Pearls of Wisdom from The Podcast – A story for your query

The pearls of Wisdom – The Podcast A story for your query

Season 1

A trailer

I am Dr. Pramila Kudva. This is ‘A Story for your Query’ –  a new podcast that addresses the queries of students, parents and teachers.

Somebody please dig some sense into my parents. 

Good heavens! What has happened to this world? Where are the values among the younger generation? 

Look! keep those ear phones away! no music till you finish your studies.

How do I get my teenager to be disciplined?

Between online teaching and home there is no escape.

Teachers and parents – give me a break!

Sounds familiar isn’t it?

I am an educator with almost 40 years of experience at the school and at the B.Ed level. I shall be talking to you about your concerns, areas of interest, studying patterns and anything else that you need to know but didn’t know whom to ask.   

Let us look at the  Indian Ethos which I shall unfold before you through a story. Stories I believe are a powerful medium to drive a point home.  Let the things that I say percolate from the mic to the earphones and sub sequently into practice. Let’s get going – A story for your Query. 

Episode 1 – Sensitivity

Hi, I am Dr. Pramila Kudva. Welcome to the first episode of A Story for your query.

 Let’s start our first episode on sensitivity.

Constant development is the law of life. Development brings about a change. Even as the old aging cells in our body die, new ones are replacing them. In short, change is a constant and change begets change. Heard these before? These are some of the cliché’d statements that we have been hearing.

The fact is that not all change can lead to a better world. To that end each of us must work for self-improvement. 

We are aware of the racial comments that were hurled at our cricketers in Australia. Racial comments, sexual harassment and such are a stigma to the society. We need to focus on values and character formation as an important aspect of development.

There is a touching story from a father.  Let me share it with you.

It was a Saturday, evening and Young 8 year old Sindu was sitting at the table crying. She did not want to eat the food served to her. Generally this is what happens at home. Mom cannot handle the situation she calls out to the dad. Sindu’s mom was no exception. Dad was called into solve the problem.

Girls have a special bond with their dads. Father asked her what the matter was. Sindu said she did not like the food. When father cajoled her she said, “If I eat this food, will you promise to give me something that I need”? The current generation is good at negotiation.

Sindu made both parents agree on one condition that she is not going to ask for something expensive. Sindu ate the food. Now came the bomb shell. She announced that she would like to shave the hair off her head.

Mom was shocked. ‘Atrocious!’ shouted the mother, Impossible!’ ‘Nobody has done this in our family!’ she rasped. She went on rambling….

‘She has been watching too much of television. Our culture is getting totally spoiled with these TV programs!’ Mom had finally found somebody to blame.

Father was the calmer person of the two. Sindu darling, why don’t you ask for something else? We will feel sad seeing you with a clean-shaven head.’

‘No, Dad. I do not want anything else’, Sindu said with finality.

‘Please, Sindu, why don’t you try to understand our feelings?’

Now, you are going back on your words. Was it not you who told me that we should honor our promises no matter what?’

Now, It was time for the dad to call the shots. He declared that the promise must be kept.

With her head clean-shaven, Sindu had a round-face, and her eyes looked big and beautiful.

On Monday morning, her dad dropped her at her school. It was a sight to watch hairless Sindu walking towards her classroom. She turned around and waved. Her father waved back with a smile. Just then, a boy alighted from a car, and shouted, ‘Sinduja, please wait for me!’

The boy was hairless too.  Soon, the boy’s mom got off from the car and walked up to Sindu’s dad to explain that her son had undergone Chemotherapy and he refused to come to school because he felt students would tease him.  Sindhu told him during her visit that teacher had explained to them that they should help their friends and she knew a way to help him out.

It can be argued that the parents helped Sindhu with the right sensitivity or that the teacher did. To my mind it is the teacher and the parents together help the child to hone the right kind of values. They need to work in tandem. The children have their own way of responding.

How does sensitivity help individuals in adult life?

Sensitivity could be towards those who are less privileged than us, it could be towards your staff, your spouse, gender discrimination, sensitivity towards the environment and so on. Use of a language that is assertive but not hurting is a sign of sensitivity – an essential quality of a team leader. A superior should be alert to the fact that words are like arrows sent out of the quiver. They cannot be taken back. 

Sensitive individuals tend to help others and care about what happens to the people around them.

How to work towards inculcating values among children?

Firstly, remember values are not taught but caught. Parents need to be role models for the children. Children see, children do. Be aware of what you are modelling. If you talk about honesty but lie about their age to get a cheaper ticket into the amusement park, it not only puts your child in an uncomfortable position, they learn that cheating is okay under certain circumstances.

2. Label and reinforce expression of values. eg. your child shares her stuffed toy with a visitor. Say specifically, it was nice of you to share your stuffed toy with your friend. I am proud of you.

3. Be aware of the manner in which     you speak, opinions you express will influence the kids values. Bad mouthing the school in front of the kids is not going to make the child feel proud of one’s school.  

4. Teachers and parents need to work in tandem. 

5. Encourage your child’s initiatives that express budding values.

If your child wants to start a cleanliness drive, help the child in organising it.

6. Set standards that are appropriate for the child’s age and enforce these standards consistently. Reward the child for complying with the standards. If the child has aced a competitive exam, reward the child. Before you take the child to the shop have a talk and make the child realise the toy that she / he can choose should not be higher than the amount that you have agreed upon.  So let the child look at the MRP and buy.

7. Model compassion to children.

Carol B.Hillman – “ One of the most important things we adults can do for young children is to model the kind of person we would like them to be”.

Episode 2 – Humility    

Pride and humility are two words that are often used in contrast to each other. The key difference between pride and humility could be –  pride refers to having an excessively high opinion of one’s importance where as humility refers to having a modest opinion of oneself.


In the Epic Ramayan, Ravan lies mortally wounded on the battlefield and the vanarsena is celebrating their victory, when Ram turns to his brother, Lakshman, and says, “While Ravan was a demon king, he was also a great scholar. Go to him and request him to share whatever knowledge he can.”

The obedient Lakshman rushes to Ravan’s side and whispers in his ears, “Demon king, the noble Ram gives you an opportunity to mend your ways. Share your vast wisdom. Do not let it die with you. For that you will be surely be blessed.”

Ravan responds by simply turning away. An angry Lakshman goes back to Ram and says: “He is as arrogant as he always was, too proud to share anything.” Ram looks at his brother and asks him softly, “Where did you stand while asking him for knowledge?” “Next to his head so that I hear what he had to say clearly.” Ram smiles, places his bow on the ground and walks to where Ravan lies.

Lakshman watches in astonishment as his brother kneels at Ravan’s feet.
With palms joined, with extreme humility, Ram says, “Lord of Lanka, I punished you for abducting my wife. You are no more my enemy. I see you now as the wise son of Rishi Vishrava. I bow to you and request you to share your wisdom with me. Or else, all your wisdom will be lost forever to the world.” 

To Lakshman’s surprise, Ravan opens his eyes and raises his arms to salute Ram and shares his knowledge. It is the humility that Ram showed that made Ravana share his knowledge.

How are these values related to our daily lives?

When you think of a leader several qualities come to mind – charismatic, visionary, risk taking and so on. But humility is one word that is not generally associated with leadership. Yet, it is seen as a virtue.  

A number of research studies have concluded that humble leaders listen   effectively, inspire great teamwork and focus on organizational goals better than those who don’t score high on humility.

A survey of 105 computer software and hardware firms published in the Journal of Management first published in September 2015, revealed that humility in CEOs led to higher-performing leadership teams, increased collaboration and cooperation and flexibility in developing strategies. 

Humility is most closely associated with a cluster of highly positive qualities including sincerity, modesty, fairness, truthfulness, unpretentiousness and authenticity. It is a part of the Emotional Quotient.

What do these humble leaders do?

  1. Humble leaders admit to their mistakes and take responsibility.
  2. When things go right, they share the success with the others.
  3. They encourage people to speak up, respect differences of opinion and champion the best ideas.

pride On the contrary, can lead to downfall.  .

our dignity and self-respect is referred to as  “Good pride”. . “Bad pride” is the deadly sin of superiority that reeks of conceit and arrogance. It’s this pride which gives us trouble.  

  1. Pride Stops Us from Building a Team. We feel we are the best .
  2. Stephen Covey has said, “It takes humility to seek feedback. It takes wisdom to understand it, analyze it, and appropriately act on it.”
  3. Pride does not seek feedback and it Prevents Us from Admitting Mistakes
  4. Pride Destroys Relationships. Pride makes one get too absorbed with oneself. This might lead to alienation from the friends. It might also prevent one from enjoying the successes of friends.
  5. Pride Distorts Your Perspective on Reality. Many problems in business are caused by the ego interfering with judgment. Choices that should be clear to the leader become clouded by an obsession with self-advancement.

How to Correct the Pride Problem

1. Recognize Your Pride. A quote by  C. S. Lewis “If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, you are very conceited indeed.”

2. Admit Your Pride “There is perhaps not one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive. Even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

3. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts. Express Your Gratitude Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness.

Episode 3 – Social responsibility

Hi welcome to yet another episode of A story for your query. Today, let’s talk about social responsibility.

COVID pandemic has taken the world by   storm. Economies have reeled under this pandemic onslaught, people have lost lives, academic institutions have shut down, yet some people go about nonchalantly as if to say nothing can affect them. The mantra for COVID – wear the mask, maintain social distance and wash your hands as frequently as you can is not taken seriously. What would you call such people? Somebody coined a new word – COVIDIOTS. These are individuals who do not adhere to the social responsibility.

What is social responsibility?

Social responsibility means that one must act in a manner that benefits society.

Social responsibility is an ethical theory in which individuals are accountable for fulfilling their civic duty, and the actions of an individual must benefit the whole of society.

The theory of social responsibility and ethics applies in both individual and group capacities. It should be incorporated into daily actions/decisions, particularly ones that will have an effect on other persons and/or the environment. In the larger, group capacity, a code of social responsibility and ethics is applied within said group as well as during interactions with another group or an individual.

Often, the ethical implications of a decision/action are overlooked for personal gain.

Let’s look at social responsibility and students.

Let me tell you the story of Greta Thunberg

Greta is a 17-year-old who grew up in Stockholm, in Sweden. Greta’s mother, Malena Ernman, is an opera singer and former Eurovision Song Contest participant.

Her father, is an actor, and is a descendant of Svante Arrhenius, a scientist who came up with a model of the greenhouse effect. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1903.

The elder of two girls, Greta says she learned about climate change when she was eight, and that her parents were not climate activists.

Greta has Asperger’s syndrome, a developmental disorder, and has described it as a gift and calls herself as being different.

In May 2018, aged 15, Greta won a climate change essay competition in a local newspaper.

Three months later, in August, she started protesting in front of the Swedish parliament building, vowing to continue the protest until the Swedish government met the carbon emissions target agreed upon in 2015.

She wielded a placard that read “School Strike for Climate”. Her protests went viral on social media and as support for her cause grew.

By December 2018, more than 20,000 students from Australia, UK, Belgium, the US and Japan had joined her. 

In September 2019, she travelled to New York to address a UN climate conference. She made her way there on a racing yacht, in a journey that lasted two weeks because she would not travel by air. Addressing the conference, she lambasted the politicians for relying on young people for answers to climate change.

She was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year 2019. At this time, she was all of 16 years of age.

How to develop social responsibility in students.

