Getting Control of Your Anxiety & Depression

anxiety

Source: everydayhealth.com

The spiraling loss of control of your own emotions and life, not being in a position to steer the course of your everyday activities; that is the stark reality of the lives of people who undergo symptoms of panic, anxiety, phobia and depression or worse. Most of the time the four seems to work in tandem with one another. Someone who has anxiety has heightened levels of panic associated with phobic tendencies that tends to increase depressive thoughts which at times takes them to the edge of having suicidal thoughts.

Treatment of course relates to the mind. The brain being the complex organ it is, is a mystery that continues to elude scientists even today, even though they are making inroads in advancing their way into understanding the intricacies of the human mind. Owing to the complex nature of it all, no two patients at times responds to the same regiments of treatment. This of course makes one who already has enough unhealthy thoughts clouding the mind have a tough time in trusting doctors and treatment regiments.

While some allude to the fact that mental illnesses like anxiety and phobia are hereditary as well, one obvious and blatant fact that cannot be denied is that increasing numbers of people are identified with symptoms associated with ill mental health across the world. October 10th is marked as the World Mental Health Day by WHO, in a bid to raise awareness and to increase mobilization of efforts to tackle a most prevalent issue in societies of today. Perhaps it is the fact that people are more aware of what mental illnesses entail and are able to identify it as such and tend to seek treatment more than before which increases the number of patients recorded per year across the world. Or perhaps it is the highly advanced, competitive and stressful lives we lead today that is the underlying reason behind the increase in numbers.

Regardless of whatever it is that triggers symptoms, it is imperative that a person be able to identify which is which and seek treatment before things escalate to a point where the person is unable to move sideways from the intensity of the fear projected by the mind. It is tough, especially for those who do not believe in doctors, medicines and hospitals and scoff at the very idea of seeking medical help, even when they are in need of it.

In my battle with mental illness, symptoms of which rears its ugly head every now and then even now, I have discovered certain things that I am going to share, which may or not help you, but regardless, I’ve felt that reading about other people’s experiences makes one feel less alone in the at times severely debilitating circumstances mental illnesses puts one through.

Knowing your own body:

I’ve discovered that when it comes to people who have issues of anxiety, phobia and panic symptoms, we tend to be a bunch who are hyper aware of our own bodies. Every twitch and thump of our body becomes magnified to an extent that causes you to go online, and check symptoms, the ending of that particular story which we all know rather well. It usually ends with the self made diagnosis that you have contracted a life threatening disease and are counting the days till life as you know it ends. Which of course adds to the cycle you are already going through because you tend to believe in the worst that life has to offer when you are depressed. The worst case scenario becomes the ‘best’ case scenario when you are feeling this way. 

What I have found is that undertaking a medical checkup at least annually goes a long way in putting to rest a lot of your fears that crops up on a daily basis. It allows your rational mind to overtake the scared shitless one and tells you that things have been declared fine by your physician. And if not, your doctor has already addressed your concerns and given you a course of treatment to put it to rights.

But, all this is easier said than done, especially if one is phobic about seeing a doctor. But pushing past this fear is a must, if one is to start on a path to regain control of one’s own life.

This is a battle I myself face when I have to undertake my own medical checkups. Sometimes it feels like the whole process just adds on more tension to your life than what it’s worth. But believe me, it is worth the tension, the headache and the worrying you go through once all is said and done. It allows for peace of mind to reign, at least when it comes to those odd beats and thumps and aches of your body without taking you into a state of frenzied panic every single time.

Seeking medical help:

There is no shame in seeking medical help when one is in need of it. It is in fact a shame that people tend to put off going to the doctor when symptoms of any illness are easier to identify and treat than wait around until things reach a point where it becomes more complicated to diagnose and start treatment.

The tough question here is how do you decide when it is you need help. This of course varies from person to person. Sounding dumb and feeling like an idiot for thinking there is something wrong with you after you have seen the doctor is way better than sitting at home and going mindless with worry.

This relates to what has been highlighted earlier in a large way. If you have a physician that you usually see, who knows your personality, your issues, it is always a good idea to see him or her and discuss how you are feeling. Some doctors of course tend to scoff at the idea of mental illnesses and psychologists, but I believe that that is a trend which is reversing and slowly changing in the circle of medical professionals.

Something that my physician relayed to me when I was going through the worst of my symptoms has stayed with me even till today. He told me that my body would let me know in subtle and the not so subtle ways when I am in need of medical attention. So listen to your body. Listen to what it tells you. If things are that dire, your body will signal its need for medical attention.

