Shubha Singh


Diwali is just round the corner. And cleanliness is godliness has now been taken literally and obsessively by many as a project for this period. For others, it’s an ongoing, never ending project which comes through practise.

Over cities, cultures and communities people define character of others basis their clean homes, habits and hum. Yes, a silent hum that claims how big a clean freak one is or a little listenable hum that claims how efficiently cleanliness is achieved with directives to housekeeping. In both cases, demonstration precedes claims!

Though, I often wonder, is the definition of cleanliness just absence of dirt or dirty things around? May be, it is also organising non-living decorative and utility objects. A layer of aesthetics followed by change in layout and these objects (if your pocket permits) periodically! And not to forget discarding of unused or dysfunctional items at home. 

There are many schools which have been born, thanks to cleanliness. One in particular that needs a mention is the school of minimalism. I have recently taken admission to it…Here, we believe in keeping bare minimum functional items in a house. This means no decoration, please. Some people also believe in giveaway of items which have not been used for last six months. This definitely is a hoarder’s nightmare. People who are a mini general store for household products even when on wheels…In fact, until sometime back, I was one! Obviously, oscillating between the extremes.

A photograph shows dense smog over New Delhi

Well, as much people take pride in announcing or showcasing their OCD for cleanliness, my concern grows. Over a period of time, I have seen all sort of relationships bear the brunt of achieving cleanliness through selective incidents, phases or till end of life of some involved. Some relationships have unfortunately succumbed and ended just because cleanliness was a pet of one and not the other. 

Now the question arises that why is cleanliness such a priced topic, protected      feature and prized assets for, in and of our lives? The answer is that it has been mistaken as a symbol of who we are, in a way it is our second identity. To preserve, project, prefer this second identity more than our first, we are ready at some level of consciousness to forego anything in the world. 

Relationships being the most fragile and human minds being one of the most mysterious get bruised and negatively impacted in many cases where cleanliness is the highest priority, demonstrative and done in unequal partnership. This unequalled relationship is between two or more people. 

Matters adding to cleanliness inequality can range from gap in preferences between those involved. The predilection in financial investment (low/medium/high), frequency (regular/ occasionally), type (surface/deep cleaning), energy levels (high/ low), visual cognition (linear/ nonlinear), work pace (fast/ slow), time management (good/ not so great), etc tagged specifically to cleanliness are the most common parameters that one can identify with.

World’s Most Polluted Capitals in 2019

So, not only on special occasions but in your daily lives, maybe it is worth sparing a moment to bargain and ensure that relationships are prioritised even at the cost of cleanliness! Well, hygiene is a non-negotiable so until that is maintained; cleanliness can be made flexible.

Treasure your relationships and enjoy your homes…we all have renovated them in 2020 with continuous GIGO (garbage in, garbage out). Before you attempt to restrict GIGO to physical & digital spaces only, I would recommend it in your mental space, first. Yes, I am practising what I am preaching.  We have survived one of the toughest phases, it’s time to celebrate as we like it. Season greetings to you, dear reader!

Read more Articles by Shubha
Mental Wellness: The Mind Matters!
The Wrinkles: Privilege or Predicament!
Shhh… What’s your Secret?
Digital Intrusion: Knock, Knock… anyone home?

The mind is its own place, and in itself,
can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.

John Milton

Sometimes, I often wonder, who is chasing whom? Are we chasing our mind which imagines, wishes and desires…or is it that, the mind is chasing the heart, that feels! The canvas of this chase game is huge. It is no surprise then, that the lines get a little blurred at times.

Let’s begin with the mind. For the ones who live in their own world, say the introverts or any other befitting term, they build narratives in their mind and make their heart feel whatever suits their narratives. More often than not, this may not be the exact reality. Without diluting their feelings, a logical interpretation to such assumption is that their narrative is never challenged. So, if I think that people around me find me dumb. Obviously, my heart will not associate a happy feeling with the thought. This will become my narrative and reality which the heart will keep fueling with related emotions. Even when, I have people complimenting me for my intelligence, I will always attribute it to some of their vested interest! Again, this will reiterate a not so nice feeling in my heart. In a way, my existence becomes a slave of my mind.

There have been various studies about how the mind works. We may have some data around the origin of certain thoughts of positivity and negativity and our leaning towards either. But still, there can never be an exact mapping of the thoughts. That is how unique, vast and diverse a human mind is, as we all know. Hence, I refer to the mind as the mirage. One is always in quest of something. Sometimes along the line we may find supporters or detractors, if we share our thoughts. Otherwise, it’s a free run of our mind. A choice always exists though, the day you stop or the world makes you stop seeing the “other option” in your life. It is time to wake up and shake up your life to find traces of “what else” can I think and do. Until then, let the mind be on a quest/ on a run!

