How I overcame a fear of dogs to become a dog lover.

Are you also scared of dogs? Do you fail to understand all this hype of people for their pet dogs? I was the same… Here is the story of how I overcame my fear of dogs and became a dog lover.

We never had a dog when I was growing up. I didn’t even know anyone who had dogs as pets. None of my friends or family had one. But I really loved pets. And when a stray cat suddenly walked into our home without any invitation or fear, it became ours. It was a she. Gradually she became a mother and our cat family grew until at one point we had 11 cats!!

When our cat family was growing from one to four, my mom told me for the first time an old saying my grandmother used to tell her. It was repeated a lot after that in my house. That if a home has 10 cats, the 11th one would be a golden cat. We, as children, were super excited hearing this. We eagerly waited for the 11th cat to arrive. It was not a long time after that. As our original cat had two daughters and a son, and so they multiplied fast. Even though some of them died young, we finally had 11 cats. Alas! To our disappointment, it was not a golden cat. But we still loved them all dearly.

Cats were the only pets I knew growing up. My brief experience with a stray dog did not end happily. Read about that in my previous post. It’s a funny one.

When I was in college, my friend bought a Labrador puppy. She used to tell all these adorable stories of the puppy. By the time I went to visit, it had grown as tall as a small pony. It came running down the stairs in all excitement to greet me, and I was rooted to the ground for fear. My eyes had zoomed in on the many pointed, sharp teeth as it came running towards me. My brain had conjured up images of those sharp teeth biting into the flesh of my hands. And I had inadvertently calculated that I can never outrun it, even if I had a head start.

So, I stood there frozen. Pleading with my eyes at my friend to save me from this nightmare. After what seemed like a long time, she finally noticed my fear filled face and lured the dog away with treats. After that experience, I never imagined I would have a dog for a pet. I had staunchly placed myself in the cat lover category, and I was not gonna budge.

This is when I got married and my husband, a strong dog lover, wanted a pet. I suggested a cat, obviously. Even was about to adopt a cat from the neighbourhood when unfortunately it lightly (only lightly, the mark cannot even be seen by the naked eye) scratched my husband on the hand when he went to pet it. This incident traumatised my husband so much that he wrote off the whole cat species as unloving, ungrateful beings.

With our pet dog

So after this incident, my suggestions for adopting a cat were promptly turned down. He suggested we go and look at some Labrador puppies. I tagged along to see them. We went to a house where a big dog who as not even chained was sleeping. I wanted to run away before it woke up. But my husband went ahead before I could protest. They bought the puppy out and oh!! It was so small. As small as a cat and cute!!. And the biggest plus, it didn’t have teeth at that point. Let me see you bite me with that, I thought. I think we fell in love with him. And we loved him even more as he grew up.

Now, when I listen to other people telling me how big he is or asking me if he bites, I remember my own fear so long ago. It seems irrational now, at the same time I understand other people because I would have asked the same questions had we not bought him.

Our dog enjoying the view

Having a cat and a dog are entirely different experiences. A cat takes care of themselves, you just have to feed it, no bathing, no taking for a walk, no grooming, no toys. A dog seems to be so much work, but their love is so apparent and unconditional. I would not say that I am not a cat lover now, I am just as much a dog lover as I am a cat lover. These animals deserve to be treated with love and care.

5 Things I have Learned from Running my own Household

  1. Its hard!- Seriously !! I cannot fathom how my mother managed two kids, the household and her job. She is superwoman, as are all those mothers out there who do this every single day. I love cooking but the amount of time it takes everyday is just baffling to me. My very hilarious aunt proposed the brilliant idea of a communal kitchen for a group of houses where meals for all these houses will be made. This means the women or whoever is cooking everyday in each house save time and energy which can be dedicated to other tasks. This seems to me a revolutionary idea and why isn’t this already in place yet?!!

2. You cannot do everything– Its good to rely on others. Even healthy…Seek help whenever you require. It can be your partner, your children, another family member or outside help. Once you start feeling overwhelmed with handling everything yourself, its a down road from there. So ask for help. Sometimes you may not get it, especially, if you are asking your husband😉, but don’t give up, keep asking. I have noticed that you can lure them in with simpler tasks , even giving them an option between one simple task and a harder one. They will choose the simpler one no doubt. But hey! you got them to do something right!! Once they become comfortable with those you can move on to bigger ones.

Image from Pixabay

3. Buy gadgets to help you– What use is modern technological advancements if you don’t use them!!! Buy things that will make your task easier. A simple device like an electric chopper can make your life so much easier especially in Indian cooking, wherein there is not a single curry without chopped onion and tomatoes. Make them your friends- they will save time and help you be more organized. Also buy things that will help to make your cleaning process easier.

