An Ode to Cryptocurrency

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I have been staring at crypto news all week.

I have not yet invested in this “asset.” I would prefer calling it an “asset” over “currency” because in India it is not yet a legal tender.

My interest piqued when I heard of India’s involvement in Polygon/Matic. It was all over the news. A person who has not yet invested in crypto (i.e. yours truly) ended up watching a dozen new videos and reading comprehensive news articles on Matic (hello, patriotism), wondering dreamily when she will ever be able to invest in it confidently, without fearing the consequences of strict protocols that the government may or may not enforce later on. I even consumed with much interest a YouTube video on whether Matic would survive after Ethereum 2.0. All this makes zero sense to me as I am a new believer, but my curiosity seems to have taken over, wanting to know the future. All the answers I got were in the positive (for Matic). It has now become a forbidden fruit of sorts.

This is a big shift from how I was a few months back – an overconfident cynic who was pretty damn sure she would never buy crypto. “Too volatile, no regulations, weird names” My reasons were plenty. People change, so did I. Realizing the ever-growing power of virtual currency world over, it would surely be a step back, if India were to ban it completely.

I was proud that India got into the world of crypto (that too successfully), and also felt a bit dejected when the promoters of Matic said they couldn’t promote or advertise it in a way they would like to, because of India’s current stance on virtual currencies. Hopefully with crypto exchanges like WazirX fighting for #IndiaWantsCrypto, the officials will take notice, and newbies like me can also venture into a zone that has gained immense popularity worldwide. Call it FOMO or whatever you wish, but no one can negate the solid growth crypto is experiencing.

I still have to wait though, for the Indian government to make its stand clear. And this the story of many in India. Why?

Because, for a safe investor like me, playing by the government’s rulebook is of absolute importance. India does have a lot of crypto investors, who are fully aware of the risk factors that come with possessing an unregulated asset, but they continue to do so as they are ready to take that risk. Buying and selling crypto in India is not illegal, but the government sending across mixed signals makes it a bit tough for many like me to jump into the bandwagon with surety.

Hopefully, soon enough, we will get to know. Hopefully, by then, crypto would have not lost its charm.

An Ode to Humanity

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I stumbled on a couple of YouTube videos recently. Posting 2 of them below.

Palestinians: Would you invite an Israeli Jew to Iftar meal?

Israelis: Would you invite a Palestinian to Shabbat or Passover meal?

Truth be told, every single “no” was painful to hear.

Circumstances force us to dislike even the humane, the innocents, people who have nothing to do with the terror attacks. It becomes difficult to separate a person from his religious identity.

In the videos, it doesn’t seem to matter if the invited person is of good character. An invite is extended based on religion alone, on a generalization that “If one person of a community is like this, then all of them might be similar.

I couldn’t help placing myself in such a situation – someone denying me an invite looking at my race, color, religion, caste and the actions taken by a group. It wouldn’t matter if I had raised my voice for the oppressed. At that moment, it only matters whether I am from “the other side”

It is not just restricted to Israel-Palestine, you can find similar cases world over.

The suspicions can’t be blamed either because time and again people have breached that trust. Suspicion is a natural form of self-defence. Better be safe than sorry. Yet mistrust can feel heavy when you are not personally to blame.

I pray for a world, where a person is judged by their own character, on humanity alone, and not from some unfair blanket generalization, even if such a hope seems far-fetched at the moment.

An Ode to Informed Opinions

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You are supposed to have an opinion on everything nowadays.

If there is a hashtag trending on Twitter, where people are raging and showing their utter disappointment in something, you are considered indifferent or apathetic if you do not take an active part in the noise. You see posts akin to “Your silence speaks a lot” that curse you for being quiet.

You aren’t supposed to fall on a grey area. It should either be a concrete “Yes, I support this” or a “No, I do not support it” God forbid, you take a neutral stance. I have seen celebrities feeling burdened by this pressure to make a statement about any issue. At times, I have felt “Thank God, I am not a celebrity

What if it isn’t apathy or indifference? What if it’s plain fear – of upsetting your friends if you state your true, honest informed opinion?

Social media, unfortunately, isn’t always right. There’s a herd mentality at play most of the times. People go with the flow rather than doing proper research and making an informed opinion. There are people who protest, just for the sake of protesting. You ask them about the issue and they will have no clue about what’s going on.