The teenage mind is not always open for reasoning.  Let us look at some Tips to build up  the Social Responsibilities of a Student

As a part of the Cleanliness and conservation programme,

the school or college building and surrounding neighbourhood could be kept clean

  • Every time you leave the classroom, ensure that the lights and fans are switched off.
  • Also, avoid leaving the tap water running while brushing teeth.

Have you ever thought of helping others in need? Is there a cause that is close to your heart? Volunteer to visit the old age homes, Cheshire homes, shelter for the homeless and similar organisations – bring a smile to their faces.

Contribute to Make a Difference

Organise donation drives at school for the needy – those affected by natural calamities.  Schools can organise special friends day where in they would invite children from a school which is from lower socio-economic class and get their school children to interact play games, teach activities and thus learn sensitivity.

Follow Ethics

Ethical code helps in understanding the difference between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and in applying that understanding to your decisions. For example, if you are given a chance to take up an opportunity that could be really beneficial to you, but it may result in a loss to your fellow people, would it be fair to grab it? Such ethical dilemmas would be helpful in clearing the cobwebs in the mind.

Student body to be active.

This should help in decision making  and problem solving.

“Every individual has a place to fill in the world and is important in some respect whether he/she chooses to be so or not.” Nathaniel Hawthorne.

I end with a story on Malala yousafzai. Her father was a teac her and ran a girls’ school in their village.

Everything changed when the Taliban took control of their town in Swat Valley. The extremists banned many things — like owning a television and playing music — and enforced harsh punishments for those who defied their orders. And they said girls could no longer go to school.

Malala yousufzai spoke out publicly on behalf of girls and our right to learn. And this made her  a target.

In October 2012, on her  way home from school, a masked gunman boarded her school bus and asked, “Who is Malala?” and shot her.

She  woke up 10 days later in a hospital in Birmingham, England. After months of surgeries and rehabilitation, she established Malala Fund, a charity dedicated to giving every girl an opportunity to achieve a future she chooses. In recognition of our work, Malala received the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2014 and became the youngest-ever Nobel laureate.

Malala Fund is working for a world where every girl can

Episode 4 – Musical connections

Hi, Are you one of those teenagers wo love to listen to music while doing the assignments or math? Do you also have to deal with your mom admonishing you for listening to music while studying? Well, then this is the podcast that you need to listen and then get your mom to listen to it too. Let’s start with our   next episode Musical connections  and the teenager.

At the outset, how many of you love to sing? Why do you sing? Some of the plausible reasons could be – it makes you feel good, cathartic, gives you a sense of freedom and gay abandon,  connect with yourself, connect with others and so on…

But what gets in the way? The feeling what will people think? I cannot hold a tune, I am not good enough and so on.. 

So, let the music make connections with your emotional life. Let me take you through some important facts about music.

Let’s look at the effect music has on Emotions.

Emotions and music have such a close connection.

Have you ever seen the mother sing a lullaby to the baby? It is probably one of the most significant bonding experiences between people you will ever witness.

Lullaby is never rock music. It is soothing. A crying baby can stop crying – such is the power of a lullaby. Soothing music is able to bridge the brain and heart.

Jo jo jo Krishna Malagananda, jo jo gopiya nanda mukunda

My dad used to sing this song when I was a child. It is in Konkani, a language spoken by a small community in south India. I don’t remember the whole song but here is the refrain that I distinctly recall. Here it goes.  

Yo go ammu digo galo digo ek umma.

According to research done in neuroscience, there are  many beneficial ways music can engage and change the brain.

Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia that damages parts of the brain and affects memory, intelligence, judgment, language, and even behaviour.

Imagine an elderly man in a wheelchair. His head droops down to his chest, almost in a state of unconsciousness. His name is Henry and, sadly, he is disconnected from the world around him due to severe Alzheimer’s. What might reconnect him to the world and improve his awareness? Research has proved that by creating playing music specifically for Henry, he is able to reconnect with the world around him.

Music has a powerful ability to unlock memories, happy and sad, and a former prima ballerina Marta C. González was  a living proof of that.

González was featured in a video filmed in 2019. This clip has recently gone viral. González, lived with Alzheimer’s disease before her death. She was the prima ballerina in Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” in the 1960s. When the music was played the ballerinas hands came alive and she performed the movements sitting on the wheel chair. Such is the power of music.


Learning and Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. It can be greatly affected by the harmony of music and the brain. In a ground breaking study by the University of Newcastle in Australia, popular music was used to assist patients with severe brain injuries in recalling personal memories. The music affected the patients’ brains ability to reconnect to memories they previously could not access.

It’s like getting directions to a location. If a road is closed, or you are stuck in traffic, there is sometimes an alternate route to get to the same place. Music can help map that alternate route in your brain!

Now that we have seen some of the effects that music has on the brain, let’s learn how we can take a role in implementing some of these benefits into active processes.

1. Learn to Play an Instrument or better still – Sing.

In addition to singing having beneficial effects for our heart, it also affects our brain as well. Keep in mind that it’s about the act of singing itself, not how well you sing! Bathroom singers also stand to gain.

2. Chant

For thousands of years, chanting is a form of music has been used as a vehicle to form a deeper spiritual connection in the brain and affect mood. This is especially true of the sound om, which is said to contain every sound in the universe within it.

It is believed that daily utterance of OM would make a phenomenal difference in the way one would function. You would perceive more clarity of thought. The vibrational waves created by this chanting is believed to spread out over a radius of 2 kilometer and spread positive vibrations.  – Chanting of Om.

I would be doing gross injustice if I don’t mention the New Education Policy 2020 in this connection. Art as in both fine art and performing art are being integrated into the curriculum as per this policy. To elucidate – A song featuring the Indian struggle for Independence if introduced through the History lesson would be integration of music, history and poetry. A holistic learning through inter disciplinary subjects. Meaningful and enjoyable too.

Finally, Music is the language of universal mankind. You don’t need to know the language to understand it. I sang two lines of a song that my dad used to sing for me, I am sure you didn’t know the language but understood the emotions behind it.   

Episode 5 Episode 5 – Exam Hustle bustle and Mom

Examination time is a  stressful time not just for students but for their parents and guardians also. There will be restrictions on watching TV, loud music being played, socialising and such at the examination time. What is so different about the examination? Why should there be a shift in the normalcy? 

Aha. In India examinations are mark oriented. If one gets 80/100, after the examination, a post mortem would be conducted to see where and how the 20 marks were lost. The child cannot go down to play till this process is completed.

The next stage would be to get 90/100 and finally 100/100. This is what the parents refer to as AIMING HIGH. At this point I sometimes wonder if the parent would want their kids to get 110 out of 100?

How does this process work?

Let’s look at an example – Charlie goes to school at 8 am and returns by 3:30pm. Has a bite to eat and goes for tuitions. Comes back and may be get about 30 mins of free time and then sit down to do H.W.

In the higher classes, he would go to the coaching classes. This parallel system of education has spread its roots like the network of sequoia trees.

What has happened with all this? The child has been moving from class to class gathering information but has had no time to assimilate, internalise and apply the knowledge. Consequently, the students will resort to rote learning.

Kota and the coaching shops is a classic example of the competitive edge that our parents and the children have. Kota’s economy has for years now has been totally dependent on the large number of coaching centres preparing students for IIT JEE and  NEET entrance examinations. Every year an estimated 1.65 – 1.75 lakh students come to Kota from across the country, mostly from North India, to enrol in IIT-JEE and NEET (Medical) exam preparatory coaching.

So, the examinations and the results are crucial to most parents, and to a few students.  This examination fever has become the bane of our society. So much so, the PM of our country has an interactive session with the students to reduce their stresses and strains before the examinations. This show is called Pariksha pe charcha.

Let me share with you a social  experiment that was conducted on parents and their children – On the day of the examination, parents of one division were asked to come to scho ol. The parents came in with their wards and bid them best of luck. Let me share some of the comments made by the parents – don’t leave any question unanswered, read everything properly and then write, don’t make silly mistakes, ace the paper, by little sunshine will come first this time also ok and so on. The parents now moved to the classroom where they were expected to meet the teachers.

They were in for a huge surprise. The teacher handed over to them the paper that their children were solving and asked them to solve it. How can we do this? I studied so many years ago! I didn’t do history in school. What is this nonsense? Parents continued to grumble but teacher was firm. Finally, the parents reconciled and solved the paper.

It didn’t end there. Teachers corrected the papers and called a meeting of parents and their wards together and shared the scores of parent and the child. The child had apparently done better than the parent. But the change worth seeing was in their reactions. Parents for the first time told their kids I know what you go through. I am happy with the marks that you have got.

A change in perspective. Understanding, empathy. This is what is needed don’t you think?

Let’s spend a little time on what else parents can do to help their children with the examinations?  How can parents help their children in staying stress free during Board exams?

Parents need to destress themselves.

1.Try to Stay Calm –

Do not project your stress and anxiety on to the child and compound the stress level of your child.

2. Plan Ahead with your Child

Sit with your child and prepare a planner according to the exam schedule. Revisit the planner and update it. Help your child to divide the time between all the subjects he/she is preparing for and allot time according to her level of preparation required for a particular subject.

3. Keep Away from Digital Distractions

Mobile phone is digital device that extremely  difficult to stay away from. If your child is addicted to the mobile games, you will have a tough time dealing with your child. 

4. Create a Suitable Study Environment

Provide your child with enough space to study. Make sure that the study area is properly ventilated and well-lit. Set up the learning space for your child which is free from all distractions and is equipped with the required school supplies, like pencils, erasers, rulers and books. Also, ensure that the height of the study table is according to the height of the child and make sure that the chair is comfortable with a straight back. If your child enjoys doing his math listening to music permit it.

5. Be a Support System

Don’t try to be a helicopter parent. Peeping in every now and then to check on what the child is doing is not going to get any acceptance from your child.  But, make sure to be around, particularly during the important papers. Speak of only positive outcomes. Don’t compare the child with somebody else.

6. Make Sure they get Enough Sleep

A good night’s sleep is very important. This will calm nerves and keep him/her alert on the big day. A good sleep will increases memory and lowers the stress levels. Make sure that your child is getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep.

7. Feed them Nutritious Food

Provide protein rich nutritious food for the child. Low nutrition levels can cause sluggishness and reduced concentration. Also, make sure to avoid junk food as it can lead to sleepiness and lethargy. Keep the child well hydrated.

8. Set Realistic Expectations

Accept limitations. Every child is different. You have to trust your child’s abilities and set realistic expectations.

9. Provide relaxation time.

A child who is studying 17 hours a day,. may not do well in the examinations due to overload. So, make an effort to provide some relaxation from studies.

Don’t project your ambitions on to your child for instance, I wanted to be an engineer, I couldn’t. so you have to be an engineer.

Finally, try not to play your role to perfection. Develop a positive attitude.

Episode 6

Episode 6 – From Cramming to Learning

Today, I shall be talking about a technique that would help you in self-study. This should move students  away from tuitions and make them independent learners. Particularly, since exams are approaching, this technique would help you to study on your own.

But, I need to tell you a story first.

Once, there lived two neighbours who used to grow the same plants in their respective gardens. One neighbour was fussy and took extreme care of her plants. The other neighbour did what was required, but left the leaves of the plants alone to grow as they pleased.

One evening, there was a huge storm, accompanied by heavy rainfall. The storm destroyed many of the plants.

