When Wit Goes Wrong


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Good humour is a very sensitive emotion. It succeeds only when both the perpetrator and the person or the people in the receiving end are both sensible and sensitive about the contents of their joke. In other words, a healthy joke will steer clear of vulgarity or exploiting a weakness of a person or a community. Sometimes, the most well intended humour can go awfully wrong creating resentment and even enmity for the humorist.

A tale from the Shiva Purana recounts how even the mighty Lord Vishnu was not spared for having played a practical joke on his dearest devotee Narada. Once, Narada was besotted by the beautiful princess Shrimathi. He wanted her to choose him during her Swayamvara. He realised that if he wanted his dream to come true, he must be the most attractive suitor. Narada was also aware that Mahavishnu possessed the most charismatic face in the universe. Therefore, he sought to be blessed with Harimukha (the face of Vishnu also known as Hari) for the Swayamvara. The amused Lord decided to play on the pun on the term Hari which also meant monkey. Narada’s visage was transformed to that of a simian, but he was unaware of the joke. He went along to the Swayamvara only to be laughed and jeered at.

When Narada realised that he had become the laughing stock at the court, he was deeply hurt. He cursed the Shiva Ganas who prompted him to look into the mirror and embarrassed him. He marched to Vaikunta and confronted Lord Vishnu angrily about the breach of trust. He cursed the very Lord he adored to experience separation from his spouse. Once Narada gave vent to his rage, Mahavishnu explained that he had made Narada the butt of his joke to make him realise that he had swerved from his chosen path of eternal celibacy. In fact, the whole episode was structured to awaken the sage from his disillusionment. Narada understood his mistake and made haste to retract the unreasonable words blurted out in a fury. However, Mahavishnu accepted the curse gracefully because it would facilitate him to play out his manifestation as Rama, but more so because he wanted to establish the fact that when humour does not go well with the recipient then things can sour up.

Brace Yourself For The Post Party Syndrome


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Calm after the storm

The two-faced Roman god Janus is ready to usher in the new year, while earthlings are partying hard. What many of us do not know is that we are working ourselves into as state of frenzy in the name of unwinding. This is true of those who organise parties as well as those who attend them.

A lot of meticulous planning, precious time and hard-earned money is ploughed into these events by hoteliers and owners of restaurants, bars and pubs besides individuals. Painstakingly decorating the party space, arranging enough food and drinks to go around and organising entertainment programmes takes several months of hard work and networking. Needless to say, this puts a great strain on their nerves.

It’s easy to assume that the party hoppers are a jolly lot, but that is far from the truth. They, for their part, are stressed about what to wear, whose company to seek, how to fit in at the party and get home safely afterwards.

Back to the grind

While all the music, dancing and socialising is fun while it lasts, the morning after generally brings along a hangover or worse, depression and loneliness. The post-party syndrome can encapsulate a lot of issues. You might feel lazy, fatigued and reluctant to get on with your work and normal routine. The late nights, gorging on calorie-rich food and aerated or alcoholic drinks can take a toll on the intestines and the liver. The lack of sleep will affect your cognitive function.

While none of these are reasons to pass on the merriment, by taking a few smart measures, you can save yourself from the physical and emotional stress that is likely to bog you down.

Catch up on some sleep every now and then so that you’re not caught yawning in company during the party. Loss of sleep can be telling on the countenance and general health of the individual in the long run. You would do well to have plenty of salad, fruits and juices during the day to offset the heavy food that you might eat at night.

Following an exercise regime will help you burn off the calories you gained binge-eating and drinking over the past few weeks. It is wise to keep tab on the amount of liquor that you consume in order to avoid embarrassment, untoward incidents and accidents.

The emptiness you’re left with

Psychologists point out that people who throw or attend many parties could experience a sense of loss, emotional numbness and anxiety once the gala time is over. This usually happens because they might have run into people whom they no longer care for or simply wish to avoid. They might have lost track of important days in all the frenzy. Even as they pretend to be happy and confident, they might be upset and despondent.

