Spirit of Survival


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One winter morning, I entered the service verandah of our home in the wee hours of dawn. I picked up the little footstool which happened to be in the way only to drop it instantaneously. I had felt something cold, pokey and wet. I was too shocked even to shriek. I switched on the lights and examined my fingers which held the stool.

There were a few short, white and thick strands sticking to my hands. I clapped them off and then peered at the stool. Many more white strands were jutting out of its sides. When I felt reassured that no tiny feet were moving, I knocked the stool down to get a better view of the creature. The inner joints of the stool revealed several such white filaments. This time, I dared to bang hard on the outside of the stool to tease out the clinging life. When a few tossed out, a little observation revealed that these white strand-like structures were attached to a miniscule brown bead.

Suddenly, it dawned on me that the creepy creatures were actually ragi sprouts. Only a couple of days ago, I had sunned some ragi on the terrace. The grains had scattered, and some of them had settled in the little nooks and crannies of the inside of the stool which had been left upturned. The stool had later been placed in the service verandah, where it must have come in contact with moisture. Mother Nature had helped the seeds to germinate.

The mystery was solved. I felt extremely relieved and ecstatic to have been a part of this surreal experience. When the family awoke one by one, they were regaled with the tale. Amid much mirth, I recalled one of the earliest stories of Enid Blyton. Amelia Jane, the naughty doll, had strung a few acorns and worn it as a necklace quite to the annoyance of the others in the play area. Once she happened to  drench in the rain. The acorns which soaked up the water started sprouting; shocking the blue-eyed Amelia out of her wits. This was one of my favourite stories and little did I realise that the incident would play out later on in my own life in such an unexpected way.

Once the novelty of the incident wore out, I reflected on it. Sometimes some exotic hybrid varieties of seeds refuse to come to life despite being provided exhaustive, simulated native conditions, but here were these seeds striving to survive against all odds. This is true of people, too. Some people are cushioned by every possible support and luxury in life, but barely manage to turn the corner whereas the ones who have the spirit of life not only survive but also thrive despite everybody and everything!

Outsourcing is the Word


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Everything we ever want is available to us just at a click of a button, well almost everything. The things that cannot be achieved directly by technology can be outsourced for a price tag.

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Science Psyche & Entertainment


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Of late, people have been getting hooked to horror movies and scary TV serials that have made it to the big and small screens like never before. Modern technology has facilitated these pieces of art into spectacular and stunning bits of entertainment.

Creative directors and story writers are taking advantage of this provision. So now we have snakes slithering into the bedrooms, fires emanating from water, lemons morphing into ferocious animals, earth cracking under ones feet, spirits, goblins and ghosts rubbing shoulders with their mortal kin, occult, black magic, voodoo among other things.

Subjects like life after death which was in the realms of theosophy and philosophy have been given a new lease of life by being introduced into the story line. So now we have a series of “murdered characters” flitting about as enraged or morbid souls in finery seeking revenge by entering the bodies of their erstwhile enemies.

For good measure, they also settle other minor scores giving scope for eerie humour. These stories which made the rounds mostly on late night shows have been gaining visibility even during the day. The escalating TRPs are proof of their popularity.

What is more interesting is the fact that modern science has facilitated the access to these unfounded, medieval, dark age stories and belief.

In other words, poppycock nonsense has regained its past glory by the very science that was used to expose it. The most bizarre ideas are translated into the visual medium by intelligent minds who know how to wield the essential equipment. Truth be told, they are doing a splendid job.

On the one hand, this trend speaks of the might of human intelligence which is able to cater just about anything that is demanded of it.

On the other hand, it is a little frightening to know that people who do not exercise their grey cells are lapping up the farfetched stories of another era which were retired as redundant, obsolete and illogical. It is when viewers start attaching value to it beyond the entertainment quotient the trouble begins.

There have been news stories about audience responding to this genre of entertainment in hitherto unheard ways. The first category of people get inspired by what they see. They utilise their limited knowledge and make use of horror to derive some thrill by frightening their friends and enemies out of their wits or skins. The other category is the typical hero worshipping admirers of the subcontinent, who do not mind throwing away their personalities and sometimes even their lives in the name of adoration.

Scientific temperament

They are the naïvetes who start believing and imbibing the various concepts and ideas that are presented to them. They lose track of their scientific temperament and never care to verify the truth before communicating the same to others. It is alarming to know that a large section of population who belong to this category happen to be women and children who may or may not be educated.