If your physician is astute enough, he or she should be able to pinpoint that what you might in fact be in need of is a treatment course to address your mental health problems rather than any physical manifestation of illnesses. If not, if you are constantly plagued by depressive thoughts, if you are constantly unhappy in a way that is difficult to shake off, if you are constantly cranky, unable to sleep or sleeping too much, have no appetite or have been consuming food excessively, and small things that are considered inconsequential by the rest triggers in you a state of panic and anxiousness, then it is a good idea to seek the opinion of a psychologist to see whether there is a need for you to start a treatment regiment.

Trusting your doctor:

Trust is a difficult thing when it comes to mental issues. Your mind is not working in tandem with you, but rather opposes you in most of the things you want. Your mind has a ‘mind’ of its own and it is rather difficult to overcome this.

But, it is imperative that you find a doctor that you are comfortable with, someone who puts you at ease, yet, someone who is firm enough to tell you exactly what you need. Mollycoddling ones fears doesn’t help. Nor does it help to totally disregard the way you feel. It is a balance that your doctor must try to achieve in being empathetic towards your plight, yet be true to his duty in laying out a course of treatment that addresses your needs.

It is your right to ask your doctor questions, have them answered in a manner that is satisfactory to you. If you have fears about taking certain medications because of course Dr. Google helps you to identify the one thousand and one side effects associated with every medication that is known to mankind, you should clear them up with your doctor. If you are unable to take a particular medication, you should discuss your concerns with your doctor rather than stewing about it on your own.

A lot of medications out there that treats these symptoms does come with lousy side effects attached to them. Doctors will tell you that it will take at least 2 weeks for your  body to adjust to the onslaught of chemical warfare going on inside your mind once you start on your medications. If side effects are severe and you cannot cope, it is something that once again you need to discuss with your doctor.

When I was getting treated, I found myself getting immensely tired, needing to nap after work when I am someone who usually shies away from sleeping at odd hours. But combined with bad bouts of insomnia, it was a matter of riding through the worst of it to get to that point where I could see the light at the end of the tunnel flickering and guiding me towards it.

Another point of importance is that trusting your doctor does mean following his advice on other matters related to your treatment as well. I was advised to find a way to deal with stress, which otherwise my doctor pointed out that I might forever have to depend on medication to get through the daily grind. Someone who is loathe to exercise, I found myself in a position where I had no choice but to face my intense dislike for physical activity and get myself out there. In order to give the stress (which I had no idea had accumulated to that much of a degree) an outlet, I had to force myself to regularly exercise. I am glad to say that it all worked out in the end.

Keeping regular hours:

I have found that this is crucial if you are to get your body and mind back in shape once again. Keeping regular hours includes taking meals on time, sleeping a certain number of hours at night and ensuring that you keep to a schedule until your body adjusts to the process. If you are battling insomnia, it helps to read something to keep your mind from veering in directions that could send you spiraling down the black hole once again.

Even if keeping to a schedule is difficult for you, it is imperative that at least you try. Your body will adjust in time as humans are creatures of habit at best.

Confiding in people:

Keeping your worries about life and perhaps the circumstances of your life that contributes towards your symptoms to just yourself is another way in which you can keep mounting stress on yourself. Trusting people might be hard, and you might consider yourself as the type to shoulder your own burdens whatever happens. You might even be proud of the fact that you do not talk about your life, the symptoms of your illness with anyone else. This is wrong.

You have to find at least one person who is understanding and empathetic of what is happening to you, someone who can listen to you and help you voice out regarding what is happening to you. Perhaps you might consider your doctor as the only person in whom you can confide in. There is a sense of shame that people experience when they go through mental illnesses, perhaps because physical symptoms do not manifest on the outside for most, and some people can be quite insensitive to what you are going through.

Even today, I find that some of my friends brush aside my concerns regarding certain issues that I talk to them about. What I have learnt along the way is to stop talking to them about those things. If they ask, I just give them an abbreviated answer which most of the time satisfies them without going down a road where they can either piss you off or hurt your feelings or both.

Being diagnosed with depression and anxiety can be a pretty solitary affair for most. I experienced pretty much just that when I went through the worst of it. Looking back on how things were like back then, I make it a point to reach out to friends or even people I might not know very well if I feel that they are going through a hard time as such. You cannot have too many people who understand what you are going through and are willing to sit and talk with you. I believe that finding someone you can confide in and relax with, that is one of the most important aspects of combating the symptoms.

Removing negativity from your life:

This I know, is easier said than done. Your work environment for instance, under most circumstances lies beyond your control to change. Your family, of course you cannot walk away from.

For those things that you cannot change, you just have to make peace with it and move on. If negativity is around you when it comes to your family and work, avoid getting into situations that gets you stressed out. Try to spend minimal amount of time as much as possible with those that stresses you out and unhinges you. All that negativity can definitely bring you down. Trust me, I definitely know what I am talking about.

