Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dumped? Here’s How To Get Over It…….

Dumped? Here’s How To Get Over It…….

I have heard of March Madness, but May seems to affect people in Chennai peculiarly too. Is it the hot summer sun beaming directly on us? The so-called Angi-nakshatram? Whatever it is, i fear the effect is particularly malefic to relationships for there is a plague of break-ups all around. Every second blog you read is filled with long execrable poems to the one who got away, filled with lamentations on fate and vowing to not forget. And only yesterday a long lost (to contact) friend of mine called me up and enquired (demanded) why i am not coming to the gym regularly. I told him that on the few occasions i had been visiting the gym, he was off busy with this girlfriend and he had no right to take that tone with me. He laughed maniacally at that and said all that was over now and he was back to exercising again. When I probed delicately he said his love life was over, his girlfriend had broken up with him and left with nothing to do he was back to lifting weights at the gym. A sad and pathetic thing to do, exercise to forget, (as if a six pack will get back the girl) but not a very uncommon occurrence. But these people forget that there are lots of other things to do with life than mourn by writing verses which makes other cringe to read. As a neutral observer unaffected by all this, I take this opportunity to offer a few words of wisdom to those who have been recently dumped. Here goes my list of does and don’ts (follow at own risk).

A List Of Do's...

1) Give yourself Space...if you have been dumped the first thing to clear your head is to give yourself space. For accept it, a loss is loss, even if it’s just the comfort of routine fights that you have lost. Sort through those feelings once, get rid of them forever and move on instead of hanging back at the same "loser's" spot. Which brings me to my second piece of advice on sorting through those feelings, fresh as they are.

2) Let go of those feelings...Don’t go around toting that heavy emotional baggage from your failed relationship into your new single life. Most wise men agree that it's quite common to sweep these emotions under the table, as we may feel we are not yet ready to face them head-on, but you have to grit your teeth and work through them or they'll pollute your life from that point on. So go out there have a beer, have fun, do something prohibited and strut your stuff.

3) Start liking yourself first...I know it sounds cheesy and new agey, but the fact remains that many people feel a lot of self-rejection after getting dumped. You might feel that there must be something wrong with you to have been rejected so its time to start working on getting back your confidence and faith in yourself, to shake things up in your life, change the way you have always been and to try on a new lifestyle. Although in reality you might not be able to try whatever your fantasy is, there may be other changes to your life that are very much within your capacity to make. So don't reject the idea of making any change, just because you can't make every change you wish for. Even if you can’t become a hotshot pilot, you can at least date an air hostess. That will show your ex and make you feel all fuzzy inside.

4) Try being alone again...Being alone doesn't mean isolating yourself and vowing never to have another relationship again. It just means not being in a rush to fall in love again, with the next pretty girl who comes along. Enjoy the single life for as long as it lasts for you might never get a chance again if you do end up getting married to the next person you fall in love with. So live the king sized bachelor life today. Go have a kingfisher beer and enjoy life like Sid Mallya (post DP)

5) Curse and Swear.... I leave you finally with the thought that whatever bad happens in your life- there is always someone else to blame it on and curse and rant. You dont need anyone’s approval for that, so curse on with all the swear words you ever heard in any language. That will help you recover faster than anything else.

And A List Of Donts...

1) Dont for heaven’s sake dump your troubles on your friends and force them to go to the gym with you. It’s you who needs a six pack to attract girls, not your friends- they have other things like their wits to assist in wooing.

2) Dont dig up old contacts misusing watsapp and keep pinging them all the time. Wataspp is for posting xxx jokes anonymously and not for reading instantaneous sob stories.

3) For heaven’s sake don’t lurk around online waiting for someone to log on to the internet and then bombard them with messages on face book messenger AND google talk simultaneously. Some people just log on to check their e-mail, they may not be willing to play agony aunt in the middle of the working day.

4) Don’t hit on your friend's girlfriends. Don’t suddenly start noticing all those good qualities which were missing in your ex. And stop telling your friend how lucky he is - in front of his girlfriend

5) Finally - Lay off the poetry on your blog - don’t drive away the few, the dedicated few who turn up there regularly. Blog about something, anything except relationships and break ups. Be a man.

And finally, for further information of what will happen to you if you persist, please watch this video from the Tamil movie Polladhavan, starring Actors Dhanush and Karunas ….

Friday, May 24, 2013

Minor Milestones….Major Changes...

Minor Milestones….Major Changes.

So my blog has finally celebrated its sixth birthday. It’s now a frisky six year old kid. And I am the proud papa. Whoa. What a wake-up moment. I am now waiting for people around to tell me to act more responsible and grown-up as I am in charge of a six year old and shouldn’t set a bad example. Ok. With that, the proxy child analogies are out of the way and let’s get to the meat of it, or the bone of it or the whatever of it. Six years of running a single blog non-stop (or very nearly) is quite an individual achievement for me, because I have this unfairly deserved reputation of not sticking around anything for long. Hey don’t blame me, if I get bored I move on. Anyway, I remember my day challenging me long, long ago that “you will not last in a job for three months with your mouth”. Nothing wrong with my mouth of course, it’s just that when younger I was famous (or notorious- depending on whom you talked to) for mouthing-off. I had a comeback dialogue for every situation. I was a screen writer’s delight with my casually speaking punch dialogues. I always had to have the last line, the last laugh. All of which made me a hazard in the job market. And hence my dad’s pessimistic take on my professional prospects. 

