Wednesday, 6 November 2019

How can I become more confident? You can!

Becoming confident of yourself is not an overnight job. You have to work on it consistently and increase your self-esteem bit by bit. You have to shut out the negative voices in your brain from time to time. You have to make yourself believe that you can do it.

Start with these baby steps:

  • Look at yourself in the mirror and smile. This will instantly make your feel better.
  • Write down on a piece of paper, five of your unique abilities or strengths. (It can be anything, like "I can judge people well" or "I am very helpful" or "I can think on my feet".)
  • Write down five of your major achievements in life. (School/college life, or personal life)
  • Do positive visualization, i.e, when you are thinking of a situation, think that you are handling it well. Visualize yourself as a confident and successful individual. Remember, what you think, you become! 
  • Every morning after getting out from bed, read your list of strengths and achievements. Think that you will make this day useful and achieve your goal.
  • Before going to sleep, be thankful for the blessings in your life (home, parents, siblings, friends, opportunities for education, etc.)  

  • Read good books
  • Listen to motivating talks, or 
  • Watch motivating videos. 
  • Keep your self-talk positive and encouraging.

If you fail, don't beat yourself about it. Say that it's okay to have failed once. It doesn't mean that you are worthless.

Do not:

  • Allow anyone to demean your worth by unfairly criticizing you, or laughing at your weakness. It's only small minded people who take pleasure in the discomfiture of others.
  • Say yes when you want to say no. It will hurt people initially, but it's worth it in the long run.

Remember to think positive, accept failures, accept your weaknesses, take pride in your achievements - however small they may be, and love yourself wholeheartedly.

Friday, 18 October 2019

Awesome Kerala: In love with God's own country :)

Just came back from a week long trip to God's own country, Kerala.

And all I can think of now is languid sailing along on backwaters surrounded by lush greenery.

Or sunlit white beaches and blue skies. Or carpets of green tea gardens and spice plantations. Or rolling hills get the drift?

Kerala mermerized us with her beauty and abundance. But what was most striking was the happy, warm smiles on the faces of its people. 

Kerala sure knows how to warmly welcome you and make you feel at home.

We loved the hospitality, the food, the helpful nature of people and the rich cultural heritage of this state.

It was my first visit, but needless to say, it will be far from my last.

We stayed in beautifully maintained homestays (booked via, where our hosts did everything to make us comfortable.

Thanks to this wonderful place and it's lovely people.

Already waiting to visit again.

#travel #vibrantindia #kerala # #enjoyment

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

The Dreaded D Word: Tips to prevent Children falling Prey

Depression: The silent killer, the insidious serpent in the mind, the horrible black hole is now catching 'em young. Children as young as ten to twelve are falling prey to it. 

Even a few years back, we used to think of our children as bubbly, carefree, innocent creatures immune to the harsh blows of life. Used to falling down and brushing off bruises with a smile, children had none of the chronic bitterness or anxiety that plagues adults.

Today, the scene is starkly different. Studies report that about 2% of school going children are suffering from depression, which is the third leading cause of suicide among the 10-24 age group!

Mind you, we are talking about depression that is radically different from"sadness" or a "feeling of low mood". Depression strikes children due to several environmental, physiological or biological factors, and leaves them confused and broken. 

Imagine a child, who doesn't want to get up from bed, is irritable, or has forgotten to smile for days together. On adults, depression takes it's toll, for children it is deadlier. 

What can lead to depression among children?

Your casual remarks - comparing academic grades with other children or pointing out their own shortcomings, or body shaming by peers, or the societal pressure to conform can lead a child to the dark road of depression. They are at a vulnerable age, when peer opinion and parental acceptance matter the most to them. Make sure your attitude is not excessively critical, biased or fault-finding.

And don't think you can tell your kid to "just snap out of it"! Can you snap out of high blood pressure or diabetes?

We as parents and society, can do our bit to reduce the causes that lead to depression. Good parenting, familial, school and societal support, timely intervention in the form of therapy and/or counselling, can go a long way in removing the triggers for depression. suggests "Healthy parent-child attachment can help protect the child from developing depression......while protective factors for adolescent depression include involving supportive adults, strong family and peer relationships, healthy coping skills".