The next morning, when the fussy neighbour woke up, she found that the plants had been uprooted and destroyed. However, when the more relaxed neighbour woke up, she found that her plants were still firmly rooted in the soil, having weathered the storm.

The plant of the relaxed neighbour had learnt to do things on its own. So, it had done its bit of work, grown deep roots, and made a place for itself in the soil. Thus, it had stood firm even in the storm. However, the fussy neighbour used to do everything for the plant, thereby teaching the plant how to sustain on its own.

The same is true of the students. Parents who hover over their children will not let them become independent. Let them study by themselves. Move from rote learning to learning with understanding.

Which are the skills that the independent thinker needs to develop?

  1. Cognitive skills: such as being able to solve problems, hypothesise, indulge in higher order thinking.
  2. Metacognitive skills: these skills deal with learning about the process of learning. Which technique helps you to remember better? Which subject appeals to you and so on. Students should be able to reflect on what they had done, monitor their progress and use self-assessment in order to take responsibility for their own learning.
  3. Affective skills:. motivation is the most important affective attribute in relation to independent learning.

It has often been found that students do not know the technique of self-study. Very often they read the text like one would read the newspaper and just as we forget the piece of news that we would have just read, they forget the topic learned. As one moves up to the higher classes, there is all the more need to master the technique of self-study.

Francis “Frank” Pleasant Robinson was a prominent educational psychologist. He taught both college students and military personnel how to learn from textbooks.

One such technique is the SQ4R method. SQ 4R is a reading comprehension method named for its six steps: survey, question, Read, recall, record and review. 

This technique has 6 steps.

First step is the

Survey: 1.Quickly read through the entire content in front of you. This is high-speed reading 2. Look at the titles, sub-titles, illustrations, charts, lead sentences and summaries, chapter questions if any. 3. You do not have to read every single word of the content at this stage.

Second step is Questions: 1.Generate questions that you think the teacher will ask either in class or in the test. 2. Turn headings, sub-headings into questions by asking who, what, when, where, why and how. 3. You may look at the questions given at the end of the lesson and modify them as per your need.

Now we come to the 4 Rs. They are Read, respond, record and review.

Lets look at Read: 1.Read and Re-read if necessary. 2. Read the answers to the questions that you have generated while surveying. 3. Specifically look for answers in the titles, sub-titles and the sentences. 4. Stop and look up unfamiliar words. 5. Stop and think about ideas.

Step 4: Recall

  • Close the textbook and answer the question you created in your own words.
  • If you can’t answer the question, reread the section until you can.
  • If that doesn’t help, you may need to rephrase your question.

Step 5: Record Your notes

  • Once you understand the material and can summarize it in your own words make a record of it.
  • Common methods are highlighting and/or marking the text, or write it down
  • Whichever methods you choose, it’s critical to read and understand the material first, and then go back and record.


  • Have a regular review period (usually once a week). This is an effective strategy for retaining information.
  • Start from the beginning of the course in each review session. The volume of material to review increases as the semester progresses, but the amount of time needed to review older material decreases.

Finally, why should you learn this technique?

  • Strengthens the comprehension.
  • Retains information better and longer.
  • Connects information to prior knowledge.

Episode 7 – Sunitha had a green thumb

Yesterday was World book day. I could not upload a story. What is a book day without a story? So, here it is.

Here is a story of me, my mom and my childhood.

Sunita Mallya, my mom had a green thumb. She wanted to do some gardening. A huge bungalow with a lot of space in front and at the back at the police quarters in Mysore. Two small children. A husband who kept to odd hours. She needed help – a gardener perhaps!

After much goading, her husband brings home a chap who is tall, fit and willing to work in the garden and stay in the outhouse. To top it all, he would take care of his own food and not be a bother to Mom.

First few  days were spent in checking on the work done by the newly appointed gardener! Umm. ‘He seems to know his job’, she said. ‘Let’s wait and watch’. Soon we saw mom working alongside with him and build up a kitchen garden. We grew snake gourds which were a good match to our heights. My brother and I stood there checking out if they matched our heights.

There were other vegetables too. These found their way into our kitchen. ‘The meals cooked with the freshest of the fresh vegetables were delicious’,  so said Mom. The gardener now got a few goodies from Mom’s kitchen to eat!

Bora as we called him was resourceful. He knew exactly where to go to get rose cuttings for the front garden. My brother and I, all of 7 & 5 years of age often pleaded with mom to let us go along with him to get the rose cuttings. He would hold our hand and we would go walking to collect the best cuttings that he could lay his hands on. It was a project to plant them, nurture them and watch them grow. Winter at the front garden of the last bungalow of Police quarters of Mysore was a delight to behold. The rose bushes were in bloom. They were of varied colours and types. The Gardening mission at ‘Jalpuri’ quarters was accomplished successfully. 

One evening, it was around 7:30 p.m. dad was cycling into the compound and stopped short. A huge King cobra slithered past him into the rose bushes. There was panic. Children were ushered in and asked to stay indoors. Dad carefully made his way into the house. Now who is to catch the snake or ensure that the snake goes out of the premises? Bora Of course. True enough, Bora walks in with a stick and soon enough all is well. Life returns to normal. Bora was a man on whom the family depended on.

Dad got transferred out of Mysore on a promotion. We had to move out. Bora was given a fond farewell. That evening, mom and dad generally spoke about Bora and the work he had done for us. At that point dad mentions about the background of Bora. Here it goes:

Bora was a farmer. He had served a prison sentence after killing somebody with a scythe in a fit of anger. He was released out of prison early due to good behavior and had nowhere to go. Mom wanted a gardener and the rest is History.

Would mom have treated him the same way had she known the truth? Hard to tell. I have always wondered, how dad could trust his family with a murderer? Don’t know who is the more amazing one at that – Bora or Vasudeva? I leave it to you to decide.

Episode 8 – Woman a second class citizen yet!

March 8 is the International Woman’s day. Today’s podcast deals with the woman. Let me start with a quote by Malala Yousafzai

  • Every girl, no matter where she lives, no matter what her circumstance, has a right to learn. Every leader, no matter who he or she is or the resources available to him or her, has a duty to fulfil and protect this right.”   

Everything seems good on paper. But, what is the real situation today?

Let me narrate a couple of real life incidents.

A 25 year old woman was harassed by her in-laws for dowry. Even her brother refused to help and infact warned her not to knock on his door even if the in-laws were to take her life. She committed suicide. This was year 2015.

Are these things changing? Marginally perhaps but there is hope. Let me give another example. Reka was married in 2015. She was given 2 lakhs as dowry and a washing machine. By March 2016, the in-laws started demanding 10 lakhs more. Reka was beaten up. In June Rekha ends her life. The matter went to court and in 2021, February, the court found both the Mother in law and the husband guilty and sentenced them to life imprisonment.

Yet another incident. 5 college lecturers had gone to Osmania university Hyderabad for a conference from Mumbai. They were standing on the balcony admiring the sunset. Along comes a male principle and he sits on the parapet and asks one of the lecturers  by name to come to him to view the sunset stating it looks better from there. The lady in question refused politely. The consequence – she was to be confirmed and that was not granted by him. She resigned. Anybody in dire need of a job would have perhaps given in.

Do such things happen? Ofcourse. Me too and the casting couch is common.

So, the overall picture is still quite bleak.

Gender inequalities are still deep-rooted in our society. Women suffer from lack of access to decent work and face occupational segregation and gender wage gaps. In many situations, they are denied access to basic education and health care and they are victims of violence and discrimination.

Gender based violence has led many a hapless girl child into devastating physical and mental status. Women are at risk from their own family members, neighbours and such rather than strangers.

Domestic violence is one the most prevalent violence meted out to a woman. Dowry deaths are the result of this violence.

Female foetecide is common in India where it is believed that a son is required to pass on the family lineage. To stop this malpractice, sex determination test of the foetus is banned in India.

As an answer to end these terrible social ailments, Beti bachavo, beti padavo was introduced with the hope of empowering women.

Why is empowering girls and women so important?

They are also able to help fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large. The best tool is through education.

Educating girls and young women increases a country’s productivity and contributes to economic growth. A woman with an education can get a better job with higher wages and has the effect of addressing gender imbalances in the labour force.

Educated mothers are better informed about sanitation, nutrition and immunisation for their children, leading to fewer child deaths from preventable diseases such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria or from malnutrition.

Girls’ education helps reduce population growth. Educated women have fewer pregnancies and are also less likely to become pregnant as teenagers.

Girls who are better educated are less likely to be married as children and are more likely to have opportunities for a healthier and more prosperous life for themselves and their families.

What are the barriers to girl education?

Many girls begin working as early as five years old – mainly in agriculture or in homes as domestic servants. Child domestic workers have limited or no access to education as employers often do not allow them to enrol in school.

Due to inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, poor girls can spend six hours each day collecting water, leaving little time for school. Those girls who do go to school often drop out when they start to menstruate because there is no safe place to keep clean at school.

Child marriage and pregnancy also lead to school drop outs.

How can gender sensitisation be introduced in schools?

Every school should introduce gender sensitisation in schools. NCERT has developed books across subjects infusing the gender sensitisation.

Stop saying – you cannot cry you are a boy, you are not a girl, don’t cry and such statements. Tear glands are to be used and they are present in both boys and girls.

Teach a boy to respect a girl. He will grow up to be a husband who will respect the wife.

Episode 9 – Unravel The chemistry of connections

Hi, welcome to yet another episode of A story for your queries.  Let’s unravel the chemistry behind connections today.  It’s easy to have a contact but to feel connected does not come easy.

Connecting with people is now proven by research to be good for our moods, and even our physical health. Maslow’s famed ‘hierarchy of needs‘ places our need to belong as secondary only to our survival needs. And attachment theory suggests that a child needs a trusting connection with a caregiver to do well as an adult.

  • But what is “connecting”, really?
  • Why is it  important?
  • How can you actually connect with others?

Let me explain this with the help of a story:

An old teacher was being interviewed by a young professional. The professional started interviewing the teacher as planned earlier.

Young  professional – “Sir, in your last lecture, you told us about “Contact” and  “Connection.”

It’s really confusing. Can you explain?”

The old teacher smiled and apparently deviating from the question asked the young professional:

“Are you from this city?”

professional : “Yeah…”

Teacher : “Who all are there at home?”

The professional felt that the teacher was trying to avoid answering his question since this was a very personal and unwarranted question. Yet the  young  professional said: “Mother had expired. Father is alive. Three brothers and one sister. All married…”

The old teacher, with a smile on his face, asked again: “Do you talk to your father?”

The  young  professional looked visibly annoyed…

The old teacher : “When did you talk to him last?”

The journalist supressing his annoyance said: “May be a month ago.”

The old teacher : “Do your brothers and sisters meet often? When did you meet last as a family gathering?”

At this point, the journalist was angry.

It seemed that the old teacher was interviewing the young  professional.

With a sigh, the Journalist said: “We met last at Eid two  years ago.”

The old teacher : “How many days did you all stay together?”

The young  journalist said: “Three days…”

Old teacher : “How much time did you spend with your Father, sitting right beside him?”

The young  professional looking  perplexed and embarassed and started scribbling something on a paper…

The old teacher : “Did you have breakfast, lunch or dinner together? Did you ask how he was? Did you ask how his days are passing after your mother’s death?”

Now, the journalist got an idea of what the old teacher was driving at. Drops of tears started to flow from the eyes of the young  professional.