It is sort of a ripple effect – when you see your friends taking part in it, you want to join in too, and then your friends see you doing it and they take part in it as well. A fear of missing out, or as the new gen would put it – FOMO. Everyone is too busy to do independent research though, so they trust their friends to have done it already.

You are also scared. You might be considered cold or distant if you do not support your friends in this hashtag trend. Even worse, you are not supposed to have an opinion that is different from theirs. “My way or the highway” is the motto. That confusion and fear stops a lot of people from really opening up. It can also make more people jump into the bandwagon, to add to the noise, impulsively without proper research.

There are times you give your 2 cents, supporting your friend’s opinion, because you trust them to be right. And later on, when you read up on the subject, you are utterly dismayed. You realize you shouldn’t have acted impulsively, and that there’s more to the issue than what meets the eye.

This is the bane of living online these days. You will be fired for having an opinion, you will be fired for having a different opinion, and you will also be fired if you do not have an opinion.

This shouldn’t stop us though, from making an informed opinion especially when it comes to sensitive issues. Your opinion will have an impact on your immediate circle – no matter how big or small that circle is. So why not do it right? Critical thinking has become the need of the hour. The facts are there for everyone to see. I do not mean the “facts” displayed on social media – which can be twisted to fit anyone’s agenda. A quick Google and YouTube search will display all the information you need. Go through multiple materials (from credible sources that are based on facts), read/hear from all sides, and you will definitely start seeing and filtering out the biases from your own knowledge base.

Here’s to more informed opinions, and may you never be stopped from making them.

P.S: I came across this old article “The Burden of an Informed Opinion” on LinkedIn. A very interesting (and much needed) take on learned opinions. Do give it a read to understand the necessity of critical thinking.

An Ode To Mother’s Day Posts Online

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I was one of those people who used to wonder why people published Mother’s Day posts online when their mother, who did not even have a social media presence, was right there next to them. Why not talk to them directly?

That was until I started writing such emotional, mushy posts myself. But with a small twist – I read them out to my mom as well.

My 65+ year old mother does not use social media because all the options and features intimidate her. I can see the cheer on her face though, when I tell her that I have posted something online. She tells me to read them out to her. She proceeds to ask how many people liked the post. “What did they say?” So I read out the multitude of comments. This questioning continues throughout the day. Satisfied with the likes and comments, she moves on to some other distraction. The post is now forgotten, but in that period of time, it gave her much interest and joy.

I have always felt most people express things better when they write it out. It is the reason why even mental health professionals encourage journal writing.

Express all you want online, but don’t forget to read it out to the person to whom it is dedicated to. Or at least make sure they have seen it.

Trust me, the smile you will get, will truly be worth all your scribbles!

An Ode to Not Being Positive All The Time

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Covid anxiety is real.

As the number of cases in India continue to increase, it has induced a sort of panic attack in most of us in the country.

Needless to say, I have been posting available resources (oxygen cylinders, beds) across my private social media accounts so that those who need them can utilize the info. All this fact sharing does not make for entertaining, positive, motivational or inspirational viewing. No one is going to feel happy seeing such posts.

But somehow, when you can’t really do anything else, all this resource sharing matters a huge deal for someone like me. That hope that maybe you will be able to help at least one person is what keeps you going.

Take a good look into Indian Twitter, and you will find many doing the same. Everyone wants to contribute in a way or other to help out. It is heartwarming and sad at the same time. Heartwarming because people want to help, sad because of the unending doom.

We keep seeing quotes similar to “share only the good news, share only positivity, see only positive things” but I wish we could see posts on how we need not pretend to be fine all the time. Let’s normalize NOT being positive 24×7. It’s okay to vent out. I hope venting out gets normalized.

I know happy posts (song, dance, smiles) generate a lot of positivity but I know many like me who are suffering along with the country and do not feel like indulging in entertainment as such. There’s a word for this: languish. It borders between happiness and depression and that’s what exactly many are feeling at the moment. For us, too much positivity can be draining and to be frank, slightly annoying.

If you are feeling it all way too intensely, it’s fine, as long as you are in control. If not, please reach over to a professional! Friends & family might not always give the correct advice in dealing with the situation whereas a professional is trained in handling such matters.

Stay safe and don’t forget to mask up!

An Ode to Unknowingly Being Productive

By Squarecomics

I often wonder why people complain, “I haven’t done anything productive today.”