If it is an unhealthy career choice that is making you stressed out, try to find a way to move on from that position. You should love yourself first above everything else. If there is even the remotest possibility of finding something else that could make you more content, go for it. Your mental health is more important than climbing up the corporate ladder at the cost of your sanity.

If it is friends who are bringing you down, move on from them. I know that that sounds rather harsh. But you do not need that kind of negativity from anyone. Friends, at least you can choose whom you want to be with unlike family and work colleagues. This, at least you can control. I have walked away from my fair share of friends when those relationships stopped working for me. When things got too toxic. Love yourself enough to walk away. That is a mantra to live by.

Pushing your comfort zone:

Being phobic, anxious and depressed could mean that you become quite dependent on the comfort zone that you make for yourself, that zone in which  the worst of your symptoms are mostly held at bay. We all clutch at the straws when we are desperate, and it is this desperation that makes us create this zone around ourselves when we are afflicted with symptoms as such.

However, one must be careful not to get into the habit of becoming too comfortable in this zone. Because this could mean a life half-lived, without challenging yourself to come out of this hole you dig for yourself.

I constantly remind myself to do things that would push the boundaries of my comfort zone. Of course, I have to make peace with the fact that I would never ever be able conquer certain fears I have. Situations where I would never want to find myself in. I know for instance that I would not wake up one day and decide to go skydiving because I want to push myself.

Take small steps. Be it even a walk around the neighborhood. Or going to a nearby shop to buy something. When you are anxious, large crowds can definitely be daunting. Meeting up with friends and socializing can be exhausting when you are depressed. But try. There is no harm in trying. If you have at least one friend or a circle of friends who are understanding of your illness (if you are lucky), then they would understand your sensitivities as well. Once you start pushing yourself, your mind rewires your fears with positive thoughts, because it starts to understand that there is no danger to be had from what you are attempting to do.

If people constantly keep telling you that you should not do this, you are not ready for this, something which I face at times, be strong enough to move past all that. If you need help, ask for it from someone who would understand. If not, try and make an attempt. Somewhere along the way, your mind will stop fearing the unknown and accept the fact that there is no need for a flight response, which is the most common reaction to the nonexistent dangers perceived by the mind.

Being mindful of your physical and spiritual wellbeing:

This is another very important aspect when considering a holistic treatment regiment for your symptoms. If you are someone who believes in religion, in the existence of a higher being, it is always good to reflect more, spend more time on spiritual cleansing.

I myself found a lot of solace in my prayers when I was going through the roughest of times. Reciting verses from the Quran when I feel as if the walls are closing in on me is something that I do even now. I never forget the fact that above all, contentment of the heart and soul comes from my spiritual wellbeing. For that to happen, just like I feed my body with food to keep it functioning, I have to look after soul in the same way.

For those that do not believe in a religion or existence of God, I am guessing there are other ways to keep the mind occupied rather than let it flounder and get lost in the abysmal despair the mind can subject you to. Try what works for you. Do things that makes you feel happy. That is always a start.

Similarly, physical health is as important. A 20 to 30 minutes brisk walk everyday could immensely improve your mood as exercise releases chemicals in your body that reduces your stress levels and also makes you feel better and happier about yourself. You do not have to join a body combat class and punish yourself to feel this way. Start out small if you are someone who has never been in the habit of exercising. If you persist and persevere in your efforts, you will definitely find yourself on the other side of the tunnel. It might not happen today or tomorrow, or even a month down the line, but it will happen. You just have to be patient and work through the worst of it.

May we all be happier and more content tomorrow than today. That is my prayer, for every one of us.

Advertisements

My Friend, the Pathological Liar

PathoLiar

Source: Google Images – Quote Addicts

I’ve been meaning to write this article for sometime now. Contrary to the belief that some might hold over my blog being an avenue for just articles on local politics, I do write on other issues as well. Sometimes it’s hard to find the time to write down my thoughts, other times, I’m just too lazy to give into the urge to write. But this article? Well, I wouldn’t want to NOT write this for anything.

Let me ask you this first. Have you ever encountered a pathological liar? Have you ever had the misfortune of inviting one into your life, your home, family and your inner circle of friends? Well, I have. If you think, whoa, you were dumb enough to do that, think again. Pathological liars don’t go around advertising the fact to people around them. Nor do they have it tattooed on their foreheads, which would truly be helpful. It can be really hard to identify one, especially if you are the type to trust people because you don’t go around lying about every single thing that is your life as part of your daily routine.

The Psychiatric Times defines a pathological liar to be one who has a “long history (maybe lifelong history) of frequent and repeated lying for which no apparent psychological motive or external benefit can be discerned.” Well let me tell you this. If you haven’t met one or cannot even comprehend the fact that one who fits into the mould might exist, think again. I’m here to tell you, it’s all true.