Besides providing a non-judgmental, non-critical home atmosphere, opportunities for developing healthy friendships with peers, and a supportive educational environment, parents also need to recognize the early symptoms of depression, and take professional help of psychologists, if need be. states "Such programs often use cognitive behavioral and/or interpersonal approaches, as well as family based prevention strategies because research shows that these interventions are the most effective."

While research is still going on by specialists on treatment methods and approaches, simple preventive steps by all modern-age parents can help keeping the dreaded "D" at bay.

Don't forget to:
  • Assure your child of your unconditional love and affection
  • Spend time with him/her, keeping aside your mobile/laptop/other engagements
  • Praise your child at least once every day
  • Bond with him/her over play or leisure activities, or even housework and cooking/gardening
  • Before scolding or punishing for some misdeed, listen to his/her reasons
  • Be there for your child when he/she wants to confide in you
We can do this much to keep depression out of our children's lives, can't we?


Wednesday, 24 July 2019

7 Common Interview Questions, and How To Answer Them (Part- 2)

Hello Folks,

I hope you found my earlier post on common interview questions and suggested answers informative. Here, I continue with some more questions.
Question 5

è “Why should we select you for this position?”

Why indeed! Don’t they know that better? Why ask you to brag about yourself?

This question is generally the clincher in the interview. The intention is to see whether you can market your skills and abilities effectively, and position your candidature to fit the role. The role-fit and culture-fit is being assessed here.

What you can say:

Do your homework for preparing this answer. List your job-related competencies and relate these to the position you have applied for. Pitch your unique abilities as key to doing the job successfully. Emphasize your domain knowledge, skills and managerial abilities without sounding boastful. Give examples from your professional life, about instances when you have used your abilities to achieve success. Mention your soft skills and inter-personal effectiveness in working with people. In short, give them all the reasons to select you.

Question 6

è “What are your salary expectations?”

This is a really tricky one. Many interviewers ask this question at the end of a successful interview, so at least be assured that you have performed as per expectations. Now you have to quote a suitable remuneration for your services in the event of your being hired.

The intention of asking this question is again to find out if you know your worth in the job market. Salary structures for positions are pre-determined in most organizations, so your answer will hardly influence the interviewer into paying you more or less than the determined package. 
Some companies however, like to keep packages flexible, and would place you in a wage structure, where a certain flexible portion would be performance related. Your compensation package and take-home pay will be determined, based on what you propose now. 

This question sets the base for further negotiations with the HR Department.

Possible Answer:

Before you go to attend the interview, do some market research on what the position usually is worth. As I mentioned, most companies have fixed and flexible salary structures already in place that correspond to employee experience and skills. You will be allotted a particular structure and level in the existing hierarchy, based on your experience and qualifications.
Ask your college alumni, acquaintances/seniors holding similar jobs, or look up employment websites. Some job advertisements also mention the base salary, so look these up if they are similar to your position. Check out the company website to see if they have mentioned their existing management levels, and try to see where you fit in. Salary ranges are also mentioned in job postings on the website, so you can check these out. 

When you are asked to name a figure, first try to put the ball in the other’s court, by saying that you would be willing to be placed in a suitable level as per your experience and qualifications. This puts the onus of deciding the compensation structure on the management.

If, however, your answer actually is going to determine how much you take home, quote a salary range (your market survey will help you in deciding this).
If the range is deviant from what the company is willing to offer you, the interviewer will tell you that. In that case, be willing to accept a fixed-flexible ratio, where your subsequent performance will determine your pay to some extent.

DO NOT SAY NO OUTRIGHT. Even if you are disappointed by the salary offered, keep a window open for subsequent discussions and negotiations.
Say you need time to think about it and will get back.

Question 7

è “Do you have any questions?”

At the end of an interview, this question is likely to be the concluding chapter. Your interviewer invites you to put your queries forward and clarify doubts, if any, about the position and the company. This question also means that you can feel relaxed as your ordeal is now over. ;)

What you can ask:

There are several questions crowding your mind, no doubt, but obviously you have to ask only the politically correct ones.

Some of these may be:

è What are the possible future career paths available in your organization for this role?
è What are the learning opportunities in this role?
è What are the areas the organization is planning to diversify into/future business areas?

Please remember, you are NOT to ask about number of people reporting to you, or the name of your future boss, or the benefits you will get in this job. These will become clear to you when you join. 

