Are we converting into a world of Soldiers? Where are the Scouts?

The concept of ‘Soldier’ and ‘Scout’ in our everyday decision-making and behavior has been in the frontline of discussion ever since Julia Galef explained it in her Tedtalk.

Cultures across the world have their way of decision-making and behavior towards people different from them. Asian cultures expect decisions and behaviors to benefit the greater good of the community or family. In the west, the need for individuality or freedom of expression influences the decision-making process and actions. Can the #learnings of the #Soldier and #Scout method help us reach the right #decision-making process?

What is Soldier behavior? As the word suggests, a soldier approaches any situation with attacking and defending. Anyone challenging them with alternatives is perceived as the enemy, and the only option is to shut down the opposition. Having to change their mind or accept an opposing view is a sure defeat for the soldier.

What is Scout behavior? A scout is motivated by curiosity to learn the truth and what is real. As the name implies, a scout goes out, checks the terrain, and conveys an accurate picture of the reality of the situation at hand. A journey made analyzing pieces of evidence, existing facts, and opposing views concluding towards the truth. There is an acceptance of personal #blind spots and a ‘feel good’ about the fact that one is mistaken.

Though we all are a mix of scout and soldier behavior, the soldier behavior is seemingly increasing around us each day, enabled by technology. The vile and inhuman threats used in social media by the believers of our new hate culture, when untruths in any #propaganda are called out, are just crazed soldiers defending their beliefs!! Soldiers are shooting down the #vaccination drives every day in a world struggling with #covid!!

Governments use the soldier mentality to protect unreal citadels of beliefs. In the United States, the citizen’s #individuality and #freedom of choice are more important than refusing teenagers access to guns!

In Asia, where the cultural burden dominates, and individual space is near nonexistent, all we see is soldier behavior. Everybody is a soldier of their beliefs and physical space, whether it is boarding a train, getting your child admitted to a school, or how a girl should behave!

So where are the scouts? When someone from a hugely successful corporation acts on a postcard from a young female engineer to change the ‘only male employees’ policy to include women in engineering, he brought a change to the lives and behavior of generations of Indians. Yes, I can call JRD Tata a scout. His decision based on facts, understanding of the cultural and gender opposition on the engineering floor, and accepting a risk of failure is scout behavior.

The scouts of our times, working in #media, to bring stories of events to us truthfully are dismissed as anti-nationals and are spied on.

The birth of a girl child in most Asian cultures brings out the soldier mentality in all communities, accumulating a dowry, what she will wear, how much she studies, and whom she will marry, are all decided.

Scout behavior is practiced by those parents, who take the brave decision of allowing their daughter to train for competitive sports or join the armed forces. Encouraging with unwavering faith, the son to be a chef, travel blogger, or environmentalist, or for both to be anything they want to be, however unconventional. Their journey braved with learnings and moments of exposure to personal blind spots would have been a challenging one.

#History has proved that the soldier mentality changed societies only because the scouts did not dare to act on their thoughts or propagate them to appropriate behavior. Let us not be the scouts who sit around discussing every possible view or opposing ones without using the behavior for decision making.

What is it that changes a human into a creature devoid of #empathy or #understanding to protect a belief irrespective of the truth in it? The manifestation of such behavior is because our decision-making is biased and based on whether we are a Soldier or Scout behavior person. Are you in an argument to win or learn? Have you won even if you win? Will your sense of victory carry you to the end when time proves you wrong? These are key questions to ask oneself.

It is not wrong to be a person of principle, and standing up for them is not a wrongful act. While our brains may be busy behaving like soldiers, standing up for the option to take decisions after analyzing an opposing stance is the right way to do it. Learning this decision-making process is possible only if people are repeatedly exposed to the Scout behavior through others who influence our times.

There is a need for more scouts than soldiers in this hate-driven, strife-ridden, and climate-compromised world we exist in today. Being of a scout mentality will benefit all, simply because it affects our decision-making process.

So how do we create scout behavior across our communities?