I’ll refer to this ex-friend of mine as Ms. B. We met when I was working at my first place of employment, between the years of 2006 and 2008. Ms. B seemed nice enough, with a tragic family history tossed into the mix that one would definitely empathize and sympathize with. At least I did. And so did many of my colleagues who till today are good friends of mine.

Since then, much time has passed. Through which Ms. B tended to pull off these disappearing acts where no one hears from her. Me and my circle of friends used to gang up to find out what had happened to her. Well, she does emerge after long periods of time have passed, and manages to convince us of the plights she has been through, which of course begins once again that circle of empathy and sympathy whereby which we usually do not look that closely at some of the gaping holes in her stories. Maybe some of it is true enough that she manages to stick to the same version of her story throughout, or maybe she is just that intelligent, which I believe her to be, in hindsight.

Through her years of attempted studying out of country and later on, I was one of the people that stood by her. Even when she fell out of touch and out of friendship with most of the ‘inner circle of friends’ that I talked about earlier, I stuck with her because I honestly thought that she was someone who deserved a little bit of a helping hand in her almost seemingly lonesome journey through life.

Then rolled in the year 2015, in which I found myself invited to a group in one of those numerous chat applications by a friend of mine. This group was initially a fun place to be in. We talked politics, we philosophized, we talked about marriage, life, depression and what not, and there were the occasional film critiquing conversations that got heated (haha) and in the midst of all that, we actually managed to have a good time. That was until Ms. B found her way into the group and I began to see her in a whole new light, and not a very flattering one at that.

It was as if, overnight, she had turned into this person that was a complete stranger. The whole group seemed to revolve around her or the stories that she cooked up. She was ‘friends’ or ‘acquaintances’ with anyone and everyone that members in the group mentioned in passing, her ‘association’ with the rich and lavish while she was studying was laugh worthy, her ‘escapades’ and ‘travel adventures’, most of which I found hard to believe were truly ‘fascinating’. It got to the point where I wanted to actually take her aside and talk it out, in the presence of a mutual friend of ours. But what happened next completely pushed that resolve out of my mind.

discipline

Source: Google Images

I began to find out that her ‘behavior’ was targeted towards myself, an attempt to draw me out, to find out whether I would rise to the bait. Well, I suppose she didn’t know me well enough if she thought that I would be willing to cross that line – especially for someone like her “true” self. I went through her Instagram pictures, this time with an eye out for the things I never would have thought to look for before, and lo and behold, most of the pictures that she claimed were ones she had taken while on trips abroad etc, were actually taken off of the Internet – her travel escapades, nothing but a huge figment of her imagination.

Then came the day all this came to heed. All the while her ‘behavior’ in the group kept on escalating, I knew deep in my heart that she’d have already told her version of the ‘sob story’ to those in the group who would sympathize with her. I don’t blame them. Because I’ve been one of the ‘victims’ of her lies myself. Believing the stories she told about people who had always had issues with her and made her life miserable. People who were all ‘evil’ to her such that she couldn’t put up with them.

So when this particular day rolled in, it had come to the point where I had begun to ask from her, inside the group, to show proof of whatever ‘great’ stories of her escapades she kept spinning. The one mistake she made was to tell this huge lie about going paragliding, a trip she supposedly took with friends of mine. Of course I contacted my friends to verify the truth, and it turns out the only things they did on that trip were to go jet skiing and horseback riding. Armed with my proof I sat, wondering what to do, and then there took place this stupid argument of sorts about who has dated whom – and suddenly her knight in shining armor arrived to her rescue, this being THE administrator of the group, the friend who invited me to the group in the first place, and admonished the rest of us to cool it and shut it down. I nearly walked away from that group that night, but I kept telling myself, if I left then, I’d only be doing exactly what she wants me to do.

It was tough going for a while. It was and is hard for me at times to put up with her when I know what she’s like. But, I’ve persevered and though I don’t hang around much in the said group, it is still a place where a bunch of good conversations take place every now and then and I believe like one of the group members expressed one day, we do have got a good thing going on in there.

I have refused to talk about this with anyone, apart from those that already knew of the problems or those who had seen right through the massive aura of bullshit that surrounds her. I knew that she would actually sell her version of the story to mutual friends of ours – and I wasn’t wrong. I knew that people who really knows me well, what I’m like and what lengths I would go to in order to keep a friendship alive wouldn’t believe the version of half-truths that would emerge out of her mouth.

One thing that made me want to write this down was the fact that she was badmouthing not just about me, but my sister, who has shown nothing but utmost courtesy to her and my friends – if they have ever visited my home and met her. I don’t mind Ms. B talking about me – I can take it. I know that those that would believe her version of the truth were never truly my friends in the first place. But to know that she had taken that step towards talking bad about my family? Well, that was the last straw for me.