The old teacher held the hand of the young  professional and said: “Don’t be embarassed, upset or sad. I am sorry if I have hurt you unknowingly… But this is basically the answer to your question about “Contact and Connection .” You have ‘Contact’ with your father but you don’t have ‘Connection’ with him. You are not connected to him. Connection is between heart and heart…

Sitting together, sharing meals and caring for each other, touching, shaking hands, having eye contact, spending some time together… All your  brothers and sisters have ‘Contact’ but no  ‘Connection’ with each other…”

This ladies and gentlemen is the reality today.

Whether at home or in the society everybody has lots of contacts but there is no connection. Everybody is busy in his or her own world. …

Let us not maintain just “Contacts” but let us remain “Connected.”  Caring, Sharing and Spending time with all our dear ones.

Now lets look at the  3 Elements Of Connection

First – Conversation- talk to people.  The people who feel neglected, feel lonely, feel touched when you speak to them with care and share things with them. Visits to the old age homes, Cheshire homes on a regular basis helps the community to get over their loneliness.

Second – Empathy and Compassion are the main ingredients in this process of connection.

Thirdly introspect. Maintain a journal to check on your progress. Daily reflections might help.

Now for a  few ways of spreading connections

  • having a personal conversation about what is important to you with someone who listens and understands you
  • taking the time to listen to someone and feel real empathy for them
  • helping someone else out of unconditional goodwill
  • smiling at another smiley face who may be a stranger and spread cheer
  • sharing  experience with others that involves laughter and goodwill.
  • Thank people. 
  • Pick up a conversation. In this present world, people are only interested in looking into the mobile phones.
  • Take note of three things to appreciate throughout each day as a part of journaling on a regular basis.

Let me end with a story on Charlie Todd the comedian,  who is well known for the absurd things that he does. I will say this in first person as narrated by Charlie Todd himself.

And one morning, I was riding the subway. I had to make a transfer at the 53rd Street stop, where there’s these two, giant escalators. And it’s a very depressing place to be in the morning; it’s very crowded. So I decided to try to stage something that could make it as happy as possible for one morning.

It’s morning rush hour. It’s very cold outside. People are coming in making their transfers and they’re going up these giant escalators on their way to their jobs.

So I had five performers hold up signs along the stairwell. the first sign said, “Rob wants.” The next one said, “to give you.” Then, “a high-five.” Then there was a sign that said, “Get ready.” And at the very top of the escalator, there was the final sign, which just said, “Rob” and had an arrow pointing down to my friend Rob Lathan, who had his hand out, ready to give a high-five.

So in total, as people were going up the escalator, they read “Rob wants to give you a high-five. Get ready. Here’s Rob.” And I spent a lot of time towards the top of the escalator, watching. Almost everyone who left the escalator, left with a smile on their face. Whether they were in the right spot to give the high-five, or whether they just watched from the other escalator, everybody was smiling. Rob that day gave 2000 high fives.   

Episode 10 – Troll Strike

Hi, welcome to yet another episode of A story for your queries.

Today, I shall deal with Trolling which is a topic suggested by the listeners.

To start with Let me give you a glimpse of the film Troll

After the Bergens invade Troll Village, Poppy, the happiest Troll ever born, and the overly-cautious, ungracious Branch set off on a journey to rescue her friends. Together, this mismatched duo embark on a rescue mission full of adventure and mishaps — trying to tolerate each other long enough to get the job done.

In the movie Trolls World Tour,  Poppy and Branch discover that there are six different troll tribes scattered over six different lands. Each tribe is also devoted to six different kinds of music — funk, country, techno, classical, pop and rock. When rockers Queen Barb and King Thrash set out to destroy the other music, Poppy and Branch embark on a daring mission to unite the trolls and save the diverse melodies from becoming extinct.

Where does this word come from? What are trolls?

A troll the noun form was originally a mythical creature. Troll is a term used to describe various supernatural beings in Nordic folklore and storytelling traditions, and has roots in Norse mythology. Both appearance and characteristics can vary, but the creatures are often both dangerous and stupid. Trolls were often described as strong, evil and dangerous giants.

Today, troll usually means an intentionally disruptive person on the internet.

To troll a verb form was originally meant to run a baited fishing line in the water while boating, and waiting for fish to bite and get caught. “Internet trolling” involves ‘baiting’ people. That is: irritating them, making fun of their opinions, harassing them etc for whatever reasons.

That’s how baiting people on the internet came to be known as trolling, not because the people doing the trolling are considered to be ugly people, or such.

What is trolling?

Trolling is the act of leaving an insulting message on the internet in order to annoy someone. Basically, a social media troll is someone who purposely says something controversial in order to get a rise out of other users. On YouTube for instance, there are users who say something like “this video sucks,” “you don’t know what you’re talking about,”

Trolling also happens on sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Trolling gets particularly intense when there are national or international events going on.

An illustration of trolling:

The sons pranked their dad. They ordered a bill board wherein they asked people to wish their dad a happy birthday and posted his phone number. The dad got 15000 phone calls that day!

The Sons were perhaps getting even with their dad over something that he had done to them ! But, in today’s nomenclature, it is called trolling.

What types of trolls are there?

There are two main types of troll.

The first type of troll targets public figures with large social media followings. They . have their hateful messages re-broadcast to a wider audience when the target of their trolling, or their followers, respond.

The other type of trolls are people who enjoy causing harm to others.

How does trolling affect people?

When the troll focusses on personal aspects, the individual can feel insecure and at times, lose the self-confidence, or face poor self-esteem. It can cause heightened levels of anxiety.

Trolling is generally about provoking a reaction. Trolls enjoy seeing people hurt.

It is a form of cyber-bullying.

What should you do if you’re being trolled?

There seems to be no cure to trolling, but here are strategies bloggers can use to prevent and respond to trolls — and to clean up the mess that they leave behind.

General advice is

  • Establish a Policy for user comments. These policies should clearly detail what kind of comments are allowed and be outlined on your website and social media accounts.
  • Don’t respond. Ignore them.
  • Block the trolls’ accounts
  • Moderate Commenting – don’t permit posts on to your blog before moderating them.
  • Don’t post online that you’re being targeted
  • Take some time out from social media
  • If the abuse you receive makes you feel at threat or is otherwise unlawful – report it to the social media platform and the police.

·       Don’t Provide a Platform – on your own website, you don’t have to approve offensive comments. You can also delete these comments or ban members.

How to Pick Yourself Back Up After A Troll Attack

No matter how irrational or ridiculous troll attacks are, they can exact an emotional toll. No one likes to be on the receiving end of a criticism or mean tirade.

1.    Take Time to Decompress

2.    Take Time to Process Your Emotions

3.    Don’t Take It Personally

4.    Choose the Positive Path

Why do people troll?

There are many reasons why people might troll online. According to Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Behavioural Addiction at Nottingham Trent University: “Most people troll others for either revenge, for attention seeking, for boredom, and for personal amusement.”

Perhaps Upbringing of kids in a way that keeps nastiness away and compassion and sensitivity alive has a role to play in keeping peace.

Any questions that you may have could be addressed to I shall try to answer it as quickly as I can. If the query is good, I might pick it up to feature in the podcast. You may send voice messages through Anchor or Spotify.

That’s all for today. Keep sending those messages. We shall meet next Wednesday.

Episode 11 – A Leap of Faith

I shall narrate The story of five golden arrows from Mahabharata which is not known to many people.

Here goes the story:

As Kauravas were losing the battle of Mahabharata, Duryodhana approached Bhisma one night and accused him of not fighting the Mahabharata war to his full strength because of his affection for Pandavas. Bhisma greatly angered, immediately picked up 5 golden arrows and chanted mantras declaring that he would kill 5 pandavas with the 5 golden arrows. Duryodhana was pleased but did not trust Bheeshma to keep his word of promise. So, he asked Bhisma to give the custody of 5 golden arrows saying that he would keep them and will return them next morning.

Let me take you to an incident that happened long before the Mahabharata war, when the Pandavas were living in exile in a forest. Duryodhana placed his camp on the opposite side of the lake where Pandavas were staying. Once while Duryodhana was taking bath in that lake, the heavenly Gandharvas also came down. Duryodhana picked a fight with them and was defeated and captured. Arjuna saved Duryodhana and set him free. Duryodhana was ashamed but being a Kshatriya, told Arjuna to ask for a boon. Arjuna replied he would ask for the honour gift later when he needed it.

That night, when Duryodhana had the custody of the 5 golden arrows,  Krishna reminded Arjuna of his boon and urged him to go to Duryodhana and ask for 5 golden arrows. Being a true Kshatriya, Duryodhana had to give the arrows to Arjuna. A disappointed Duryodhana again went to Bhishma and requested for another set of five golden arrows and Bhishma refused.

If only, Duryodhana had trusted Bhishma and not taken the arrows, the story might have been different.

A study done with female twins, both identical and fraternal, concluded that a trusting personality seems to be at least in part genetic, while a mistrustful or distrusting personality seems to be learned from family and   other social influences.

If we were to compare kauravas  and Pandavas,, the genetic part might be same to a large extent but the mistrust factor perhaps emerged  from the fact that the kauravas

had a father who was visually handicapped and a mother who refused to see and the uncle shakuni who breathed negativity into them.

How does an individual develop the feeling of trust or mistrust? Why is it important?

Psychologist Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development states that the trust versus mistrust stage is the first stage of  development in life. This stage begins at birth and lasts until the child is around 18 months old. I When the father asks the child to jump from a height and holds the hands up to receive the jumping baby. Without hesitation,  The child jumps down into the arms of the dad. This  Leap of faith is an example of implicit love and trust. It seems funny that something one learns as early as this influences the adult life.

Children who have loving caregivers in infancy will be more likely to form enduring relationships with others throughout the course of their lives.

The opposite feeling can make children to become fearful, confused, and anxious, all of which make it difficult to form healthy relationships  later in adult life.

Would you like to have meaningful relationships ? Here are a few tips.

  1. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.

If not, it would appear that you are crying wolf.

  • Be a positive force

Actions prove far more than words. Good character is forged in good, caring and thoughtful actions.

  • Be reliable and keep your word. 

Don’t break your promise. If you have problems keeping it, talk to the person about the circumstances but with a view to fulfilling what you can of the promise.

  • Be honest. 

Honesty is the keystone to people knowing where they stand with you.

  • Be compassionate, kind and considerate. 

Compassion must be felt from within and learned through experience by seeing things from others perspective.

  • Make good friends. 

Quality over quantity applies to friendships as much as anything else in life.

  • 7.    Realize that being trustworthy is a journey, not an endpoint. 

It takes time to change bad habits, a poor attitude and bad ways of reacting to others. Don’t hesitate to apologise.

Finally an anecdote to sum up:

A little girl and her father were crossing a bridge. The father was worried so he told  his little daughter, “Sweetheart, please hold my hand so that you don’t fall into the river.” The little girl said: “No, Dad. You hold my hand.” “What’s the difference?” asked the puzzled father. “There’s a big difference,” replied the little girl. “If I hold your hand and something happens to me, chances are that I may let go of your hand. But if you hold my hand, I know for sure that no matter what happens, you will never let go of my hand.

Episode 12 – A Penny for Your Thoughts

Today, I shall talk to you about Empathy’.

Let’s start with a story.

A farmer had some puppies he needed to sell.  He painted a sign advertising the 4 pups and set about nailing it to a post on the edge of his yard. As he was driving the last nail into the post, he felt a tug on his overalls. He looked down into the eyes of a little boy.