The workplace is an ideal place to sow the seeds of Scout mentality. We spend hours with our work colleagues. Start the practice of scout mentality to tackle problems at work. By application, it is inevitable to seep down into the personal behavior of employees and how they interact with society.

The family unit is where children and youth can be taught the scout mentality through embracing the messiness of discussing sensitive topics, challenging preconceived notions of values, teaching through proactive actions.

Relationships change minds. We live in societies interwoven through economic inequalities, cultural differences, racial prejudices, and political soldiering. Understand that only facts don’t change minds, relationships between people do. Practice scout behavior by going back on a good moment in a relationship or interaction with an opposing camp individual, to extract empathy in decision making.

As said by Atticus Finch in ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’  “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Atticus may be a fictional character but can certainly teach the living a thing about Scout Behavior.

Reference: Julia Galef in TEDx talks

A language #GLOW UP for Gen X from Gen Z

Life has weird ways to whack some strange learnings into you! For most, it comes in the form of a child.


Bringing up a Millenial had its elements of fresh learnings which, this #GenX parent assumed will be in existence for at least the next 20 years. Things being ‘awesome’, everyone having a ‘bae’ and ‘chill ma’ being a mantra regularly recited to you, tends to slowly percolate into your system. Sadly the #Millenials remained just that, rarely referred to as an up-trending Gen Y. The blame for the stunted growth of lingo and culture of Millenials, I place squarely on the advent and bold prowess of the next lot known as the “#Gen-Z”

For us GenX, if the previous 10 years were a quiet resignation of acceptance of change, the next 10 years, to date, being upgraded by Gen-Z has been a series of shocked: what? why? how? but why again?

Being #Basic, we the parents were relegated from ‘ma and pa’ to #Bros and #FAM. Following which a sort of machine language took control of family conversations; IDK, FOMO, LMAO, IDC, DYK, DM, OBV, PM, GOAT, Kk… the list was endless. Even family arguments had to be paused to have an update on what words meant. Being in acceptance of the term ‘endless learning’ we, the #Clocked parents, scrambled, confused brains forward to meet the new age lingo…. slowly the understanding of the language of abbreviations started sinking in, but usage in speech remains a struggle. Truly, learning has turned into an activity burdened with doubts!

Just when we thought it was all under control, the ‘phrases’ of the language started confronting us. #DED was not an abbreviation, it is something so funny that it killed you! #BigYikes something shocking, embarrassing, or disturbing!  #Boujee is someone who is fancy and likes extravagant things, #Tea means gossip… #Creps is sneakers… #LIT is when something is amazing, cool, fun, or drunk. There is also a word to make fun of outdated millennial trends #Cheugy !!  The endless nuances of the language have kept us enthralled. Hi FAM, I’m going to wear CREPS and OBV be LIT when I go to spill some TEA, PM me for anything.”  An innocent attempt at usage, I can see the #Gag on the face of Gen-Z at having got composition, style, and tone all wrong.

The idiom the “Devil is in the details” rightly describes this new-age lingo. The words ‘win and loss’ can be too many letters to slave over, so you can use just ‘W’ and ‘L’. L is the opposite of W used to reference a loss!! #LOL, that was amusing!! When Dank in the dark ages reminded you of a damp and cold place, #Dank now is something excellent and of very high quality!

With age, the #Bros moved into the language of the new age dating scene. The first time the term #Ghosting was revealed, the only word which my mind threw up was ‘why?!’ Ghosts are only credible if they appear on time to spook others. If they only disappear how are they ghosts? #ByeFelicia.  #Caspering killed the image of the chubby cute child-faced ghost of my childhood forever. #BreadCrumbing is so #Boomer! Even the #BreadcrumbNavigation was named by people who had Hansel and Gretel as part of their childhood horror readings, which I doubt GenZ has explored. #Cloaking a revenge act to #Ghosting could have sounded less civil and should be replaced by #Daggering, in my opinion. #Benching and #Zombeing are the apt words for the situation and I have to give credit wholeheartedly to that!

Thus, #bae and I persist with learning at the risk of appearing #extra, with faint dread at what the next generation will drag to the doorstep.