Come today, she has blocked and removed me from all her social media accounts. We are both in the same group on the said chat application, from which she has individually blocked me – which I find helluva funny.

Moving on, the lesson to be learnt from all this was that, you never truly know a person well enough, even those closest to you. People can always surprise you, some in the worst of ways. I’ve felt antagonism on the part of some of the members in the group but I’ve paid no heed to any of it. Maybe that is just how I perceived it. Maybe not. But what goes around does come back around.

So the question remains, how do you identify one who is a pathological liar? Here are some pointers, which I would like to share with anyone whose interested.

1- These people, they study you well. Studies you thoroughly. Even studies the subjects they would talk about in a group of people so that they don’t come out sounding stupid enough for people to question them. I encountered this multiple times since I understood what my particular friend was up to. So be mindful of how much of yourself you divulge to particular people. The saying that not everyone who keeps you close is your friend is a true adage. Be cautious about whom you trust and invite into your life and that of your family’s. Otherwise you just might live to regret it.

2- Pathological liars lack empathy. Why? Because they are able to spin all these lies and keep you believing in them because they don’t feel any particular remorse over what they are doing. They will look you right in the eye and lie to you. Without blinking. Even once. Trust me on this.

3- Pathological liars don’t like being cornered. When someone is onto them, they can turn aggressive. Vicious even. The tables can turn so rapidly on you that you might feel bulldozed by the escalation of events that takes place. I experienced this. It wasn’t pretty. But it teaches you a lesson. These people are smart. Some of them, highly intelligent. Someone who is NOT intelligent cannot pull off so many multiple threads of lies, continued over periods of time. Take note. Don’t fall into that trap. Question them if you don’t think their stories add up. If you still feel in your gut that they are lying, they most probably are. Perhaps confrontation might be a choice if they haven’t already realized that you are onto them.

4- The most sneaky of the lot are manipulative. I’ve seen this, felt it, and even being manipulated by her. So yes, it is embarrassing to admit this perhaps, but I aim to learn from my mistakes and I intend it to be perhaps something others can also learn from. They can wrap you around their little finger, make you believe that everyone in the world is against them. You’d sympathize to the extent that you’d believe that the other person is pure shit. Yes, you would. Maintaining an objective front helps of course. But sometimes if you’re too close to the fire, you can’t help but be burned, just a little.

5- They can morph into people who seem to GET you on a level others don’t. I have heard so many “secrets” of other people’s lives through her, that she wouldn’t have been privy to, if people didn’t trust her on a level that would have warranted these “stories”. If you are the sort who is pious and love the religion, they will become one – just for you. And if you are one who don’t let boundaries as such define the way you live your life, well, they can be that too. Be wary. Be cautious. Not everyone who claims or acts like they are the most trustworthy of people are actually so.

6- And they lie, for absolutely NO REASON! Even now I cannot wrap my head around the fact, her need to lie, especially to people who meant her well. I guess that in essence defines what or who a pathological liar is.

The one thing that of course guided me, apart from what went on was the Almighty. Might sound corny to those who don’t believe. But this Ramazan, one of my supplications to Him was to show me those I can trust and whom I cannot. All whatever I have related, happened right afterwards. If ever there was a sign from above, well, that was it.

If any of you reads this and finds this ludicrous, do share your thoughts. I would love to hear why you think so. If you have encountered the same, do share that as well; that is if you’re comfortable doing so. Perhaps you can shed some more light on how we can avoid inviting pathological liars into our lives. For me, it’s years of friendship that I have lost. Boundless time I have wasted. On a person who didn’t deserve it, in the least. And I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

“Just because something isn’t a lie does not mean that it isn’t deceptive. A liar knows that he is a liar, but one who speaks mere portions of truth in order to deceive is a craftsman of destruction.”
Criss Jami

Dhivehi – A Language on its Deathbed

Most days, there’s little to be proud about when it comes to being a Maldivian. The corruption and injustice running rampant in this small country of ours makes the country I was born and raised in a trifle bit hard to take most of the time. But then again, Maldives is home, it’s people are mine and I theirs, and there’s always that sense of belonging here that I have never found elsewhere. Though my inner free spirit lusts to travel to all corners of the earth, Maldives would always be my home.

In recent times, not a day has gone by without one local news or the other causing an uproar in the Maldivian community. The last one to hit us was the news that our language academy aka ‘Dhivehi Bahuge Academy’ had spoken out on the need to change the taxi boards affixed to every taxi as per new regulation should in fact be in the local language. An advisement that came a trifle bit too late in my opinion.

