Friday, December 16

International Widows Day

Today is international widows day. Not as fun as pancake day or Father's Day but I've seen these women in the ashrams in India. I used to think they are wraiths. Drifting silently through life. Desperate for anybody to show them the slightest bit of attention.

Celebrate this day, reach out or write to somebody who is starved for attention. Give them a kiss and cuddle.

As the old quote goes, old people need very little but they need that little so much.

Kannu, I have to say that I'm very proud of you for spending time with Dadu. For every sentence you write to him, he devours it 10 times, tells his friends 20 times and remembers it 50 times. When you're that old, he's 81, he can see you as his progeny. Something he has had a little hand in. His degrees. His work. His house are all immaterial. He looks at you and Diya and loves you. That's wonderful. And the golden rule applies. The fact that you are spending time with your grandfather means that you will not lack for affection when it's your turn. Keep it up son, keep huggin and kissing and loving and talking. Diya is a bit young but I can see she's also like that.

Unlike these widows who need help. Affection more like it. One day I'll take you kids to the towns next to the Ganges and we will see the real India.

Wednesday, December 14

Everyone wants to be happy. Almost everyone is going about it wrong.k


Here's an interesting article on how people are responding to their desire to be happy. What it boils down to is that you cannot expect to be happy all the time, material possessions cannot give you happiness, problems do not come and go quickly, everything cannot be perfect, stability is happiness and what your parents say / do is equal to happiness. 

That made me think. I am generally a happy bunny as you would have noticed. Not least because of you two wonderful lovely kids. Even though I keep on saying that you are gadha and lirbire, that's teasing, you two are the biggest reasons for my happiness every day. I hug and kiss you simply because you are lovely, warm, nice, wonderful children. You are happy so that makes me happy. I make Mamma unhappy but that's because I dont listen to her, snore at night and act like a gadha as well :). 

But how do I stack up given the below? So i dont think i am happy when "something happens" and no, Im happy generally because of various factors. So that's at variance with the below. Material possessions cannot give me happiness is right, not really that much interested in material possessions - maybe other than books but they do get consumed and read and digested and and and. And no, problems dont come and go quickly - some problems i have handled all through my life, like my knee or Dadu's illness/health or the charity issues. And no, my life isnt stable, despite all the efforts of Mamma, workwise its always moving around and there is a heavy risk of insecurity / my job going, etc. etc. 

But the last point is important, kids. What makes me or Mamma happy is not what will fit you nor should it. You have to come up with your own reasons to be happy kids :). You can, of course, learn from us but never take our limitations for yourself, kids. Be happy :) dream big, fail, deal with problems, but be happy :) 



Vox - All
Everyone wants to be happy. Almost everyone is going about it wrong. 
Jun 2nd 2015, 12:00, by Sherry Amatenstein

As a therapist, the number-one goal I hear from my patients is: "I just want to be happy." I ask, "What would being happy mean to you?" The answers range from "Everything I wish for will happen" to "I will feel good all the time" to "I won't ever feel sad or disappointed."
These patients are deeply misguided: believing that bliss is a permanent, attainable state is both unrealistic and emotionally dangerous. Awful things occur that we cannot control, and that will and should at least temporarily affect how we feel.
My happiness-seeking patients are also, sadly, doomed to fail. It's a time-worn paradox: the more you obsess over whether you are happy or happy enough, the unhappier you are. As I've witnessed from years of counseling patients, contentment emerges as a byproduct of a good life, not from the pursuit of it being your life's purpose.
Here are some of the most common myths my patients believe about happiness — and how I help my patients move past them.
1) They keep saying, "I'll be happy when..."
When Philip (all patients' names are changed) began therapy, his heartfelt belief was it would be impossible to enjoy life until achieving X goal. After achieving X goal, there'd be a brief spike of joy before he sank back into gloom, anxiety, and self-doubt. So he'd set Y goal, hoping the elusive happiness he longed for would follow.
More on mental health

9 things I wish people understood about anxiety
Grief is powerful. Here are 6 lessons survivors learn from tragedy.
The secrets of depression
As we worked together, Philip came to realize his hypercritical father, an acclaimed heart surgeon, had drummed into his head that he wasn't worthy of being accepted and loved unless he did great things. Philip told me, "Growing up, getting a single or double in Little League wasn't enough. According to my dad I had to hit a home run to deserve to feel proud and happy."
Philip was able to call his now-retired father and say that these impossible standards had left him unable to enjoy life. After this conversation, Philip told me, "Dad was mortified. He said he'd always been proud of me but he raised me the way his father raised him."
Nowadays Philip is able to choose goals he wants rather than ones he desperately needs to reach. "Since how I feel about myself isn't dependent on whether or not I publish a novel or get a skydiving certificate, I can enjoy the ups and downs along the way."
2) They believe problems should come and go quickly