In the form of this age’s utterings Yolo no point being #Salty, we will #Slay it #Hundo P! ” #Periodt

May #daggering (actually a dance form originating from Jamaica) outlive #cloaking

Moonlighting@WFH–A Catalyst for Growth or Problems-Part II:

The previous post on #Moonlighting or #Gig jobs gave an understanding of the term with reasons and proof of escalation in this activity in the IT and ITES sectors in the current WFH situation

In today’s #knowledge focused economies, the responsibility of managing careers rests solely with an individual. They have to be proactive at developing skills, screening the market, and grabbing all available opportunities. They frequently move jobs using their knowledge, #skills, and dynamically updated capabilities. This phenomenon has promoted the uptrend in moonlighting.


The primary employee reasons and pros of moonlighting are:

– To upgrade or diversify skill levels in a highly competitive and shrinking employment market. When employees comprehend that they have expertise in emerging technology or a skill they have nurtured, which is now valued by other businesses, they offer services as #freelancers in return for a payment.

To create extra wealth for leisure, retirement, saving for healthcare in these unpredictable times, or increased family responsibilities. #Covid has made the youth, who could care less about #healthcare see the need for it. #WFH gives them the freedom and space to moonlight and earn for new needs.

– For increased job enrichment if both jobs are in a similar industry.The #Millenials are moving to be ‘Portfolio Careerists’ who are working with diversified domains rather than striving for specialization in one domain. Moonlighting helps enrich their profiles, market themselves as good multi-taskers, with the ability to freelance assignments of various domains efficiently. They are raising another bar in front of freelancers working for field-specific assignments.

– For #financial security, while trying to become #entrepreneurs to reach a break-even point: The aspect of working anywhere, anytime was pushed upfront by WFH. Employees of large corporations who were juggling home and work for a regular salary have nurtured the dreams of their enterprise and freedom. Moonlighting helps to accrue money for the financial goals they have set, till they cut off from their permanent employers.

Organizations have always frowned on employees moonlighting. The concerns remain the same:

Security and Confidentiality of their in-house projects.

Divided organizational commitment between multiple occupations affects performance, creating burnouts, fatigue, and poor attentiveness. Technical glitches and accidents can be caused due to this. There is also a greater trend to mobility among moonlighters.
Limitations of time and energy to fulfill multiple commitments decrease loyalty and earning dependency towards the primary organization.

The reality today is that entrepreneurs and freelancers are reshaping the concept of work and employers have to relook at how they can use technology to evolve the workspace. There are some pros of moonlighting for the organizations:

-Moonlighting keeps employees engaged, with a sense of satisfaction and enthusiasm. The nurtured ambitions of being one’s boss are satisfied through other assignments.

Organizations also participate in Moonlighting by becoming employers. #‘Crowdsourcing’ is the word used when you dip into the competitive market and look to fulfill a required urgent skillset. Moonlighting employees are affordable, readily available, and do not come with the liability of perquisites like healthcare, retirement benefits. They work best in the short term, unusual projects, or have a skill set that is not available or affordable to retain as a permanent employee.

In conclusion moonlighting is a win-win for all stakeholders if it is practiced with caution and limitations. Accepting that it is an inevitable feature of the #Future of Work, the #Workplace, and the #Workforce is the way forward for all.

For references:

‘Moonlighting’ in the time of WFH-Part I

What is moonlighting? In simple terms, it means having another job in addition to your Primary one. Moonlighting is also known as ‘side-hustle’, side-gig’ or ‘private consulting’. It has been endemically present in the non-IT sector, but with WFH and smart technology, it has aggressively moved into this vertical.

#Moonlighting can be categorized as ‘Inbred Moonlighting’ and ‘Outbred moonlighting’. Inbred moonlighting is working on additional jobs or assignments in the same or similar industry where your primary job is, ‘Outbred moonlighting’ is working in an industry unrelated to the industry your primary employment is in.

As per the study of Manipal Global Education- one of India’s largest Education services Groups, #India is second to only the #USA with more than 15million freelancers.