“Mister,” he said, “I want to buy one of your puppies.”

“Well,” said the farmer, as he rubbed the sweat off the back of his neck, “These puppies come from fine parents and cost a good deal of money.”

The boy dropped his head for a moment. Then reaching deep into his pocket, he pulled out a handful of change and held it up to the farmer.

“I’ve got thirty-nine cents. Is that enough to take a look?”  “Sure,” said the farmer. And with that he let out a whistle. “Here, Dolly!” he called.

Out from the doghouse and down the ramp ran Dolly followed by four little balls of fur.  The little boy pressed his face against the chain link fence. His eyes danced with delight. As the dogs made their way to the fence, the little boy noticed something else stirring inside the doghouse.  Slowly another little ball appeared, this one noticeably smaller. Down the ramp it slid. Then in a somewhat awkward manner, the little pup began hobbling toward the others, doing its best to catch up…

“I want that one,” the little boy said, pointing to the pup The farmer knelt down at the boy’s side and said,  “Son, you don’t want that puppy. He will never be able to run and play with you like these other dogs would.”

With that the little boy stepped back from the fence, reached down, and began rolling up one leg of his trousers.  In doing so he revealed a steel brace running down both sides of his leg attaching itself to a specially made shoe.  Looking back up at the farmer, he said, “You see sir, I don’t run too well myself, and he will need someone who understands.”

With tears in his eyes, the farmer reached down and picked up the little pup. And handed over to the boy.

This ladies and gentlemen, is empathy. Empathy involves identifying with what someone is feeling and, additionally, actually feeling those feelings yourself.”

Empathy is learned behaviour even though the capacity for it is inborn.  An attuned mother who is receptive to her child’s needs and cues is the one who permits her baby to thrive and develop emotionally.

Are sympathy and empathy the same?

Sympathy is feeling for someone; empathy involves feeling with them. Psychology Today goes on to say, “People often use the words interchangeably, but they are, in fact, separate processes. You can be sympathetic to someone’s situation while being completely clueless about his feelings and thoughts. Empathy involves identifying with what someone is feeling and, additionally, actually feeling those feelings yourself.”

Empathy means experiencing someone else’s feelings. … 

Sympathy, on the other hand, means understanding someone else’s suffering.

Empathy happens when two parts of the brain work together, neuroscientists say — the emotional centre perceives the feelings of others and the cognitive centre which tries to understand why they feel that way and how we can be helpful to them. 

Psychologist Paul Ekman has defined three distinct types of empathy.

They are:

  1. Cognitive empathy: This is a purely mental process in which one collects relevant information and deduces from it the emotional state of another individual.
  2. Emotional empathy: Further to just being able to understand the reasons for a person’s emotional state one can internalize those reasons so that one feels what they feel to some degree.
  3. Compassionate empathy, which is the drive to offer our help and support to the person experiencing the emotions.

How do we develop feelings of empathy?

  1. Turn Your Attention Toward Others which involves Active Listening – for eg. avoid talking on the phone, focus on the person. Pay attention to that person. While talking.  Don’t interrupt which is at times difficult. 
  2. Validate Their Feelings – You don’t have to offer solutions to their problems; perhaps it’s not the right time. You just have to let them know that you are there and that you understand. A hilarious incident – A couple of years ago, I had a fall on the road. A good Samaritan helped me to get up. But I was so shaken that I could not stand up. So, I sat on the footpath or the pavement as it is also called. A lady comes along, looks at me and says oh! Did you have a fall? A rhetoric but I couldn’t resist telling her, Not at all. I love sitting on the footpath! My reply was loaded with sarcasm for a question that did not show any compassion.
  3. Be Open And Vulnerable – People are far more open with someone when they feel they won’t be judged, and by showing your own vulnerable side, you are giving them the confidence to speak freely.

4.    Don’t Instantly Dismiss Opposing Views – With cognitive empathy in mind, it becomes important not to simply dismiss views that you do not personally agree with. Put your views aside and comprehend theirs.

5.    Use Your Imagination – Empathy requires you to walk in another’s shoes to understand what they’re going through. This requires an element of imagination.

  • Watch people – You can do this whilst sitting in a coffee shop, on a train, whilst walking down the street, or anywhere else where there are people going about their lives. Try to read the person’s body language and facial expressions to figure out what might be going through their head. Do they look sad, stressed, happy, exhausted?

Act of helping is one of the best ways to build bridges and communicate.

To conclude let me narrate an anecdote. 5 year old Krish came home  late after play.  His mother asked him, why he was late. “Krish replied that his friend’s bicycle broke and he tried to help him to fix it.   Mom  asked again, “ you don’t know anything about fixing bicycles”. Krish replied “I don’t know anything about repair but he was crying so I sat with him”. Sometimes, not speaking also helps.

Episode 13 – A frame of reference

Hi, Welcome to yet another episode of A story for your Query. Today I shall talk about  perceptions and Perspectives under the title A Frame of Reference. First the story.

A Math teacher was teaching a class of six years olds.

She asked a boy, “If I give you one apple and one apple and one more apple then how many apples will you have?”

Within seconds boy confidently replied, “Four.”                                

Dismayed teacher was expecting an effortless answer – Three.

She thought may be boy hadn’t listened to the question properly.

So she said to boy, “Please listen carefully this time. It’s very simple. You will be able to answer correctly if you pay attention.”

Then she repeated, “If i give you one apple and one apple and one more apple then how many apples will you have?”

This time, to be sure boy counted on finger and hesitatingly replied, “Four.”

Listening to wrong answer again, teacher got disappointed. Her disappoint could be seen on her face.

She remembered that boy loved strawberries. She thought may be if she change question and use strawberries instead of apple than may be he will pay attention and answer correctly.

This time with exaggerated excitement and twinkling eyes she asked, “If i give you one strawberry and one strawberry and then one more strawberry, then how many will you have?”

Boy calculated on his finger again and with hesitating smile he replied, “Three?”

Teacher was happy. Her approach worked and boy was able to answer right.

So, once again she asked him, “Now, If i give you one apple and one apple and one more apple then how many apples will you have?”

Promptly boy answered, “Four.”

Teacher was aghast.

“How? Tell me. How?”, teacher asked with irritated voice.

In low and hesitatingly voice, boy innocently replied, “Because i already have one apple in my bag.”

What is the learning here?

When Someone gives you an Answer that is Different from what you are Expecting, It is not Necessary that  they are Wrong.

There may be an Angle that we may not have Understood at all. We need to Learn to Appreciate and Understand different perspectives.

Quite often, We Try and Impose our Perspectives on Others and Then wonder what went Wrong.

Perspective is “the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance.”  

What comes first?  Perspective or perception? Are they one and the same?

Perception is the meaning you assign to any given stimulus. Perspective is your point of view. Perception is one’s understanding of a given situation, person, or object. Our perspectives come from our perceptions. Perceptions come from our beliefs. Discussion on beliefs is beyond the purview of this podcast. However, Let me give an example. If Sandra believes that perfection leads to success, if she gets a score which is not perfect in her view, she is a failure. Because, to her there are only two kinds of individuals. Perfect and imperfect leading to success and failure respectively.

The process of Perception has 3 steps. It is initially received by one or more of the senses. Stored in the brain and then meaning is attributed to it.

Perception is influenced by several factors.

Past experiences is one of them. For example – you go to a party and find it boring. Chances are that you might say that the next one organised by them will also be as boring.

Context also makes a difference to the perception. Imagine you are walking in a dimly lit street in the middle of the night and you hear footsteps behind you.  The chances are that you will be scared. But the same situation in the afternoon may not evoke similar feelings.

“Is the glass half empty or half full?” serves to demonstrate the way an object can be perceived in different ways. The answer in this case, might be influenced by the attitude of the individual. A positive person might say it is half full whilst the negative person might say it is half  empty.

Upbringing is one of the biggest influencer – helicopter parenting might not give the child a sense of freedom and the child might be less confident . An authoritarian parent might have to deal with rebellion among the children.

Friends influence the way one thinks and behaves. Surrounded by rule breakers, one would belong to the gang by emulating them.

Teachers can influence the students too. Some teachers influence the students to select the subjects that they have been teaching; some teachers influence the students to get better marks in academics. A word of caution here – a Teacher might influence the students to not accept getting poor marks.

Family that binges on food, does not believe in healthy living has children who are probably couch potatoes, don’t believe in exercising and are obese.

Remember children see, children do. You want the children to be well behaved, model good behaviour.

Do not let perspectives be based on other peoples experiences. Build them on your own.

Finally, one more example to sum up. 

Fathers and daughters have a special bond. 

When the daughter was 3 years old, the dad laid out a pen, a rupee, and a toy in front of her.

He wanted to see which one she would pick…

He was just doing it out of curiosity.

He said that she just sat there and stared at the items. He sat across from her and waited patiently.

According to him, she slowly moved towards them. He held his breath. Now the little girl pushed everything aside and went straight into his arms.

An Adult logical mind sometimes does not understand a child.

Episode 14 – Laugh your way through Life

The topic for this podcast is suggested by the listeners. At the outset let me play a laughter track for you. It was infectious wasn’t it?

Research has proved that laughter or a cheerful disposition, improves digestion, regularises hormone secretion in body and thus equips us with the power to resist diseases. Medical experts say that laughter chases the toxins out of our system and makes us feel greatly refreshed , physically and mentally. This is probably the reason behind the adage – some bring happiness wherever they go, and some bring happiness whenever they go.
You have heard of laughter clubs. It is based on a scientific fact that the body cannot differentiate between acted and genuine laughter and that both produced the same ‘happy chemistry’. Dr. Kataria the founder president of Laughter club international, decided to make laughter as a form of exercise. The next morning he explained this to a group of people and asked them to try to act out laughter with him for one minute.

Amid scepticism they agreed to try – and the results were amazing. For some, the acted out laughter quickly turned into real laughter — this was contagious and soon others followed. The group was laughing like never before and the hearty laughter persisted for almost ten minutes. They created several laughter exercises – a kind of role play, like Greeting Laughter, Cell phone Laughter, Silent Laughter, Argument Laughter and many more. Dr. Kataria interspersed laughter exercises with deep breathing and stretching exercises from yoga. This breakthrough was the birth of Laughter Yoga. This unique exercise routine has today become a global phenomenon helping thousands of people to live a much better life.   

Let’s look at some advantages of laughter.

Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress

Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies.

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.

Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

Laughter may even help you to live longer. A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable among those battling cancer.

Laughter stops distressing emotions. You can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing.

Laughter helps you relax and recharge. It reduces stress and increases energy thus enabling you to stay focused.

Laughter shifts perspective, allowing you to see situations in a less threatening light.

Laughter brings people together and strengthens relationships.

This brings me to a story about the Laughing Buddha.

In Buddhism, the celestial Buddha named Hotei or Pu-Tai is best known as the jolly Laughing Buddha. In China, he is known as the Loving or Friendly One. He is based on an eccentric Chinese Ch’an (Zen) monk who lived over 1,000 years ago and has become a significant part of Buddhist and Shinto culture.