4. Don’t Put it Off- Try not to put off too many things for tomorrow. Yes, I know sometimes we are just too tired to tackle the mountain of plates in the sink. You just want to forget about them and go to sleep. Sometimes that perfectly okay. What? We are humans. Its a little bit much to do everything ourselves. However, as you go you will realize that putting too many things for tomorrow just makes tomorrow a much harder day. Try to do some things at least so that you are not exhausted just seeing the mess from yesterday.

5. Give Yourself Time- Have you seen those perfect homes where everything is in its place, not a speck of dust anywhere to be seen, even with children. Hmm where is the magic lamp people… I have learned that it does not come easily. Like everything in life, managing a household efficiently takes time and practice. At first one can be overwhelmed, angry, frustrated, tired all of these. But gradually you get better, pick up tricks eventually becoming a super manager. Manager is not just limited to the professional world, one who manages the house is also one. Isn’t it?

Making Real Connections with People

I am amazed at the sheer number of people a person comes in contact with during a lifetime. We connect with all these different people, sometimes they remain in our lives and sometimes they don’t. Do we get to decide who stays and who goes??

When I moved to the countryside from the city, I thought people were gonna be really old school here. Of course, I was right! There are a lot of people who are old fashioned, some wound up in their family squabbles, some who stare like we are some alien creatures descended to earth. But, I was also amazed to see genuine people, people who care, people who laugh with you and not at you, people who are miles ahead in thinking compared to many so called ‘progressive’ people I met in the city. They are accommodating, understanding and above all hugely helpful.

In the first month or two, all the people who passed here either were staring or were full of smiles asking if our shift has been good, if we needed numbers to anyone? plumber, electrician? etc. They stopped to talk and wanted to help. After some time we made our peace with the creepy staring which though reduced, still continues. It became our funny thing.

Above all, moving turned out to be the best decision I had taken in a while. There are a lot of extenuating factors other than the good people like the low rent, our own space, a garden, fresh air, beauuutiful surroundings etc. Excluding the stares and occasional disputes between families which has lasted generations it seems, it is worthwhile.

Anyway, as I was saying, I have a connection with a lot of people here. However, I was wondering, if this bond is place-bound? Some connections we make are like that. So rooted in the place that If you move away the soul of the connection goes away as well. Maybe it is. Only time will tell. We may try to be in contact for a while but after that the calls dwindle, we will have nothing to talk about and slowly it fizzles out. Though we may never forget the people, we become so far removed from them that you no longer have a common ground.

The Writing Muse

You see, for me as for a lot of others, I am sure, writing is an emotional process. I mean that it is when we are overcome with emotions that we write. But the downside to this is that when the emotions run dry you just can’t write. The words will not come out of you, you will have to pull it out by force. Sometimes this does help, your determination to write brings the reluctant words out. But most of the time this forceful wringing out of words are not that great ( for the piece you are writing and probably for the audience as well). The words just drop flat. They have no life.

I might add that this is connected to your emotional state as well. Since you are not feeling good about writing whatever you write seems to be below par to you mind.

I have so solutions to offer for this because I myself have not figured out a good way to deal with it. Obviously there will be umpteen articles on the internet suggesting ways to overcome this hurdle. A lot of them will have genuine advice that you can successfully incorporate into your life to kickstart you writing anywhere, anytime. But that’s not what I want to do. I just want to analyze this feeling and see where it leads me.

Where are all the good teachers?

My parents constantly rave about their teachers, or generally teachers in their time who used to create magic in the classrooms. Do anybody else’s parents do that?

My father has this amazing story about a teacher in college who used to be so funny the students will be in tears by the end of the classes. If a students walk by his classroom he could hear constant laughter erupting from inside. Everyone used to adore his lessons so much so that sometimes students from other departments also used to attend his lectures.

Then one day the teacher forgot his notes in the classroom and a student found it. To the student’s amazement all the jokes were written into the margins, each and every one of them. Every joke or anecdote was timed to perfection. And it had not happened overnight. When I heard this story all I could think about was the sheer effort put into teaching and into making students laugh. He was a teacher and comedian rolled into one and both are very difficult shoes to fill.

I had only a few teachers who were great, who were able to enthrall me, motivate me, engage me with the material fully. I don’t know if it is just me. But only 3 or 4 teachers in my entire student life come to mind. They are the ones who created that sort of magic while teaching. When I think about it I would not say that this is because of a lack of effort on their part. I think it is the system. There is a general lack of appreciation, of understanding and adequate training for teachers.

There were many teachers who knew a lot but just didn’t know how to teach effectively. There were many who would have been great if they just changed their way of speaking. It is rather difficult to concentrate when the rhythmic rising and falling tempo of the teacher’s voice lulls you into an afternoon nap.