In precovid times, an incipient sharing industry, epitomized later by #Uber, #Airbnb, and many others targeted people with jobs. The proposition of flexible working hours and additional income to take home, quickly appealed to all.

#Moonlighting is not an employee’s legal right. From the employer’s perspective, the expectation is that the employee is ‘present, productive and involved’. The reasons which bring about moonlighting, will make us understand, how this works for both sides in this WFH situation.

The basic need for employees moonlighting is to earn more but for varied personal reasons.

In, the number of registered people from India is the highest which is more than 20 percent of the total registrations. The Indian registrations are 5.3 million and surprisingly 3.3 million from the US, second to India.
The last data of Jan 2018, shows freelancers who have been working for 3 to 5 years, 23 % of them are earning as high as Rs 45 lakh a year, This figure is disconcerting for the employees who struggle financially in their regular jobs and for employers too, specifically Indian employers, as 82% of projects are being delivered by Indian freelancers.

With #COVID creating an increased demand for online applications, for #contact-free services, these figures would only be amplified, with the freedom and flexibility of the WFH situation. The #millennials who make up a majority of the moonlighting market are moving more towards the concept of #employment security rather than job security. The individuals want to create their own #safety net and not be deluded by the illusion of job security provided by big organizations.

The crucial issues for employers are confidentiality and ensuing diminished productivity, which cannot be tracked or regulated in the WFH situation. Some states in the US including California support employees, and do not allow #non-compete contracts. In India, it is an illegal act and the employee contracts clearly specify termination on moonlighting.

It is imperative to understand the #trend of moonlighting dynamics and draft frameworks for creating opportunities to prevent moonlighting. Proactive and affirmative action by organizations with respect to moonlighting is the future of work, especially WFH.

Join me in Part II of this post as we focus on employee and employer posture on the issue of moonlighting

References :

‘Lying Flat’ the Mantra for Happiness and Health

Lying flat’ till the recent past was what my family would do through the weekend while I vented on.

Suddenly this term has been recognized as a #lifestyle with an exotic Asian name ‘Tang ping’ (躺平). The humans in this state call themselves ‘#Lying flatists’ and a powerful country like #China has declared them a threat to the stability of their nation. Any discussions or posts on this term are being consciously censored and deleted. The idea was birthed by #Luo Huazhong who discovered that he enjoyed doing nothing. The state sponsored media screams of the shamefulness of the act of #‘lying flat’, as it is against the idea of working hard for the economic growth of the person and country.    

Personally, I was delighted that there is, at last, a real term to the lifestyle I have lived for the past few years, without a sense of guilt or regret. I was sure, it was the right thing to do, at that time to center and care for myself in a stressful situation. Now that it is officially a lifestyle, here I am endorsing this way of life and its benefits.

  • ‘Lying Flat’ is an antidote to pressures of life: Lying flat does not mean you are waiting to die. It is an act of rebellion against society’s expectations or oppressive work culture. It is doing the minimum effort to survive in an uncontrollable situation.
  • We all need ‘lying flat’ or #Tang ping through our stressful careers and lives. No matter what the reason, death, sorrow separation or job loss, it is a must, maybe for a few months or if needed for a few years. The Societies we live in view ‘lying flat’ as an act of laziness. In this world of material and monetary # success people expect everyone, men in particular, to work each day of their lives. Women do have the luxury of #maternity leaves and a break to care for a sick child or elder. Very often practicing ‘Lying flat’ between your change of jobs is the easiest way to achieve that #detox. This will rejuvenate you before you get back into another high-pressure job.
  • Regain your #health ‘Lying Flat’: Recently the media was abuzz about tennis champ #Naomi Osaka, quitting the #French Open to preserve her mental well-being. Many name-callings and castigating comments were made. However, the choice to decide is yours only. In the face of an health adversity, get away from the eye of the storm quickly, to preserve your physical or #mental health. Don’t fall prey to coercion or peer pressure. Step away without guilt; you have one body and you are responsible for it. Practice Tang ping, rest, travel, heal and re-orient. Return, if and when you can or your circumstance allows you to. The world is huge and options many, be certain your decision was the best for you.