To conclude, I think I have given you a fair idea of what to expect in a job interview. This list is, by no means, exhaustive, as there are several questions that may, and will be asked in interviews beyond what I have given above. But these generic questions are, by and large, to be expected.

If you do your groundwork well and keep your calm, you are sure to nail it!

All the very best!

Monday, 22 July 2019

7 Common Interview Questions And How To Answer Them (Part-1)

Common Interview Questions

è Tell me something about yourself.”
è “Can you describe your strengths? What are your weaknesses?”
è “Where do you see yourself five years from now?”
è “Why should we hire you/What can you contribute to the company?”

Seems familiar? Reminds you of the time when you had gone all ready to impress at an interview and had been stumped? When you came out of the interview feeling you could have done better?

Given above are some examples of questions interviewers love shooting at candidates. Though interviews cannot be generalized, there are some standard questions that are usually asked to test candidate preparedness and self awareness. Interview questions can be categorized into the following;

Ø  Those testing knowledge and skill
Ø  Those testing confidence and self image
Ø  Those testing candidate willingness and adaptability
Ø  Those meant for assessing compatibility with company culture

Questions testing knowledge and skills will be something like:
è  Can you tell me what you know about ___________________ (your domain knowledge)?
è What is your experience in handling ________________ (technical areas related to your qualifications)?

You need to answer these questions confidently, describing what you know with a sprinkling of technical jargon related to your field. Brush up your domain knowledge and leaf through your project reports if you are a just-out-of-college fresher. As an experienced person, probably you will not be asked too many knowledge-based questions. The questions will be more in the area of application of your skills. Decide which projects or assignments you will discuss, that will successfully showcase your professional acumen.

Questions falling in the category of confidence and self image, and adaptability, are usually tricky questions that sound deceptively simple. However, if you are not prepared with a perfectly thought-out answer, chances are you are likely to be knocked out by these seemingly innocent googlies!

Let us go through some commonly asked interview questions. (I have given some suggestions on how these can be answered satisfactorily.)

Question 1:

è Tell me something about yourself.
Why does anyone ask this question? Does he/she not have the relevant information already in your Resume? But if you think about it, the logic behind this question is simple. The interviewer wants to hear from you, what you can describe about your profile, focusing on your background, education, work experience, strengths and unique achievements. The idea is to test whether you can confidently speak about yourself, and can successfully market your candidature.
When you begin speaking about yourself, do you know which aspects to focus on and which to leave out? Are you aware of what the interviewer is interested in knowing?

Image: #

Possible answer:
Before you go to the interview, jot down a suitable answer to this question. Make a summary of your educational background and work experience, and a list of your professional achievements and strengths. Include your career objective and goals in your introduction.

When asked this question, give a crisp summary of your profile, focusing on education and professional achievements. Briefly touch upon your educational background (not more than two-three sentences please) and your interests. Focus on the abilities and qualities that are relevant to the job you have applied for. Touch upon your career goals. In short, give the interviewer enough fodder for his/her next questions. (Sometimes this question is the precursor of all the remaining questions that will be asked to test your suitability.)

Do not brag, or repeat yourself unnecessarily. Be clear, confident, sincere, supporting your answer with instances from your professional/college life. Keep your voice tone calm, and take pauses. Do not speak too fast or too slow, or rattle out the answer mechanically. (It should not seem memorized). Do not mention skills or qualities you do not have, just to impress the interviewer.

Question 2:

è What are your strengths and weaknesses?
When Carl heard himself being asked this question, he was confused. He knew what strengths he had, but for the life of him he could not recall any, except communication skills. As for weaknesses, he wondered why the interviewer wanted to know what he lacked. Puzzled, he just said that he was lazy and had difficulty completing things on time.

It does not take a genius to infer that this was certainly not the best way to answer this question. Let us see why this question is asked. Is the interviewer interested in unnerving you by asking about your weaknesses?

Obviously not. This question is basically meant to allow you to describe your competencies in your own words. To give you a chance to impress with your profile, to convince the interviewer of the value you can add to the role you plan to take up.

The weakness part is the tricky one. This is asked to find out if you are aware of your shortcomings, and how you plan to tackle themSelf awareness is the key to emotional stability, so this question is aimed at gauging how far you know your failings.

