She Comes To Visit

This time of the year is when I usually meet a dear friend; she visits me to accompany the abundance of space between four blank walls. Solitude, how are you so consistent? How do you overcome and override time and time again?

Most misconstrue your presence as the beginning of turmoil or something sad or pitiful, but to me, you have been good. To me, you are a guide or a pedagog who has shoved me into growth and besides, I like you. It makes me think that no matter how good a swimmer I am, the tide is something I continually fail to fathom.

Perhaps you condemned me on our first meeting; perhaps you didn’t. But we are much past that now; there is little time for dilly dallying and dicking around. With Solitude, I see clearer even if a film of tears clouds my vision. To make peace with an enemy, is to gain a friend, I assume, but despite the time we spend together and learn from each other, you are too unpredictable to trust. As much as I dwell in you in order to comprehend your ways, you evade me. I expect nothing different; you are mine till the very end. The thought of losing you leaves a bitter taste in my mouth like the first bite of uncooked karela; I can munch all I want but a sweetness will never avail.

That is what makes it okay for my dear friend to come and make a place in my being from time to time. It’s quite alright for I know, that her visits to me are but visits and maybe, she sees me as a mirrored visitor too. Maybe I’m okay with her skulking around in nooks and crannies of my shoebox-sized dorm room because I’m skulking around in hers simultaneously. If I get closer I’ll love her more, and so the only appropriate approach during this lonely time of year, is gratitude. So thank you.

 

© 2017 Pia Krishnankutty & springtidevoice. wordpress.com All Rights Reserved

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Sing Along

So I walk into a morbidly cheerful classroom to join my first club on college campus. I say morbid, because smiling faces arouse my skepticism. It proved to be all the more morbid when I found my initial skepticism and borderline contempt slowly crumble as everyone began to chat and hum. There were good vibes, great voices, harmonious harmonies and a general contentment that filled the room; all of which surprisingly failed to provoke any habitual eye rolling of mine. Perhaps, I’m more of a happy person than I care to admit.

Glowing screens lit up faces with the lyrics of Stand By Me, while too-doo-doos echoed from corners of the room. Nobody sought to stand out; everyone blended their voices together, listening and hearing one another. I guess that was my biggest take away.

College is too often deemed a platform to stand out, leave your mark or defy the odds which, for the majority of the part, it certainly is. But it’s also about compromise be it keeping tempo with the Bass or negotiating with your roommate to hotbox (hypothetical; please simmer down) the room from 18:00 to 21:00 hours only and so on. It’s cooperating with your professor for giving you a dry-as-stale-bread prompt for your position paper.

University is this fantastically exciting step before the big, bad world. It’s so tempting to constantly establish who you are but not so much accepting and embracing who other people are. To overcome a public speaking fear, to make your bed every morning, to deal with situations you don’t want to be in or with people you don’t necessarily relate to, is to extend an education.

It is also occasionally making bad decisions such as Maggi.

And this little lesson continues to peep out even within the place I first grasped it. Ironically, I’m dreading my Acapella meeting tonight because I’m not particularly fond of the assigned song choice. But I made a commitment and I want to see those beeming yellow smiles again. So am I going to be petty and bunk? Tomorrow perhaps, but maybe not today.

P.S: possible symptom of college paranoia i.e. making everything a metaphor to soften the blow of what a failure you really are. 

© 2016 Pia Krishnankutty & springtidevoice. wordpress.com All Rights Reserved

Here’s The Thing About Frogs

Shall I start with the fact that we all have phobias? Some phobias like the injection-injury type are said to be genetic but a majority are conditioned into our psyche. So before I bitch about these green creatures, know that it’s possibly the result of a bad childhood experience and those of the amphibian community are urged to read this with a pinch of salt.

A fear of frogs is not completely unorthodox but from a survival perspective it is pretty stupid. Unlike say snakes, frogs are harmless. They are however, downright irksome to the point where one can feel apprehensive. So if we’re going to substantiate this phobia , we’re going point-wise.

SkinOf slimy texture and variations of sad green, occasionally bumpy

Sliminess is just an uncomfortable texture to the sense of touch. It’s not soft and cuddly and warm; it’s wet and associated with gloominess. Green can be a lively colour but frogs occurring in bright green colours are poisonous. Also, the unpleasant variations of green found amongst most frogs ranges from vomitus to mossy decaying leaves.

Ribbit – Expansion of throat area
The animal sound in itself is not the problem but rather the immediate visualisation that it brings. First of all, bad table manners. Second, internal burping is just gross and can be trapping some dangerous bodily gases. Thirdly, the enlargement of the lower throat area is super weird. Just the fact the skin can stretch out into the shape of the burp is strange.