It is ironic to note that the very science that was/is used to enlighten the human mind and help it overcome baseless fears, superstitions and beliefs is instrumental in worming into our wisdom.

While there is nothing wrong in using science to aid creativity, one must also curb the tendency to spread irrational thinking in the name of entertainment. The intelligent brains that come up with exotic and innovative ideas must also keep in mind they are indirectly responsible for shaping the minds of their consumers.

They must remember that people like to copy, adulate and emulate what fascinates them. Statutory warnings or censor boards can be inadequate in stemming the possible damage to the human psyche. Hence, it becomes the sacrosanct responsibility of the ingenious ilk to use their expertise judiciously.

Technology has come a long way and shrunk the world beyond imagination. It has made the world closer and sometimes closed as in the present case. Today, more than ever before, we must ensure that the role of science makes a positive impact on modern man’s life.

Science should be  used to open up minds to newer possibilities because it can sustain, empower, help us evolve and emerge as better people or very simply decimate us to being mere mindless zombies who stop living and start existing.

 

With Better Strength and Shine- Vitrifed Tiles


vitrified tileshttp://www.deccanherald.com/content/568168/with-better-strength-amp-shine.html

With its beautiful finishes, low porosity and commendable resistance to heat and water, vitrified tiles can be the perfect flooring option for your abode. Radha Prathi offers some insights

The ultimate idea of a clean floor in our country is when one has cleaned, swept and mopped it with all kinds of chemicals and solutions. We have been following this method for ages without a break, no matter what the kind of flooring is. Natural stone floorings like granite, marble or salt stone have borne the brunt of this harsh routine for a long time. Yet floors made of cement, ceramics, terracotta and certain low-quality mosaics have succumbed to scratches, pockmarks, cracks and even little craters by the sheer result of wear and tear.

This syndrome has proved to be a nightmare for conscientious housekeepers, who take pride in their work. While the building is well designed and has lots of scope for utility, it falls short in such cases, raking up huge maintenance bills. Sometimes, mere poor maintenance of the flooring botches up best-laid plans for a home.

The best solution to the problem will be to replace the flooring with a sustainable option. Now, we have two choices: for those who can afford, they can go in for marble or granite. Both, while costly, are long-lasting and classy. On the other hand, if you have a smaller budget, but do not have the heart to completely uproot the foundation, relaying the floor is another option. Don’t worry: relaying the tiles won’t pinch your pockets.

Reworking aesthetically

We live in the age of vitrified tiles. These beautiful tiles which come in all shapes, sizes, colours have become the builder’s pet and with reason too. They are man-made ceramic tiles endowed with great strength, low porosity and come with great resistance to scratches, heat, water and even frost. They come with glazed and matte finish for both indoor and outdoor uses.

Laying these beautiful tiles on your own is no big deal as most dealers who sell tiles also sell the requisite cement, adhesive, polish and acid necessary for the laying activity. Some of them also have trained tile layers who can lay tiles in an eight square premises within eight to 10 hours.

Yet the challenge lies in reworking on existing premises. If one can manage it, it will be in the best interest of the building in the long run to remove the present flooring completely, put a layer of cement over it and then lay the said tiles according to the instructions. This method can prove to be very cumbersome, a little expensive and time consuming though the results will be spectacular.

The other way to lay these tiles is to lay them over your present flooring. Many people all over the world have experimented with this idea and have arrived at different conclusions. While some of them have considered their effort to have been successes, others have cursed the day when they decided to go in for this particular method. If the tiles are not laid properly, they can make the floor uneven. Over a period of time, the gap between the tiles could open up to moisture. And when we mop the floor on a daily basis, lots of moisture gets accumulated in such gaps. Then we can do nothing much about it except rework on the entire flooring.

As in all things, if we follow the prescribed procedure properly, chances of disappointment can be non-existent. If you are one of those people who choose the easier but trickier option, you will do well to go to a professional for such things.

Starter tips

But if you are doing it on your own, here are some helpful pointers:

* First of all, remove all the doors in your facility, because the floor level will rise when the vitrified tiles are overlaid on them. They can be refit at the end of the exercise. You will need to get a carpenter to saw the extra wood towards the bottom of the door. This will ensure the door will fit perfectly with the new height of the floor.

* If the existing floor has developed a crack, check its strength and piece them together with cement. In other words, make sure that your flooring is even.