Tuesday, December 13

How inequality changes marriage

This was a fascinating article son. One of the good articles on how families will evolve. At least in USA. And I see no reason why this will not happen in other countries as the underlying dynamics remain the same despite differences in minorities, religion etc etc.  
But this gap is somewhat worrying. If the top decile (by socio economic status) is the only group which will remain married while other groups do not get married or don't want to get married, then we have a problem. The political and economic elite is drawn from the top decile. And they will draw up rules based upon their own backgrounds. 
I found the finding that it's the most highly educated and highly remunerated women who like to be married. 
No question that one should find a spouse in uni and stick with her/him. All studies push that. But what about others? Women who cannot get suitable men? The men are randy old goats true, hooking up all over the place. The direction seems to be that they will not look for men but invest in happiness for themselves by educating themselves more, investing more in themselves and men become pretty much optional. 
Obviously this has economic and sociological and political implications. Much to ponder on son. 
Like the cat which attended my lecture today. She sat there all through the lecture and patiently listened to me although sometimes got distracted by my pacing around and licked her paws. Which was more than what I can say for my students who were trying to understand ARIMA time series modelling :)
Fun times. 

How inequality changes marriage – June Carbone and Naomi Cahn – Aeon
(via Instapaper)

We’re both happily married law professors who followed the same trajectory. We graduated from college, became established in our professions, got married, and had children. Our children and most of our friends have followed the same pattern. Our family experiences might be typical of the college-educated professionals around us – but not at all typical for large segments of the American public.
In the middle of the 20th century, during a period of more widely shared prosperity, almost everyone in the United States married. There were some differences. African-American women were a bit more likely to marry and at younger ages than white women, and college graduates were a bit less likely to marry than high-school graduates. But the similarities across class lines were striking. The age of marriage dropped in the generation after the Second World War, across the spectrum. For all Americans, divorce rates and non-marital birth rates were low, children overwhelmingly grew up in two-parent families, and white- and blue-collar couples alike wanted three to four children.
Like marriage age and divorce rates and ideal family size, family law in the post-war decades grew increasingly national. The US Supreme Court insisted that states modernise their treatment of unmarried fathers, women gained more equal rights and, in 1970 with the support of President Richard Nixon, the US Congress voted on a bipartisan basis to fund contraception access. Throughout the US, family life had a certain consistency.

Monday, December 12

Top 10 Quotes from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince

So I was dressing up today and while putting on the belt, I thought that my life till now has been on two stages, notches on the bed post in the dim and distant past and now notches on my belt. Maybe the last stage for me would me to become a notch. :) 
It was good to have both of you at home at the same time. The house feels full and happy and joyful and lived in even if you two are sleeping in strange places due to the fitting to happen in kannus bedroom today. 
Which brings me to this lovely set of quotes from one of my favourite books, The Little Prince. Kannu, you had this book as an 18th birthday gift. Do read it if / when you get a chance. It's a book at so many levels. On the face of it it's a children's book but below that is a story that rings true kids. It was written right after the Second World War which remains the most destructive event in human history. People try to make sense of such unmitigated giant disasters in different ways but this was a brilliant effort. It's the third most translated book in history. 
Lovely lovely book. 
Just wanted to mention about the desert. You haven't been to a desert. Yet. After mountains, deserts are my favourite area. Very unforgiving and brutal, they have a beauty which resembles that of mathematics. Of sculpture. Or of God. A cold awesome beauty that you can only appreciate if you are heavily prepared. And stay absolutely still. 
I'll take you kids to a desert one day. 
Have a lovely day

Top 10 Quotes from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince
(via Instapaper)

