So I got myself a dream catcher.
A what, you ask?
Allow me to explain.

Dream catcher : Origins

The origins of the dream catcher trace back to the traditions and craftsmanship of the Native Americans, more specifically the Ojibwa nation.

A dream catcher is a protective charm that used to be placed above the cribs and beds of infants and children. It consisted essentially of a hoop filled with an imitation of a spider's web. The original hoop was formed using twigs from the red willow with stalks from the stinging needle as the thread. This would then be finished by decorating it with objects of everyday life - back then, it was feathers, beads et al.

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It has definitely been an eventful start to 2016 for me.
A lot of new experiences and unexpected moments to look back on as January came to an end. And that is exactly why taking up Vidya's Gratitude Circle Blog Hop & Everyday Gyaan's MondayMusings is perfect - it allows me the chance to reminisce on all the things that brought a smile to my face in the first month of 2016.

Old traditions:

Celebrating the start of a Brand New Year with the same medical college roommates I've been celebrating it with since 2000. Sure we've packed on a 'few' extra kilos and lost a 'few' strands of hair too over the years but it's heartening to know that deep down, we haven't changed at all.
Rest assured, we tried out the yummiest that Mangalore has to offer - fish pulimunji & rava fry, squid in 4-5 different varieties, pork & prawns and of course, the iconic Mangalorean Chicken Ghee roast. 

Celebrity spotting:

My first trip north of Delhi also got me my first celebrity sighting of the year right at the airport.
You may know Priyadarshan as the director of Bollywood comedy hits of the early 2000s including Hera Pheri, Hungama and Hulchul but I remember him for such gems from the golden era of Malayalam cinema as Kilukkum and Chithram. He was simply brilliant in those movies, making you laugh out loud for 2 hours before abruptly changing the tone and leaving you teary eyed as you left the theatre. He knew how to make you care about the characters in his movies.

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Author's note:
I am grateful to Huffington Post for publishing the edited version of this blog post. Thank you for listening and helping spread the word.
You can read the edited version here

Dr Abhishek Kumar followed standard protocol.
Before you read a single line more, you need to realize this - he did exactly what every doctor in his place would do. 

The first year post-graduate student and his colleague were called to the emergency department at 3 am to attend to four patients who had arrived at the R G Kar Medical College Hospital following a road traffic accident. Having tended to three, Dr Abhishek correctly diagnosed that the fourth patient seemed worse than the others. So he did the sensible thing - he stabilized the patient and sent him for a diagnostic scan to rule out the presence of any hidden injuries within. The standard protocol followed in hospitals all over the world.   

And that is why he is still in the intensive care unit today battling to breathe, with severe muscle damage, internal injuries, struggling with kidney failure and requiring dialysis at the age of 31.

Having left his care, the patient took a turn for the worse while undergoing a scan and passed away. And just like that, the handful of good Samaritans who brought the patient to the hospital turned from Dr Jekyll to Mr Hyde, mushrooming from 5 to 50 as they returned to the emergency department. Abhishek's female colleague was rescued and locked up inside the operation theatre before the mob could get their claws on her. Abhishek was not so lucky. Brutalized by the mob, he remains in ICU even today ten days later, as I type this, his prognosis guarded.
But of course, you don't care. 

Dr Abhishek Kumar followed standard protocol. If it were a temple, he dutifully removed his sandals before entering. If he were a flight attendant, he respectfully bowed and welcomed you aboard his plane. 
He did the right thing and you tore him apart.

I wish that I could say that he was a minority Muslim or a Dalit. Which word is it, pray tell me, which? Which word is it that will trigger some emotion in you to care for him? Indian? Modi? Rahul? AAP? Secular? Beef? Nationalist?  

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You are a twenty four year old woman in India. Against social norms and expectations, you have risen and are today considered a national level sportswoman. You are a few steps away from your lifelong dream - to represent India. It still lingers in the back of your mind as you sit in the train headed for Delhi to attend the exams for joining the Central Industrial Security Force. That is when you feel the tug of the chain at your neck.

