that one when i encounter melting ice... or when someone asks the question 😁

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

don't sweat the small stuff

i've always endeavoured to be as "sustainable" with my lifestyles as I can be - I don't know how I ended up like this, but it's obvious why.

the last few years have seen me intensify my focus: not only have I tried to apply this to my own life, but also those around me, and use my social influence to widen my impact as well.

it seems though, that the biggest limiting factor at the moment is myself!

I've concluded that in my focus on trying to squeeze sustainability into every corner of my life, i might have overdone things, and it's limiting my ability to reach others.

a simple example: my insistence on minimizing heating use now has turned it into a bit of a domestic conflict. shruti now seems to view heating as a guilty pleasure instead of something that needs to be used responsibly and appropriately. this is not a productive state to be in.

also, focusing too much on myself and too little on others means I've limited my impact to one person!

it doesn't matter if I only use the car twise a month, when my neighbours use both their cars twice a day, for short journeys (which are the worst of all!)

it doesn't matter if i cycle everywhere, if everyone else thinks cycling is dangerous and i'm some sort of freak (because I probably seem quite a risk-taker to most people, with my motorcycling and all!)

I think a more productive use of my effort would be to talk about how people can make small changes that would make a big impact when many people follow them.

for example: reducing and reusing over recycling and disposing. I think everyone understands the benefits of recycling, but not many seem to realize that recycling is only slightly better than disposing stuff! reducing consumption of any item (whether it's packaging, or the product itself!) beats recycling by miles - as much as 100x depending on the product. it's more sustainable to responsibly drive a 15 year old well-maintained car than a swanky new electric "green" one! making two grocery trips a week on cycle is better than one a week in a fuel-burning vehicle.

but even in the above example, i need to make sure my message isn't an extreme one! consumption does not need to be guilty - it just needs to be as sustainable as it can be. with time, the needle will move, and we will find new ways to improve. there's no point going to extreme extents or trying to convince people to go to extremes, if they cannot sustain it.

anyway, feels like i'm going off on a rant - time to log off and think about how I can help everyone make small changes. good night!

Thursday, June 30, 2022

dead

i was dead.

i was in a house, but it didn't look familiar. the house seemed rural, with its sloped roof, thick walls and old paint job.

i was young.

i can't say how young, but much younger than I am today. not young enough to be a child though.

i was lying on something. it could have been a stretcher, or it could have been a coffin.

dad and kevin were there.

they were pottering about, moving small things around the room, probably setting it in order for the wake.

they didn't really pay much attention to me for some time. at one point, they discussed what would be a suitable location to place me. they decided i should be moved to the other side of the room and face the other way.

once they set me down in my new location, i felt a wave of emotions. it felt like all the emotions i've ever experienced in my life, all layering themselves one on top of the other. this barely took an instant, and before i could even realize what was happening, the layering of emotions was complete - i now felt the sum total of every emotion i've felt in every moment my life.

i felt sad. just slightly sad, but still, sad.

i didn't want to feel sad. i wanted to feel something else.

but then i realized, my life is over. nothing more is going to happen to me. if the sum total of my life is to feel sad, i must feel sad.

i said "i feel sad"

it didn't seem like a spoken voice. more like a transmission of thoughts that had verbal form.

dad and kevin immediately left what they were doing and peered at my face.

one of them (i can't remember who) suggested they video call my cousins.

kevin took his phone and did something with it. a few seconds later, he held the phone with the screen facing me, on a video call. aunt lilian and uncle jude were on the call. i heard kevin ask if gillian was around. they said gillian was next door, playing at the neighbours'.

while they spoke, i thought about what i wanted to say.

i started off wanting to say that everyone should live with no regrets.

i then thought, what else do i want to say? would anyone hear me? would they care? would it matter? is one of my cousins going to take out a notepad and scribble every word? would they be able to keep up? would they get bored after the first few sentences?

and then i thought: it seemed weird that i wanted to say anything at this moment. what could i say now that i haven't said before?

that's when mom walked into the room, looking at me as she walked.

everything - my thoughts, my vision quickly faded to blankness.

and that's when i woke up.

i shook shruti awake and told her i dreamed i was dead.

i told her i feel sad.

Friday, June 10, 2022

pain

it's possible it's selective memory, but this week feels like the first time in my life i'm in this weird sort of general physical pain. it's a pain affecting the upper right quarter of my body, neck down, mid back up all the way along my right arm to my fingertips. the strangest thing about the pain is that i can't do anything to get any relief from it - the pain's about the same whether i'm moving or still, sitting, standing, lying down, stretching, walking, cycling. it's not even unbearable - but it's there.

it's got to a point where it's driving me crazy. i haven't been able to sleep because my entire night is spent finding a lower-pain position. at one point in the middle of last night, i actually got off the bed and sat on the floor, resting my forehead against the bed, because it felt better for a few seconds.

tonight, i'm half considering doing push-ups until i collapse from exhaustion or something like that. either way, it isn't going to end well.

worst of all, this is not the only physical problem i'm enduring at the moment. i stubbed my toe badly on sunday, and it's still painful to walk or put on footwear - but if i stay still for too long, my toe pain subsides and is replaced with stiffness, which isn't great, but is better than pain. so overall, lying in bed means i'm in a lower pain state than out and about. in fact, that's the reason i took monday off sick, and rested for most of tuesday as well - but apparently spending too much time in bed gives me a headache. more pain. sigh.

i'm just going crazy with pain.

so crazy, that i'm half wondering if it's real pain or some sort of phantom pain that i can just self-hypnotize myself into ignoring. but then mom warned me that she once injured her ankle and went to work for 3 days when she was advised to rest - and that ended up with her in bed for 3 months while she recovered. not a pleasant thought for me.

i would also like a massage to know in case that helps, but i don't think i'll be able to get one.

worst of all, here in the UK, one can't just go to a doctor and get oneself seen to. i have to first call up and get an appointment. the line only opens at 8:30am and appointments for the entire day are given out at that point. every attepmt to do so in the past year has been met with the same result: i stay on hold for an hour, and give up. if i immediately call again i get a response saying all the appointments for the day have been given out. the system is so broken i haven't spoken to a doctor in months - it's cure by attiriton. by the time you manage to speak to a doc your problem has gone away. which means i may just have to live in pain.

ps: i also cut my thumb today, but that's not bad. barely even hurts.

hands-not-free

i have this strange problem: i try to minimize the amount of distance i need to walk when i'm trying to get stuff done at home. whenever...