Four things to do when you are suffering from the writer’s block…

  •   Have you been staring at a blank document for too long?
  •  Have you been doodling on a page to get random ideas?
  • Do you find constipation to be a lesser trouble than writing something?

If the answers to the aforementioned questions is a ‘Yes’, then tan ta daaaa, you are suffering from a condition called ‘writer’s block’.

I’ve been suffering from Writer’s Block since my school days. Every time I saw my question paper, I went blank. I would see everywhere; panic when someone took an extra supplement and would almost cry while giving the nearly blank answer sheet to the supervisor.

But I still loved writing and took it up as my profession. Yesterday, while going through one of my writer’s block phases, my college buddy – Ankit suggested that I write about it. So here we go, I am going to give you four things to do when you go through writer’s block. I hope you find it useful. Even if you don't, pretend that you loved my article.

Tip # 1: Find some trashy stuff to write about…
 If you don’t find a nice topic, watch a trashy cult film like Gunda, Jaani Dushman, or read an equally trashy bestseller like I too had a love story. Once you’re done, you have enough ‘matter’ to write about.
Psst: You can also write about Set Max’s obsession with Suryvansham and Nayak if you want ;-)
Tip # 2: Sit at CCD and pretend that you are ideating!
Unlike my favourite Udipi restaurants; the CCD guys allow you to sit at CCD as long as you want. So what if you have ordered just one cup of coffee, you can sit there for hours and pretend that you are ideating. Even if you are unable to come up with a nice idea, the ambiance will make you feel better, and who knows you may end up writing about how the smell of coffee wakes up the poet within you.
 Tip # 3: Read Scoop Whoop
Scoop Whoop is a cute, stupid website that enlists some random 10 things about why South Indian girls make a better girlfriend, or 10 traits of a hyperactive friend. There you go! Just find a random topic such as ten styles of dogs doing susu and write about it. Don’t forget to add some aww pictures to get more page hits.
Tip # 4: Twitter it is!
How do you think the newspaper fills its pages? Twitter baba zindabad. Not in a mood to write anything? Just login to twitter, find a trending topic, find some outrageous tweets on that topic, and write an article about it. All you need to do is give a 2-3 lines introduction on the topic and give the screenshots of these tweets with a preceding line: And here’s what xyz had to say about abc…put few of such tweets, and your write-up is ready within 10 minutes.

So the next time, you have a writer’s block, you know what to do…if you have any more tips, don't share them with me. Share them on your blog, see jaate jaate ek aur idea de diya. Sweet me!

Depress Mat Ho Yaar!

Last week, one of my friends Pradeep Ananth wrote an article on depression. It was a first hand account on how he coped with depression last year, and how his family and friends helped him get through the lean phase. Incidentally, few days later Deepika Padukone too spoke about her experience with depression.

Depression is not a new thing. I have heard my friends getting depressed about their career and love life.   But I never took depression seriously. I would simply give some gyaan about depression and tell them to move ahead. It was only after I read Pradeep and Deepika's experience that I realized the seriousness of depression.

Pradeep's article gave me a new perspective on how we can help people who are depressed or what we should do if we are depressed. In this post, I am going to enlist the lessons that I learned from their experiences and the lessons that you must learn too.

Lesson # 1: Never say stuff like 'but you have a great career why are you upset' or 'you have such a lovely spouse, why get depressed?'. This is one of the most common mistakes that I made in the past. We may think that those words will make a person feel better, but it is unlikely to help. Just avoid saying those words.

Lesson # 2: Also avoid words like "look at xyz, they have a worse life than you". I cant remember the number of times, I must have said that to my friends. I used to give this gyaan about count your blessings just so they realize that things are not as bad as they think. But again I realized, it doesn't work.

Lesson # 3: Take up a hobby. Again this was the most random advice I have given my friends when they went through a breakup. Avoid saying that.A depressed doesn't want any unsolicited gyaan from you. All they want is an ear that would listen to them or an empty space where they are left undisturbed.

Lesson # 4: "shaadi karle sab theek ho jayega". This is one of the stupidest advice I have heard someone give my depressed friend. A friend who overheard this remarked, "woh shaadi karega toh suicide kar lega". Indians think marriage is the only solution to every problem. Please stop giving such random advices. A marriage may work some people. But some it could ruin two lives.

Lesson # 5: So what should you do when your friend feels low? Just listen to them. Don't give gyaan, don't interrupt, just allow them to pour out their heart to you. They will definitely feel better. In some cases they may want to be left alone, so just give them space and check on them once a day just to know that they are doing fine.

Lesson # 6: If it's you who is feeling low or if it's your friend who is going through depression, do visit a counselor for advice. We Indians think a psychiatrist or a counselor is for 'mentally challenged' or 'weak' people. But that's not the case. Depression is like common cold, there is nothing to be ashamed of it. In fact, timely help can help a person feel better.

Lesson # 7:  Be supportive. Pradeep and deepika had a strong support system, which is why they have been able to lead a normal life. There are people who get into addictions or take extreme steps like committing suicide due to lack of support. So be supportive. If it's you who is in depression, seek support from your loved ones. Don't be ashamed.