He was an extremely jovial and joyful person. Every single day, he would walk about the village laughing and enjoying. He would carry a large bag around with him, filled with toys. Every single day, he would play with all the children of the village. He would even roll around in the mud with them, leaving his clothes brown and dirty. Now, there was another Zen monk who lived in the village. He said to himself, ‘What is this? This is intolerable. How can a Zen monk act like this? He is wearing clothes so loose that they might fall of any second. He is rolling in mud. I must confront him about his disgraceful behavior.’ So the next day, as the laughing buddha walked down the path and through the village, carrying his large bag of toys, the Zen monk approached him with a large knife in his hand and demanded ‘What is the meaning of Zen?’ The laughing buddha who was always smiling, stopped for the first time. He stood with a serious face. Then, he released the bag he was holding. It hit the ground with a thud. Then he smiled again. The Zen monk wasn’t impressed. ‘How does one realize Zen?’ The laughing buddha picked up the bag from the ground, smiled, and walked away in the other direction. The Zen monk immediately realized the wisdom that he had just encountered. He ran back to the laughing buddha and pleaded for forgiveness.

Episode 15 – Cockroach theory and Sunder Pichai

In order to achieve Zen, one must drop the burden that is being carried. Only then does one find happiness. Finally, a thought to ponder over. You laugh and the world laughs with you, you cry and you cry alone.

Hi, welcome to yet another episode of A story for your queries. I shall narrate a gist from the speech by Sundar Pichai – an IIT-MIT Alumnus and Global Head of Google Chrome: Its called the cockroach theory for self-development. Before I start The famous speech by sunder Pichai, let me give you some information. The American cockroach, Periplaneta americana , is the largest of the common cockroaches measuring an average of 4 cm in length. The American cockroach is second only to the German cockroach in abundance.

Now the story:

At a restaurant, a cockroach suddenly flew from somewhere and sat on a lady.

She started screaming out of fear.

With a panic stricken face and trembling voice, she started jumping, with both her hands desperately trying to get rid of the cockroach.

Her reaction was contagious, as everyone in her group also got panicky.

The lady finally managed to push the cockroach away but …it landed on another lady in the group.

Now, it was the turn of the other lady in the group to continue the drama.

The waiter rushed forward to their rescue.

In the relay of throwing, the cockroach next fell upon the waiter.

The waiter stood firm, composed himself and observed the behavior of the cockroach on his shirt.

When he was confident enough, he grabbed it with his fingers and threw it out of the restaurant.

Now a few questions emerge from this histrionic beheaviour.

was the cockroach really responsible for their behavior?

If so, then why was the waiter not disturbed?

He handled it without any chaos.

So, It is not the cockroach, but the inability of those people to handle the disturbance caused by the cockroach.

Let’s look at the Lessons learnt from the story:

One should not react in life. But, should always respond.

The women reacted, whereas the waiter responded.

Reactions are always instinctive whereas responses are always well thought of.

Person who is HAPPY is not because Everything is RIGHT in his Life..

He is HAPPY because his Attitude towards Everything in his Life is Right..!!!

Lets try to understand this a little better. Author Stephen Covey described a principle which he called the 90/10 principle.  According to this principle:  We really have no control over 10 percent of what happens to us. We cannot stop the car from breaking down or the late arrival of the plane, which throws our whole schedule off.

A driver may cut us off in the traffic. We have no control over this. This amounts to 10% The other 90% is determined by your reaction.

You are running late and have a red light; you cannot control the red light however, you can control your reaction.

Let me use an example explained by Steven Covey:

you are having breakfast with your family.  Your daughter knocks over a cup of coffee onto your shirt.

Your reaction scene 1

You curse. You scold your daughter for knocking the cup over, and she breaks down in tears. After scolding her, you turn to your wife and you criticize her for placing the cup too close to the edge of the table. A short verbal battle follows.

You storm upstairs and change your shirt. Once back downstairs, you find your daughter has been too busy crying to finish her breakfast and get ready to go to school. She misses the bus. Your spouse must leave immediately for work. You rush to the car and drive your daughter to school. Because you’re late, you drive 40 miles per hour in a 30 mph speed limit zone. You get pulled over and, after a 15-minute delay and throwing $60 away on a traffic fine, you arrive at school. Your daughter runs into the building without saying goodbye.

After arriving at work 20 minutes late, you realize you forgot your briefcase. Your day has started on a wrong note.

When you arrive home, you find a your wife and daughter upset, because of how you reacted earlier that morning.

Why did you have a bad day? A) Did the coffee cause it? B) Did your daughter cause it? C) Did the policeman cause it? or D) Did you cause it?

The answer is “D.” you caused it.

Your reaction scene 2:

Coffee splashes over you, your daughter is about to cry. You gently say: “It’s okay, honey, you just need to be more careful next time.”

Grabbing a towel you go upstairs and change your shirt. You grab your briefcase, and you come back down in time to look through the window and see your child getting on the bus. She turns and waves. You arrive 5 minutes early and cheerfully greet the staff.

Two different scenarios. Both started the same. Way. But, Both ended differently.

Why? Because of how you reacted. You really have no control over 10 percent of what happens in your life. The other 90 percent is determined by your reaction.

Here are some ways to apply the 90/10 principle.

If someone says something negative about you, do not be a sponge. Let the attack roll off like water on glass. You do not have to let the negative comments affect you. React properly and it will not ruin your day. A wrong reaction could result in losing a friend, being fired, being written up or getting stressed out.

How do you react if someone cuts you off in the traffic? Do you lose your temper? curse? Does your blood pressure skyrocket? Who cares if you arrive 10 seconds later at work? Why let the cars ruin your drive? Remember the 90/10 principle and don’t worry about it.

You are told you lost your job, did not get promoted, etc. Why lose sleep and get irritated? It will work out. Use your worrying energy and time to find a new job, study harder for a test or whatever the case might be.

The plane is late. It is going to mangle your schedule for the day. Why take out your frustration on the flight attendant? She has no control over what is going on. Use your time to study, get to know the other passengers, why stress out? It will just make things worse.

Remember, we cannot control everything that happens to us, but we can control how we react to it.

We can be the most polite, well-mannered person in town, but that won’t necessarily stop some bozo being rude to us. Instead of fighting back the bozo, you choose to feel good & smile back at him!!!

We can be the best employee in the world, but that cannot prevent the company we work for going into liquidation and throwing us out of work. Instead of blaming about the company, You choose to look for the new job!!!

We cannot stop the car from breaking down. Instead of kicking your car, You choose to feel good & and find the car service company!!!

The plane will be late arriving, which throws our whole schedule off.

The plane is late. It is going to mangle your schedule for the day. Why take out your frustration on the flight attendant? She has no control over what is going on.

Finally, some tid bits about the cockroach itself:

However disgusting you think cockroaches might be, there are some useful things we can learn from them.

Recent research has shown that the American cockroach brain contains antibiotic elements which could help fight off deadly bacterial infections such as MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and toxic strains of E. coli.

By studying the way cockroaches move, scientists have shown that they have one of the most stable ways of walking, called a tripod gait, and can get around very quickly, on all kinds of terrain, and do so while using very little energy. From this research, robots are being developed that may carry tiny cameras over landmine-littered terrain or into conflict zones without being easily detected.

the flexibility of the cockroach leg is inspiring the development of stronger, more flexible artificial legs to allow an amputee greater mobility to safely maneuver over a variety of surfaces.

It is the only creature that can withstand the nuclear holocaust.

Episode 16 – Carry your heaven with you

Let me start by reciting a poem The man who thinks he can by Walter Wintle. Here it goes:

if you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don’t;
If you want to win but think you can’t;
It’s almost a cinch you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost;
For out of the world we find
Success begins with a person’s will;
It’s all in a state of mind.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger and faster human,
But sooner or later the people who win
Are the ones who think they can.

Life is full of ups and downs and this poem succinctly describes how to deal with them with equipoise.

Let me narrate a brief biography of a well-known business – woman.

Now worth an estimated $3.1 billion, according to Forbes magazine, Oprah Winfrey was born to a teenage single mother in Mississippi.

Her life has not been easy. She was even sexually abused. Today, She has become a hero and icon to women with her perseverance and hard work. Much of her success has come from her self-reliance and willingness to work in a steadfast manner.

In 1986, she launched the “Oprah Winfrey Show” as a nationally syndicated talk show. She used her success to champion causes close to her heart, including a campaign to create a national database of convicted child abusers.

What is Winfrey’s Key to success?

“My philosophy is that not only are you responsible for your life but doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment,” she said.

While she has amassed quite the fortune, she has made it a point to remain a professional businesswoman who hasn’t forgotten her humble roots. ” “My feet are still on the ground. I’m just wearing better shoes.” She says.

Another passion of Winfrey’s was fit living and weight loss. Winfrey continued to struggle with her weight. By using her personal struggle to highlight a common struggle for all women, Winfrey was able to launch another lucrative part of her career. She has also co-authored a book on weight loss, which received a publisher’s advance fee reported to be the highest in history.

What do we glean from the life of Oprah? A person who fought to succeed against odds, did not give up. Oprah’s grit and determination is admirable. It’s the attitude that made her reach where she is.

According to Angela Duckworth, author of the 2016 book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, there are two components of grit: direction and determination.

Direction refers towards a specific goal. Determination is perseverance, the willingness to hold steady to that goal. Together, they form grit.

According to Margaret Perlis states that while a key component of grit is resilience, which is the powering mechanism that draws your head up, moves you forward and helps you persevere despite whatever obstacles you face along the way.

How do we work towards meeting the goal?

  1. Listen to your internal dialogue / chatter.  When faced with a negative thought, turn it around to make it into a positive thought. “I am no good at this!” could be changed to, “Maybe this is not one of my strengths. I am skilled in many other things.”
  2. Interact within positive environments and with positive people. Avoid negativity.
  3. Volunteer and Do something that will help others which will give a sense of fulfilment.
  4. Laughter is one of the most powerful mood enhancers. Allow yourself to laugh.
  5. Take responsibility for your actions, thoughts and feelings. No one can make you feel any way that you do not want to feel. Take charge.
  6. Be proud of your accomplishments and the hard work you’ve done. Use the moments when you think you have not succeeded as learning experiences.

Finally let me narrate a beautiful Sufi parable.  – “The Sun and the Cave”

“One day the Sun and a Cave struck up a conversation. The Sun had trouble understanding what “dark” meant and the Cave didn’t quite get the hang of “light and clear” so they decided to change places.

The Cave went up to the Sun and said, “Ah, I see, this is beyond wonderful. Now come down and see where I have been living.”

The Sun went down to the cave and said, “Gee, I don’t see any difference.”

When the sun went down, it took its light along and even the darkest corners were illuminated. That’s why the Sun couldn’t see any difference.

It can also be interpreted to mean  – “The enlightened ones can never be sent to hell or pushed into darkness. They carry their heaven on their shoulders all the time”.

Perhaps heaven was a state of mind we were supposed to achieve.

If you are full of darkness within, full of negativity, fear, and doubt, you become a Cave unknowingly. It’s hell within and no matter how much you accumulate, you still remain hollow.

If you are illuminated like the Sun, then the darkness of the cave wouldn’t matter. You could be in the worse of circumstances, you’ll still be able to find a blessing somewhere.

You’ll be carrying your Heaven with you.”

Episode. 17 – Forgiveness  Divide

Hi, Welcome to yet another episode of A story for your Query.

Young children are often taught to say sorry and shake hands and say I forgive you. But what exactly does this mean to them? For a 4 th grader  it often means getting even. Punishment is the ultimate – so, no punishment, no forgiveness!