It is practically impossible.

Why? Let me explain.

What is productivity? By definition, it means, causing or providing a good result.

Anything and everything you do is productive because unconsciously, we are all learning and evolving from even the smallest tasks that we do.

Yes, we are always learning. And learning is productive. I’m not talking only about creative classes or actively honing new skills for work. Those are the things we take up consciously. The visibles.

I am talking about learning from things around you. The invisibles.

  • Learning a different perspective, a different way of looking at things. This could be from books, even a show you randomly watched, or some random post on the internet including a meme!
  • Learning how peaceful it can be to sit and stare at nature for a while
  • Learning to forgive and/or forget
  • Learning to solve your issues
  • Learning your family’s needs
  • Learning how to interact better
  • Learning to step back a bit and breathe
  • Learning new ideas

The list goes on.

Jennifer Aniston had famously quoted “No regrets, only lessons” indicating we learn even from our mistakes, if not today then tomorrow.

But the point is, to many of us, these little things don’t count. Probably because these changes are not happening aggressively, screaming for our attention. These changes are very silent. And peaceful. But the thing I find most astonishing is that over time, they compound. Each little change is like a building block, contributing towards forming the person that we will eventually become.

It is only years from now, when you look back, do you realize how much you have changed in this process of learning from everyday things.

You have evolved. That I think, is a beautiful thing to reflect on.

An Ode to Being Selfishly Independent

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“Why don’t you get married? It will make your parents happy. It is selfish not to think about them.”

“If not now, then when?”

“Your biological clock is ticking. We need to see our grandchildren before we die.”

These are some dialogues, I and many, have heard at least once in our lifetime.

Now if we marry someone outside our religion or caste, the society chimes in with:

“The poor parents. Their child married someone from a different religion. Why don’t kids understand the sacrifices parents make?”

Your happiness gets the least precedence.

We are almost always emotionally blackmailed into following the norms set up by society. The questions and self-doubts then arise in our mind – “Why am I so weird? Why don’t I feel happy following what others are following” You think – “If so many people are saying the same thing, it must be right,” – when the truth is something else.

It took some unlearning for me to realize, there are no fixed protocols to be followed to live a happy, fulfilling life. No researcher has written a book saying “this is how everyone should behave or else the world would crumble in a day” Rules are formed because they make life less confusing, but they do not necessarily make life more fulfilling.

The blueprint of life is out there – study, study some more, get a job, get married, have children, work until you die. There are examples to follow, whereas, for someone who is single, there is no chart as such – you work, and then what? This lack of clarity, makes many shy away from choosing a different life. People want stability, and following the rules makes them believe they have certainty in their life, irrespective of whether they are mentally at peace or not.

After studies are done, an adult should have the freedom to chart his own blueprint. Conditions apply, of course. If the adult wants to be a terrorist, having his own blueprint would be a disaster.

I am saddened that society made me doubt myself for so long (I’m in my 30s) by indoctrinating me with the feeling that I, on my own, am not good enough. I need a partner, followed by kids, to be termed complete. We see so many celebrating their wedding, engagement anniversaries but have we seen anyone say “Yay! I have been happily single for a year now!” Obviously not, because we have been conditioned to believe, being single and happy is not something to celebrate.

Time and again, I have seen many friends being forced by their parents into marriage, jobs, religious practices, and then living an unhappy life afterward. And the irony is, they haven’t learned from this. The tradition will continue to the next generation from what I have deciphered from their talks. Because society has taught them this is the norm, this is the way it should be, and they should follow it, no questions asked.

It is all so subjective, this happiness. But more often than not, we have to mold them as per societal constructs, even if it is not what we are ready for at the moment. Forcing can make an individual follow the path you want, but the gratification you hope they would achieve through this process can likely be lost. The whole exercise (be it anything) loses its meaning if it has to be drilled down and is not coming from the heart.

Why are we following everything to a tee, to make others happy, when we ourselves get only one chance to live the way we want?

Why aren’t we giving enough freedom for our kids to think, to choose?

Why aren’t we giving enough importance to our happiness? If not in this life, then when?

Isn’t it selfish to demand your loved ones, who are now adults, to unquestioningly follow the rules you have set or the dreams you have selfishly conjured up in your mind for them?