Hopping/JumpingUnpredictable movement
If you have a snake phobia, the slithering movement of snakes is probably what gets your nerves jangling. Similarly, the uncertainty of frog’s hop is characteristic to the fear. It can pop across your foot when your walking or just jump onto your shoulder. Also, if you’ve ever noticed, frogs have relatively bulbous endings to their feet which I always assumed helped with gripping as they hopped. Following this assumption, once their on you, they’ve got suction. Great, I’m getting tingly.

TongueYou know what I’m talking about
They kill their prey by shooting their tongues out. COME ON. Quick sadistic kill, spontaneous movement and another weirdly elastic extension of a body part.

FairytalesKiss The Frog
I have no idea why this concept ever entered fairtytales and modern animation. WHY. It’s borderline bestiality and if we’re really entertaining the notion, why not choose a less slimier creature in the animal kingdom. (But the prince-trapped-inside-a-frog idea is pretty square so we can partially overlook this flaw).

DissectionThursday afternoon Biology practicals
The frog seems to be science’s go-to chop shop candidate but why just the frog? EVERY high school dissection class is done with frogs and so it’s not uncommon for people to quickly picture a sliced up amphibian being inspected with some tweezers the second they hear the word ‘frog’. This strong association and nasty mental image is of course society’s doing and not the frogs’ but nonetheless, ew.

© 2016 Pia Krishnankutty & springtidevoice. wordpress.com All Rights Reserved

Does The Working Indian Woman Have It Easy?

Author’s Note: An amateurish stint i.e my 9th grade project to address something relevant to current events. (No recent changes have been made whatsoever).

Since the beginning of time women were never equated to men and immediately undertook a subordinate position in society. Mrinal Pandey’s ‘Girls’, illustrates the frustration of a young Indian girl under the gender pressures of her family. She realises that her family perceives her as a ‘burden’ on their lives and that as a girl, she fails to bring honour and pride to her family as the men and boys do.  Although modern times have proved to be more forgiving toward certain unfairness in society, the discrimination against women still prevails. Recent events in our country itself support this claim such as the Delhi rape case which was a violent demonstration of man’s need to exercise power over woman. Moreover, the role of working women in society has more cons than pros which makes establishing their role not only in their work place but at home as well, a real challenge.

Manusmriti, the base of ancient Hindu law and conduct of society suggests women have an obligation to seduce and provide immoral temptation and desire to men. If such an accusation was true, then it would imply that by controlling the desires of men, women controlled their actions, which is contradictive. In fact, Manusmriti starts by describing the beauty of nature; plants, animals and the surroundings. However, it restricts men from witnessing a woman giving birth; a natural process. If men were to observe the pain of childbirth, they would be more sympathetic towards women or even amazed by their strength. Even fifty years ago; most women were hired only as typists, assistants, secretaries.  Over generations a mindset has been created that women are the weaker, inferior sex and thus incapable of being independent.

Today, the work place is problematic for Indian women; there is competition, various unfair prejudices and a constant worry of the children while the woman is away from home. Everyone can agree that a woman is the mother of her children and so holds a greater responsibility of them. Now for working women, they have a constant guilt of being away from the children; how they are doing in school with homework, tests, extracurricular activities and exams or worse; whether they feel lonely in the absence of their mother. Indeed, it is hard for them to balance their moral obligations as mothers and their careers and probably the ugly truth is that to excel in the latter the prior will be less acknowledged. The political term ‘glass ceiling’ describes an unseen yet inevitable barrier that prevents minorities such as women, despite their accomplishments and qualifications from reaching the top of the ladders of the corporate and industrial world.  The bitter sweet reality is that not only India, but the world recognises this inescapable career obstruction that working women are unfortunately subjected to. However, to remove such obstacles is easier said than done as they are based upon such gender mindsets that have been well embedded in our society for generations before and probably generations to come.

A recent study showed that the seriousness of their jobs compelled certain single women to remain single and some married women to not want children anymore. However, unlike the middle class woman who can hire help, the lower class working woman carries a heavier load. Ironically enough, most of these women are our own domestic help who have three to five children including grandchildren to look after. She has to also clean her home (after cleaning a stranger’s), take care of the family and also see to their meals. We live in a country where spousal rape is not illegal and domestic violence is a norm; where sex-selective abortion, female infanticide and child marriage are a practice in which women are demonstrated as mere pawns in a game of chess. Some of their husbands gamble or drink away their money and so the woman has to bring home double the income. It is a pity that even though she is the breadwinner of the family, the lower class woman can be physically abused if she works too late. With the addition of women inequality and one third of them being illiterate, it prevents women from striving to higher paying jobs or any jobs at all which hence lessens the female labour participation of the nation. This in turn could soon threaten the country’s progress.

