No… two… no, no, three!

no two, no no three

Jason* is one of the cutest three year olds that you could ever meet. He has eyes which actually twinkle brighter than Sirius and are constantly dancing with wonder like the Northern Lights. His smile is a mix of a hint of shyness, loads of what-mischief-should-I-do-next and tonnes of just pure happiness… a smile that hardly ever leaves his face (even when he is really sick too!).

Jason’s cough

Jason had been to his grandparents’ place. He had developed cough and had been brought by his father to the clinic. Homoeopathy is a customized medicine system and we have different sets of medicines depending on whether you fell ill after you had oily food, cold drinks, simply over ate, or… (you get the drift, don’t you?) With this in mind, I was asking Jason’s father if he knew what had triggered Jason’s latest episode. His father admitted that he wasn’t sure as he had not accompanied Jason, “Actually the kids had gone with their mother. And she couldn’t make it here today. It could be any of those things really, you know how it is with grandparents never saying no to kids!”

The predicament

Jason’s sister who is five years old is quieter, more composed and it takes slightly longer for her shyness to thaw. She had been observing this conversation. You could see on her face, the ‘should-I-tell-or-should-I-keep-quiet’ debate that was going on within. Finally she decided that it would be better for Jason if she did. To keep it subtle, she whispered to her father, in her mother tongue (how kids possess such wise judgement is something that always amazes me!)

I waited as her father translated, “She said he had an ice cream there.” I turned to Jason to see his reaction. Will he have a guilt-ridden face? Will he be angry at his sister for ratting him out? Will he be scared of a backlash from his father?

Out of the blue

What Jason did next was totally unexpected… He jumped off his stool and held out four stubby fingers. “No, not one, I had two… no, no three three ice creams! One pink and two white!!” “Oh wow” I replied reflexively, “You enjoyed them, didn’t you?” Jason nodded with a dreamy smile and his wide Disney-character-eyes brimmed with excitement. You should have seen the sheer ecstasy on his face as he relived that delicious memory of having three ice-creams at a go!

Clean Glasses, not Kaleidoscope

What a beautiful state of mind, I thought to myself. To just see things for what they are, without any prejudice. To not think of it as my sister complaining about me, to not worry about my father scolding me or my doctor judging me. To just take things at face value. ‘I had an ice cream and boy, was it yummy!’ To leave things at that. No shame, no guilt.

Wouldn’t it be easier if we too could clean up our glasses of the colors of emotions and past experiences? Wouldn’t it be better to just view things as they were, rather than through a complicated kaleidoscope? No ‘she always does this to me’. No ‘he did it on purpose’. No ‘this always happens to me’. Just facts. What a pure way to look at life!

Prejudice is a Learned Trait

* Name changed to protect his cuteness from the evil eye (just kidding!)

Cancer was the Best thing that Happened to Me – A Cinderella Story

Cancer was the best thing that happened to me - a cinderella story

“About six years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer”, the beautiful forty six years old Mrs. Sapna Mirchandani* began narrating her case history.

(Oh no, I told myself, Brace yourself girl. You can’t get all mushy now. You have to keep your cool if you want to think straight and help her.) I clenched my jaws and steadied myself for a heart wrenching tale of how Cancer had poisoned this lady’s life. She continued, “Cancer turned my life upside down. It was the best thing that has happened to me in my entire life.”
“Uh…huh”, I nodded, “Wait… what??!!” (Man, this was one unique story!)

Chores, Chores, Chores:

“Yeah”, continued Sapna, almost enjoying my confusion in a smile that she tried to suppress. “You see, earlier, my life was all about running from one chore to another, caught between my kids and husband and mother-in-law. All the time, I would constantly think about what I had to do next – make my husband’s tiffin, get my kids ready for school or college, drop off my kids to their classes, look after my mother-in-law, attend to my parents or relatives, cook, iron, clean, dust… (Though it’s the same story for most Indian housewives, isn’t it exhausting even just to listen?)

And you know what Doctor, I never took time to enjoy any of this. I was too scared to try cooking new recipes because I was afraid my mother-in-law wouldn’t like it. When I was getting my kids ready for school, I was too busy thinking of my next task, rather than enjoying the time I got with them.

The worst part was, all this was self-imposed. Everyone around me must have seen how unhappy I was, but I turned them away. We could easily afford help, but I refused because I thought it would mean I wasn’t doing my duty. (I learnt later that her husband was a very successful businessman and when she said ‘easily afford’, she meant ‘really really easily afford’) My mother-in-law is a very nice lady (I told you, this story was unique!) but I declined when she volunteered to help. If I ever did find time to go meet my friends for an hour, I would rush back in half the time, worried that I would be needed at home.”
She was a modern day Cinderella, I thought. A Cinderella who was burdened by her chores, living her life unhappily for others.