Possible Answer:

Let’s say Rita is a confident young lady, smart at numbers and logical reasoning. She has a sharp and analytical mind. She is quick at problem solving. What she lacks is proficiency in speaking English. She is reserved by nature, and takes time to come to a decision.

So what will she say to her interviewer? A likely answer would be:
“My strengths are numerical ability and analytical reasoning. I love handling numbers and am comfortable with facts and figures. Whenever I am given problems to solve, I am confident of handling them effectively. I have solved many complex numerical problems in the past. When I was in college………..(she gives an example of preparing cost analysis statements and coming up with effective solutions for a revenue generation project in college or in her neighbourhood).

I think I can improve on my oral communication skills, particularly in English. I also need to open up more, and improve my decision making skills. For this, I have already started practicing in a support group.”

Notice how Rita touches upon her weaknesses in passing, and also mentions how she plans to overcome/minimize these in the long run.

Such answers show preparedness and self awareness, and impress the interviewer suitably.
So you need to prepare a list of your strengths beforehand, and also think about which weakness to mention in the interview. Preparedness is the key to answering this question satisfactorily.

Question 3

è Why did you choose a particular course or stream (engineering/management/science/arts etc.)?”
The logic behind asking this question is simple. The interviewer wants to ascertain how career-minded and focused you are. Have you done your homework before selecting a college and an educational course, or have you just followed what others were doing or your parents asked you to do? Has the decision been a well-thought out one, or one influenced by the glamour or the market value of the course? In short, will the course or college help you in your choice of career or not?

What you can say:

Do a little thinking before you go to the interview, as to how your college or degree have helped you in your career. If the selection of the college or course had been on an ad-hoc basis, find out how this course has helped you in equipping you with professional skills. Check out the credibility of your alma-mater in the job market, and suitably adjust your answer. 
Image: #

In other words, if your choice of college or course has helped further your career, say that your decision was an informed one. 

If, on the other hand, you have not been fortunate enough to study what and where you wanted, and have just acquired a degree, say that you had to join the program due to circumstances, and are now planning to upgrade your qualifications.

Whatever the answer, remember never to badmouth your college or faculty. Give the impression that you are proud of your educational institution.

Question 4

è “What are your future plans/Where do you see yourself five years from now?”

This question tries to assess the career mindedness of the applicant. How far you are sorted in planning your career, and in setting milestones for yourself, is what this questions aims to evaluate. Of course, the interviewer knows that it is not possible to correctly predict the future, but whether you are on the right track or not is what he/she wants to know.

Possible answer:

Again, you need to do your homework to prepare yourself for this one. Study the career paths of your desired position, and align these with your career goals.

For example, the possible career progression for the post of “Trainee- HR” would be “HR Officer” or “Training Officer” or “Executive: Recruitment” and such like.

Similarly, a “Sales Officer” can hope to progress to “Senior Sales Executive” or “Branch Head – Sales” or such.

So where you see yourself in another five years would be in any of these positions.

Important!!! If you are asked your career goals, be careful to mention those that are relevant to the company and job you have applied for. Otherwise, you may as well bid goodbye to the opportunity!

To be continued in the next post........

Monday, 8 July 2019

A Short Story : Towards Darkness (Author: Barnali Roy)

I paused at the gates of the dreary building. The very thought of going in filled me with a strange kind of exhaustion, a lethargy I had never experienced before. I sighed. Let’s get the whole thing finished quickly. Dragging my feet, I stepped in and enquired about Baba.

The anxious faces around me were awaiting their turn to meet their loved ones - those who had been banished to this rehabilitation home. Those unfortunate enough to be struck with a mental affliction in our country, deserved to rot in hell like this.

In his heyday, Baba would have shuddered at such “rehab centres”. He was paranoid about social status and respectability. According to him, people like us did not suffer from mental problems….these things happened only to other “abnormal” people.

I thought of the irony of it all. At the fag end of his life, Baba was a prisoner of his own demented mind, a dark shadow of his former self, in this rehab home.

The geriatrician, the neurosurgeon, the psychiatrist, had all shaken their heads and given similar pronouncements. Baba was beyond revival or cure now. Dementia had shrunk his brain cells to such an extent, that he had lost his sense of rationality and propriety totally.

