Tuesday, June 14, 2016

How to deal with hurt?

How to deal with ‘hurt’?
Now that is not easy! Yes dealing with ‘hurt’ is not easy. You can deal with hurt by decimating the person who has hurt you but very few of us are in that position and then there could be disastrous consequences not only due to law and order machinery but psychologically too.  Some of us are tough and you may feel that ‘hurt’ does not hurt them but that is not true. However here my discussion is primarily regarding sensitive people who get hurt easily and for whom it is a gigantic task to get over ‘hurt’s. I may add here that I am one of them and would also like to add that I am no expert at getting over ‘hurt’s without feeling hurt. Then why am I writing this? It is because I have lately been hurt very had but at the same time have discovered some marvellous ways to get over ‘hurt’. How did I do that? Did I meet someone who gave me a magic wand? Yes that is partially true but mainly it is blessing of God that he gave me ‘nirmal mati’ as my Guru Ji used to say. For those not native speakers of Hindi ‘nirmal mati’ could translate as unblemished intelligence. Unblemished because it is not affected by our biases and experiences of the past. That is what we have to work on but it is not at all easy. Ironically the more intelligent one is the more difficult it is to have ‘nirmal mati’. Well that is a slight digression from the topic but remember ‘nirmal mati’ can solve a lot of your problems.
Coming back to handing ‘hurt’ Well! Handling hurt requires a lot of unlearning basically. Most of what we learn as we grow up is popular learning, it is not the ideal learning but since that is the type of learning we will find everywhere we have come to believe it to be the ‘ideal’ learning. Most of us are destined to die believing that to be the ‘only’ learning unless you are lucky enough to meet great saints. The only true knowledge is enshrined in our religious books; that is the knowledge unlikely to change due to fashion or tradition and that knowledge comes free only problem is that in coming to us that knowledge has been greatly corrupted due to wrong interpretation. Interpreting ancient knowledge is the job of great saints, unfortunately  they are very hard to come by.  So you have to unlearn that ‘hurt’ really hurts you; it does but it shouldn’t.  I am sure you must have heard of that story about Buddha where someone comes and spits on Buddha in public. Obviously Buddha did nothing about it and did not react the way we would do. Christ never called out to people from the cross and tell them to go take vengeance for his death neither did he call up to the heavens and say ‘bring down your fury upon this land and decimate this king and his kingdom’. I am sure very few of us were hurt by ‘hurts’ such big; most of us have to deal with minor ‘hurt’s.
Talking about myself, I was a man ready to kill for the smallest ‘hurt’ as a young man but now I look back and analyse how I blundered, blundered because ‘nirmal mati’ did not come to me.  As I grew up I realized that God had visited the most fearsome vengeance upon those who ‘hurt’ me and my loved ones. I shudder to tell you the details. They were punished in the most awful way and for a couple of them I felt really sorry and moved to tears at the plight of their family. Did God watch me carefully and went out with vengeance to those who had ‘hurt’ me? I do not think so. It was their ways which brought them to the sorry end they had. I remember very well as a kid about the ‘hurt’ my grandfather had to go through. He was the most  respected gentlemen of the locality. When he used to go out strolling almost everyone bowed to him. He had a very big ego which I guess anyone in his place would have. One day a man slapped him in public. My grandfather was deeply hurt and planned all kinds of vengeance against the man but he was not up to the task and nothing happened. It greatly upset my father too who though a very calm man was enraged by the insult to his old father. A few years later the man in his thirties committed suicide. It was not just what he did to my grandfather his ways were bad and he was destined to come the bad end. I can narrate even more ghastly stories but that is not necessary what we have to learn is that those who ‘hurt’ are destined to be punished. It is automatic. It is like four plus four is eight. So we have to stop hurting people ourselves first and then realize that God is there, he is running the show and he has been running it from time immemorial. The most beautiful lines from the Bible which always reassure me are “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
You have to have some faith in a power beyond you that makes things easier, even a cynic  like Dale Carnegie has said that citing the example of his parents whose faith in God kept them going even after their crops were destroyed year after year.
It is not an easy thing to do to cope with hate so I have evolved a method for it. I do not always do it that way but it is pretty much the same flowchart. When I am really hurt by someone against whom I have no power say for example my fathers’ customers I just seal my lips and leave the venue as quickly as possible then I start doing mantra jaap, I may add that for mantras to be effective you need lots and lots of practice though if you are really faithful it could work quickly for you too. After doing ‘mantra jaap’ I start getting normal and ‘nirmal mati’ floods me with its comforting ideas. I start to realize that the man is on the road to cardiac disease perhaps coupled with diabetes and later neurosis if he loses his temper so quickly which is true and any doctor would vouch for that though I have met a couple of villains who do not fit in with this. This realization makes me understand how lucky I have been to fully understand the implications of losing one’s temper, not that I do not lose my temper, I still do but the episodes are decreasing in frequency dramatically.
Finally I pray to my ‘isht dev’ to deal with the person as he deems fit. I have stopped asking him for vengeance because past history shows that his vengeance is terrible. I do not ask him for vengeance anymore because I fear I could be sinning myself that way. That does the trick most of the times but when the ‘hurt’ is really bad it could take almost a couple of days. Previously it used to take months I may add.
Another very important thing is we have a lot of time on our hands to get ‘hurt’ that is the prime culprit. If we have identified ourselves as being too sensitive we have to get really busy. This is not my conclusion but that of a very highly paid and decorated psychologist. He went on to add that being very busy was the panacea to most psychiatric problems and a sure means to prevent them. He was treating my aunt who used to imagine herself having a disease and used to actually have that disease soon. She was a horrific case of neuroses. The psychologist was too expensive for poor people like us so I used to listen carefully to whatever knowledge he would give us gratis.
At the workplace getting ‘hurt’ is going to increase in geometric  proportions because pressure of work will increase as India too is ensnared by corporate culture. Corporations do not want employees to unite and they go out of their way to encourage animosity among the employees so most of the young people have to steel themselves psychologically. My brother could not do that as an employee of one of the world’s most famous corporates and he had to quit. I do not blame him and to be fair he learnt a lot at his workplace and travelled abroad free. He does not regret leaving the job he had an alternative career ready but most of us cannot do that.
Another very easy way to steel yourself psychologically if you are a Hindu is to learn chanting from an expert. You can even search for it online. Once you learn to chant properly you will not need to read any books on steeling yourself against ‘hurt’. The compassion will flow from inside you. You will feel compassion for the one who has ‘hurt’ you and it will not feel like hurt at all because your ‘nirmal mati’ will shower upon you the knowledge that will comfort you. Why the person ‘hurt’ you? Did you unconsciously ‘hurt’ the person first? Your animosity will evaporate in thin air and every creature you meet will appear to you to be the son/daughter of God and thus someone you must be compassionate about. That is sometimes difficult but once the right frequency is found the resonance will cure you.
This is not an article by an expert but by someone who has suffered ‘hurts’ from a family of very sensitive people. I have stumbled upon some solutions that is all. Please feel free to comment or criticize. Finally a word of caution – do not become a punching bag for all people who want to ‘hurt’ you. You must if possible let the person who hurt you know that you will not take insults but it must be devoid of violence, that is the main thing to remember it must be a conscious protest not compulsive. Avoid toxic people, not if you can but you must go out of your way to avoid toxic people at any cost.