* Clean the floor thoroughly and keep it free of dust, paint, oil etc, before applying the chemical adhesive to the floor.

* To avoid wasting the adhesive, make sure it is mixed in small proportions. Never make the mistake of using the leftover adhesive of the previous batch while mixing a new batch. However wet or fresh it may be, never mix the old and the new because it is this little bit of thriftiness which will lead to lumping which will in turn make the flooring jagged in the long run.

* Even out the adhesive so that it covers all the borders of the tile. Remember, unevenness is either due to excess of the adhesive or a lack of the same.

* Ensure that you double check the direction of the arrow to gain the visualised pattern before laying the tile. Just in case you make a mistake, remove the tile immediately and scoop out the adhesive. Allow the place to dry and then scrape out the remaining adhesive before reworking. This kind of mistake may stop your work for a couple of hours, but doing the square thing will prove to be a stitch in time.

* Once the tiles are laid, make sure that you do not place anything heavy over them or walk over them for the next six to eight hours. If walking on them is unavoidable, ensure you walk on them only after four hours and only step on the centre portion of the stones. If you want to use the passage earlier than that time period, it will be best to relay the tile as described earlier. There is really no point in being penny wise, pound foolish.

* The following day, the hairline gaps should be packed neatly and carefully with white cement putty. Remember to wipe the floor clean with a wet mop only after 12 hours.

* Inspect the borders of the tiles with your toes. If it happens to be seamless, you have accomplished your mission, if not, nothing is lost.

* Your dealer will hire out a buffing machine which can correct small aberrations when used by an expert user.

* Once the buffing is done, go through the white cement exercise.

* Since most vitrified tiles come polished, there is no need to polish them all over again.

* A light acid wash can be implemented if the floor has been soiled. Please consult the tile dealer before taking a call.

So, are you ready to say hello to fabulous vitrified tiles now?

With Renewed Zest


 

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cared for Smiling faces at Nightingales Elders Enrichment Centre, Bengaluru;

It is said that a well meaning gift given with warmth has the penchant to grow on you.  Namma Bengaluru received one such Christmas gift in circa 1999. Dr Radha Murthy realized the need for Home Health Services when she had to straddle between tending to her sick husband and attend to her thriving medical career. She decided to take a leaf off her personal necessity to provide a common ground for the aging people of our metropolis. Mr Prem Kumar Raja joined hands with her towards this noble cause and Nightingale Elder Enrichment Center –NEEC was born.

This nonprofit organization was very focused about its approach towards eldercare not to be misinterpreted as an old age home. On the one hand NEEC decided to provide home healthcare facilities where warranted and on the other hand they decided to redeem the elderly from ennui and detrimental preoccupations. A group of earnest volunteers who chose to support the idea worked hard on the concept and decided that they would steer clear from the club culture. As a result, NEEC is doing a splendid job in joining hands with loving families who are constantly on the lookout to keep the elders of their homes entertained, socially involved. The organisation sometimes takes up the responsibility of taking care of them if the family is away on a vacation or is unable to take care of a convalescing senior citizen for some reason.  Nevertheless, its main focus revolves around making it an elevating experience for the elderly on a day to day basis.

What started as a pilot venture in Malleswaram (1999) has blossomed as a vibrant teenager, all of sixteen years with aged members who can give a stiff competition to real life teenagers in terms of verve and a zeal for life. Members meet just about on all working days, sometimes twice a day, not merely to hobnob but to participate in the various activities charted out for them. They listen to varied genres of music, share their thoughts and cast their rebuttals when they listen to lectures on a spectrum of subjects from experts, have chat sessions on happenings around the world, play a round of carom or chess, work on crafts and projects, exercise themselves through Yoga or Tai Chi, bounce a ball around besides sharing their experiences and concerns with one another.

Celebration of Raksha Bandhan, Diwali and Pongal help to bring out the integrated flavour of the festivals including the special features across India. Celebrations of birthdays and wedding anniversaries pep up the elders to have fun with their peer group. An occasional picnic, movie or a play, rejuvenate them to tackle with routine life with renewed vigour. Attending a wedding or a function together help them bond better. Comforting fellow members and their families during illnesses and consoling them when in bereavement improve their empathy factor.

Vasantha Murthy, retired principal of Government college in Andhra Pradesh, says, “Ever since I joined nightingales, 16 years ago, it has been a great support for me emotionally.  I have had many downfalls but the fact that I am what I am today is because of Nightingales.  The physical space or the ambience may not be attractive but sharing our feelings and nostalgic moments with people of my generation makes me feel good.”