So go ahead and practice ‘Lying Flat’ if you have to, chances are you will thank yourself for the decision. You will discover hidden strengths and great potential within yourself.

Great things have been achieved by mankind in the ‘Lying Flat’ time.

#Gravity was discovered by Issac Newton in an orchard when he returned home to Lincolnshire for two years due to school closure!! Newton’s apple insight allowed him to develop the three laws of motion. A historical moment for mankind from the ‘Lying Flat’ time.

A prayer for ‘Doctors Day’

July 1, today India celebrates ‘Doctors Day’. The nation thanks our doctors for your endless sacrifices and unseen struggles in these tough times. The pandemic quickly moved you into the appointment of a warrior, without arms and ammunition and with an abundance of judgement from people in power.

For my children and their friends in this profession this is my prayer for you:
I pray for you to have the strength and patience to toil away in the cumbersome safety gear in an uncomfortable climate.

I pray that the virus you fight does not travel back home with you, and your families stay safe.

I pray that the people you serve and their families see you also as, a much loved and missed parent of your children, a child to aged parents, a dear friend, a mother who has spent the night nursing her child, and a human being who is doing their best at their job. Even if you err it is only human, you did your best and you don’t deserve to be physically attacked.

I pray people understand that wearing a mask is easier than it is for doctors to wear safety gear. They have to only face the discomfort of a covered nose and mouth, while you cannot even use the restroom.

I pray that you are given the benefit of affordable healthcare and regular salaries.

I pray that people understand, you are not paid the same as your peers in other industries, you are toiling away your youth and health, to get better at serving them in the future, and they should not judge you on future luxury.

I pray that the leaders of this nation fund building of hospitals more than statues and religious places so that some pressure is taken off the existing system in a future pandemic.

I pray that each of you fights through the waves of this pandemic and survive it with your patients.

Finally, in these uncertain times, I pray that you understand ‘Medicine is the Science of uncertainty and the art of probability’ but you have the capability and power to care, using your intensive training. Do that with each patient. You may lose many, but celebrate the saves, it carries you on to toil the next day.

#doctors #healthcare #Mother #parents  #leaders # medicine

Life lessons from’THE LITTLE TRAITOR’

The Little Traitor: A movie showing on Primevideo follows the unusual friendship between Proffy Liebowitz, a precocious and articulate 12-year-old Jewish boy, and a British soldier posted in Palestine named Stephen Dunlop. Though a sweet unassuming ‘coming of age’ movie set in innocent times, it teaches us a lot about relationships, learning, and life.

1. Unexpected friendships are the best ones: As we meander through life, the possibility to make a friend lurks at every corner. Life gives us this beautiful gift of opportunity in surprising and sometimes strange situations and coincidences. Take the opportunity, walk the common path and explore where it carries you. Keeping it or leaving it the power of choice is yours. The movie shows us a glimpse of a brief friendship that was carried in the hearts for a lifetime.

2. Common interests and shared beliefs build good friends: The statement “you too?” has started many a friendship. Humans need to share our inner thoughts with a mirror of our souls. A common interest can be the initial trust builder or a starting point of a long journey. The biblical Book of Samuel was this common interest that made Proffy realize that he has something in common with his enemy.

3. There is a teacher everywhere:  The option to learn is everywhere, teachers come in all shapes, sizes, and situations. Train yourself to grab opportunities to learn. Every skill in life counts however complex, interesting, or mundane it is to learn. Sergeant Stephen is studying the book of Samuel to improve his Hebrew, knowing very well that he is not going to spend a lifetime in Palestine. Their time spent challenging each other to pronounce the toughest possible words in their respective language is a joyful learning technique…indubitably, daleem, snooker, meshugga, septuagenarian… it goes on.

