05 September, 2011

A tried and tested Stress Buster ...

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Stress Busters !!

Who does not need these ? I’m pretty much sure that almost everyone does – well, almost. There are people who claim to be zen enough not to need any stress busters whatsoever. Well, what can I say, other than the fact that I totally envy such people :-). ‘Tis true that stress or the lack of it is a state of mind, ‘tis all in the head. But then again, my head is pretty much like me. At any given point of time, it probably resembles one of those overfull landfills – filled pretty much with stuff that cannot be used or does not need to be used. Needless to say, things that need to occupy space in my head, important things that I do need to remember to make life easier for myself, are pretty much left out in the cold. They are forever fighting for a space inside the landfill that happens to be my head. Landfill !! Ewwww !! Did you just say that ? Well, optimist that I am, I can only say this. My head sure may resemble a landfill but it does state a point – my head isn’t empty !! Ah Haanhh !!

What I’m trying to say, in my usual drawn out, convoluted manner is that I am the kind of person who needs to have loads of stress busters in my armoury. It has to resemble one of those virtual Kurukshetra fields (remember the one from the TV serial Mahabharat ?) – missiles (of the ancient kind) flying back and forth. The Kauravas send across a missile which spews fire and the Pandavas counter it with a missile gushing water. Get my point ?? I too, need a whole variety of stress busters at my disposal. Maybe my range of stressbusters are not as colourful or as dramatic as the missiles in those TV serials, but they know their job and they do it well. Simply put, they bust stress !!

One stress buster that I’ve always relied upon is sharpening pencils. Remember that post I’d done, wherein I laid bare all my quirks (and there were quite a few, mind you). If you haven’t read that post earlier on, I’ll just put in the link here for you so that you can go right over and read about all my quirks. I am a very kind soul that way, you see.

So, like I was saying before I digressed, one stress buster that I had, I do and I always will rely upon, is sharpening pencils. There is something so innately soothing about sharpening pencils. I know I sound like a loon, but the next time you feel like throwing something at someone, just take a deep breath (or two, if you like), pick up a pencil sharpener and a pencil (of course !) and just … well, sharpen the pencil. The swish, swish, swish of the wood against the sharp blade of the sharpener registers somewhere within the chaotic mind and in its own inimitable way, begins to restore a sense or calm, rather automatically. Not to mention, the twirl of the wood shavings that curl out of the sharpener – it automatically sets the creative mind in motion, making the mind dwell upon the different uses that those wood shavings could have. They could be used as Santa’s beard on some artwork, or on a blank paper to create abstract patterns. In doing this, the mind calms down, unknowingly, automatically. Once that feeling of wanting to kill someone passes, I feel safe enough to put the pencils and the sharpener back, in their rightful place.

Over the past year, full time teaching brought me face to face with yet another extremely resourceful stress buster. It works like magic – every single time. The next time you feel really stressed out over something, anything – pick up a blank template (print anything from the internet), pick up a pack of colour pencils or crayons and get to work. Simply put, just colour a picture. It works and it works like magic.

As those colors begin to seep onto the erstwhile blank and sterile landscape of your paper template, it totally captivates the senses. As you watch the pencil strokes grow, as you watch the colours spread, the feeling is one of exquisite delight. It feels rather fairylike, enchanting, captivating yet there remains a feeling of mysticism as you simply give into the messages flowing from your brain on how to fill in the rest of the landscape a.k.a your blank template.

How exactly this works, I know not. But this I know for sure – it works !!

I’ve relied on this stress buster many a times in the not so distant past. It has worked like a charm – every single time. That is to say, I am definitely not one of those zen people that don’t need any ideas or concepts to quell stress !! Quite the contrary !! I think what quite happens is that those streams of colours actually create some sort of pathways inside that stressed up, landfill like head of mine. It’s more like connecting a 5 point 1 home theatre system. All the wires are colour coded, so you know which wire is meant for which speaker. Something similar, I guess, happens inside my head too.

Those streaks of colours, some muted and quiet, laying the foundation and providing the depth and some colours – bright, flashy and loud – bringing the entire landscape to life, screaming for attention – make the picture complete. Those colours automatically make thoughts flow in a sane fashion inside my head, like smooth flowing traffic on a very busy freeway, rather than letting those thoughts zoom around and just zing and bounce off the walls inside my head, leading to utter pandemonium and anarchy inside my head. To put it simply, the colours quell the turmoil and unruliness and restore a much needed sense of order.

Which is pretty much why, when Macadamia and Pecan are in full form, when they unleash the forces of torment like only kids and pre teens can, when they drive me up the wall as effortlessly as they do nowadays, I will, probably be found, sitting on the ceiling, defying the law of Gravity, with a few blank templates and packs of sharpened, colour pencils in my armoury, letting those broad strokes and thin lines of colour, those dark smudges, those bright splashes restore a sense of much needed calm, peace, tranquillity and composure.

Like Robert Fulghum once said,

"Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon. A happiness weapon. A beauty bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one. It would explode high in the air - explode softly - and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth - boxes of Crayolas. And we wouldn't go cheap, either - not little boxes of eight. Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in. With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest. And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with imagination."

03 September, 2011

The young uns speaketh - Part 2

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I've said this countless times before, I'm saying it again and I probably will be saying it for quite some time more.

If there’s one thing the younger generation are masters at – it has to be “The art of conversation”. I mean, they are so prolific that it simply takes ones breath away and leaves one totally speechless. The vocabulary is so abundant that it teems with words and is seemingly inexhaustible. Their versatile vocabulary is an apparent panacea for all the evils of the older generation.

“Huh !”

That, just about, says it all.

Ever noticed how the younger generation needs just a “Huh” and “Really ?” in their linguistic repertoire to carry on, what they deem, is an active, two way conversation ?