Depression unlike physical ailments are not easily visible to anyone. Please take professional help in case you or your loved ones feel depressed. And the next time you see someone depressed, put aside your cell phone and lend them your ears. Trust me they will feel better. And if it still doesn't work, please follow pradeep anath on twitter and ask him all that you want to know about depression. Deepika might not answer your questions, but he surely will.

From Mary Kaun to Mary Kom

After convincing my friend Sneha for almost a week, we finally saw the Priyanka Chopra starrer Mary Kom. To be fair to Priyanka Chopra, she gave her 100%. Her efforts were visible in the movie. But Mary Kom is more than what was shown in the movie.

For starters, Mary Kom is a woman (women are supposed to be in kitchen, not play ladkon wala games).
She is a boxer. No, not a cricketer, tennis player or even a badminton player… she is ‘just’ a boxer.
Brace yourself for more. She is from Manipur – a super neglected Indian state and she is a poor farmer’s daughter (so no Abhinav Bindra type posh training).

Yet despite all these challenges, magnificent Mary managed to win not one but five world cup championship titles and a bronze medal in 2012 Olympics. A two hour movie cannot do justice to this living legend. While, the director did not put an item song or ‘steamy’ scenes that are ‘vital to the script’ in between the scenes; he had to bow down to commercialization and advertise brands like iodex, tata salt and sugar free.

Moreover, Mary’s struggle was not adequately highlighted in the movie. The second half showed her rigorous practice sessions after giving birth to the twins, but it did not show her struggle after International Boxing Association (AIBA) scrapped the 46 Kg and 48 Kg categories in which she was a champion. It did not show how despite all odds, she participated in the 51 Kg category (the new lowest category) and won the bronze medal in 2012 Olympics. It is definitely not easy to shift to a new category after you’ve gained expertise in a particular one.

However, despite all these flaws, the cast and crew of this biopic should be appreciated, because finally after watching this movie, people will stop asking Mary kaun? They will probably know her as magnificent Mary Kom who made the country proud through her sheer hard work and passion.

P.S: Special kudos to Mary Kom’s husband! Not every man is as mature and understanding as Mary Kom’s husband. Like the old adage goes ‘behind every successful man there is woman’, in this case, Mary Kom’s husband is the man who contributed to her success after she became a mother. So super respect to Onler Kom!

A common trend in Indian names

 Disclaimer: This post does not intend spreading communal disharmony. This is just a fun post and should be taken in the right spirit. Any offence to any community is NOT regretted.

Two days back, my Facebook status spoke about how the older generation south Indian community was obsessed with the name Lakshmi. Only the prefix was different, otherwise every second lady was a Lakshmi.

And it is not just the south indian community. Every Indian community had a peculiar way of naming the kids. I would not say that everybody followed this trend. But majority people did follow this trend.

The current generation does an extensive research to give an exotic name to their kid (devoid of any peculiar nomenclature trend),  but my generation and the previous generations were a victim of this trend. 

Just for fun, here's a guide on how you can recognize the community of the person through their name / surname.

You know you are speaking to a South Indian when...

There is an unnecessary 'h' after 't' in the name. So, I am gayatHri not gayatri. Similarly, one of my friend's name is pritHi not priti. So if you see someone writing their name as Amith, Sunitha, Shruthi and so on, you know to which community they belong.

Note: Don't just go and flaunt your tamil in front of them, they could also be Kannada, Telugu, or Malayalam.

You know you are speaking to a Gujarati when...

 The girl's name ends with the sound 'al'. So the next time you come across names such as Jinal, Minal, Sonal, Hetal, Dimple, you know who they are. Similarly, if you come across names like Chetan, Ketan, Jinesh and Jignesh, you can safely consider them to be a Gujarati.Also the suffix bhai and ben is an indicator, best examples are: Dhirubhai, Kokilaben.

Hint: If you are able to find a gujarati using this tip, and if the person becomes friendly with you, dont forget to call me when they bring aamras puri for you.

You know the opposite person is a Sikh when...

The name ends with a Kaur / Singh. Punjabi sikh names are unisex in nature. So both a man or a woman can be Gurpreet, Manpreet and so on. Now if you come face to face with them, you don't have to put much efforts in knowing if the person is a man or a woman. But if you are sending an e-mail to the person and if you are wondering how to address them, all you need to do is check if the name ends with a Kaur or Singh. So if the e-mail id says Manpreetkaur, it's a woman and if it is Manpreet Singh, it's a man.

Note: I love parathas too... so you know what to do if this tip works for you!

You know you are speaking to a Maharashtrian when...

Ok Maharashtrians don't have a peculiar trend in naming the kids. But often their surname is an indicator. Usually maharashtrian surnames end with 'kar'. So if you come across as a Mageshkar, Patkar, Tendulkar, Parmekar, Toraskar, you know you are speaking to a Maharashtrian.

Note: Karmarkar, I am told is Bengali surname and not a Maharashtrian surname. So yeah this is not a fool-proof method. In case, if they do turn out to be a Maharashtrian, don't forget to ask for puran poli. 

There are many more, but my blog would run out of space. So I will end here.

A myth-buster: Don't assume that a surname, which ends with 'ani' is Sindhi. They can be a Kutchi or a Gujarati.