Getting Diagnosed with Cancer:

“And then, I was diagnosed with Cancer”, Sapna continued. “It was such a peaceful time for me. I did not have unbearable physical pain. And thanks to the chemotherapy, I wasn’t allowed to meet too many people. (Certain chemotherapy knocks down your blood’s good fighter cells too, lowering your immunity temporarily. Hence, chemotherapy patients are advised to avoid contact with possible sources of infection including crowds.) We hired a temporary domestic help. My husband would mop the floor so that the maid wouldn’t have to come to my room. My mother-in-law cooked for me. My kids looked after each other. And me… Ah! I had all the time in the world to do things I had put off for years! I read a lot…about people who had battled cancer, about spirituality.
It was like a pause button on my life. I had a chance to review my past years, to realize why I had been so unhappy and to introspect on how I could mould my life ahead.
It struck me – all my perceptions about my duties or what my mother-in-law or husband would say were just that – my perceptions! It was all in my own goddamn head.
This modern day Cinderella had her False-notions-of-Duties for an evil step mother and Towering-Expectations-of-herself for step sisters. They were keeping her from enjoying life, nay even living life.

Cinderella’s Fairy God Mother:

What had changed Cinderella’s life after she met her Prince Charming? Was it becoming rich or finding the love of her life? I think not. She probably worked just as hard after she became a Princess too. I think the magic happened when her fairy god mother opened her eyes to the possibility that she could be a pretty, lovable Princess who could steal the Prince’s heart. As for my modern day Cinderella, Cancer came like a fairy god mother for Sapna.

After this introspective pause of self-realisation, Sapna turned her life around. She hired the maid for good. Her husband opened up a small business for her, which let her spend 3-4 hours outside the house, doing something of her own will. She made more frequent plans with her friends for going to the movies or plays. She joined a couple of cancer support groups so that she could help other cancer patients deal with their suffering. She tried new things, laughed more, loved herself more and gave more joy to her family.

Sometimes, patients give you much more than you can return. Sapna left me with a high that no marijuana could! I promised myself that day – I would not wait for a fairy god mother to come and wave her magic wand to alter my life. Once every year – on a birthday or on new year’s – I would give myself a pause. A pause to reflect if my life was going in the personal, professional and spiritual direction that I would like it to. If not, I would see to it that I kept correcting my course regularly before it was too late. After all, not all magic happens overnight; some magic takes months, decades and even lifetimes…

magic 2*Name changed

How Homeopathy Taught Me To Steal Shoes

How homeopathy taught me to steal shoes

“Wow, you just read my mind! How do you do that?!”

“Doctor I bet now you know me better than my husband of thirty years does!”

“Uff, one should never have a homeopath for a friend…. They know you so well they can catch your lies like that (snapping fingers)!”

If you have been a patient of homeopathy or have a homeopath for a friend, the above instances would feel familiar. I for sure, get a lot of that! And no, I have no mind-reading super powers nor do I have an extra ordinary IQ. It is because Homeopathy taught me to steal shoes…

How I learnt to steal shoes:

Homeopathy believes that when you have constant headaches, it’s not just your head that’s sick, but it’s you that is sick in toto. That’s why a homeopath will try and understand the entire ‘you’ vis-à-vis your headache – why you keep getting them, how you have been affected mentally or emotionally, blah blah. In-depth patient interactions over a decade is how homeopathy has taught me – to steal (ok, maybe steal was an exaggeration) – to borrow your shoes, walk around in them, and get how it feels to be you walking through your office, your home, your relationships, your dreams, your hopes, your fears and your lives.

Or so I thought:

Lost in my reveries last week, it struck me and I got off my high horse of being in the “high and mighty profession of homeopathy”. Isn’t this true of every profession?  Whether you are a software engineer trying to understand the end user’s needs to give your software a user friendly UI, or you are a salesman trying to figure out why your customer should prefer your insurance policy over the others…. We all have to learn to steal people’s shoes and walk in them. Not just to sell to our customers but also to understand why our loved ones react in certain peculiar ways that they sometimes do.

The time I failed to steal:

All this stealing shoes business is easier said than done. Just yesterday, I found myself utterly exasperated by a friend who loves to gossip. (I did not have a problem listening to her gossip about others, until I got to know that she had gossiped about me too!) Let’s call her Reena (to be honest, she still is my friend, wears pointy high heels and could seriously maim me!) Coming back to the story… my frustration, anger and hurt had swollen up my feet so much, I could not get my feet to fit into her shoes! I decided to sleep over my options which varied from a heart – to – heart talk to pounding her to a pulp (puny people do tend to have obese imaginations!)

Sense Prevails:

Today morning, I woke up with a clearer head. I realised that, I needed to get back on my trusted horse of homeopathy. I tried to wiggle my still sore feet into her shoes. Why did Reena gossip? Well maybe, she wanted the attention of the group… Maybe it was just an attempt to spice up a conversation… Or maybe it wasn’t intended to be hurtful gossip. But that was just who she was, and nothing I would say to her would change the person underneath. If I had that much of a problem, I could stay away. Or I could “get” her and let go off of the hurt.

And that is how homeopathy taught me to steal shoes.

You can steal too!

Whether a software techie or an insurance salesman, you are probably already doing it at work. If we could try to do the same for every loved one, acquaintance and even stranger’s shoes – we’d all suffer from lesser sore feet, lesser bruised egos and lesser hurt hearts.Walk a mile in his shoes