Shaila Shanker, one of the center managers say that her hands are always full and happily so when she is working for NEEC for she ends up learning so many things even while casually chatting up the members.

The fact that many of them have been able to overcome depression and detrimental diseases like Dementia and Alzheimers almost as a side effect of their enriching exposure speaks in volumes about the success of NEEC.

Constant additions of branches speaks in volumes about the validity of its existence. Kasturi Nagar welcomed NEEC with open arms in 2000 and Sanjay Nagar refused to be left behind and started   its own branch in 2013. Each branch has its own flavour, favourite pastimes and friends’ groups who manage and run the center on a very modest monthly contribution of Rs 250.

NEEC has so much to offer, yet is finding it difficult to cope with the rising demand for trained caretakers. A mix of locals and relocated senior citizens happens to be another challenge because there are so few centers and too many takers. Lack of space, accessibility and mobility has thrown in a wet towel to a promising initiative.

The need of the hour is to encourage the elders in the house to go out and interact with people who belong to their age group. This exercise will help them let off steam, exchange and compare notes, enjoy and help one another, and most of all make them realize the constraints of the changing world. NEEC has made all this possible, if we expect the yeoman services blossom and continue to spread its good work we must address the need of the hour. Hear Ye! Hear all! We need trained care givers and dedicated volunteers to run the show, and yes some space please!
For more details, visit http://www.nightingaleseldercare.com or call 080-42426565.

Deconstructing Clever Signs


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Radha Prathi, Aug 14, 2016,

Reflections

The smart man had zeroed in on the real culprits who could be blamed for the inflation.

The written word has a charm of its own. It is not merely what is available on the Internet and in media and books. Sign posts, menu cards, brochures, pamphlets and billboards, bloopers and unintended puns have the power to lighten many a heart with their original content and humour. However, I would like to dwell on another genre of writing that has grabbed my attention on and off. Though I have come across many such nuggets, the following take the cake…

A Xerox shop had put up a new price list. Alongside was another sheet of paper that read, ‘We are not responsible for the pricing. If you have any complaints, please approach the CM or PM.’ The smart man had zeroed in on the real culprits who could be blamed for the inflation. The writing on the wall discreetly encouraged the customer to give the matter some thought while discouraging the potential customer from questioning the cost.

Then there was this message on a sheet of paper stuck on the front glass of a large car: ‘Kindly park your car properly or we will punkcher your tyre.’ The car was not moved. Overnight there was an addendum to the note: ‘I mean puncture,’ in block letters. I could sense the despair of the scribe who felt that there was no response to the memo because he had misspelt his threat. I also observed the change in the use of the first-person pronoun from plural to singular. In the coming days, the car was parked ‘properly’, without inviting more such nag notes.

Another time, a sheet of paper stuck on the elevator door read, ‘Please don’t press 2, dead end.’ I could not figure out the import. A staff member explained that the general entrance to the second floor had been sealed off because it had an internal lift that connected the first and the second floors. Therefore, if people did stop at the second floor, the door, which was still operable, would open to a wall that sealed the entrance. I understood the good intention and the dark humour behind the cautionary words.

I cannot forget another such piece of writing taped over a young neem tree. ‘You will not prosper if you use the leaves of this tree.’ According to the grapevine, the sapling had been planted by a green enthusiast only the previous year. The locals had helped themselves to every leaf that sprouted, for medicinal purposes. The tree had survived the onslaught and had unfurled its green umbrella the following spring. It was Ugadi and there was every chance of the neighbours stripping the sapling to its scrawny branches, hence the warning. The tree lover had cashed in on the power of curse to play mind games on the people who may be tempted to relieve the tree of its leaves.

These and many such memoranda that are laced with humour happen to be insightful. They reflect the genuine intent to communicate effectively and honestly. They mirror the feelings of disgust, anxiety or disapproval. They also testify the fact that the scribes of these notes have possibly failed to express their thoughts orally. They could have been timid, may have wanted to avoid open confrontation resulting in embarrassment or unpleasantness, or, they may have believed more in the power of the written word. Yet, the fact remains that they are generally put up with the expectation of seeing desired results. Oftentimes, these gems of prudence are written in English, albeit with some creative liberties taken with the Queen’s language, with the hope of reaching out to a larger number of people.