Pregnant women are hardly hired which brings us to the primary factor of hiring women; physical attractiveness. Most of the time the workplace does have many women, but all who suffer the corporate hierarchy where they are deprived of senior management positions. A corporate behavioural study proved that men having housewives feel women in the workplace are less suited to leadership roles and are more unlikely to promote them. Unequal pay despite the Equal Remuneration Act (1976) and night shifts that open doors to sexual harassment, are more stereotypes and unfairness that women have to work around in male dominated companies and industries. Even though 11% of the 250 odd Indian companies have women as CEOs, the trials and tribulations that her sisters bear do not cease. Indeed, the Indian working woman does not have it easy.

© 2016 Pia Krishnankutty & springtidevoice. wordpress.com All Rights Reserved

The Dumb Intellectual

Oxymoronic introductions tend to draw attention but a recurrent ironic tone can become rather boring. I shall try to present myself otherwise.

What is a dumb intellectual? Surely a concept concocted when I’ve had too much free time to think. Frankly, I consider myself part of this tribe. Maybe brief psychological insight might tender less scepticism from your end but I assure you, dumb intellectuals do in fact exist.

Psychologist Raymond Catell posits two types of intelligences – fluid and crystallised. Fluid intelligence is the mental capacity with which we are born, free from cultural influence. It’s what our mamas and papas have given us. Crystallised intelligence on the other hand, is culture heavy. When I say culture this includes the environment around an individual – the social, the economic, the community, the polity. The information or general knowledge that one absorbs from culture forms crystallised intelligence. Therefore, crystallised intelligence develops throughout our lives as we learn more from the world while fluid intelligence is an inherent, unchangeable cognitive ability.

Fluid intelligence is like a given number of stairs and crystallised intelligence is how many steps the person is able to climb, subject to their environmental circumstances be it quality of education, family life or exposure to the world through travel. Fluid intelligence is the given flight of stairs – a limit but it depends on how far the individual is able to fulfil this potential.

A dumb intellectual, I believe, is a person who has a dwarfed fluid intelligence in comparison to the average counterpart but through life experiences, travel, quality education or vocational success they have been able to expand their horizons and achieve the highest form of their crystallised intelligence over the course of life. They adopt a colourful vocabulary, well-informed global views, vast general knowledge and exquisite conversational styles; all hallmarks of sophistication. Crystallised intelligence helps them exude sophistication and enlightenment in ways similar to those with superior fluid intelligence. Their crystallised intelligence almost masks their inferior fluid intelligence.

“So if a person is able to disguise their stupidity so well, how do you know they’re stupid?” Well, one, they’re not stupid but are less mentally equipped and two, this inferiority can be revealed in certain situations to test comprehension, articulation and construction.

Comprehension. Dumb intellectuals have trouble understanding the very basis of concepts necessary to solve problems. I’m not talking about algebraic numericals, but just mind-benders. For example, a common ‘fork in the road’ mind puzzle as described below.

You are walking down a road and arrive at a fork that splits the road into two separate paths. When you reach, you meet two identical twins, each standing at the edge of one of the two paths. You have heard that there is a bag with $1,000,000 at the end of one path. You are told that one of the twins knows where the money is but unfortunately, one always tells the truth and the other always lies. You do not know which one is which. There is no way you can get to the end of both roads before the sun goes down.

What ONE question can you ask (of only one twin) that would lead you to the money?

(Stick around till the end for the answer and if you already know the answer stick around anyway.*)

A dumb intellectual would ordinarily have trouble comprehending what exactly the puzzle asks for. They may actively attack the problem, questioning why the bag of money is relevant or why it is important to get it before sundown. Or they may suggest asking the ‘truthful twin’ or the ‘lying twin’ a particular question obviously ignoring the instruction that nobody knows which twin is which (of course, over confidence or diverted attention could also be factors). They may just seem confused as to how to approach the problem and may suggest just walking down each road through trial and error – they are immensely baffled by what type of question must be asked. This often leads to over thinking. Over thinking is possibly a reaction when they realise that both crystallised intelligence and fluid intelligence is failing them in this instance of problem solving. Thus, they start actively evaluating negligent parts of the problem and imagining diverse explanations such as ‘what if both twins are liars’, ‘what if there is a third road’. Thinking out of the box is only when it assists one to a solution – over thinking does not assist one to a solution. Thus, lack of comprehension and the possibility of over-thinking can reveal the ‘dumb’ in a person.