But hey, I grew up, I learnt to keep my mouth shut and allow the dialogues to just scroll through my brain and I finally fought the temptation off to have the last word. I learnt to let go. Which is a very valuable lesson to be taught to any six year old. So if my blog was a kid I would say to him “Son, it’s ok to sometimes laugh at absurd people inside your head, you don’t have to laugh out loud at them every time. So learn to control your emotions”. 

Another lesson I can tell that six year old is that you need not be what you set down to be when you first started off. When my blog first started off it was, to be honest, a celebrity gossip site. I was one of the original brat pack of the millennium and was hell on wheels. The set I used to hang out (and party with) in those days were all celebs of a sort and even through the haze of my party fuelled lifestyle I couldn’t digest some of the things I saw taking place all around me. Which made me start up my blog as a kind of snarky, catty, gossip site where I could laugh out loud at all the absurdities I had participated in the previous night. That didn’t last long - neither that phase nor the tenor of this blog. 

As I said earlier, I grew up, turned different and I decided to use my blog for more serious purposes like pontificating (on everything) to anyone who happens to come around for a visit. Nowadays I have an opinion on almost everything (yeah, this is where you call me an opinionated a**hole) and I use my blog as bully pulpit to mouth off. So my blog has now gone all respectable that I might even show it proudly to investors and ask for venture funding. Or show it to any prospective in-laws and ask for venture funding. Which is the same thing considering that ultimately I would be seeding control of the 51% (of my life) and get to have only minority vote in both cases- matrimony or angel investment. So that is another lesson to tell the kid “Son, things change fast and what you set out to be might not be what you end up as. Accept it and work with it”.

In the middle-thirds of my blog life, I wanted my blog to be unique and have an identity. Like every three year old I wanted attention and did my best to attract it. That’s when I discovered the lure of writing erotic stories and the amount of attention it would bring to my blog. Typical three year old behavior. And so I labeled my blog as “Chennai’s First Erotic blog” and started writing spicy stuff. That didn’t last long too. Writing erotica is fine when you do it for yourself, but to be constantly censoring it to make sure that no traces of your friends can be identified in the stories (face it, we all use our friends as characters in our stories don’t we?), well that was simply consuming too much time and sucking out the creativity. And like any three year old with a short attention span, that phase passed too and I simply stopped caring about statistics or page views or even who reads my blog. I simply write for myself now and yeah, before you ask it, that too- I read myself whenever I want to read an “intelligent and amusing” blog. Now go psycho-analyse that. Anyway that’s one more piece of advice to the kid “Son, it’s not what people want from you, it’s what you want out of life which matters in the long run. So stop preening to attract attention.”

And now to go back to the beginning of my blogging career. I used to read a lot of blogs even before I started blogging. I still do. I enjoy reading blogs because they give me the vicarious pleasure of living a dozen lives at once.  I travel with them on travelogues, I eat with them on cookery blogs, I view movies on film review blogs and I go through all their emotional triumphs and failures in their personal blogs. Making friends, through regular comments on others blogs is an optional extra. Just the fact that I can lurk around and read them, helps me to walk a mile in their shoes and by broadening my vision, makes me take a good long look at my own life journey. As they say – wisdom is gained from others experiences and where better to get those experiences straight from the horse’s mouth than to read first person blogs? So that’s something more to tell the kid “Son, look around you. People teach you more than books. Learn to listen to different voices”.

And finally, through reading all those blogs I did realize something else. That educated people are not automatically wise people. There are lots of blogs with perfect language, grammar and diction, where you expect the blogger to be a highly intelligent individual but the blog is full of hate-spewing against others. There is a particular female blogger (from the garden city) I chanced upon a few years ago, a self styled feminist blogger who spewed hate against men all the time in her blog. Even in innocuous film reviews, she somehow seemed to find fault with the director and lead actors because they were born men. I even expected her to announce on her blog that she had killed off her dad (for being born a man) or her boss (for being born a man) or even assorted men who walked down the streets- for just being men. But I guess all the hate was just reserved for the blog and in real life she must have good relations with the men folk in her life. Likewise there are many other bloggers who show their prejudices online while pretending to be well balanced individuals in real life. So that’s a lesson to the kid “Son, don’t believe everything people say. Sometimes they just say it to impress or to shock, so develop a healthy skepticism. Take everything with a pinch of salt”.

I guess that’s all a six year old would have the patience to listen to, on one single sitting. So the lessons are over for the day and you are free to go outside and play.

Six Words of My Life

This post is written as part of CBC's Six Word Memoirs, where you are required to sum up your life in six words.

Here goes my life :

“He Looked Around And Laughed Uproariously”.

This post has been published as a part of 'CBC's Six-Word Memoir Tag' Read next post by Deepa Iyer here -

Monday, May 20, 2013

Angelina Jolie’s Breast Surgery….