4. Strangers are the family our hearts seek, who listens without judgement: All of us have experienced this sometime in life. Today in our extremely virtual, connected worlds we gather support and strength through the networks we have made online, people from other geographies, time, age, and situations far from us. There is a strange comfort in opening up to strangers which is not so with our immediate family. It comes from the knowledge that they will not be judgemental, or criticize our actions. Proffy could share his ‘coming of age’ secrets with Stephen and Stephen in exchange, his plans for the future. The respect for that bond sustained separation for a lifetime.

5. You need friends of all kinds to go through life: All your friends will never be on the same plane of understanding. You have to respect and acknowledge personal dynamics between individuals in a group to remain friends. Every relationship between two people is unique and we need it for our personal growth. Expecting everyone to understand the depths of a relationship is an impossibility. Acknowledge the fact that you will outgrow some friendships as you live, there may be a time where friends will be mere acquaintances, and that is ok. Doors to new friendships will open. Proffy’s relationships with his peers, neighborhood elders, and Stephen show us that.

The Little Traitor is a simple and tender story of friendship between unequals, in a conflicted land that has a lot to teach us all. Definitely worth a watch.

#primevideo # friendship #choice #skill #strangers

Schedules for life

‘Be where you are or you will miss your life’ –  Buddha

How is it possible today to contribute a hundred percent to your home and work when both the entities have merged into a big confusing mesh? What changes can we make to reach the right balance?

Everyone is walking the tight rope more than ever, but there is an upside in it all.

Working parents and dads especially, in large metros specifically, get the unique opportunity to share time with their children, schooling or playing with them.

Parents actually have more time on your hands. Gone are the days of preparing multiple tiffins, waterbags schoolbags, hair plaits, polished shoes, costumes for stage and games, ironed uniforms, drops to bustops and school runs, spending a couple of hours travelling and then settling down to work. A mindboggling list of activities and stress in a mere 2 or 3 hours, no more exist.

Getting to wear comfortable clothing, not having to pay bus fees or fuel for your vehicles, close to no expenses in family entertainment arena, are certainly great perks.

The downside appears simply huge in comparison.

Days on end with nowhere to go.Children and their demands physically occupying every corner of your waking hours. Every member having computers and connectivity issues.Health safety concerns at playtime and concern for health of the house help. The unending toggles between work and home causing temper flare-ups and stress, the list is never ending. So here are some practices to implement, to help ease your work day.

1. When you are working you have to be at work: Wherever you are working, ensure that you have a space however small as your home office. A place you have to withdraw to and work , literally with your back to the wall not door.

2. Children also require home school places: they have to relate to going to that space each day for the required time enforcing the seriousness of schooling time. The best way to make children good is keeping them happy.

3. Schedule Schedule and Reschedule: The office white board now moves to home with the day’s flowchart and timetable, physically and visually clear for kids near their workspaces and adults too. Ensure your children understand the timetable, and abide by it. It is a ‘work in progress’ so no worries when it fails, factor in changes, learnings , reset and go again, till it is a familiar routine day, like the one we all had earlier…

4. Include Schedule Breaks: Lunch breaks ,coffee and snack breaks, outdoor playtime, and home activity also factor in for all. Breaks coinciding with each other’s work patterns, can be used for other purposes too, to assist in school work, do an errand, make an urgent personal phone call or just make a quick snack.

5.Continue tasks of old routine: Morning wakeup school time continues, the schoolbags have to packed and homeworks completed the night before. Preferably snack boxes have to also be packed in the mornings, so that a hungry child does not invade your office space.

5.Accept help: If you can afford it, hire house help. Most Indian households have that luxury. An extra pair of helping hands is magical. Include them in the discipline of your schedule. Ensure that they call or watsapp for urgent kitchen or task queries. If you cannot close your door for important calls, place a clearly visible stop or OK signal of any sort on your table so that people walking in know not to talk or disturb.

6.Optimize use of the extra hour gained: it can be used to have breakfast together, plan work for your house help, and write additional daily instructions for children on home activity time and errands around the house.

 7.Teach children to help you: it contributes to character building. Make some tasks fun and others responsible. Watering plants, cleaning toys, keeping school space organized should be alternated with more fun activities and doing T.V Guided physical exercises by themselves to keep them occupied, responsible, and fit. Empathy in understanding their situation will help you help them.

