Fake it till you make it

A few months in to grad school and the one thing I have found that you are expected to do in most classes is a presentation. Now, coming from India, the land of mugging up and Engineering colleges, I have only given two presentations in my undergraduate career. But now I have the perfect formula for giving presentations. Having written my share of Anna University exams I found that the strategy that I applied to semester exams in under grad works perfectly in this context. So here are my go points while giving any presentation:

ACT LIKE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT

This is the primary strategy with which we answered Anna University exams. Even if you know only the bare minimum, build on it. It might be gibberish to your ears, but believe in it. Have the confidence that you know exactly what you’re saying.

ACT LIKE THE AUDIENCE DOESN’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT

Those poor people listening to you talk! They are imbeciles! YOU have to educate THEM. That’s the mantra that should go on inside your head.

 

FAKE IT

How you present yourself is important. If you are feeling unconfident, fake yourself in to thinking you’re the best. That sounds like some weird reverse psychology, I know, but listen to this amazing Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy. You will approach things with a new perspective.

 

Now for some practical tips:

  • Bullet points, keywords and flashcards are your friends. Embrace them.
  • Do not hold a piece of paper in your hand and refer to it every chance you get. I used to do that a lot and it was no help.
  • Practice a gazillion times. Preferably in front of the mirror.
  • And the best advice anyone ever gave me: “Act like you own the room  world.” Trust me, it always works.

Comebacks

PSA: This is a public service announcement requesting for smartass comebacks.

Have you guys ever been in a situation where someone says something mean to you and your mouth is open but your brain doesn’t act fast enough to come up with a smart retort but you still open your mouth and its just… air.

I’ve been in this situation far too many times than I’d like to admit. Growing up with an older brother we’d always have a battle of words and I would have the worst comebacks.

Brother: “God Zarine, you’re so fat! You’re like the Playstation game – Little Fat Princess!!”

Me: “Shut up! You’re a little fat princess!!”

Seriously, thats the best I can do. Call me a name and I will call you the SAME name, Say something meant to me and I will just say, ” You…”

Another scenario is where I think of a comeback two days after the insult has been thrown at me. So its like the usual routine – wake up, brush teeth, have breakfast, take a shower and then KABOOM! I got it! I have a comeback now, 48 hours later, and it doesn’t even matter anymore.

I’d really like to change this aspect in my life, guys. I don’t want to get burned anymore. I’ve been burnt so much that I’m blackened toast (Haha! Sorry, had to that, please don’t go).

So please, share your best comebacks, people!

A Reminder to Myself

The past week I met two women who have inspired me. They didn’t let age, society or gender define them. They did what they wanted and pursued their passion. That’s the kind of person I want to be. I don’t want to be held back my the limitations I put on myself or by what society dictates I should do. I want to shield myself from the judgements of other people and protect myself form negative energy. What my second cousin twice removed’s maami’s husbands says about me or what my neighbors paati thinks I ought to do right now is of no importance.

Being true to myself should help me sleep better at a night.

Faith and Freedom

Yesterday I was talking to my friend S, who is from South Korea about the differences in our countries and our families. “I had an arranged marriage”, I told her.

“So you and your husband are same religion?”, she asked.

“Yes.”

“Oh, we are not. My husband is Christian and I am Buddhist but I’ve never been to a temple. In my country we have no religion. I go to church every Sunday because it makes my husband happy. But I do not understand when the priest talks. I think, how can they believe in God. But I hope that my son believes in God when he grows up, maybe it will help him when something happens to him.”

Then she proceeded to tell me about another girl she met who was on an R (refugee) visa as she had to flee from Iran because of religious persecution.

On one end was this woman who did not have a trace of any religion yet, wanted the opposite for her child. At the other end of the spectrum was a woman who had to leave her country to hold on to her beliefs.

I realize how lucky I am to have grown up where I did – India, where the streets are dirty and cows wander by. India, where I could practise my religion freely. I went to school with Hindus, Muslims and Christians. We made Pongal on Pongal day and exchanged biriyani and cakes on respective occasions. My neighbors were Hindus and my bestest friends are Christians. I respect their belief, and they mine. I did not have to think twice about talking about prayers or wearing a headscarf. I studied in a convent where the values they taught me were the same as what my parents did. I had freedom all along and never really realized how bad it is for others who don’t.

I also understand that this may not be true for everyone who lives in India. But I thank God that the South is peaceful, that the people may not be hip and modern but they are tolerant and loving.

Honestly speaking, ever since I moved to the US I’ve been afraid of my headscarf instigating others, thanks to the countless stories I hear. But, thankfully, that all these fears were only in my mind. I have never felt awkward or threatened here. I did have my fears while riding the bus every day. There are a lot of crazy people in America and by crazy I mean for real crazy, like people mumbling stuff, screaming expletives, reciting poetry randomly, etc. I know its uncalled for but I was always worried one of them might say something to me. The only things that I had thrown at me were nice things – “You look really good in that”, and by that they meant my scarf. This made me happy. And now I finally feel like I belong.

It took me 24 years to realize how important it is to have the freedom to stick to your beliefs. But what if you have all the freedom in the world and still do not believe? Like the case of my friend S. Maybe she does not have religion because she does not feel the need for it in her life. That’s a freedom too. But what if she just never had the opportunity to experience the other side? Maybe her parents were not religious at all, and that’s a missed opportunity right there. Her country did not believe in any religion, that’s another one. But now she has a husband whom she accompanies to church every Sunday. I really hope that she gets to fill that void of God and the what, why, who’s with a little faith.