To know The Little Prince is to love The Little Prince. For those of us already familiar with Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's great novella, these quotes will be a charming walk down a familiar path. For those as yet unfamiliar with this children's classic, we hope the following quotes will whet your appetite for more. Read. Enjoy. Then let us know which of your favorites we missed!
1. “Once upon a time there was a little prince who lived on a planet hardly any bigger than he was, and who needed a friend.”
2. “I have spent lots of time with grown-ups. I have seen them at close range… which hasn’t much improved my opinion of them.”
3. “I have always loved the desert. You sit down on a sand dune. You see nothing. You hear nothing. And yet something shines, something sings in that silence…”
4. “‘I need to put up with two or three caterpillars if I want to get to know the butterflies.’”
5. “‘Where are the people?’ The little prince finally resumed... ‘It’s a little lonely in the desert...’ ‘It’s also lonely with people,’ said the snake”
6. “‘It’s a question of discipline,’ the little prince told me later on. ‘When you’ve finished washing and dressing each morning, you must tend your planet.’”
7. “Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is exhausting for children to have to provide explanations over and over again.”
8. “‘In those days, I didn't understand anything. I should have judged her according to her actions, not her words. She perfumed my planet and lit up my life. I should never have run away!’”
9. “Language is the source of misunderstandings.”
10. “Here is my secret. It’s quite simple: One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”
And, although not from The Little Prince, here are two other Antoine de Saint-Exupéry quotes that we just had to include:
“Tell me who admires and loves you, and I will tell you who you are.”
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”
Enthusiast of modern and classic literature who loves transforming obscure topics into interesting reads. Writer, editor, and researcher extraordinaire. Dynamo and Chief Hakuna Matata Officer.

Sunday, December 11

The invention of the paper bag was a triumph of feminism – Hadley Hall Meares | Aeon Ideas

Given how you love tinkering with things and helping me with DIY, I thought you'd appreciate this story of this lady invented a machine which will make a brown paper bag. 
She wasn't educated and in an age where women were really not considered equal to a man, she kept on inventing and fighting for her rights. This is so creditable. 
When I see you doing your homework so diligently, I love it. It makes me feel so happy and proud of you. That is a very good quality to have, choti. To keep plugging away at your task till it's done to your best ability. 
Just a small suggestion darling. Read more. You already do this and that's very good. Broaden your reading. Read other things. I know homework is important but you've got to broaden your reading. It will be good for you. Read about plants. Read about bricks. Read about dolly the sheep. Read about philosophy. 
You have to select your gcse subjects this year in a matter of weeks. Have you read the Wikipedia articles on those subjects? Have you read about what kind of jobs you can do there and the companies you can work for? Heck, what kind of companies you can run! Or setup? 
In investments, you should never buy anything that you don't understand darling. Same with studies and subjects. Have a good understanding of the subjects before you choose them. 
But I'm very proud of you and how wonderfully mature you are. Truly you are everything that a father can ever ask for from his daughter. You're already at the stage that I can see you being hugely successful and happy in your life. The next 5-8 years of your life are going to be crucial and you and I are going to have fun :) 
Love you

The invention of the paper bag was a triumph of feminism – Hadley Hall Meares | Aeon Ideas
(via Instapaper)

We carry stuff in them ­– groceries, clothes, gifts, trash and booze. I carried my lunch to school in one until the fourth grade because my mother would decorate them with stickers and drawings. People add sand and candles to them to illuminate their neighbourhoods at Christmas. Disgruntled sports fans cover their heads with them. But how many people know where the flat-bottomed paper bag came from? Or that its invention was a triumph of feminism over patriarchy, and of brains over bullying?
For most of recorded history, containers were made of leather, wood, cotton and reeds. Paper, made by hand one sheet at a time, was a luxury, used only for books, records and letters by the literate few. In 1799, a French inventor named Louis-Nicolas Robert was granted a patent for a machine that produced rolls of paper. This invention brought paper to the masses. Soon, merchants were using rolled paper, or 'cornucopias', to package small quantities of goods, with predictably messy results. They also constructed rudimentary paper bags by hand, which was a time-consuming and not always successful process.
The race was on to produce a paper bag that was both sturdy and easy to make. In 1852, the American Francis Wolle received the first patent for a paper-bag machine. It used steam and paste to create bags in the shape of envelopes. Though the machine became popular, the bags it produced were cumbersome and of limited use – picture a load of groceries in a large envelope-shaped sack. Still, they were better than nothing at all, and factories producing the bags multiplied. In the late 1860s, Margaret Knight, a tall, endlessly inquisitive and hard-working New Englander, went to work for the Columbia Paper Bag Company in Springfield, Massachusetts. Within a few years, her ingenious designs would revolutionise the industry.