You are being robbed and you instinctively rise to defend yourself. In the days to come, people will actually taunt you for that reaction. They will tell you that you were wrong to defend yourself. That you should have just allowed the thieves to have their way with you.
You defend yourself single-handedly as no one comes forward in a crowded train to help you. In the end, you are thrown off the edge. Before you can even rise, another train on the opposite track runs over your foot, mangling it below the knee.
49 trains pass by as you lie there, crying in pain and bleeding away as night turns to dawn. Even when you are discovered, there is no rush to get you to a hospital as bureaucracy and paperwork override your suffering pleas.

By the time you reach the hospital, you already know the fate of that lower limb. And yet, your suffering refuses to end.

Ill-equipped, the hospital apologetically informs you that they have no anaesthesia to provide you even though the surgery needs to be done urgently to prevent gangrene and septicemia. In scenes that you thought existed only in Hollywood horror movies, you are wide awake and aware as your limb is finally severed from your body and even as you lie in the operation theater after it is all over, you watch a stray dog walk into this 'sterile' room and start to feast upon the amputated leg.

Lest you worry that your dignity remain intact, outside the hospital doors, the various government agencies are busy pointing fingers at each other for culpability and eventually decide to point it back at you. Yes, you - the woman who just lost her leg. They imply that you must have voluntarily jumped off the train because you had no ticket or perhaps because you wanted to commit suicide.

This is you now. Your dreams shattered. Your reputation being torn to shreds while you lie in the ICU. A limb lost forever.
It feels like the end of the first act of a horror movie. What would you do?

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It only takes a spark to get the fire going.
And soon all those around can warm up in its glowing.
That’s how it is with God’s love,
Once you have experienced it
You want to sing
You feel like spring

You want to pass it on…

A few of us gathered together for Secret Santa tidings, divided by names and united through a common Christmas spirit of sharing. And it is in this spirit that we bring this blog chain to you.
Due to my uncanny resemblance to Santa, I got picked to be the first one to start off the chain.
So stay awhile and allow me to unwrap Christmas on my blog for you.

You don't believe in Santa Claus.
It's okay.
There was a time when you did. There was a time in every young kid's life when he or she did. Every December, wherever you were across the world, your surroundings would take on a festive atmosphere as you headed towards that last fortnight. You would see stores with festive Christmas tree decorations. You would see glittery paper wrapped around mysterious gifts. You would see pictures of reindeers and mistletoe.
And you would see Santa Claus. The big jolly red.
He would be all around you - on television, on the streets, in malls, on cakes and pastries, as dolls and toys, in stores and on Christmas eve and on parties, even at your home. He would be the most iconic figure in the world, come Christmas week. And he had one job - that was to make you happy. Wherever he met you, he would greet you with a smile; often a chocolate and yes, even a surprise gift that would make you squeal with delight.

And then you grew up and the bubble burst - somewhere along the way, you realized that all the iterations of him you were seeing were not... well, really him. They would be your dad, your uncles, your family friends and strangers. But they were not the legend from the North Pole who magically swooped down every Christmas Eve and delivered a billion presents to everyone on Earth.  You were receiving gifts from normal people. And it took a little bit away from the magic.

I get why you stopped believing in him. But if you would allow me a moment more, I would like to let you in on a little secret.

You see, Santa Claus is real. He has always been real. You have met him as a child. And now it time for you to carry on to the next phase of a centuries-old tradition.

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Your wait is over. It is finally here.

Generations have passed by as you yearned for the arrival of the true masterpiece. To make up for the days, you suffered the agony of mediocre fare in between. But a part of you still believed against all hope in the power of the Force. In the power of the one who did not just look promising but positively outshone the others. The one who stepped out of the darkness and into the light.

HP Star Wars Special Edition Notebook Godyears Darth Vader

And the force has finally responded!

Yes, dear desi Knights of the Jedi, your dreams have indeed been answered. For lo! and Behold!
The Star Wars Special Edition Notebook is here. And while it is a magnificent beast, its evil illuminating red-backlit keyboard will do more than make you just stare at it with awe.