DhivehiBas

Image created by Waddey which depicts the ridiculousness of Dhivehi Bahuge Academy’s statement regarding Taxi boards

Yes, Dhivehi is our own language. Our mother tongue. A language that bears characteristics of and has evolved from a mix of Arabic, Sinhalese and Maharashtri, a language spoken in ancient India. The prospect of having our own language unique to us while is a novelty in the sense that the language is part of the definition of our race and culture, many would disagree with the fact that Dhivehi contributes in any positive way to our lives. While it also helps immensely when you need to share a gossipy tidbit with the friend next to you when you don’t want non-Dhivehi speaking individuals to know what you are talking about, there’s also the current generation and the one that will rule this country tomorrow that does not feel overly emotional at the prospect of losing our own language.

Dhivehi as Part of our Education

Some might argue that Dhivehi as a language is dying its imminent death because our education curriculum barely touches the subject as students move through their primary, secondary and high school education. From someone who has been through every stage of Dhivehi learning that the Maldivian curriculum has to offer, I have to say I was never impressed with the delivery of the language nor the teachers that came bearing the ‘goodness’ of the language.

Imagine, a sleep deprived teacher who walks in with a pinched look on their face to take a 45 minute class thrice weekly. First and foremost, the teacher alone serves as a turn off for students. Teaching a language is definitely something quite different when compared with various other subject matters. A love for the language one is teaching is a must to convey that sense of ‘I’ve got to learn this’ feeling to the students. From the moment the Dhivehi teacher walks into class everything starts going downhill. An uber bored ‘what the heck am I doing here’ voice will ask students to open to a page number, read what’s there, answer a couple of questions and then? Nothing. That’s it. There aren’t activities that would help a student learn what the language is about, to fall in love with it and see it as a language that could prove to be useful in their future. So how do we blame the current generation that has been bored to tears by teachers who couldn’t care less of the knowledge they were leaving their students with?

Lack of Proper Language Standards

I am no guru of the Dhivehi language. I barely managed to get a ‘C’ grade in both the SSC (Secondary School Certificate) exam and the HSC (Higher Secondary Certificate) exam later on. My handwriting would have definitely been on par with that of a doctor’s scribbles on a prescription if not for my father who was hellbent on working each of us to have a good handwriting when it came to Dhivehi as well as English. While I took to English like a duck to water, needless to say, Dhivehi came with its own dose of Valium pills in the mix.

What struck me most then and even now is the fact that Dhivehi lacks proper standards that are agreed upon and documented by the various ‘scholars’ of the language. While reading an article written by Hui Ali Didi might be the rage, it definitely does not instill the love a student ought to have in the language to seek more materials to read and learn from. With one teacher agreeing on one concept and the other the opposite, as students we remained confused and most of the time didn’t give it much of a thought except when it came to passing exams. Even then, unlike an English exam where one knows what is expected of them, Dhivehi exams always lay in the unknown; no one knew what was expected apart from writing essays that suited the current teacher’s accepted mode of essay writing. All in all, language standards remained the prerogative of the teacher in residence. So who do we blame for this confusion that has led everyone to correctly assume that Dhivehi as a language is not going to be viable for long if something drastic is not done to counter this effect?

The Language that Lies Stagnant

I don’t think most would disagree with me when I say that one of the most severe problems facing our language is the fact that Dhivehi as a language doesn’t seem to grow and expand to encompass and embrace the constant changing world that we live in.

If I were to be cruel, I’d have to say Dhivehi develops, if it can even be called that, at the rate it’s people develop. Our dictionary aka Radheef remains absolutely obsolete. There’s just one online version and that too no thanks to the department that was apparently ‘protecting’ the said document from going ‘viral’. Dhivehi linguists (most of them so darn proud of the fact) boasts about how rich our language really is. I fail to see the point. Perhaps because I have little or zero interest in reading most Dhivehi literature (those things just scream at me not to touch them), I really don’t see all that many words that can be used in multiple contexts. I judge a language to be rich by that. The words that ebb and flow and give meaning to the letters that you write on a page. Yes, our ancestors and current generation included are quite adept at cursing and throwing foul words around using the language; apart from that? Zilch, nada!

What Lies Ahead?

So in the end, whose responsibility is it to develop Dhivehi as a language? To make it grow and infuse it with very much needed life that could perhaps help bring it back from the throes of death. Where is the language academy’s role in all of this? Is their role limited to giving advice as to the bare minimum the law on the language asks from us, and that too when the time for the advice has come and gone? Or is their job a more vital one in terms of bringing the language to the people, to make it a highly usable one in all contexts?

One thing is dead certain, pun intended. Dhivehi as a language currently lies at the language academy, stagnant and half dead, just as the academy itself, barely breathing while the said academy ignores that and pushes on more important reforms needed to run the taxi services in this country. And as I see it, if something is not done soon enough, I don’t see it reviving and being able to keep up as the world continues to hurtle its way through tomorrow after tomorrow into the yonder.