Whereas, a seventh grader is able to think of oneself and also that of others. The have developed the ‘reciprocal perspective’. According to this, they would say, it is easier to forgive if they are compensated for what is lost. E.g. if an apple is stolen, the apple has to be returned.

Is it all simple as that? Most definitely not.

At a slightly higher level of development namely teenagers and young adults, forgiveness means to show mercy.

Today, I shall talk about forgiveness which is suggested by the listeners of this podcast.

Let me start with the story of The Giving Tree  written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein

The story is about a tree’s sacrificial love for a boy. They play together happily every day, but the boy grows up and pursues the trappings of adulthood: money, a house, a family, travel. So the tree gives the boy her apples to sell, her branches to build a house, and her trunk to make a boat. By the end, the tree is reduced to a mere stump, but the boy — now a tired old man — needs nothing more than a quiet place to rest, so he sits on the stump and the tree is happy.

I have always wondered whether the story of The Giving Tree’ is a Story of Unconditional Love or Disturbing Tale of Selfishness.

Whatever, it may be, the tree has been forgiving and giving in to the selfish demands of the boy.

Let’s take another example – a story from the Mahabharata.  

Shishupala was born with three eyes and four arms. An Akashwani  foretold that his superfluous bodyparts would disappear when a certain person takes the child into his lap and that shishupala would eventually die at the hands of that same person.

When Krishna placed the child on his lap, the extra eye and arms disappeared, thus indicating Shishupala’s death was destined at the hands of Krishna. Shishupala’s mother persuaded her nephew, Krishna,  that he would pardon his cousin Shishupala for a hundred offences.

Rukmi  the prince of Vidarbha, was very close to Shishupala. He wanted his sister Rukmini to marry Shishupala. But before the ceremony could take place, Rukmini was whisked away by Krishna. This made Shishupala hate Krishna. 

Pandavas performed a raajasuya yagna and decided that Krishna would be the special honoured guest of the sacrificial ceremony. This angered Shishupala and he started insulting Krishna,. His 100 abuses were pardoned by Krishna as per the promise given to Shishupala’s mother. When he insulted Krishna again, he committed his 101st sin. At this point, Krishna then releases his weapon sudarshana chakra on Shishupala, killing him on the spot.

What is the difference between the two stories as far as forgiveness is concerned.

  • To forgive does NOT mean that you condone every wrongdoing.
  • Forgiving does NOT mean you have to forget the wrongdoing
  • To put it simply forgiveness IS: eliminating the negativity that results from the hurt by letting go of the emotional baggage.

Why should we forgive?

According to the Mayo Clinic, deliberate letting go of negative emotions, particularly those that are strong brings with it plenty of health benefits, including improved relationships, decreased anxiety and stress, lower blood pressure, a lowered risk of depression, and stronger immunity and health.

  • So, Forgiveness is for our own growth and happiness. When we hold on to the hurt, pain, resentment, and anger harm us far more than it harms the offender.
  • Resentment can often lead to anger. Forgiveness allows us to move on without anger or contempt or seeking revenge. Visualise a chain around your neck, held by the one who wronged you. Until you can forgive, you won’t break that chain and the person will still have an unhealthy hold on you.
  • Forgiveness clears the cobwebs so that you can see the good again. When you forgive you will be able to see all the positive qualities in the person who hurt you—qualities that you loved once—and allows you to accept him or her fully, warts and all, and have a chance at a long-lasting, healthy relationship.

How to learn forgiveness?

It takes strength and courage to forgive. It is difficult for kids who have not developed all the tools to deal with emotions like adults have.

1. Sibling Arguments are common. Kids need to learn reconciliation. Train them how to do it and be consistent in reinforcing the principles of forgiveness with even the smallest issues. Help your child to identify the feeling he / she is experiencing and verbalise it.

It might also be a good idea to discuss the forgiveness practices over the dinner table.

2. Unconditional Forgiveness

Unconditionally forgive even when it’s not reciprocated.

3. Forgiveness  is  Not About Being Right

Make your child understand that when you forgive someone it is not about being right or wrong but about making the relationship right.

4. There should be No negotiations or conditions

“If you make my bed for the next week I will forgive you.” That’s not forgiveness. Forgiveness is given without expectations or conditions.

5. Give It Time

Children may not understand an abstract concept like forgiveness. Explain to them, make the kids hug, shake hands and go about doing their own thing. Very often parents get involved in children’s fights. Consequently, the parents may end up arguing whilst the kids may join hands and play. Parents to avoid this situation at all cost. 

6. Teach Perspective

Get the children to see both sides of the issue. Forgiving is much easier when we know the whole story and not just half of it.

7. The Golden Rule

“Treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves.” Ask your kids how they would want someone to respond when they did something wrong. They would want to be forgiven. Then tell them to do likewise.

Teachers and parents could ask the  “How would you want a person that you have wronged to respond? Would you want them to forgive you?” and discuss.

8. Get the children to introspect. Initially provide crutches and gradually let them do it on their own.

It has been found, that after learning forgiveness, some children even perform better at school, have fewer behavioural concerns and feel more positive about their parents and teachers.

9. In order to forgive sometimes we need to look beyond the action and explore the person.

For example, if your child is upset Sheila  called him or her a name during recess, help your child explore what was happening. Maybe Sheila  was on the outskirts of the hop-scotch game and wanted to play. Maybe she felt bad she was not invited to play or was jealous of those who were. Helping your child understand a possible trigger for the person’s actions encourages compassion and forgiveness.

Write a diary or a journal: this is more relevant for a teenager. Daily reflections can also be done.

10. A friendship band could be used as a token of forgiveness. 

Forgiveness does not come easy to children under 5 years of age. . Try telling stories about care and love.

By the time the child reaches age 6-7, the kid would have reached the basic reasoning ability so forgiveness can be introduced gradually. However, more stress should be given to positive concepts like kindness, respect, generosity, and again love.

Finally, I sum up with yet another story.

A story about two friends who had quarrelled during a journey through a desert. Over an argument, one friend slapped the other. The friend, who was slapped, felt hurt and wrote on the sand, “Today, my best friend slapped me.”

They continued their journey and reached an oasis. The friend, who was slapped, got stuck in the mire and began to drown. On seeing this, his friend rushed to his rescue and saved him. After being saved, the friend wrote on a stone, “Today, my best friend saved my life!” The friend who had both slapped him as well as saved his life was puzzled.

He asked, “When I slapped you, you wrote on sand; but, now you have written on stone. Why is that?” To this, the friend said, “When somebody hurts us we should write it down on sand where winds of forgiveness will erase it; but, when someone does well for us we must engrave it on stone where no wind can erase it.”

Episode 18 – Be Wise not Otherwise

Welcome to yet another episode of A story for your query. A question from the listeners. Which is better to have wisdom or knowledge? Can you have one without the other? And which comes first? 

Wisdom and knowledge have quite a bit in common. Both words are primarily used as nouns that are related to learning. They’re listed as synonyms for one another in, and in some cases they may be used interchangeably, but there are some important differences between the two.

What does knowledge mean?

The word knowledge is defined first as the “acquaintance with facts, truths or principles, as from study or investigation; general erudition.”

Knowledge is typically acquired through observation, books, research, and delving into facts.

What does wisdom mean?

Wisdom is defined as “the state of being wise,” which means “having the power of discernment and judging Wisdom is typically gained from experiences and acquired over time. 

A quote by an unknown author sums up the differences well: “Knowledge is knowing what to say. Wisdom is knowing when to say it.” 

For example, you may be very knowledgeable about how to raise a baby after reading countless books, attending classes, and talking to wise friends and family members. When that precious little person comes home, however, most new parents would kill for an ounce of wisdom to help soothe their screaming baby … and their fears. 

To put it another way, “Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in the fruit salad.”

So which comes first, knowledge or wisdom? knowledge always comes first. Wisdom is built upon knowledge. That means you can be both wise and knowledgeable, but you can’t be wise without being knowledgeable. And just because you’re knowledgeable doesn’t mean you’re wise.

Albert Einstein said, “Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”

To sum up, the Main Differences Between Knowledge and Wisdom

Knowledge is the information you have learned, while wisdom is the ability to use that knowledge in a profound way. So, knowledge is a part and wisdom is the whole. Wisdom goes beyond learning facts and includes making sense of those facts.

Lets take an example and understand the difference between information and knowledge. Information is data organized with a purpose. Knowledge is information + judgment. Wisdom dawns only with knowledge.

To explain a little more … If AI flight 497 is data, information would be AI flight 497 leaves Mumbai at 16:40 hours. Whereas knowledge could be that this flight is not always on schedule. 

Information can be managed quite effectively e. g. Libraries manage information. Knowledge management is a systematic process of acquiring, creating, capturing, synthesizing, learning, and using information, insights, and experiences to enable performance. While dealing with students, it is an uphill task.

Intelligence is needed for wisdom to dawn. Essentially, intelligence involves remembering all the knowledge you’ve gained and using it for simple problem solving. Wisdom is related to complex reasoning and problem solving.

Which Is better – Knowledge or Wisdom?

you could argue that wisdom is better because it includes both concepts.

I have no answer to this question but I have a story for you.

Lets look at Birbal’s name and what it stands for:

B – Brilliant in terms of handling the situation

I – innovative – out of the box thinking

R- realistic – provides practical and workable solution

B – brave – without fear

A – assertive – self-assured and confident

L – logical – accepted by one and all.

On a cold winter day, Akbar and Birbal took a walk along a lake. Akbar challenged Birbal into finding a person who would stand in the cold lake all night for money and said that he would reward the person with a thousand gold coins.

Birbal searched far and wide until he found a poor man who was desperate enough to accept the challenge. The poor man entered the lake and Akbar had guards posted near him to make sure that he really did as promised. The next morning the guards took the poor man to Akbar. Akbar asked him if he had indeed spent the night in the lake. The poor man replied that he had. Akbar then asked him how he managed to spend the night in the lake.

The poor man replied that there was a street lamp nearby and he kept his attention affixed on the lamp and away from the cold. Akbar then said that there would be no reward as the poor man had survived the night in the lake by the warmth of the street lamp. The poor man went to Birbal for help.

The next day, Birbal did not go to court. The king wondering where he was, sent a messenger to his home. The messenger came back saying that Birbal would come once his Khichri(Rice) was cooked. The king waited hours but Birbal did not come. Finally, the king decided to go to Birbal’s house and see what he was up to.

He found Birbal sitting on the floor near some burning twigs and a bowl filled with Khichri(Rice) hanging five feet above the fire. The king and his attendants couldn’t help but laugh.

Akbar then said to Birbal “How can the Khichri(Rice) be cooked if it so far away from the fire?”

Birbal answered, “The same way the poor man received heat from a street lamp that was more than a furlong away.”

The King understood his mistake and gave the poor man his reward.

The information was available with all, yet it was Birbal’s wit, intelligence, presence of mind and practical way of solving a problem that came to the fore. All this was possible only through wisdom.

How do we develop a sense of wisdom?