Articulation. I’ve found that dumb intellectuals are great orators, speak with coherence and confidence on almost any topic but the lack of fluid intelligence seeps through when you ask them supplementary questions on the spot. This is the test of true articulation. Dumb intellectuals will change the topic, repeat initial points, repeat two or three ‘big’ words and/or will react with extreme emotions. Their explanations will be hollow, their true understanding will be blurry and the conviction in their speech dilutes. For example, when anybody at a dining table talks about ISIS they are almost always looking to preach. If you put them on the spot, ask them why this solution would be better than another, how they arrived at this conclusion, why this is happening in this century as opposed to others, you’ll find them quoting presidents and TV anchors with no real opinion of their own. Facts will be one sided and opposing counsel is often met with commentary on bigotry, religion and other matters that curve-ball from the root of the conversation. Therefore, they present themselves as intellectuals on a subject they speak on more than they genuinely know. Sometimes, dumb intellectuals have problems articulating the solution to a problem. If you a person has trouble explaining the solution of the ‘Fork in the Road’ puzzle to another person well, chances are they had trouble with comprehension and thus articulation. This is barring the obvious factors of attention span or whether the puzzle itself was poorly explained to them.

Construction. While they may know a great deal about say different furniture brands, dumb intellectuals may have difficulty building an IKEA dresser. They may have trouble following instructions, visualising the end product and understanding the purpose of each part, similar to how they may not understand pieces of a mind puzzle. You may have difficulty constructing visualisations of 3D objects in their head and possess great hesitation when asked to describe its different dimensions from their mind.

I am a dumb intellectual to a degree. I use my vocabulary to bullshit my way through essays and I use other skills learnt over time to compensate for those I was not genetically given. Yes, everyone has different staircases but dumb intellectuals possess a tangent to this uniform climb – deceit. We as humans are awfully intent on appearing as strong physically as well as mentally to others in our species. Being smart is an attractive quality but dumb intellectuals only appear smart. Look out for them and look for substance.

*Solution: A double negative. Point to one road and ask the question -“If I asked your twin if this was the path to the money, would he say yes?” Say it was the right path; if you asked the truth-teller, he would say no because his twin would lie. If you asked the liar, he would also say no because he knows his twin would say yes but he would lie about this fact. Therefore, a ‘no’ to this question meant that that was the road to the money and vice versa, a ‘yes’ would mean it was the road to no money.

© 2016 Pia Krishnankutty & springtidevoice. wordpress.com All Rights Reserved

 

Preach

Fleeting thoughts of a preacher who suffers from sleep

I’m preachy, pretty preachy (if that is a fact that I am allowed to preach).

Preach, preach, preach is what I find I can do best. I preach for my mosque and my friends and in ordinary conversations with ordinary folk. I preach to myself when my fists are tight and my face is wet before a cracked mirror. Everyone can speak but few can really preach. I orate and berate and use big, bold words that can entrance all no matter how small the audience because often, my voice is larger than their scepticism. I preach because it keeps me sane, though others need a little preaching to keep themselves sane and it’s quite alright to feel that way because I do too.

“I feel that pain, I know those feelings” and because I say I do, its easier for them to listen and less painless for me to preach it. Preaching is part of my passing. It isn’t particularly wonderful nor wonderless but I get others to wonder at it and in some tangle of ways I can find my bliss. Though if I’m being frank, it is most difficult to preach when I sleep for then I am quiet and so is my conviction.

I wake up and I remember parts of my preachless sleep as fragments and I’m not able to put them together with the exact precision with which I am able to vocally emit the things I posit as I stand in my white finery, kippah upon my head, by thick books, surrounded by lingams placed in a comfy altar. Or worse, I don’t dream what I preach. A part of my mind is not as preachy as I believed and how can that be?

They come in masses or one at a time but nevertheless, they come looking and I come receiving. Yet I wonder, in the few minutes before which the gates close before my night sight, if ever a thought passes through their mind that I possess a part that is not completely sure, regardless of the state of consciousness. I have a capacity to wonder. “Now, now”, I tell myself, sitting up and waiting for Surya to lighten the skies, “All shall be well come Sunday morning”.

© 2016 Pia Krishnankutty & springtidevoice. wordpress.com All Rights Reserved