Putting the past behind and learning to live in the moment is the way to deal with these painful emotions. New year parties are, after all, about ringing out the old and ringing in the new. When you run into someone you dislike or have complicated emotions for, flash an affable smile, offer a kind word and move on. Try to forgive and forget for your own peace of mind.

You must understand that anything that brings you happiness must be good and genuine for it to last long. Refrain from hypocrisy and try to be earnest in terms of behaviour and attitude. Good manners and courteous behaviour has never killed anyone. A dollop of unadulterated enthusiasm can spread chirpiness and good cheer all around.

If you think your emotional wounds are still raw or that you may not be able to handle nasty surprises, pre-empt the guest list. If it is not to your liking, excuse yourself from attending the party. This can save you a lot of trouble and unpleasantness.

The most telling sign of the post-party syndrome is the lacuna created by the sudden lack of activity, which could lead to boredom, frustration and irritability.

Once you understand that parties are for enjoyment, socialising and rejuvenating your spirits, you can spend the days after the party organising contact numbers and addresses for future use. You can redeem your promise about keeping in touch by sending flowers or cards to renew your friendship with those you like.

If you hear of good or bad things happening to those you care for, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and get talking. An unexpected friendly gesture can not only cheer them up but will also make you feel happy. Once you learn the art of coping with the post-party syndrome, you will find yourself looking forward to more such good times!

New Age Challenges of Teaching Undergrads


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By S Radha Prathi, Dec 21, 2016,

Teaching at the undergraduate level is increasingly becoming a challenge even to the most enterprising, enthusiastic and experienced of teachers these days. Barring a handful of undergraduates, most students are hardly ever interested in the course. For most urban youth, it is a passage of rite to be fulfilled before they enter the world at large to pursue their vocations, businesses, jobs or personal lives.

Lecturers and professors both old and young who had gathered at a national seminar seemed to be speaking in one voice on their pet subjects. They began with the most sacred ritual of marking attendance which gains sacrosanct dimensions especially towards the end of the academic year.

The UGC insists on a minimum of 75% attendance requirement before taking up the prescribed examinations from time to time. Every student who falls short of the mark, unable to get a proxy or have the means to circumvent the problem, makes it a point to be there towards the end.

These students add to the nuisance value in the classroom because they are unaware of what is transpiring in the room and that naturally keeps them diverted. Interestingly, they are the ones who come up with ideas of having special classes in a bid to step up their attendance quotient.

These days, the courts stand testimony to the increasing numbers of affidavits filed by erring students suing colleges for depriving them of the attendance that would have enabled them to take up examinations.

Attendance has been boiled down to the level of being physically present in the campus. Never mind if you are late, distracted or have misbehaved in the lecture hall. A couple of medical certificates and wedding cards genuine or otherwise have the powers to set matters right.

Neither the students nor their parents seem to be unduly worried about the learning curve that could have shot up if discipline and diligence were employed. This act  is nothing but a sterling example of how colleges inadvertently nurture downright carelessness laced with rudeness which gains legal validation because of obscure processing.

Gone are the days when lectures were interrupted by garrulous youth and giggly girls who indulged in small talk or biting into a morsel of food during the serious hour. These days they are otherwise occupied checking or sending messages on their cell phones, that is if they are not playing or shopping.

If they are asked to deposit their instruments outside before a guest lecture, each one will take their own sweet time to make “suitable arrangements” before taking leave of their external organ for an hour or two.

Internet age
Taking down lecture notes is passé, because graduating youngsters believe that everything worth learning can be found on the internet. Necessary course material can always be bought, photocopied, scanned or stolen if necessary. Most pupils are not interested when there are relevant digressions from the topic because they do not figure in the scheme of the portions prescribed for examinations.

On the one hand, they want to be treated like adults when reprimanded for permissive public behaviour; on the other, they want to be spoon fed with the exact mark allotment for each question.