I have stopped falling into this trap. I am no saint and I don’t aim to be. And I hope everyone gets a chance to be selfishly independent too – to realize how insanely happy and beautiful this life can be, just the way it should be.

An Ode to the Products That Cured 90% of My Dandruff

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I used to suffer from flaky, dandruff-prone scalp for the longest time.

It started from my teenage years. I had no idea what the contributing factor was. I was blessed with luscious hair when I was a kid but then my scalp condition deteriorated as I hit 16-17. Now I think it could have been because I had stopped oiling my hair. At least once a week, my hair was massaged thoroughly and drenched with warmed-up coconut oil – the typical South Indian routine. I used to let it sit for a minimum of one hour before washing it off with shampoo. My hair then was thick, luscious and full of life.

Owing to the fast-paced teenage life where everything needed to be finished in a jiffy and any remnant of coconut oil in your hair was considered unstylish, I had to forego my very-Indian routine to make way for more important things in life like tantrum throwing, overthinking, procrastinating, hanging out with friends – anything a normal teenager loved to indulge in. Sitting at home with oil for an hour just wasn’t feasible anymore.

I was fine with the few flakes of dandruff, to be honest. It never really bothered me, and maybe this resulted in aggravating the condition a bit. I would use anti-dandruff shampoo every time. This made my hair dull, dry and lifeless. My scalp felt drier than a desert. All those famous anti-dandruff shampoos out there? I have used them. They would work for a day or two, but they weren’t exactly a cure. As the oil production increased on my scalp due to dryness, I started getting more dandruff. Vicious cycle.

It is maybe in the last 3 or 4 years that I discovered some products that greatly helped in eliminating my dandruff by nearly 90%. I have stuck to them ever since. No experimenting with other products based on influencer reviews or recommendations. Let your body be the judge of what works best for you. If it works, stick to it.

Apple Cider Vinegar

I started off by using apple cider vinegar – a natural product. If you are facing any sort of itchiness on scalp, this product can be your inexpensive friend. You need to dilute the ACV to prevent any irritation. It is said apple cider vinegar with the mother is the best, but I found good success with the American Garden one that is a diluted version.

How to use:

  1. Mix water and apple cider vinegar (2:1).
  2. Take a cotton ball and drench it with the solution.
  3. Massage it onto your scalp. Repeat till your whole scalp is covered.
  4. Wait for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Wash off as usual. You need not use shampoo or conditioner.

Extra benefits:

  • Apple cider vinegar makes your hair softer.
  • If you use a lot of styling products, this helps to cleanse your scalp. Sometimes products dry off and end up looking like dandruff.

Use this treatment once a week.

You will immediately start noticing that your scalp is less itchy than before.

Clarifying Shampoo

Though ACV helps to cleanse your scalp quite well, it is always best to use a shampoo that is specially formulated for cleansing. A clarifying shampoo is best for the purpose. My personal favorite is Pantene’s Lively Clean. It is sensitive on my scalp and at the same time does its job of cleaning away the build up left behind by styling products.

Use this shampoo whenever your hair feels dull and weighed down.

Bringadi Oil

This ayurvedic oil was a game changer. It did not show any quick results, but with consistent use, my dandruff decreased drastically. The one I am using is the Kama Ayurveda Bringadi Oil.

How to use:

  1. Massage the oil into your scalp. Do not mix it with any other oil. You can use this on your scalp and try any other oil on the length of your hair.
  2. Warming an intensive treatment ayurvedic oil like this can alter its formula and make it less effective, so I use it without warming it up.
  3. Keep it on for an hour or more. The longer the better.
  4. Wash off with shampoo and conditioner

Pros:

It is a lightweight oil. Easy to wash off. It doesn’t leave behind a greasy look. You can even use it after styling to tame frizz.

Use this treatment once a week.

Selsun Blue Shampoo

A shampoo that helped a great deal. If you find that most anti-dandruff shampoos don’t work for you, try the Selsun Blue Shampoo. I have used all the popular ones, but this one actually works in stopping scalp itching and dandruff reoccurrence for a longer duration. I started with once a week, and now I use it once a month.

How to use:

  1. Massage it onto your scalp.
  2. Let it settle for a few minutes before washing it off.

Pros:

Effective and over time you will need to use it only once a month.

Cons:

Makes your hair dry. You will need to deep condition your hair more often. The scent is strong and not pleasing. It lingers on to the next day or even days. Took me some time to get used to it.