Teachers I think are the most underappreciated people. They say motherhood is underappreciated. However mothers only have to deal with 2 or 3 kids mostly. Imagine dealing with 30 plus kids who would rather be anywhere else than be in that classroom.

The Work-Life Balance

Recently, I have been seeing a lot of buzz on the work life balance topic mostly because of the sudden change which was brought about by Coronavirus. It is something that has not been talked about as much as it should be. With the pandemic, people all over the world have been forced to redefine their work schedules, with a majority of them working from home.

This is an interesting change. When before an average person spend 6-8 hours ( sometimes more) at work, now you have the luxury of working from your home. For some, this situation has brought down the precious barrier which separated work from personal life, while for others it has given them more time and flexibility to balance both.

I was watching the brilliant Canadian show Workin’ Moms portraying a group of working parents struggling to juggle the different roles they are expected to fulfill. The struggle is real for parents, both men and women to manage everything effectively.

Excluding parents, other groups like people who work better alone, introverts, whose job demands exclusive space etc. have reaped the benefits of this prolonged work from home. However the banter, conversations, exchange of ideas, learning opportunities, teamwork, brainstorming is all an essential part of our overall happiness as well.

This article by Time magazine touches on many aspects that can be changed in the post-pandemic workplace.

A balance wherein there is flexibility to both work from home and from office is I think a good solution. The work from home should be equal hours to work from office lest it should be taken as a time for relaxation. When people are comfortable and equally productive both at office and home, then it will be highly effective.

Previously, I worked in an office which was flexible but I did not ever take the work from home option because

1 I enjoyed office even though the commute was hard.

2 There was an unspoken understanding the if you are working from home you are just chilling out.

I think that is the prejudice that you should do away with. Now that work from home is not as frowned upon as before then maybe this transition to a flexible workplace can be implemented more effectively.

Book Review #5 : DUNE

This was a long read nevertheless, an enjoyable one!

The cover is just beautiful and so is the name DUNE

The most fascinating aspect about this book is that at no point will you realize that it was written in 1965. There are no remnants of the time during which it was written, left in the book except maybe the names of characters. The book being Sci-fi has something to do with it, obviously, because the whole point of sci-fi is to peep into the future. However, Dune has a certain quality about it that makes it uniquely modern.

For further context, I searched for other books published in 1965. Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, Harold Pinter’s Homecoming, The Flight of the Falcon by Daphne Du Maurier are some of them, yet Dune seems to be far away from all of them.

The story begins in the water planet Caladan, where Duke Leto is the ruler. Due to political reasons and upon the order of Emperor Shaddam IV the Duke must now forfeit his home planet and go to the desert planet of Arrakeen, better known as Dune, along with his son Paul Arteides and his concubine, Jessica.

From the beginning, Paul is prophesied to become the Kwisatz Haderach, a supreme being who will change destiny (like always). His mother, Jessica is a part of an elite league of women, called the Bene Gesserit, who possess superhuman powers. Jessica had been passing down all of her training to Paul from a young age with the hope that the prophecy might be true. There are other powerful soldiers like Duncan Idaho, Gurney Halleck, Mentat(another group with superhuman logical powers) Thufir Hawat who teaches Paul physical combat among various things.

Very soon after taking up his position as Duke of Arrakeen, Leto is betrayed by his own doctor, Yueh and taken to the Harkonnen (rival house) Baron. Paul and Jesicca escape with help from Yueh. From here on the story follows the development of Paul from a boy to become all that the prophecy claimed him to be.

But interestingly, Frank Herbert does not glamourize the role of savior that Paul dons. Instead, he is weighed down by the enormity of his power and his responsibility. This is revealed through peeks into the mental agony and confusion that Paul faces.

There are a number of undercurrents in the books that will reveal on multiple readings, I am sure. Some of the things which strike me are:

One the use of different religious elements of Buddhism and Islam in the book. Another famous one is the ecological factor, the inhospitable desert climate of the planet, the creature sandworms, the stillsuits and the spice which is central to the existence of that universe. I am sure that if you read all the books in the Dune universe it will make much more sense. For now I am really happy I read this book and hope that someday I will pick up the rest in the series.

All the things that you should have said

Are you one of those people who are very articulate? Who say funny, witty, good comments on the spot. If you are, I envy you.

I keep a lot of things I should have said to myself. And one day they are gonna pile up and bury me.

Sometimes it is because I second guess myself. Should I say this? Is this appropriate? Other times I miss the opportunity or the chance to say them ( because I am overthinking) and keep quiet. A lot of the time I am just caught up in thinking about completely irrelevant stuff that I do not give the important stuff much thought. So when it comes to me I will have nothing to speak about.

