One for my manager

For my birthday this year, my ex-manager gifted me a tiny, cute bottle of DKNY. I absolutely loved the fragrance and my manager after that. Not that I didn’t like her earlier. I always thought she was reliable, strong and considerate. I’ve always had immense respect for her as someone who made it to the top through merit and dedication. But, God, she talks a lot. A lot more than me. A lot like a child. Yes, a child she is. As hilarious and unpredictable as a brat. But on receiving her gift with a hug and a kiss, I knew for a fact that she was also highly adorable. And this in turn put me in a dilemma.

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Her birthday was the day after mine. I had no clue what I could give her, that would be as good as her gift and yet as special. “Make her a painting like the one you made for Semper.” Crisenta is very useful at times and this was one such occasion. I decided to go ahead with that idea because no gift that I would buy could be as personal as something that I would paint. After all, I do spend hours together for each painting of mine.
That evening, I couldn’t go out for dinner with friends after work. Buses and autos were submerged under water across the city. Since I had conveniently left my bike at home, I had to depend on public transport to get home. But Bangalore didn’t let me down. I still got an auto to drop me home. By the time I reached home, it was 9:00 and yet I couldn’t stop on my way to buy a frame. Thanks to the rain and Bangalore traffic. After reaching home, I rushed to fetch my bike keys and went out in the rain again to buy the frame. Luckily, there was a frame shop in my area that likes to sell at exorbitant prices. However, I didn’t mind that since the quality seemed good and it was meant to be a gift.
After gorging on all the birthday delicacies prepared by my mom, I sat down with my paints and the frame. And guess what? I was still being a kid. “What comic character best describes Florence?” , I thought. And I knew the answer. Google, my trusted aide, displayed a wide variety of search results for me to choose from. I picked one and went ahead with it. By 3 a.m. I was all done. Just then I realised how apt it was to call Florence, Cat-woman. I mean, the woman is actually hot, bold, doesn’t-give-a-damn, just like the fictional character. I was happy with the way it turned out.

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At office the next day, Florence loved it. She told me Cat-woman was actually her favourite fictional character. I was only reminded of Jack Sparrow – I swear I didn’t plan it that way. But, yes I did warn Crisenta against feeling jealous since this one had turned out better. But like Murphy’s law puts it, she did go green.

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The first sell.

Three weeks after my first glass art, I had three different painted Nutella jars to display in my showcase. On a Monday morning,  right after my third painting, my colleagues and I were discussing our weekend stories. I told them that I had just taken to a new hobby and showed them the images of my babies on my phone. One of my colleagues, the sweetest, incorrigibly childlike,  yet the most kick-ass of them all, the lovely Ms.Crisenta saw the images and liked what I had painted. I honestly do not know what devil got into her head, but the next thing she said was, ” Why don’t you paint something for my fiance’s birthday? He already knows what I’d be gifting him. This would be a nice surprise.” I just didn’t know what to say to that. But considering all niceties of social life, I simply said, “Okay……”, my voice dragging with bewilderment in the eyes and that half baked smile on my lips. “I’ll pay you. Just tell me the price.”, she said. No, that didn’t help. I knew Crisenta and her fiance well enough to gift them a painting. I didn’t want to be paid for it. I told her that. But she insisted that it must be her gift to him. And my other colleagues also insisted that I must not say no. So, I took it up. I told her I shall tell her the price once am done, since she wanted me to paint on a frame.

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A day before her fiancé’s birthday, I bought a frame from Sapna Book house for 200 bucks on my way home from office. I had still not decided what I wanted to paint. All I knew was that it ought to have some sort of relevance to them. By the time I reached home, all I had in mind was Superman. Do not ask me why. My juvenile brain could not come up with anything better. There, I said it.

After finishing up dinner, I took the laptop and Googled images of Superman. Semper, Cris’ fiance made these super delicious sandwiches for her to have during the evening tea break. He’d generously apply peanut butter and Nutella together between the slices of bread that were toasted in oil. Every bite was indulgence. Every bite was a sin. Of course I know that very well because it was I and a few other girls who would do the honour of finishing those sandwiches. Actually it was mostly me.