Thoughts? Feel free to share! :)

 

Oh Dear China, How I Miss Thee…

Exactly a year ago today, I got the opportunity to fly off to China for a seminar that was held in Beijing, all arranged and financed by the Chinese government with the added bonus of tours arranged to Shanghai and Hangzhou as part of the seminar. I was excited and apprehensive and excited, well you get the drift. I’m not such a fan of air travel or for that matter sea travel, but hey I love going places. Either way a 7 hour plus journey was one factor that contributed to the apprehension but the flight was smooth sail from start to finish though the bumpy return ride three weeks after wasn’t what I signed up for.

A snap of the rainbow of colors left behind in the wake of the sunset, high up in the air.

A snap of the rainbow of colors left behind in the wake of the sunset, high up in the air.

We landed after midnight, Beijing time, and even though exhaustion had set in by the time, sleep wasn’t easy to come by as the body hadn’t yet received the memo that we were operating in the said timezone. There was also the teeny fact that we managed to reach the Chinese Academy of Governance (CAG) where the seminar was to be held way past 2 am. A fitful 2 – 3 hour sleep later, the seminar began and thus began the best out of country experience of my life.

My name, in Chinese ^_^

My name, in Chinese ^_^

The most interesting lecture that we had was on the Chinese Constitution, how it came to being, the struggles the country went through to become what it is today. Yes, none of it is perfect, nor would the West agree with the Chinese path towards development but it was fascinating to see China through its government’s eyes. The one thing that struck me was that China was slowly loosening its shackles on the freedom component. We all know how well unlimited freedom and democracy has worked in this country and perhaps countries in the Arabian penisula struggling for the same tells the story all by itself. China might not be galloping towards the total freedom policy anytime soon but it is taking those first hesitant steps towards opening itself up to the global community, the series of seminars with participants from all over the world one of the methodologies adopted by the country to achieve the said goal.

The Chinese Academy of Governance; Beijing

The Chinese Academy of Governance; Beijing

I met some wonderful people and the not so, learned factors about countries and its people that I wouldn’t have if not for the seminar. One thing I am going to say is I was darn glad that there were no Indian participants in the seminar. The Pakistanis and their egos could barely fit in as it was and Indians to the mix would just have been disaster.

2013-05-08 15.48.58
A shot from one of the lectures at the seminar; I think this one was on Chinese Economics

Now lets talk food! China being a country where anything is a go would’ve proved to be quite difficult for a Muslim to find edible and halal food from. Luckily, the institute had its own Muslim restaurant which served meals thrice a day. Dinner was served from 6 to 7 pm; can you imagine? The first couple of days, hunger pangs continued to fight the battle for freedom inside my tummy. By the fourth day, I could appreciate an early dinner. Goes to show its all about psychology and how the body adjusts to what it is subjected to. The human capacity for perseverance is amazing, is it not?

Meals served at CAG

Meals served at CAG

Some lectures were certainly snooze fests. But then again a gal can’t complain with a trip every now and then tossed into the mix. Our very first outing was to the Olympics Stadium.

And lookee there; its the Birds Nest

And lookee there; its the Birds Nest

One thing I would say about Beijing is that I didn’t get to encounter the infamous smog that blankets the city throughout the year. There was a bit of sun every now and then and mostly just cool weather that settled well with me. And I loved the flowers blooming in pots down the streets, a beautiful sight in a cosmopolitan city with its busy roads and highways.

"Pots" of beautiful multi-colored flowers down the road.

“Pots” of beautiful multicolored flowers down the road.

Next came the trip to experience one of the successful establishments of a “modern village” in the suburbs of Beijing. The trip was my first & last experience in juggling with chopsticks to eat! Turned out, not such a traumatic experience after all. What do you know huh?

Eating with chopsticks!

Eating with chopsticks!

And then there was the trip to the Forbidden City. The tales our guide Jack told us, some of them stuck, like the fact that Emperors had 100 plus wives+concubines in the same compound in the different rooms in the city. Count on my brain to retain that bit of information.

A mere glimpse into The Forbidden City

A mere glimpse into The Forbidden City

The visit to the Great Wall of China was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life! I don’t think I would ever be able to make my way towards any other world wonders in my lifetime. So I treasure this unique experience with all my heart. Though I don’t remember the muscle fatigue my legs underwent afterwards that fondly; I tell you, my legs felt like they were turning into goo! I feared that a dashing figure out of nowhere might have had to carry me away! All kidding aside, climbing the Great Wall though it looks like a bunch of stairs is no easy feat. It takes endurance of the likes you might not think would be required. But the experience is definitely worth all the leg shaking that ensues. And just think, somewhere along those walls, is my name written with the date, a piece of myself in black permanent marker left there for the rest of the world who visits the wall to see! Good times!