  1. Enrich yourself with a lot of knowledge. The best way to do this is to read. Be a voracious reader.
  2. Seek novelty and learn new things. – this will stretch the mental muscles and enable You to create better decisions every day.
  3. Find wise mentors.
  4. Challenge the way you think – Brain games like sudoku, puzzles should provide adequate problem solving skills to provide the wisdom.
  5. Learn from your mistakes. Nobody is perfect. The goal is to do the right thing.
  6. Realise everyone is fallible. – don’t hold people to such high standards that their mistakes shock and repel you.
  7. Be humble in new situations.
  8. Accepting your limitations is a high form of wisdom. Know what you have to work with and use your talents to the fullest.
  • Think before acting – don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
  1. Act on your values – If the student is getting bullied, and you want to stand up for that person, do it. Don’t hesitate. Remember, right cannot be wrong even if nobody is doing it and same way, wrong cannot be right even if everybody is doing it.
  1. Share your wisdom with others. Don’t let your personal desires cloud your advice.

Episode 19 – We see what we want to see

Welcome to yet another episode of A story for your query. Ever wondered about some behaviour patterns and wanted to find out the reason why? Lets understand one of the criteria for why We see what we see? A few examples to start with:

Your school going kid comes home after a test and the mom asks ‘How did it go? ‘ I did very well. It was easy”. But when the scores are released you find the scores are poor. Performance appraisal time – a few of the team members rate themselves high whilst they are below average. These Low performers are unable to recognize the skill and competence levels of other people, which is part of the reason why they consistently view themselves as better, more capable, and more knowledgeable than others.

This Dunning and Kruger effect can have a profound impact on what people believe, the decisions they make, and the actions they take. 

In one study women performed equally to men on a science quiz, and yet they underestimated their performance because they believed they had less scientific reasoning ability than men. these women were more likely to refuse to enter a science competition.

Another major factor that can contribute to the effect include the use of heuristics.

A heuristic is a mental shortcut that allows people to solve problems and make judgments quickly and efficiently. In order to cope with the tremendous amount of information we encounter and to speed up the decision-making process, the brain relies on these mental strategies to simplify things. Whilst Heuristics are helpful in many situations, they can also lead to cognitive biases.

Because people use mental shortcuts to classify and categorize people, they often overlook more relevant information and create stereotyped categorizations that are not in tune with reality.

Let’s look at some examples of cognitive biases.

A sweet older woman might remind you of your grandmother, so you might immediately assume that she is kind, gentle, and trustworthy. An example of representativeness heuristic.

People are more likely to see decisions as having benefits when they  are in a positive mood. Negative emotions, on the other hand, influence negatively. An example of Affect Heuristic.

The anchoring bias can influence how much you are willing to pay for something, causing you to jump at the first offer without shopping around for a better deal.

People have a tendency to seek information that confirms their existing beliefs. Unfortunately, this type of bias can prevent us from looking at situations objectively. It can also influence the decisions we make and lead to poor or faulty choices. This is referred to as confirmation bias.

Confirmation bias has important implications in the real world, including in medicine, law, and interpersonal relationships. 

Doctors often have a preliminary hunch regarding the diagnosis of a medical condition early in the treatment process. This hunch can interfere with considering information leading to the correct diagnosis.

Patients are more likely to agree with a diagnosis that supports their preferred outcome than otherwise. Both these affect the diagnosis and the prognosis.

In the context of law, judges and jurors sometimes form an opinion about a defendant’s guilt or innocence before all of the evidence is known. Once an opinion is formed, new information obtained during a trial is likely to be processed according to the confirmation bias, which may lead to unjust verdicts.

Consider the following hypothetical situation: Jane is the manager of a local coffee shop. She is a firm believer in the motto ‘hard work equals success.’ The coffee shop, however, has seen a slump in sales for the past few months. Because of her belief in the effectiveness of ‘hard work’ as a means to success, she concludes that it is because her staff is not working hard enough.

This makes sense, as she did recently catch several employees taking extended lunch breaks. Jane consequently decides to extend the store’s business hours and threatens to dismiss any employee she sees slacking. Despite these efforts, coffee sales do not improve, and the shop is now spending more on employee wages.

She decides to take expert opinion and realises that poor location is the cause of her sales slump. Jane’s belief that hard work leads to success led her to driving the employees hard.

So what can you do to gain a more realistic assessment of your own abilities in a particular area if you are not sure you can trust your own self-assessment?

  • Keep learning and practicing. Instead of assuming you know all there is to know about a subject, keep digging deeper. Once you gain greater knowledge of a topic, the more likely you are to recognize how much there is still to learn.
  • Ask other people how you’re doing. Another effective strategy involves asking others for constructive criticism. While it can sometimes be difficult to hear, such feedback can provide valuable insights into how others perceive your abilities.
  • Question what you know.

Finally, A story on the cognitive bias and its implications from the Mahabharata.

Dronacharya was partial to two – Arjuna as a student and Ashwattama his son. He had claimed to put down his weapons should something happen to Ashwattama during the kurukshetra war.

Knowing it would be impossible to defeat an armed Drona, Krishna suggested the Pandavas a plan to disarm their teacher during the 14th day of the Kurukshetra war. His idea was that Bhima was to kill an elephant named Ashwatthama. After killing the elephant, this announcement had to be made in such a way that Drona would believe that his son is no more and would lay down his weapons thus saving the Pandavas. Yudhistira was chosen to do this task. He was to announce Ashwatamma the elephant is dead. Krishna knew that it would be impossible for Yudhishthira to lie. Everybody in both pandava and Kaurava camp knew that yudhishtira followed Dharma and that is the very reason he was referred to as Dhramarya.  While Yudhishtira made the announcement, Under Krishna’s instructions, the other warriors blew trumpets and conchs, raising a tumultuous noise in such a way that Dronacharya only heard that “Ashwatthama was dead”, and could not hear the latter part of Yudhishthira’s announcement. Then Drona descended from his chariot, laid down his arms and sat in meditation. Had it not been for this cognitive bias, the war could have culminated differently.


Episode 20Creeping Normality – A Gordian Knot

Welcome to yet another episode of A story for your query.        

In the late nineteenth century, a series of experiments were performed on frogs to determine the sensitivity of their nervous systems — temperature was one of them. One such experiment found that a frog was boiled alive without moving because the temperature of the water inside the pot was increased by such small incremental degrees, which the frog never noticed.

Let me narrate the experiment to you: A frog was put in a vessel of water and the water was heated. Gradually, the temperature rose but being a cold blooded animal, the frog managed to adjust its body temperature accordingly. As the water started to reach the boiling point, the frog was no longer able to keep up and manage its body temperature.  So, the frog tried to jump out of the vessel but couldn’t make it. The frog died.

The premise is simple: if a frog is suddenly put into a pot of boiling water, it will jump out and save itself from impending death. But, if the frog is put in lukewarm water, with the temperature rising slowly, it will not perceive any danger to itself and will be cooked to death.

My question to you – Is it the hot water that killed the frog or the inability of the frog to jump out and save itself was the issue?

The frog keeps trying to adjust and get accustomed, to the slow, gradual change in temperature. When the water reaches boiling point, the frog wants to jump out but has already lost its strength to do so!

The problem is that the human equivalent of the ‘Boiling Frog’ syndrome is observed more commonly than we’d like to admit.

An example from daily life  – your spouse who sees you on a daily basis does not realise that you’ve been putting on weight, but your distant relative whom you see once in a blue moon will be quick to notice the added fat around your belly!

The very concept of ‘survival of the fittest’ depends on the ‘Boiling Frog’ syndrome – where those who do not notice and respond to the gradual changes in the environment are the first to die.

There are ‘boiling frogs’ that we come across in business:

Kodak is a case in point.

The American technology company, Kodak, was built on the culture of innovation and change in 1888. Kodak held a dominant position in photographic film in its time. Its tagline “Kodak Moments” was so famous that it was used for promoting events.

  • Kodak owned the film market with 90% market share in 1970s.

The first digital camera was designed by a Kodak engineer,  in 1975. It was a filmless photography at that time so they didn’t want to threaten their film business so didn’t do the marketing of the Digital camera. Whereas, other digital companies like Sony, Nikon, Fujifilm took the full advantage of the situation.

Kodak missed the opportunities in the technology, they themselves had invented.

If Kodak had taken the efforts to stay ahead of the competition, do some course-correction, and not becoming ‘boiling frogs’…the story would have been very different.

Here is one of the news items that I came across.

Climate Scientists Warn . What are they warning us about?

The scientists found that people were generally more likely to tweet about the weather if it was unusual for the season where they lived – for example, This winter is warm, this winter is very cold and so on. They are most reluctant to act on it.

Does this mean humans will never realise they’re in a pot of boiling water? Hope they do before it is too late.

How does this syndrome work in relationships? A person in an unhealthy or abusive relationship may continue to remain in the toxic relationship because, he or she has lost the strength to jump. Leaned helplessness gets the better of the individual at this point in time.

Can this syndrome work positively? Yes. It does.

A CEO slowly prepares an employee for taking over the business by putting more and more responsibility on him over time, so that by the time the employee takes over the business, he is fully prepared.

If an athlete went out and ran a marathon without performing any kind of training first, it would have catastrophic effect on his/her body. To avoid this, an athletic trains over time to build up muscle and stamina according to what his/her body can comfortably tolerate at that time. Gradually he/she increases the training as the body strengthens. By the time he/she run the marathon, his/her body is able to cope with the intense physical stress it is put under.

We are going to jump while we still have the strength. Help the people to decide when to jump.

This phenomenon has its parallel in the ‘CREEPING NORMALITY’

Creeping normality is also called landscape amnesia and it  is the way a major change can be accepted as a normal situation if it happens slowly through unnoticeable increments of change. The change could otherwise be regarded as objectionable if it took place in a single step or short period.

Let me narrate the story of the Arab and the camel which should explain the concepts discussed so far. Hamid was travelling to a faraway village in the middle of a desert. He only had his camel for company. As night fell, Hamid quickly put up a tent. While it was very hot during daytime, the desert would get extremely cold at night. Hamid crawled into the tent, spread a mat and lay down on it. Soon it was dark, and the Arab found his eyes drooping.

Someone outside called out to him, “Friend, it’s cold out here. Can you please take me into your tent?” It was the camel, who was shivering in the cold.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Camel. This tent is so small and you are so huge,” said Hamid. “There’s no place for the two of us here in this tent.”

“I understand. I will only put my nose inside the tent,” pleaded the camel.

Hamid agreed. The camel put its head inside the tent and said, “Thank you.”

“Goodnight, friend,” said Hamid as he closed his eyes.

“My friend, it’s getting colder,” said the camel. “Let me bring my neck, just my neck, into the tent,” pleaded the camel.

“Alright, friend,” mumbled Hamid, as he was feeling very sleepy.

So, the camel put his neck into the tent, with the rest of its body outside.

A few minutes later the camel spoke with its voice trembling with cold. “Friend, you know how delicate my hump is. I think there’s enough space here for my hump.”

Hamid did not want to speak lest he woke up, “Hmm,” he grunted.

Gradually, the camel inched its way into the tent and Hamid was out of the tent. When the day broke, Hamid was shivering with cold, out in the open. The camel was snoring away inside the tent. Its head, neck, hump and the whole body inside. Only its tail was hanging outside the tent.

Just like the camel refusing to leave the tent, sometimes drops in our wellbeing can be very difficult to shift. So, it is much better (and less distressing) to not allow this to occur in the first place, rather than trying to remedy it after it has happened. Rethink. Be ready to jump. Don’t be a frog in lukewarm water.

This is the 20th Episode of season 1. We shall come soon with season 2. Meanwhile listen in to the season 1 episodes all over again.

That’s all for today. Till we meet again with season 2 – fresh episodes.

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