A Neuroanatomy graph shows the functions of the brain (Image Courtesy: Dana Foundation

Moving on, let’s chase the heart. Some of us feel first and think later. The typical foot in the mouth types, extroverts/ ambiverts or plug in a new word. We feel, we speak/ stay silent (depending on our mood) and think later as to why we felt or said so…And be aware that the feeling is subject to change. This means that the associated after thought will also change. In conclusion, the mind is chasing the heart. It strives to think in line with what the heart feels. Here, there is always a choice to feel many things at a time or in phases. There is mostly no explanation of why one feels anything. Example: I have seen people smile during funerals and cringe during weddings. The common tendency is to adjust your feelings to the occasion, so if all are laughing, one also laughs but later the mind may be left confused at the mimicking action. Though, the interesting bit to lookout in ourselves or others is when we feel exactly opposite to the mood of the situation/ occasion. Ask others and yourself, why do I/you feel this way? Is it comforting? Can it be any different? Am I really present in the situation? To arrive at a conscious state and a spot of reality, it is important that there is a two-way traffic between the heart and the mind. Both should be able to chase each other equally; if possible. Be aware and Be in control. More power to every effort directed towards your mental well being 😊

More from Shubha
The Wrinkles: Privilege or Predicament!
Shhh… What’s your Secret?

Why do we see less of those white hair, wrinkles and most of all an ease in attitude these days? Have people stopped ageing? Or are they ashamed and scared to age! If the thought of “Nothing is more ageing than the battle to keep young” by Robert Eddison resonates with you, a victory against this battle must be achieved. So, let’s begin by pitching reality against assumptions, courage against fear and our will against the society’s drill to make us age mentally but not physically. The case in point is our nation. Look around, and you will find cooking, walking, spirituality and Satsang is all that we expect our elderly to engage in…The commercial market for elderly needs is pretty much in a nascent stage too. The most common products being either an anti-ageing one or medicines!

Examine the infrastructure, which has nothing to offer to this registered category of senior citizens. With nuclear families in the cities, many youngsters would not be able to even have a conversation for more than 2 min with an older person. In those 2 min also, we end up asking them about their health ONLY. The most bewildering of all is that there is a retirement age, it’s like a shelf life sticker that we have conveniently pasted/ got on the human head! Remember honey, remember wine (for the modern ones), they just get better with age. But still, you will spot an expiry label on Honey only because there is a guideline according to which all food products must have one. No wonder, we aren’t ageing!

The question here is then, for how long can we be young? Well before I have your mind spin with answers like, age is just a number, forever young and so on…let me just share with you the words of Sheridan Hay, “Ageing is the process of exchanging hope for insight”.

For a country which apparently has the youngest population in the world at ~356 million between the age of 10-24-year old. Sooner than later, we may be a country with the oldest population. For those good in mathematics, the “may” may not be making sense. But picture this, we have an anti-ageing population (non-accepting of their real age). This is topped by a super artificial and toxic environment (food, air, water, etc.). Adding a certain lifestyle preference (easy, fast and unhealthy). Lastly, a dash of a relative digital mind (less IQ, lesser EQ, etc.). Combined together or singularly, may not help these youth really reach the age of the aged! After all, a fun quote states that “you got to have a twinkle to reach your wrinkle”!

More to read by Shubha Singh
Shhh… What’s your Secret?
Digital Intrusion: Knock, Knock… anyone home?

Also, ageing is supposedly divided into five stages of self-sufficiency, inter-dependence, dependency, crisis management and end of life. It is definitely not necessary that everyone experiences each stage but definitely the first and last stages are inevitable. So, in the words of Ingrid Bergman “getting old is like climbing a mountain; you get a little out of breath, but the view is much better! Let’s share a glimpse of this wrinkled and extremely beautiful view. One, we will experience less stress after 65years. Learning can save our brain. Our sleeping habits alter over time, we start getting up early without efforts. We mostly have control over ageing. This simply means that only 30% of the aging characteristics are controlled by our genes. The remaining 70% are all a result of our lifestyle factors. Creativity does not diminish with age and surely success has got nothing to do with it either. In fact, I just learnt about, Grandma Moses who received her last commission as an artist at the age of 99 and Jeanne L Calment who lived for 122 years and 164 years. This was so amazing. The reason, I’ve shared their stories is so that I can somewhat convince you to believe in Clint Eastwood’s words “Ageing can be fun if you lay back and enjoy it”.

What is the first word that comes to your mind when you hear the word, Detective? I am so sure that you have already shifted a few centimeters in your seat… You may also have images of a Sherlock Holmes or our very homegrown Byomkesh Bakshi running past your eyes. Many of you, may have recollected snippets from your favourite mystery novels. Isn’t it always, so interesting to unravel the hidden truth, a secret which is so closely and so carefully guarded by an individual? But what really happens, if we turn the angle of the story and make it a narrative of your well-kept secret! Does it send a chill down your spine? Do you feel as vulnerable as a butterfly who has just been touched by a human? Sensitivity cannot be practiced in a silo.