 

I lost my grandfather over the weekend. It was the kind of thing I knew would happen sometime but wasn’t ready to accept. It still is a hard for me to really grasp the reality of it but I guess I never will.

I realize that God puts us through these situations for us to come to terms with the magnitude of our living. For every beginning there is an end. To dust do we belong and to that shall we return. But what we do within the time that is given to us is important. I feel that time is flying by and I need to stop, make myself useful, do good things and not wish for my purpose to be sent to me but to make a purpose out of myself.

This world is like a fistful of sand. The more we try to hold on to it, the more it slips away from us.

Day 21 – Intuition

Do you guys ever get that gut ‘feeling’? The feeling you get when you’re talking to a person whom you ‘think’ is shady and then he turns out be. The ‘feeling’ you get when you just know something is bad is going to happen. The ‘feeling’ that you can’t explain what but you sure as hell know isn’t right. Is that what they call a woman’s intuition?

There are some things you just know and feel in your bones. You don’t have a proper answer for it or a logical reason. Your answer is that you just ‘know’.

Always, ALWAYS listen to a women’s intuition.

Day 10 – Mimic

Why do I find doing dishes so therapeutic? It gives me a chance to think.

Oh

My

God.

AM I TURNING IN TO MY MOTHER?

I find that as the days pass I can see so much of my mother in me. This is something I never expected to happen. I mean, my mother is a wonderful woman, bless her heart and I love her beyond words and everything but I never saw myself turning in to her!

I guess the older we grow, the more we mimic our parents. Especially the things we swore as a teenager to never be. Well, we have come a full circle now, haven’t we.

Day 7 – Stalkers

I had my orientation yesterday. Three hours of talking and getting to know others and another hour of a lecture on campus safety. I couldn’t help but subconsciously make comparisons to my orientation in undergrad which consisted of various heads talking about how great a college we were in, the number of laurels the college has won and why we were lucky to study there.I do not recollect a single word being spoken on how we should protect ourselves and be safe within the campus. This month is Stalker Awareness month at SCU and they gave out leaflets defining harassment and stalkers. They gave help line numbers and introduced us to the student safety organizations.

The flyer defined a stalker as someone who repeatedly approaches you even though you have denied their advances. And instantly my mind flashed to my first year of college where guys would keep calling/texting girls and intimidate them in the name of ‘ragging’. While ragging might actually be a good thing if done in good spirit, the other kind almost bordered harassment. The weird thing about this is I never realized that it was harassment until today.

Creeps would get the phone number of girls and send them anonymous text messages, blank calls, anonymous calls, etc in the hope of either starting a relationship or if that doesn’t work out, a friendship. This has happened to me and to every other friend of mine. We would brush of this kind of menace and not take it too seriously. I have an inbuilt ignoring system where once I feel uncomfortable with someone I just ignore them. This did work for me a few times but there were instances when ignoring them would send a ‘playing hard to get’ vibe.

Why did it take me so long to realize that this was harassment? And why did me and my friends never do anything about it? I thought ok, that was a phase, everyone is weird in college and they’d be done with it but no. This vacation when I was in Madras I met one of my girls who works in a top IT company. She was talking about the same kind of guys. There was a guy who would look up the bus time table and make sure he comes with her everyday even though she kept her distance, he would message her on the company’s messaging system and she would be cryptic. Then, he started calling her and texting her repeatedly although she never picked up or replied to his messages.

I’m really baffled as to why we (me included) take this kind of harassment lightly. In college I knew some girls who were flattered by this kind of attention! Guys really need to learn that there is a fine line between showing interest and harassment.

Colleges should also start some sort of student safety organisation. I always felt that my college/university made things difficult instead of easy for us. Maybe they’d change once the stop treating us like children.

Day 3 – Energy

I have finally realized the importance of surrounding oneself with positive energy. Every person radiates some sort of energy. I have found that being amongst happy, good spirited and humorous people does wonders for my state of mind. Weird as it may be, I find myself kind of absorbing and reflecting off the energy they give out.

I know how it is to live in the darkest recesses of the mind. A negative state of mind is even worse than being surrounded by negative people. It is the hardest thing, pulling yourself out from a sinking hold. It takes time, prayer and a lot of hope.

The greatest thing you can do to have a positive mind is to stay away from people who spew poison and negativity, the ones whose biggest dream is your downfall. If you can’t stay away from these people then the next best thing to do is to forget everything they say the moment the sound waves hit your ear.

1/1/2014

Happy new year, Interwebz!

If I had to recap 2013 I would say that it has really been a year of ups and downs. I went through some extreme lows questioning everything about me. But I managed to find the strength to pull myself out of the quick sand.

This year I intend to leave no room for self doubt. I finally have a purpose and something to keep my mind at work. I’m so excited to dive head-on in to it and find myself again. I’ve lost sight of myself for the longest time and I really want to work at finding ‘me’ again. I just read the previous sentence and realized how cliched it sounds but really, that’s what I want to do!

This year will be the year of Zarine, the year in which I will experience new things.

To a fabulous 2014!