Start by using it once a week. Once your scalp gets better, move to using it once a month.

An Ode to Not Being Ambitious

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I recently watched a podcast by Kenny Sebastian on YouTube (Simple Ken – Episode 19), and something the guest said resonated a lot with me.

I am not at all ambitious. I have zero ambition. My ambition in my life is to be happy. I am not really competitive. For me to see another person doing well, I don’t really care, as long as it is not affecting my happiness. If you are really happy with yourself, another person’s achievements won’t concern you. There are many people who can look happy from outside, but miserable from inside.

I just want enough money to live a comfortable life. I mean, my own money, not taken from someone else. There is an amount that will make me comfortable, and I am okay with earning that amount or a little bit higher, but I am not reaching for something more.

It just makes me happier and calmer.

Tara Molloth

I am a minimalist, so each and every word struck a chord with me. I found it refreshing, because it is not something you hear people say openly. It is almost like a sin to say you are not ambitious nowadays in this fast-paced world.

Why isn’t this way of life more common?

Why isn’t happiness an ambition?

It’s okay to take a step back and breathe. It is okay to slow down. It is okay to not want the same things as others. It is okay to feel happy with little.

Our world is so obsessed with stellar achievements, ambitions, agenda, goals and to be on the move all the time that we often forget the key ingredient for survival: happiness.

  • To be happy with your work. Is that big fat paycheck, the sole reason you are sticking to the job you hate, really worth your mental peace?
  • To be happy in our relationships. Why do people sometimes suffer so much for so little?
  • To be happy with what we have. Why do we have to indulge in more when we are already content with our current standard of living?

Is “more” always the answer to happiness? If that were the case, celebrities would never be diagnosed with depression.

We have never been more fanatical about perfection. What is even more concerning is happiness being valued in terms of material possessions. That we *should* have the perfect car, perfect job, perfect house etc.

Your dream is sometimes not your dream, but a dream that someone else subconsciously has painted for you. We could be satisfied with far less, but we always push ourselves to do more, because truth be told, society is not impressed with frugality. As an example, look around, and see how many people are complimenting someone for their money-saving skills. We never say “Wow, you saved so much money by buying a small house/car/TV” We never show off our small expenses, but are quick to pose in front of a fancy restaurant or expensive car or check-in to business class lounges on Facebook.

The showstoppers, the ones with a deep pocket are admired, whereas the ones who enjoy a quiet and peaceful life are looked down upon. But then the world doesn’t care if you slip into debt or depression either.

Don’t let everyone’s preconceived notions steal you away from your one true goal and ambition: happiness.

An Ode to Feminism and Personality Prints

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Feminism runs in my family, in parts.

I come from a family of outspoken (sometimes bordering on the line of offensive) women, about whom the men in the house would jokingly warn new entrants to be wary of.

We inherit a chunk of values subconsciously from the ones around us. The early lessons often imparted by family. The few beads of feminism that I took away from mine:

Importance of education and hatred for dowry – I learned from my grandfather, who would tell his daughters “I am ready to sell everything to get you girls a good education” and who would ask prospects to kindly leave if they ever asked for dowry.

Importance of courage, debating, learning, re-learning, and speaking out – I learned from my mother. She has been at the receiving end of many jibes that came her way for raising her daughters to be the feminists that we are. Instead of feeling the burden of everyone’s favorite dialogue “It’s the mother’s fault,” she rose to the challenge and took it as a compliment.

Importance of financial independence – I learned from my aunts, who owing to personal incidents had to depend on themselves to keep their family afloat.

Importance of gender equality – I learned from my dad, who was absolutely fine with doing household chores, cooking, and cleaning. P.S: He used to make the best mutton curry.

Importance of freedom – I learned from my sister, who values her independence more than anything else in this world. Nothing can stop her from pursuing her dreams in life.

We always learn little lessons from everyone around us, without even knowing. When I look back, to think where I got my current ideologies from, these are the people who pop up in my mind. I learned a little bit from each and together they have defined my set of values.

An individual can be unique not just in physical appearance or fingerprints, but even by their “personality print” which is the sum total of all their experiences in life. Next time you feel you are not special, think about it this way. There is literally no one like you – with the same set of values, journey, experiences, understanding. Just like fingerprints, no two personality prints are alike. You are uniquely you. Is there any better reason to celebrate?