If you want my opinion on the interesting conversation you were having, sorry, I have nothing to say but would you like to hear my thoughts on why that painting looks so weird then I have a few.

The brain is weird and mine is weirder I think.

Many a times, I obsess over the things I should have said. Replaying the conversation in my head and wondering how the conversation would have went if I have said this or that. It always goes very well because, well, its in my head…

But hey! this filter ( that what I would prefer to call it when actually it is a delay in response) has its benefits as well. Sometimes what I wanted to say was disrespectful or lame or hurtful or simply information which is better kept private. Its in these moments that I am really happy that I didn’t say it.

But then again you know humans have the capacity to just shove away the good things into a corner and highlight the flaws. So on most days I obsess over the things I should have said while totally disregarding that it has saved me from a lot of unpleasant situations. Maybe writing this post will remind me that its equally good.

Image from Pixabay

To all those people out there just stop putting yourself down, beating yourself up about would haves. These kind of thoughts are only good in moderation. Once you start worrying about it too much it will become your life thus keeping you from enjoying this beautiful time you have. Save yourselves people, I already fell in this pit.

Book Review #4:The Girl on the Train

I went through a lot of different emotions while reading The Girl on the Train, but I have to say the predominant feeling was frustration. I wanted to go into the book and rattle Rachel (the alcoholic protagonist) by the shoulders, tell her to stop drinking and get a grip on her life.

I also felt angry and confused. I did not understand why Rachel would not stop drinking. That would solve most of her problems. Later, on introspection, I realized that, I was so used to powerful, capable protagonists (male and female) who are all impressive as well as inspiring but far removed from the real world. Here are characters that are raw, without any cloak of hyperbole.

The author, Paula Hawkins, did a marvelous job of conveying all those emotions exceptionally. She did not at any point say that this was the emotion the character was feeling, however I felt it all vividly.

There are multiple POVs in the story- Rachel Watson, the alcoholic ex wife, Anna Boyd, the protective new wife and Meghan Hipwell, the lost girlfriend. Tom is the husband with a connection to all three women. I felt like all the characters were cut from the same cloth. They are not similar but they are not that different either. Anna seems like the younger version of Rachel (plus the baby) who is destined towards the same future. Scott, Meghan’s boyfriend also appears to be an altered version of Tom himself, sharing the same controlling and dominant nature.

At the beginning, the story delves into the psychological state of mind of Rachel Watson. She conjures up an imaginary life to a young couple she glimpses while the train stops at a station. I thought it was absurd that she would see these people almost everyday without fail, in so short a time frame for her to glean so much about their lives. But then as the story progresses I found that there was a personal connection there.

This slow revelation of breadcrumbs is what I found most fascinating about it. There is not much action, or mystery or adventure, just a slow revelation of information to keep the reader on their toes. If you are looking for a book which will intrigue your detective senses this might be it. The story often feels like looking through a hazy glass window, everything is not clear at once, its blurry, but look long enough to find out.

Do you prefer digital or physical reading/writing?

I find that mostly I turn to digital medium because it is easier, more accessible as well as quick but, I cannot get enough of the traditional, old fashioned books, pen and paper.

Regardless of which device you are using to write or read, you have all the information you need and more at your fingertips.

You can’t find the appropriate word?

You can immediately look it up.

You don’t have enough information on a topic.

Google it and your problem is solved.

Sometimes it seems like google is challenging you, how much information do you need?? how much can you read? Hundreds of articles, many, many books, videos, audiobooks, pictures, journals and more? The library which was one of my favorite places to be, seems to be loosing out in this battle.

Even with all these benefits, sometimes I find comfort in putting pen to paper and scribbling away or tucking myself away at a comfortable corner with a book. The main difference with physical reading/writing, is the feeling I am left with after.

Usually with digital I feel tired, drained. BUT after reading a physical book or writing in my journal or diary, my prominent feeling is mostly a sense of relief, introspection and a little bit calmer. My only regret is that I don’t do it often enough. However, I have improved, along the way I found some ways to make it more accessible :

  1. If you want to write, keep a journal/diary or any book handy. First and foremost it should be something which makes you feel good about writing in it. For me it is small, ruled journal type books. The traditional diary just don’t work for me. Its too much commitment to write in it everyday and the dates just remind me of the days I missed which I don’t like at all.
  2. If you want to read, don’t download or buy e books whenever you can buy the physical books. If its not too expensive or urgent, try to limit the number of e books and instead buy the latter. Its a good idea to keep the book somewhere easily visible. This will remind you about the fact that you bought them while a million other things demanded your attention.
  3. Try to use them consciously. Set a routine and carve time out of your schedule to actually use them.

That’s all that I can think about now. Hope this helps.

Image from Pixabay