Angelina Jolie’s Breast Surgery….

By now everyone- on both sides of the fence- has had their say on the Angelina Jolie preventive breast removal. If you are one of the rare species of mankind who has missed out on hearing about it (or reading about it), the news last week was that Angelina Jolie has had bilateral radical mastectomy which is trade-speak for surgical removal of both breasts to prevent cancer. This is a rarely used technique of cancer prevention, which is sometimes mentioned to patients as one more option but very rarely as a serious option.

The basic requisite for this surgery is that the patients must have confirmed genetic markers for breast cancer- brca1 & brca2 genes - which indicate that the person has a very high chance of getting breast cancer and there must also be documented history that the patients mother or grandmother must have had breast cancer in the past. When both conditions are present- a positive family history and a positive genetic presence of disease- the patient is offered the option of removing the breast tissue before cancer develops.

Not many patients choose to do so as they fancy their chances and wait to see if they do indeed develop the disease or not, for a chance is just that- a probability- there is no certainty that each and every patient will develop that disease. They may or may not. So most patients prefer the option of careful vigilance and frequent testing for presence of suspicious lumps and then decide to undergo surgery if necessary.

But a few rare patients like Jolie prefer to remove their fear once and for all by total removal of all breast tissue to reduce their chance of cancer. Because once past the childbearing and breast feeding age the breast serves only a cosmetic purpose and not a physiological purpose. Loss of breast is disfiguring but it’s not life threatening, so it’s every individual’s choice. But preventive removal of body parts is so extreme a concept that even doctors hesitate to advocate this treatment as a  routine procedure and hedge their bets by offering other choices first - prescribing drugs like Tamoxifen which taken regularly reduces the chances of developing breast cancer.

The one thing which complicates breast cancer compared to other cancers is the presence of silent (distant) secondaries- clumps of cancer cells which move away from the breast into other parts of the body where they develop into further cancers. This needs chemotherapy and irradiation and even then we are not sure that the whole thing has gone away, complicating the assurance given to the patient that they can henceforth lead a normal life from that point on. So all in all, this is pretty confused issue where the blind leads the blind.

Angelina Jolie has celebrity status and hence whatever she says has high recall value among the public all over the world. By publicly talking about her surgical breast removal she makes one wonder how many others will now follow her example?  And if it’s at all necessary? Or even possible for every single BRCA carrier to undergo this preventive breast removal? 

Although the statistics which Angelina Jolie quoted in her speech about breast cancer genes brca and cancer possibilities is frightening at first glance- like 12% of all patients have this gene and 80% of those with the gene develop cancer, let me state that these statistics are based on association studies. For those who are not familiar with association studies- it means that in a given patient - these two separate factors are present and there may be a possibility of them being linked together.

Let’s take a local example. On a Sunday morning at 7AM there is a big crowd of people at the Marina Beach (famous beach in Madras city). If someone did an association study based on the above fact they can extrapolate the data to say

1) Sunday mornings are crowded at marina beach.

2) A big crowd worships the sun god at marina beach every Sunday at 7Am

3) The sun god makes an appearance at marina beach at exactly 7am every Sunday to meet his devotees.

4) Only if there is a big crowd on the marina beach at 7 am will the sun rise on Sundays.

The first point above is the observational data, the others are just assumptions, some more fanciful than the rest. Most observational studies are just like this; you take two facts and try to link them using your imagination and probabilities. Some may turn out to be true; some may be just random association and some you know to be true but can’t think up a single valid reason on why it should be so.  Hence to give too much credence to association studies is not very wise.

 So what if you are still worried about the possibility of getting it and still want to test yourself on the off chance of it being true. Before you pressurize your doctor into ordering this test for you, you should know that one important factor about this gene test which is not much talked about is that a single biotech company in the USA has patented this Brca gene and hence they are exclusive manufacturers of the gene test. Because of that monopoly the test costs three thousand (or $3000) dollars in the USA and translated to Indian money it would work out to one and a half lakhs (or Rs.1,50,000) rupees in hard currency. For that amount all you get is knowledge about the presence or absence of the BRCA gene in your body cells. And sleepless nights. For with a positive result- if the gene is present- you might get cancer. Then again, if the gene is present- you might not get cancer. You never know, either way.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advising against taking this test. All I am doing is simply stating that one test is not conclusive evidence that you will definitely end up getting cancer. There are lots of factors, many of them still unknown, involved in cancer. Read this- my earlier post about the cancer scare. But the cancer crusaders are definitely doing a disservice by creating too much hype and over-scaring people. A little commonsense goes a long way when you are struggling with the decision to believe all the hype or not.

So to come back to Angelina Jolie's decision, all I can say is- it’s her body, she has every right to it- to do whatever she wants- to get a tattoo, to get body piercings or to remove a breast or two. In her long career of wacky decisions this is just one more. Let’s not read more into this than just that. Let’s not turn her into a crusader of cancer health and insist that others follow her example. What’s good for the goose, errr, in this case, for Angelina Jolie, may not be good for everyone else. Women- make your own decisions please.