5.Be frank with your team and boss on your situation. Convey clearly the preference of time for important team calls and presentation meetings. No matter what precautions you take your workspace is likely to get invaded once in a while. Train yourself to deal with it calmly, controlling language and temper on office zoom calls. If children go out for play time use that quality time to finish important team calls and work.

6. Have a Common understanding with your team on EOD: Ideally, try not be at work, during both the lunch and dinner every day. Family meal time has to be adhered to once a day at least. If possible work after dinner, so that only you are affected.

7.Practice constructive criticism: Both parents being at home is a luxury most children have not experienced for a long time, dynamics on permissions to do things like finishing homework before play, viewing TV or playing video games, have to reconveyed to them in firm but kind tones, then scheduled.

Finally if it is a two parent unit, a lot can be achieved with little time. Work out how to divide and rule your roost. Both are equal stakeholders. Share your concerns like work schedule clashing with other activities, or inability to be at mealtime, to arrive at a win-win situation.

Your children need your presence more than your presents, do not squander away this precious time, in a state of ‘perpetual distraction and stress’.

#WFH #Family #Schedule #Empathy #understanding #zoom #stress

The Ambiguous Path Home

Hiraeth; a Welsh word that has no direct English translation.

Hiraeth is a feeling with many layers. It is homesickness for a home you can’t return to, or that never was and also sense of regret, along with a general sadness over the lost or departed. It’s a longing for a place, for one’s homeland, a romanticized past, but unlike homesickness, hiraeth can be felt for a place one has never been to.

To feel hiraeth is to feel a deep incompleteness and recognize it as familiar.

Globalization and strife have pushed a huge diaspora of humans to every corner of the world, feeling Hiraeth. It is the longing you hear in the voices of the ones who have left their homeland long ago, a homeland which continues to remain in their hearts. A homeland, which has ceased to physically exist, maybe simply due to decades of development, done to ensure the improvement of the current occupant’s quality of life. The places they once inhabited, the people who once walked the land, all changed or replaced. The sense of incompleteness which persists even after visiting the place, a place of your past where your fond memories reside and refuse to accept the new reality. A homesickness and longing which cannot be fulfilled and magnified at times due to the death of the persons associated with the place. Hiraeth is truly a multi layered feeling.

In the present times of 2020-21 when the world disconnected, enforced physical distancing made everyone felt a deep hiraeth. The children stuck at home, elders separated from families, people in home offices, migrant laborers, homeless and away from their homeland, non residents who did not have a way to come back to their country and loved ones, all felt the same desperate longing.

Very often a place makes sense only with the person you associate it with. Young people working away from home, struggled with hiraeth as their parental homes were snatched of its occupants. Their hearts will heal with time, but the hiraeth they feel when they think of home will live with them forever. When you saw the migrants struggling to go back home, some even walking miles to achieve that, you recognize it’s a desperation driven by hiraeth. It was the need to be in your comforting familiar place in a very unpredictable and dangerous situation.

But unlike homesickness, hiraeth can be felt for a place one has never been to. The places your heart believes you belong to. So many, in our times have made it their mission to go to another planet. The longing for a place and a home you may never even be able to reach in your lifetime. Whenever they reach there, will they suffer hiraeth for the old homeland?

In the years to follow maybe the non residents will fly back, maybe the migrants will return for good to their workplaces, maybe our hearts will heal, but within the deep recesses of our hearts feelings of hiraeth will resurface. If ever you have to go to an empty parental home, the taste of familiar flavours of your home cuisine in a far away land, the smell of a lost dear one, a movie clip showing open green fields which are now built over, the memories of a childhood friend who is no more, the recollection of a place of deep love, lost forever in a relationship, or even a song hummed by a stranger in the subway, everything makes you experience Hiraeth.

It is truly a longing in the heart to belong somewhere, to someone or to something.

As it is said ‘We know to travel…but do we know to come home?’

#hiraeth          #homeless     #parental       #migrants       #planet

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