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Lucknow of my childhood!

Lucknow of my childhood was a city in transition. It was marching towards  being the focal centre of the India’s most populous state from the Nawabi past. Back then it was a truly tier four city; but the city that the Nawabs created, true to their own personalities, it never wanted ‘to be at the ‘forefront’. The Nawabs were laid back kind of people they had their own parameters of greatness.

As a child I did not realize the importance of the Nawabs but as I left youth behind I realized that they had solved one great problem that still threatens to disrupt peace in India ; they brought about communal harmony. Except for a few isolated instances Lucknow has been the very picture of communal harmony in the last two centuries. So the influence of the Nawabs was heavy in Lucknow of my childhood but it was definitely on the wane. The advent of electronic media in late seventies and finally the corporatisation of media sometime in the early nineties killed Nawabi Lucknow. I suppose in another half a decade that old Nawabi Lucknow would have died completely never to be heard of again.

My earliest memories of Lucknow go back to mid seventies when our maid, whose family lived in our huge house, used to take me out to see a bear dance or a monkey dance by ‘madaris’ who used to visit our area at regular intervals. It was the era of etiquette though the fag end. I distinctly remember two brothers both ‘nau’ technically barbers but rather the messengers attached to privileged families. These can be compared to the proverbial ‘butlers’ that we see in movies and have read about in books. Those brothers were in their 80’s and 90’s. They seemed to have travelled down from the fabled Lucknow of nineteenth century. The elder brother was very tall and stately and wore the very best ‘angarkha’ having priceless ‘chikan’ embroidery. No money can buy that garment now, I know because I have tried. His advice was taken on most matters involving elaborate rituals like marriages or deaths. He used to boast that that he had himself organised the marriage of my great grandfather. I did not see much of him because he died immediately after my grandfather. His brother however lived on to, some people say – a hundred. I may add here that these people never ever appeared in public without a cap. So I saw much of this brother due to his being the sole ‘nau’ after his brother’s death. He announced his arrival by saying loudly ‘ Hum aate hain’ so that the ladies could prepare themselves for the arrival of a ‘stranger’. He waited and came up only after invitation though as you can imagine he was a very very old man.

When I was really young there was no television. Our only entertainment was going out to a park or occasionally to a circus or very seldom to cinema. Cinema was not considered fit for children so it was in rarest of the rare cases that we were allowed to watch movies. Television entered our house with my aunt. She brought it as dowry. My grandfather, my biological grandfather that is because my father was adopted by my father’s uncle, fell in love with the idiot box. It was financially a very bad period for us but since we were landowners we were not supposed to do any work and my grandfather used to watch the television the whole day. Being poor was no impediment anymore to our getting entertained. I used to join him in watching television too and we got along very well.