The first step could be respecting boundaries. We have often heard of people who are very private. They are not secretive but they have well laid boundaries for themselves and others. So, when I do not tell you about my personal life, as it’s a choice that I have made, which has literally no impact on you, your life and even the work that we are in, as a team…I am somewhere also sharing an opportunity with you, to do the same. How does my lifestyle preference, salary, age, marital status, etc. have any bearing on your existence? Hence, privacy of and in my life is an entitlement that I can or must choose to exercise. Don’t believe me but try it out. You will be pleasantly surprised, how it can really take care of the vice(s) existing in us.

Somewhere, along the line, you may have/ will come across secrets. It has many dimensions and definitions. Though, the two most familiar being, the good secrets like our grandma’s recipe, our secret sauce, encashable trade secrets, etc. But if you, pause and think, are they really secrets or just lesser known facts!? For me, in particular, apart from the Secret Santa, secrets are not very pleasant and desirable by their owners! And those who have them, follow what John le Carre says…” Never trade a secret, you’ll always get the short end of the bargain.” And this is why, most secrets live and die with their masters.

Secrets exist for a reason, they defy/ challenge/ question, the norms of a family, office, society, nations and the world. We all have or had one of them, at some point of our lives until the burden of it becomes so overwhelming that we cannot take it any further. Possibly, that could explain us the concept of deathbed confessions often tagged as haunting. You may be a custodian of someone’s secret, in their lifetime, though it’s very rare ONLY because of its intensity and depth! We must accept that secret by nature is not frivolous. Hence, the safest place that many find to save it, is in their heart or mind.

Read also: Digital Intrusion: Knock, Knock… anyone home?

A few commonalities of such, not so good secrets are that they are sad, grim and weigh very heavy on one’s conscience. The physical manifestations of keeping your own or someone else’s secret is that there is a constant fear and guilt of being unfair to the self or others. This means that stress becomes an unwanted but constant companion. The choice is for you to make of being private or being secretive! Should you choose to be secretive, remember that secrets which arrive unannounced in your life will have a different journey with you…While those secrets which are a result of your doing will have a distinct presence…In either case, secrets have a potential of being lethal even before you experience it. In the words of E.W Howe, “The man who can keep a secret may be wise but he is not half as wise as the man with no secrets to keep”!

So, will you decide to take a chance to be truly wise or will you Shhh?

I wonder how the 1990’s highest grossing film Home Alone will be made in 2020? Is Kevin’s wish of no family, a wish of the most today? May be and mostly but let’s not be harsh after all for the sake of emotional intelligence. It’s still there and yet to be demoted to a level where it needs teaching again. So, all those who still feel the vibe even after the repeated jibe whenever we mention our good old vibe! Read on…

While I have consciously chosen not to be a data nerd while I still strive to be a data geek. This single choice for the moment has somewhere also made a choice of my desired audience. It is fun to make a day without the regulars. Sometimes you & sometimes I, both have been equally bewildered with the outcomes but will we still say, try it on!? Thanks for filtering in without caffeine. I know, it’s your digital detox day but a little exchange of thoughts or food for thought will not hurt anyway.

Travelling to new cities, I often try and find a face which is looking up, smiling and noticing all that is going around. Trivia, souvenirs not in the form of objects but people’s expression both verbal and non-verbal are my definition of ephemera; now. So, where can I find a curious face, what happened to the human gaze, when will I hear some carefree humming, why can’t I smell the petrichor again, who do I compliment with elinize sağlık and how do I find the personage of this description?

I am often told about email etiquette, of how brevity is equal to brilliance. Have even heard, how presentations need to be succinct. Of course, I know that SMSs cannot be more than 160 characters, a twitter handle no more than 15 characters, a tweet just about 280 characters and an effective Instagram will be no more than 125 characters. In these chains of communication, I am also in good spirit, advised against reading emotions clearly because mostly people are digitally motioned trying to prove the notion of being busy/ loved/ engaged. In this commotion of Like, Share & Subscribe…I still look for that holy mortal…

We have travelled time, days-weeks-months-years and even decades but I still miss the person of this description who is someone with less/ no digital extension. I aspire to be with a fellow beyond character limits, a creature who still can see, hear, smell, taste and touch. Even who understands the self and others as such a being who is not always up to some doing. Someone who comes without sorting, filtering and sometimes unannounced. A person who cringes not being alone as s/he is not lonely even without a phone. Do you think, that we can now afford this innovation?

Knock, Knock…anyone home? Oh yes, Alexa and Siri must be home! Why don’t I tell them to find their own home? After all, my home is my HOME (Human Oriented Magical Eyrie)!

Watch the video on Artificial Intelligence