Science has not been able to devise a cure for Dementia or Alzeimer’s disease till now. And at Baba’s advanced age, the disease had spread its tentacles too far and too deep. It had unleashed a violent aggression that kept surfacing in a mild-mannered man like Baba. 

I thought about the times when we were blissfully unaware that such a disease even existed.
Baba was erudite, well travelled, and could intelligently converse on fairly any topic under the sun. As the head of operations in a prestigious PSU engineering company, he had an army of subordinates reporting to him at work. At home, he was not very involved in day-to-day matters, but as a father he never denied me anything. 

Since he worshipped the workplace, he was not prepared for the day when he would be out of it. When retirement took over, he was suddenly rudderless, clueless about what to do with his free time. 

Time stretched meaninglessly for him.

His office associates slowly stopped visiting. Ma tried to keep him engaged him in household matters, but beyond the daily trips to the fish and vegetable market, Baba was not really interested in anything. Slowly, a feeling of futility began to overtake him.

Ma was the backbone of our family. In times of crisis she kept normalcy and held the household together. She took the good and the bad in her stride. When I told her about my decision to shift to a rented accommodation, she had taken it quite calmly, with perfect lack of sentimentality. I was married for a couple of years then, and my daughter had just completed six months. Ma had understood our need for privacy as a family. There had not been a single rant on her part, against our leaving the ancestral house.

But Baba had not spoken to me for a month after that. I could see that he was deeply hurt, but I had no choice. My family was growing and I had to move out. I tried having a face-to-face talk with him, but Baba adamantly maintained a stony silence.

It was later that I realized that the distance between us was growing irrevocably, and he was getting lonelier by the day.

A year later, when my son was born, I was relieved to see traces of his old warmth and geniality surface again. He played and cooed with the child when he visited, and seemed to enjoy being with him.

And then the worst happened.

Ma was diagnosed with abdominal cancer at an advanced stage. Typically, as most Indian mothers are prone to do, she had hidden her condition and had suffered silently for days and months - the pain, the cramps, the difficulties in digesting, the bleeding. Later, she told me that she had not wanted to burden me with her medical problems, as I had my hands full with my children and my job.

So she kept the killer disease hidden within her insides, till it asserted itself with a vengeance. And then it was too late. We rushed her to the latest, state-of-the art specialized hospital, but no amount of oncology expertise could win Ma’s losing battle against cancer. After months of painful chemotherapy sessions and two futile operations, she gave in.

A chapter ended with Ma’s passing away.

The brightness and normalcy of Baba’s household instantly faded away. He became a ghost of his former self, wandering about aimlessly in the house. A full-time hired help and a cook could not ensure that he was having his meals on time or taking his insulin injections. Most part of the day, he just kept vacantly staring at the walls or dozing off.

As the dutiful son, I dropped in everyday to check in on him. Sometimes I brought my wife, Anu and the kids to stay over to cheer him up. It relieved me to see his eyes light up in response to my daughter, Pari’s hug or my son Sunny’s antics. But such moments became increasingly rare, and he relapsed into silence and despondency every now and then.

One day, when I dropped in at noon, I overheard an awful commotion inside. I could make out Baba cursing and screaming at the ayah and the cook. And what filthy language he used! I was utterly shocked.

I banged at the door with all my strength. After some more screaming and yelling, the cook opened the door. Chairs were lying on the floor, and the ayah was cowering in a corner.

She broke down at once and started pouring out her complaints.
“Bhaiya, please settle my dues. I can’t work here a second more”.
“Calm down, Shanta, tell me what the provocation was”.
“I was helping Uncle undress to take a bath, when he started pushing and kicking me away. Then he threw the chair and….”, she could not continue.
“Dadababu, he has totally lost his mind. Please get him admitted to a mental hospital.” This was the cook.

I glared at her, but saw that she was right. Till now, Baba had been non-cooperative but quiet and sullen. There had been no violent behavior so far. But now, it was risky to leave him alone in this house.

I decided to shift him to my place, hoping that the company of my kids would cheer him up.

Hardly did I expect what was going to come. I saw how an able man was being reduced to a complete vegetable, thanks to this degenerative disease, of which his doctor appraised me.

Baba refused to wake up from bed, change clothes or take his meals. Each day became a struggle for me and his ayah. Night times were worse. It seemed he was charged with demonic energy at night. Sleep became a luxury for Anu and me. He kept us awake throughout the night with the same screaming, yelling abuses, and throwing things around.