HP Star Wars Special Edition Notebook Godyears Darth Vader

You see, the intricate Dark Side inspired graphic detailing done upon the body of this work of art, 8 GB RAM and the 1 TB hard drive are merely ruses by them to hide from you the actual secrets hidden within the notebook.
But fear not, for at great danger to my own life, I reveal to you today one of the darkest secrets of the Empire - the existence of the teaser of the trailer of the teaser-trailer of the trailer to the teaser (TeTrTe-TrTrTe, from here on in) of the ultimate union that even Mickey Mouse - who owns Disney (who owns Star Wars) - is unaware of.

Ladies, gentlemen & Jar Jar Binks haters, I present to you - 

Star Wars 2.5: Dhai Another Day.

Witness history unfold as we trace back the true Indian origins of the Jedi forces and the Evil Empire.

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  • A young boy goes to feed a stray pup & gets bitten by the pup's overprotective mother.
  • A young doctor works fervently to save a patient rushed in to the casualty, performing chest compressions & mouth-to-mouth respiration. The patient is revived. His reports come back as Hepatitis B positive... as do the distraught young doctor's a few weeks later.
  • A young woman joins a crowd to hold a late night candlelight vigil for an injustice in her city. She is molested by unknown members, faceless in a large crowd.
  • An old man gives some change to a homeless man begging on the street. Staring at his purse, the homeless man nods to his accomplices. A dark alley away, the old man gets waylaid and robbed.

I wish these were rare instances but we all know they occur around us. People try to do a good deed and end up becoming victims instead. And that suffering extends far beyond the loss of money or a few bruises - it shatters their belief in humanity. In wanting to do a compassionate act. As they bear these scars, they will invariably hear the lament of those who care for them asking them 'what was the need to do it in the first place? You could have walked away and nobody would have been any the wiser."

And those words will sink in.
The next time you reach forward to give change to a man on the street, you will hesitate.
The next time you see a child smiling and walking towards a pup bouncing along the streets, your body will tense.

So what do we do? Do we stop caring for those we could help because there is a very distinct possibility in today's world that we could end up being victims of an assault or crime?
Is being good a bad thing in today's world?

My two cents:
I need to believe in rainbows and unicorns.
I need to believe that a good deed will 'pay itself forward' into random good deeds for others. And I need to believe that my small acts make a difference. Maybe not to the entire world but at least to one person's world.
I need to believe that compassion will win in the end.
Yes, I have been the 'victim of being compassionate' and the scars remain long after the incident but truth be told, I would rather be stupid & trust once more in love and humanity than turn cynical and bitter forever.

 A part of us invariably turns bitter but the battle is to not allow it to consume us.
Because I cannot see a world that is spiteful and lacking in compassion surviving in the long term.
I need to trust in people as individuals & not look at them as a collective or hate them all because of their race, religion or worse, simply because one random person hurt me in the past.
I cannot stop caring and helping you just because someone who shares some similar genetic traits with you used me - I can't be that spiteful to you. I may hesitate but I will not turn away.

Do care but also be aware. Do not hesitate to be kind but do not ignore the possibility of how it could backfire.

Pay the man on the street but walk by no dark alleys.
Join the candle light vigil but surround yourself with those you trust and have your back.
Save a patient's life but do not rush in without appropriate gloves and masks upon your own being.

What about you?

  1. What advice would you give your loved ones in this regard and considering today's world where 'no good deed goes unpunished' is a very real thing?
  2. More importantly (putting yourself in the shoes of the do-gooder) if you were a victim of such an incident, would you be willing to do it again?

Author's note:

Everyday Gyaan

Linking to Everyday Gyaan's #WYHO prompt
(Share your depth) as well as 
#MondayMusings (Healing follows Honesty)

Click here to go to the main site
To quote Yvonne"1000 Voices Speak For Compassion is a blogging initiative started in response to violence and alienation in our world. "
This month, #1000Speak focuses on COMPASSION. A thousand bloggers across the planet write in on a topic that most of us have dealt with in the hope of inspiring you to have faith in the good that exists all around you.  

You can also find #1000Speak on Facebook,Twitter, the blog or just by typing down the hashtag #1000Speak on social media.

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