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It was 11 in the night when I finished drawing Superman. I was yet to draw it onto the frame when I realised I couldn’t just draw Semper all alone. Cris had to be in it. The only girl I have seen wear a bandana to office, I knew how I wanted Cris in the painting. But then, given my ‘minimal skills’ and being hard pressed for time, I decided to not pay too much attention to Cris.

Thanks to my shaky hands, I could only be done with the painting by 2:30 a.m. The painting came out decently. Next day when Cris saw the gift for her beloved, she found it adorable. Look down for the painting.

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How should we talk about mental health?

ideas.ted.com

Mental health suffers from a major image problem. One in every four people experiences mental health issues — yet more than 40 percent of countries worldwide have no mental health policy. Across the board it seems like we have no idea how to talk about it respectfully and responsibly.

Stigma and discrimination are the two biggest obstacles to a productive public dialogue about mental health; indeed, the problem seems to be largely one of communication. So we asked seven mental health experts: How should we talk about mental health? How can informed and sensitive people do it right – and how can the media do it responsibly?

End the stigma

Easier said than done, of course. Says journalist Andrew Solomon: “People still think that it’s shameful if they have a mental illness. They think it shows personal weakness. They think it shows a failing. If it’s their children who…

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My first.

Some people drink, some smoke, some do weed. I took to art. It gives me a certain high when I engage myself in any sort of art for that matter. Glass art is one such obsession. The paints and colour, the translucence, the resultant messiness, the mesmerizing beauty of any liquor bottle – it’s all gotten me hooked to the extent of developing a glass art ritual every weekend.
Like every good thing in my life, my romantic encounters with glass art began with a disaster. Two months back, when I had first decided to try my hand at glass paintings, I chose Google for a tutor. One of the popular websites suggested using a hair dryer to dry the paints quickly. The alternative was a microwave oven. The website even gave specific temperature settings for drying the paint.

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So, here I was on a rainy Saturday evening, listening to Pandit Ravi Shankar to warm me up for my upcoming artistic endeavour, with a cheap glass tumbler, that I took the trouble to purchase for 95 bucks at Sapna Book House, at my table. I shivered as I squeezed the paint out of the tube only to realize that a 5-year old had sturdier hands than mine. But giving up is never an option, is it? So I went ahead and sabotaged the glass tumbler with my paints. I had no hair dryer. Thanks to mom’s wisdom on how hair dryers are bad for your hair. So I took the little fellow to the kitchen and kept him inside my oven. I timed the oven for two minutes, a lot lesser than the time that was mentioned on the website.
Ten minutes later, when I went into the kitchen, I couldn’t help but notice the foul smell. I looked into the oven only to find my precious work of art all shattered. Oh! But that’s not all. The glass plate and the plastic wheels on the rotor were gone too. (Yes! I know I was being stupid. It is after all glass!)
A few scoldings later, it was time to begin afresh. Except this time, it was an empty Nutella jar that I picked. I painted the most common and mindless image I had in my head and filled it with colour. But this time, I decided against using technology. And there she was – cute and pretty, my first glass art.

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Citizenfour, Glenn Greenwald and why privacy matters

ideas.ted.com

When filmmaker Laura Poitras started receiving encrypted e-mails in 2013 from an anonymous whistleblower identifying himself as “Citizen four,” she did what any brave filmmaker would do: she picked up her camera and went to investigate.

Poitras charts what happened next in Citizenfour, a documentary that premiered Friday at the New York Film Festival. Watch the trailer:

Citizenfour provides a gripping look at events including her first meeting in Hong Kong with “Citizen four,” aka Edward Snowden (TED Talk: Here’s how we take back the Internet). Learn more about the film.

As one of the first reporters to see Edward Snowden’s files, journalist Glenn Greenwald (TED Talk: Why privacy matters) has broken many stories on the global surveillance being conducted by the NSA and other intelligence agencies. Greenwald’s current book on the topic, No Place to Hide, was released in May. He continues to write about surveillance issues for The Intercept.

Watch…

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