“They’ve successfully transplanted an elephant’s head onto a dog’s body.”

While a normal human reaction would be a gasp or a “What” or a nonplussed “What in the name of God are you talking about ?” and the like – a pre teen would probably respond to that with a simple “Huh ?” which, by the way, will have the capacity to make you feel like the biggest dodo on the face of this earth.

Take Macadamia, for instance.

Anything and everything, at first instance, is met with a standard response “huh ?”. And the “huh” goes hand in hand with what we’ve now begun to recognise as “the look”. “The look” is a combination of glazed over eyes, lips pursed together or slightly stretched as though she’s doing something really tedious (don’t get me wrong – that is not a smile I’m talking about), both eyebrows raised about as high as they can go. The effect is even more powerful when just one eyebrow gets raised and the other one stays put where it is supposed to. “The look” says it all. You feel totally on top of the world – if that’s where self-made dummies are generally found, that is.

The other day I mentioned something to Pecan and he responded with something that sounded like a bunch of sounds strung together. I, for one, could simply not figure out what he said or meant. The only thing I could make out at the end of all those funny sounding syllables was the sentence “Whoa ! That’s so cooooooooaaaaaaaaa”. Well, to be honest, it took me a few minutes to figure out the “cooooooooaaaaaaa” bit too. Did I not mention earlier that I’m kinda right at the top of the dummy ladder ??!!

Oh ! and just about everything now is a “thingy”. In any given sentence, every two words uttered in what was hitherto known as human language, is interspersed with “like” or “whatever”. One normal Macadamia sentence would be something like this ...

“I’m like going to schooaa and she like calls my cell and like keeps asking about that test thingy. We have like this Science test thingy like sometime tomorrow. It’s like not exactly like a test but like it’s like a test thingamajiggy. And she like calls and asks me about some History stuff. What a doofus ! I mean – she’s really like ...... sheeesh, whatever !!!”

By the time she’s done speaking those Latin and Greek sounding sentences, I’m, for the most part, found reeling around someplace at home, having gone all green in the face, trying to look normal and struggling (quite literally flapping around like a fish out of water) to figure out what was being said.

There are times when I do ask myself why I even try to decipher the language that today’s younger generation insists on speaking. It wears you down to the bone - just trying to figure out what exactly the kids are trying to say. Pssst !! Sometimes I actually give up trying to decipher cos if I keep trying to, then I would be found walking on the ceiling, for the most part. This language doesn't just drive me up the wall, it makes me defy gravity and walk on the ceiling !!!

I can almost visualize Macadamia and Pecan reading this and saying “Yeah, rrriighhht !!! Whaaatevaaaaa !!!”.

And then of course, there would be “The Look” !!!!.

01 September, 2011

The One Word Vocabulary ....

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Ever wondered what it would be like if people had just one word, to communicate with each other ? Never ? Well, I hadn’t either. I’d never ever contemplated the possibility of humans communicating with each other with just one word in their vocabulary.

I stand corrected !!

I have been given to understand that people can indeed communicate with just a single word. I’ve seen it happen, I am seeing it happen and I’m sure I will see it happen for quite some time more.

If you want to find the solution to this puzzle, you will first need to find a teenager or better still, a pre-teen. Throw this question at them and lo and behold, the answer shall be revealed. In all probability (actually, I’m willing to bet on it), they’d give you the answer straight out …..

Huh !!!???

Yes – that is indeed the magic word I was talking about.


It is amazing how this small, one syllable word has replaced so much of vocabulary with such apparent ease. All you need is the right facial expression to go with the word “Huh”and there – you’ve mastered the art of communicating with just one word.

Take Macadamia, for instance. Ask her something, anything and the gut reaction, initial response is “Huh”? But the simple “huh” had evolved a great deal over the past year or so. Starting off as a humble word a few years ago, this simple word has all but taken over the world of teenage / pre-teen communication (if one can call it that !!). The previously uncommunicative teens and pre-teens now have that one weapon in their arsenal which can make like absolutely miserable and drive the adults around them, totally nuts – stark, raving mad !!

Ask Macadamia anything and she responds with a “Huh ???!!!” and a look that makes one feel like the biggest dodo on the face of this planet that we live in. That “Huh ?!”would invariably be accompanied by a raised eyebrow and a slight extending of the lips, sideways. The mouth would be upturned, ever so slightly, at the sides and the eyes would have the “why do you ask me such silly questions” look in them. Ask her the same question one more time, gathering all the patience that you possibly can, mustering all the willpower that you perhaps have within yourself and you will be met with the same reply “Huh ?!”. The only thing that changes is the facial expression which takes on varying shades of boredom. The boredom, incidentally, would be in direct proportion to the number of times the same question is repeated by the said parent. This simple word has, I’m sure, driven many a parent insane and still continues to do so, with considerable ease.

We’ve, of late realized, much to our consternation, that this single word that is driving us up the wall so effortlessly, does have a younger cousin. Ask Pecan something, anything and his first response would be “Whaaaaa ?”. In case you’re wondering what that is, it is nothing but the simple “What ?”. “Whaaaaa ?” is apparently a lot cooler than just saying “What ?”.

So here we are right now, in this place in time and space, going where no person had probably gone before – into a world where the “huh’s” twirl and swirl all around – some gently touching us as they lightly brush past us and some smacking into our faces as they consistently drive us up the wall. But then again, did I not say in my previous post that I am an optimist ? Nowadays, to every single question of ours, as we pose them to Macadamia and/or Pecan, we atleast know for sure what their immediate response is going to be !!!

The Apocrypha says

"Let thy speech be short, comprehending much in a few words."

Kids nowadays sure have mastered the above art. There exists a whole gamut of meanings in that single word that they use for anything and everything under the sun.

"HUH ???!!!!!"