If it has not been already done, these cryptic notes can be compiled, analysed and studied. They will throw light on the human mindset, lifestyle, and thought processes of our contemporary society.

Memory games to Jog Your Brains


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Simple memory games and word building activities can help senior citizens stay mentally alert and challenged. Radha Prathi works with senior members at Nightingale’s Elders Enrichment Centre at Sanjay Nagar and writes about simple mental exercises for seniors.

As people grow older, memory often starts failing them and so do their motor skills. Medical science has proved that it is possible to prevent Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease if we keep our brains exercised on a regular basis. While physical exercise helps the body, a daily dose of Sudoku or Crossword can do the needful for the mind. However not everyone can play these games for various reasons. They may simply not have the taste or knack for it, or may not be equipped with enough language or mathematical skills to play the same. Similarly, one may not have enough stamina or a conducive health condition to keep their hands flexible. Here are a few ideas to help the grey cells to exercise and to hone your motor skills while resting in an arm chair.

Word Building

Word Building is one of the oldest and commonest ways to learning words and their spellings. It also serves as a test of memory when played in large groups, because if a word is repeated then it will result in loss of points for the player. Usually, this activity needs at least two people to keep the game going and a little tweak can be added to it. It can be played in the written form, where you have to form a word chain on the principles of word building within a given time span. At the end of the session the chains could be evaluated by a friend or a member of the family in terms of rules, spelling and repetitions. The word chain could break at any point of time rendering the player with points as long as he/she maintains the chain. Keeping a score of the chains will see your points increasing magically over a period of time.

Family Tree

Sometimes family and friends may find it difficult to appreciate your oft repeated stories retold with great gusto. Nevertheless, they will be happy if you document the same stories for posterity and for the the extended family that is usually scattered across the globe these days. Jog your memory, take it back as far as you can and design a family tree. Pepper the characters with one or two well known anecdotes to make the person come alive. The exercise will involve getting in touch with people for procuring photographs, sharing memories and insights. This delightful project can not only help you spend your time in a pleasurable way but will also leave you with a sense of fulfillment for having done something productive. If you are computer savvy key in the details. If not, it is never too late to learn. S Thiagarajan, a veteran photographer featured in Silver Talkies, is creating his Family Tree at 97! You can too!

Atlas

Make a list of all the places that you have lived in or visited right from the day you were born. Rummage your shelf for the atlas you had stowed away. Get hold of an outline map of our country or the world based on the region of your travel. Trace the journey of your life. If you want, you can make brief notes about the place and your personal impressions and memories associated with the place. It would turn out to be a fun exercise and you can involve your grandchildren too!

Thematic Vocabulary

Buy a nice new notebook. Write out a theme on alternate pages. The themes could be listing out fruits, vegetables, animals, birds, places, metals, colours, professions, subjects, and language or for that matter anything under the sun. Then jot down the names that come to your mind. Initially, you might be able to fill a few lines immediately. The challenge begins only when you start trying to recollect all those other words stored in the backburner of your memory. The same Thematic vocabulary can be converted into a multilingual task. This game can prove to be a reality check of finding out how many equivalents you know for Okra or Butterfly!

Name, Place, Animal, Thing

The game called Name, Place, Animal, Thing, which filled you with joy as a kid is perfectly capable of unfolding its magic once again. Play it with your gang of friends, correct each other’s books and have fun all over again. Just in case you have forgotten the rules of the game you can consult children in and around your home. Yes, children of Gen X also play this game occasionally.

Note down new words in a journal every day. Photograph courtesy:  Anonymedu43, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Dictation

If taking a dictation of grocery and laundry list has bored you, take a dictation of a different sort. Tune into your spouse’s favourite soap when he or she is away and note down all the key dialogues and punctuate them with suitable emoticons. Try creating some of your own, who knows you might get a patent for it. This is also an opportunity to exercise you ability to write in vernaculars.

Movies and serials

Make a list of all the movies you have watched. Try to recall the story line, the artists, songs and memories associated with it and document them in the form of short essays. If you find that you are shortchanged for memory, it will prove to be a good excuse to watch the movie again.

These are but a few ideas to help a senior citizen keep failing memory at bay and keep their brain challenged. It could be suitably improvised and worked upon according to the needs and tastes of the individual or groups. The ideas suggested does not hold good only for a specific language. The task can be carried out in a language you are familiar with. If you spend half an hour on these exercises, you are sure to keep your mind sharp and occupied.