The Great Wall of China! ^_^

The Great Wall of China! ^_^

One of the most exciting aspects of the seminar was the travels to Shanghai and Hangzhou, one of the most popular tourist destinations in China. The ferry ride around Shanghai to view its skyline lit up in all its glory was definitely a sight to behold.

I love Shanghai! I certainly did though I barely got a glimpse of the commercial hub of China that almost never seems to sleep!

I love Shanghai! I certainly did though I barely got a glimpse of the commercial hub of China that almost never seems to sleep!

Next came the trip to Hangzhou, where our seminar concluded. A beautiful place teeming with Chinese culture and lots of greenery to appreciate. I took to the place like a duck to water! Our trip to Hangzhou took us to the theater performance of “The Romance of the Song Dynasty”. Beautiful is a word that is inadequate to describe the performance; outstanding and bedazzling are words that barely do justice.

2013-05-24 14.10.03

The Romance of the Song Dynasty – Beautiful!

I would remiss if I were not to mention the fabulous lunch banquet that was thrown in our honor as part of the closing ceremony. A full 6-7 course meal that was beautifully presented and a delight to the taste buds!

Soup in a pumpkin; not my usual kind of thing but uber delicious!

Soup in a pumpkin; not my usual kind of thing but uber delicious!

I don’t think life will throw in another trip of this variety with different shades of experiences thrown into the mix to make everything so memorable. Best of all, I remember the people I met, especially the coordinator of the seminar and the translator who have become friends that I miss deeply. Perhaps one day, I will yet again make my way to the beautiful country that is China and visit some of those places that I wanted to visit but could never get to. Someday.

The translator & the coordinator

The translator & the coordinator :)

It would be quite the impossible task to sum down all the experiences of the trip, perhaps I should’ve written a post sooner. But then I instagrammed pretty much the whole experience, a diary of sorts that I can revisit whenever I want to; provided that Instagram doesn’t go out of business anytime soon. All pictures included in the post were taken by myself to capture all the moments that would help in recalling memories perhaps when the time comes that I am old and grey and hit with memory loss. A gal can only hope.

The beautifully landscaped grounds of CAG. I spent many a solitary hour just enjoying the bliss of it all.

The beautifully landscaped grounds of CAG. I spent many a solitary hour just enjoying the bliss of it all.

I guess what prompted this post was in part my way of remembering a trip, the memories of which I would carry with me for the rest of my life. Everyone should get to go on a trip like this, one filled with visits to exciting places and great food not to mention the fabulous company as well. Until the next such trip, if ever!

Kasauti Hour at Civil Service Commission

sexualharassment

If you all have been following the news today and yesterday, you would know what I am talking about. Though I’d be the last person to advocate for Fahmy on this issue, the latest news reports on the issue has left me wondering whether locking up the doors and throwing away the key is the best way to tackle the issue of Fahmy resuming work at CSC after being on leave.

For one thing, when Supreme Court came up with their verdict, everyone sat on their arses and let him report to work. He was paid his salary, not just for the days he reported to work but the entire period he was away from work; the days between Parliament sacking him and Supreme Court’s verdict.

What we are witnessing today is a total turnaround to these events. While the issue of who the President of CSC is has been settled, the issue of whether Fahmy is a member or not still remains to be resolved. When the Parliament appointed Ms. Reenee as the 5th member of CSC to the position supposed to have been vacated by Fahmy, Supreme Court stopped the swearing in process which effectively bars Reenee from reporting to work. While the President Dr. Waheed has said that he will decide what is to be done with Fahmy in three days time, we are left wondering whether Waheed resides on Pluto on which each day is equivalent to 6 days here on Earth.

Now the question I am struggling with is whether ‘suspending’ Fahmy & preventing him from returning to work by the actions of CSC is the right way to go. What sort of message is all this under the table behaviour driving home? Is this sort of deep ‘under the cover’ power struggle what CSC wants the public to witness? As far as my limited knowledge on CS Act goes, all employment issues related to CSC members will be governed by the Parliament. Yes, Parliament had its say, but then none of this has been resolved and that creates the sense that there is something fishy going on, something that we aren’t privy to that is working behind the scenes. Perhaps a position that CSC should have assumed from the very start of this affair which we are seeing too late might be the reason for this weird feeling that things just don’t add up!

In my opinion what Waheed needs to do is grow a pair or two, buck up and decide once and for all what is to be done so that we can all be done with this drama and move on. This is not healthy for this country and its largest workforce where discontentment practically reeks from all civil servants at large. If not Waheed, then the Attorney General needs to decide what is to be done so that CSC can end this episode of Kasauti and move forward with their designated jobs in creating an effective, efficient and professional civil service capable of serving the public.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a firm believer that Fahmy should be sacked for what he did and has done to many a female employee at the workplace and am someone who would always advocate for it knowing all that I know. But this is not how it should be. Or is it? What do you think?