One night after much reasoning failed to get Baba to behave, I lost my temper at him. I got the shock of my life when he snarled back at me and spat a mouthful of abuses. This time I had had enough. Lack of sleep and peace of mind had messed up my insides, and I was at my tether’s end.

In the six days Baba had been in my flat, he had managed to turn our household upside down. I saw that I had to take a decision, however unpleasant it was.

The search for a good psychiatric hospital came a cropper. The doctor kept on insisting that we keep him in supervision at home. But that was becoming impossible. I did not want my children to hear that kind of language he used, or remember Baba like this. Whatever respect they had for him was slowly vanishing, and was being replaced by fear, I knew. 

Then he had his first convulsive attack. His body went stiff, eyes popped out and he started frothing at the mouth. I was shocked out of my wits. My first reaction was to shut the door so that the kids would not see this sight. Frantic calls to the neurologist finally got him to agree on hospitalizing Baba.

But that was only the beginning of a different nightmare.

An endless rigmarole of hospital visits started for us. The hospital managed to invent all kinds of ailments that were possible for an old man to have, and initiated futile medical procedures and expensive specialists’ visits. I could see that the hospital was fleecing us. Obviously, they had smelt a lucrative opportunity in keeping a dementia patient admitted in a premium facility.

I made up my mind to get him discharged. But here, I hit a roadblock. The doctor flatly refused.
“Mr. Gupta, I would not advise acting in a hurry.”
After a fortnight of hospitalization and steadily rocketing bills, he was telling me this.
“So what is the course of treatment you propose Doctor?” I asked with some sarcasm.
“Actually, there is not specific treatment for such age-related dementia. (Hadn’t I heard that before?) But we have kept him under observation, and are monitoring his condition after the last convulsion attack he had.”
“Listen, Doctor, I frankly don’t see the point in keeping him here any longer. Since there is absolutely no possibility of his condition improving, he may as well be kept at home. And considering the mounting bills, it is becoming impossible for us financially too. If you do not discharge him, I will have to perforce take him away and continue his treatment elsewhere.”

The last was an open challenge to his authority, but I couldn’t help myself. After spending money like water, and endless fruitless visits to the hospital, I had reached the end of my patience.

Dr. Sen grudgingly let Baba be discharged, and I brought him home.

The homecoming was a gloomy affair. Anu was away from home, having deliberately decided to avoid us. There was a trained nurse and ayah at home to take over charge.

Pari was a little wary on seeing him back, I noticed. Perhaps Anu’s dread had rubbed off on her too. Sunny was the only person unaffected, exclaiming “Dadda, dadda” with unabashed delight at Baba.
It hurt me that there was not even a flicker of response from Baba. Had he lost his normal self totally?

He slept through the day, waking up only to receive food or medicine. Surprisingly, there were no tantrums at night for the next couple of days. He seemed to be improving, and listened to the nurse’s instructions obediently.

I heaved a sigh of relief. Things seemed to be looking up.

Then all of a sudden, the demon took over him again. One morning, the noise of a sickening crash rent the air, followed by a shriek. I rushed in to see Baba throwing a glass at the ayah. Filthy abuses were flowing freely from his debilitated mouth, first at the ayah, then towards me. We tried to forcibly hold his arms and stop his crazed fit.   

He directed his venom towards me. “Who are you to tell me what to do, you worthless lout! I spit on you and your sermons! You all are trying to kill me, I know it. But I will not listen to a bunch of morons….will die of my own will….”. It went on and on, the decibels increasing.

I suddenly realized that the crash of the glass and screams had woken up the children too. Anu was consoling the sobbing children, glaring an “I told you” expression at me. I was getting the familiar sickening sensation at the pit of my stomach. This damned disease was wearing us all out.

Desperately, I rang our watchman to come up and help me. Baba was getting more violent by the minute. He thrashed and kicked with all his might. After a seemingly never-ending struggle, we three managed to pin him down to the bed. The doctor took ages to come and finally injected a tranquilizer.
The incident left me shaken to the core. I realized I would have to be cold and detached in dealing with Baba. No more indulgence. It became obvious that Baba could not stay in a “normal” environment anymore.

Primarily, I was worried for my children’s safety, shuddering to imagine them alone with Baba.