It is ironical to note that the youth of the world which believes in worldwide networking do not make an attempt to see the interrelated nature of subjects which can go a long way in shaping them as sensible and sensitive global citizens.
The harsh truth is students no longer learn to gain knowledge but to earn degrees. They attend college for the frivolous social ambience and not for getting a panoramic on various subjects. Politics, groupies and sectarian views have substituted the secular outlook.

Examinations, mark sheets and certificates have become passports to the first jobs which are usually procured through campus interviews. Hence, it is no wonder students are becoming increasingly removed from the teacher-taught equation. They have forgotten that being a graduate is not about procuring document, it is about graduating to a higher phase in life and emerging as a better human being who has some expertise over the chosen subject.

Matters will improve only if we are able to instill a love for learning in the young or just devalue degrees of the ones who do not measure up to display basic knowledge of the chosen subject and show evidence of etiquettes demanded of a graduate.

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 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.

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.

 

 

The Vintage Advantage


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Sun, 17 Jan 2016

The Nightingales Medical Trust and The Nightingales Elder’s Enrichment Centre, had their 16th Anniversary Celebration in style last December. They not only bid 2015 a jolly goodbye, they also celebrated the various skills the senior club members had to offer with music and dance. S Radha Prathi sent us this writeup about this versatile and talented show by senior citizens. 

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Namma Bengaluru just proved that it has not lost its knack for springing its pleasant surprises on us in the most unexpected ways. Even as people resolved to attach the epithet Pensioner’s paradise to good old Bangalore, Nightingales Elders Enrichment Centres (NEEC) gently prompted its denizens to reconsider the old title. Accordingly, the members of the Malleswaram branch decided to have a gala time on the second Saturday of the last month of 2015. It was the sixteenth year of their collective identity. When they looked further north they sighted their two year old sibling branch in Sanjay Nagar whose members were also working towards making a statement of their existence. It did not

senior yogatake long for the wise old souls to realize that more the merrier would make a more meaningful phrase if they came together. After all, the guiding spirit of the clubs is the same. NEEC serves as a haven to those who care to register themselves as its members to keep them engaged, educated, updated and entertained right round the year. The club has made it a point to culminate each such vibrant year by celebrating an annual day. The fact that they ensure that they make it the crowning glory of the year has now become a tradition unto itself.

nmtThis year around, they decided to gather at Seva Sadan at Malleswaram around mid morning and showcase their variegated and vintage talents. If it was a treat to the senses to watch them display their skills in Yoga or Tai Chi, sing, dance, play act and spoof creatively, the take away was homework for our minds and mindset. For all of us, who are under the impression that old age is a curse of sorts, beset by aches and pains and deteriorating strength, the show was stimulating. Do not for a moment think that all these glittering stars on the stage are blessed souls without a care in life. On the contrary they happen to be sensible souls who know how to put behind the setbacks of life and put their best foot forward to make life pleasant for themselves and those around them. The fact that they had meticulously planned, practised and played out their program with utmost enthusiasm and sincerity spoke in volumes about the wondrous qualities of sincerity and passion which must have been the guiding forces of their lives. Dedication and determination came through the veneer of the light heartedness displayed on stage in each and every piece. That was not all; while the souvenir brought out on the occasion celebrated their cerebral capabilities, the sumptuous lunch enjoyed at the end of the function gave a glimpse of the gourmets who had nurtured a fine taste for all the beautiful gifts that life has to offer.

The fun filled full house, the fanfare and the feverish fervor that ruled the day was fittingly presided over by its founder members Dr Radha S Murthy and S Prem Kumar Raja who had dreamed it all up for them. May their tribe increase manifold!

If you are a senior citizen who wishes to join the Nightingales Elders Enrichment Centre, visit:
No.149. 11th Main
Between 16th & 17th Cross
Malleswaram
Bangalore 560 055
Ph: 080-23342929