As I grew older I discovered ‘Ganjing’. Now that is a word with unknown origin but every Lucknowite back then knew what it meant. It really means taking a stroll in Hazratganj the most posh area of Lucknow during my childhood. Genuine Lucknowites to the best of my knowledge do not do Ganjing anymore because ‘poshness’ has moved to the malls in Lucknow. In our times though it was different when Hazratganj was the place with all the action in it. The place was dominated by aristocrats and the rich people of Lucknow who either watched a movie in the cute little Mayfair theatre or had coffee with celestial sandwiches in Kwality restaurant in the same building. My childhood was dominated by poverty since our lands were shrinking due to distress sales and our tenants were refusing to raise rents; ironically my desires were many and expensive ones. Sometimes I did manage to watch movies in that fabled cute little theatre – Mayfair. These were the best movies of their times or should I say all times. In this theatre inter alia I watched Guns of Navarone, The Good The Bad and The Ugly, McKenna’s Gold, Ten Commandments and many others.

This was not all the building had to offer, it also housed the British Council Library, where like many other Lucknowites of those times I learnt most of what I know. I read virtually the whole of classical English literature. We were so enamoured by everything British back then; it was only in the university that I began to realize that most of the ‘culture’ of the British was copied from the French and sometimes the Italians.

One casualty of ‘the tyranny of masses’ has been the cuisine of Lucknow. Do not be fooled by people who advertise their trash as ‘cuisine of Awadh’. Let me say it emphatically the cuisine of Lucknow is dead! Or at any rate it has disappeared from Lucknow. It may be living in a posh hotel in Mumbai or overseas but the real Awadhi cuisine is dead! I have seen it dying with a lot of pain. Being vegetarians we have had little exposure to the non-veg delicacies but being in constant touch with connoisseurs of non-veg Awadhi cuisine I think we can safely say that the golden era is gone. This happened because of two reasons first Awadhi cuisine is very very complicated and time consuming and the second – it is very very expensive. One cannot mass produce good cooked food that too is a bit of problem for food vendors. People today want food quickly and do not want to pay much for it too. In my childhood, Hazratganj again was more or less the place to be in for good vegetarian food.
I mentioned Kwality restaurant before and that was specially famous for English breakfast items and ice cream. I simply loved their tea and sandwiches specially the egg sandwich. Due to our limited means I can count on my fingers the number of times we visited the fabled restaurant. Further eastwards were other fabled restaurants of Lucknow – the original Royal Cafe and opposite it Ranjana restaurant.  There were one or two bakeries but I do not remember their exact locations now all I can remember is that we could not afford their stuff! There was another pure vegetarian restaurant in the heart of the city in perhaps the most congested area called Aminabad this was the restaurant of our dreams it was called – Gyan Vaishnav restaurant. This may sound rather dramatic and too sweeping a comment but I can say with certainty that no restaurant in India could have matched their ‘rajma’ or ‘baigan bharta’ both these dishes were celestial. The restaurant changed many hands and deteriorated in quality and has finally closed down. The secret of course lies in the complexity of the cuisine. It was too long and time consuming a process cooking the vegetables very slowly over coal and maintaining the right temperature. The trick was also in the spices. The spices of those times are just not available these days simply because they were too expensive and no one buys them anymore.

Back then marriages were very elaborate and the cuisine in marriages of privileged families had to be impeccable and no expense or pain was spared to make the parties the very best. My most distinct memory from those times is the taste of the ‘sherbets’ though. The ‘khus’ sherbet of those times has simply disappeared from the market. No amount of money can bring back that taste. I am told it was mixed by hand back then and not brought in ready made in glass bottles like we have today. The other ‘sherbet’ was the ‘gulab’ or rose ‘sherbet’ which I did not like much but it was a hundred times better than what we have today.

It was not all a rosy picture though in my childhood in Lucknow. There were very few opportunities to progress financially. Those who had money seemed to be getting richer but we who had lost a fortune had no hopes; it was much later that our financial condition improved due to father’s entrepreneurship. But thankfully people respected us and admired our family. Many of them fooled my grandfather and extracted from him whatever little he had left. I believe cheating and cheating one’s own relatives was something very common back then. It has decreased a bit these days but it could be due to minimal interaction between relatives and more opportunities to earn money honestly. We have more money sometimes more than we need but we have fewer friends and little time. Lucknow of today has more opportunities but soon it will cease to be the Lucknow that we all have read about in books and seen in old movies and which I have experienced firsthand. For all its flaws and shortcomings and erosion of culture Lucknow is still a hundred times better than any other place I have visited. My brother went so far as to say ‘Lucknow is better than Paris – simply because it is so expensive out there in Paris!’