But where could I keep Baba? The hospital seemed an expensive option for long-term stay. I had no siblings and no relative could be entrusted to take proper care of a dementia patient. Then where….? 

Reluctantly, the answer came up in my mind – an old age home with medical facilities, where other people can deal with my Baba’s tantrums.

A search on the Internet yielded five names of old-age homes in and around Kolkata. I called each of them and was faced with the same response. No place had any medical facilities necessary for keeping ailing patients. They would take only able-bodied and mentally sane elders. I was stumped. 

How could they expect a senior citizen to not have any debilitating problems? This was a self-defeating premise. I had faced a blank wall.

In desperation I requested Baba’s geriatrician for help. After much coaxing, he reluctantly gave me the name of a rehab centre meant exclusively for mental patients.

Guilt kept gnawing my insides as I admitted Baba to this depressing place. It resembled a state-run mental hospital from inside, complete with stained walls, peeling paint and a sickening atmosphere. 

Patients walked around the corridors aimlessly, mumbling to themselves. No inmate was allowed to leave the rooms, and the main entrance to the hall was locked. The attendant shut the door on my face, after taking Baba in. I suppose in this country, being a psychiatric patient was worse than being a criminal.

I had a feeling I had lost my Baba forever.

But I was tired of dealing with this scary dementia, and wanted someone else to be in charge.

When I first visited Baba, two attendants escorted him and kept hovering around to check whether Baba was complaining. I was furious. How dare they intrude in our private moments? But as it turned out, such vigilance was hardly necessary. Baba did not say a word to me; no amount of probing could make him answer my anxious questions. He just sat there dozing, head lolling on his shoulders. If possible, he looked sicker after coming here.

The nurses told me he was violent and aggressive, so they kept him tranquilized most of the time. 

Wow, what a clever way of dealing with mental illness.

I met the psychiatrist in charge, who gave me a lot of mumbo-jumbo on some therapy he was following. Baba’s aggression was sure to quell, he was convinced. I was not so sure, but did I have any choice?

Suddenly, I am jolted back to reality with a sound. The attendant has unlocked the door and is ushering me to the dining area, where snack time is on. I see inmates roaming about, little bowls of puffed rice in hand. A black-and-white television set is on, beaming some dull program. Someone asks the attendant to change the TV channel and is curtly told to watch what is on. The sense of despair and hopelessness is so thick you could touch it.

I keep looking at my mobile, wishing I was elsewhere. Finally, Baba totters in, supported by an ayah and a male attendant. I am pleasantly surprised to see a shadow of a smile on his face. The ayah whispers he expects to go home in a few days. He has been telling everybody that he was all right now and would go home soon.

I sense guilt washing all over me. I have no intention to disrupt my routine life with the tumultuous possibility of Baba staying with us. I don’t want to subject my family to that nightmare all over again.
I hear Baba speak up, “Dipu, I am absolutely okay now. I want to go home”.

I wonder how best I can deal with this.

“Baba, Doctor has recommended some more weeks of treatment, so you have to be here. I will surely take you home once you recover.”
“No, Dipu, take me home now. There is no treatment going on here. These people will kill me slowly. You don’t know how they behave towards me. ”
I keep quiet and look away. He guesses my reluctance.
“I will behave, promise. Dipu, I tell you I will behave. I am much better now. Please, please take me home. These people are feeding me trash. There is a conspiracy going on against me. I can’t tell you how they torture me here, Dipu.” Baba is getting more agitated by the minute.

I don’t know what to do and avert my eyes. Scenes of his previous crazed fits come up in my mind, and erase whatever love or sympathy I have for him. I have to be firm with him, can’t indulge his false hopes. He is better off in this facility where at least there are plenty of people to control him.

I look at the attendants, who take the hint and slowly try to lead Baba inside again.
“No, Dipu! Don’t let them take me away! Take me with you. I will behave, I promise! Dipu, listen to me….I will die here….”

You know that feeling when your feet get rooted to a spot and your voice is stuck in your throat? I had never felt so helpless before. I stand there silently allowing the attendants to forcibly escort him inside.

I know that as a son I have failed him again. But do I have a choice? Goodbye Baba……

How can I become more confident? You can!

Becoming confident of yourself is not an overnight job. You have to work on it consistently and increase your self-esteem bit by bit. You ...