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The inner critic and the freedom to fail

A piece of advice that I often give aspiring writers is to put pen to paper and make a beginning, even if the writing that emerges makes you cringe. As the saying goes, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

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The inner critic and the freedom to fail

I often get asked to identify the moment that marked the biggest turning point in my journey as an author. The answer usually takes people by surprise. It was not the moment when the idea for a story first occurred to me, nor was it when I first put pen to paper. It was not when I typed out the ending, or found a publisher, or when I first held the printed copy of my book in my hands. While all these occasions were monumental, the turning point for me was when I discovered that I could write at will, consciously,without having to wait for that elusive flash of inspiration to strike. What led to this was the realisation that I was harbouring a harsh inner critic within myself, and that silencing this critic was central to the creative process.

We all have an innate respect for excellence and beauty. Most of us appreciate the perfect sunrise photograph, or a beautiful note in an immortal song, or the turn of phrase in a poem. We unconsciously set the same lofty standards for ourselves when we embark on a creative or entrepreneurial journey. That is where the problem begins. This quest for perfection becomes a noose around our neck, stunting our creativity and making us feel inadequate. It often leads us to procrastinate or give up prematurely, as our output seems to pale in comparison to these benchmarks. We rationalise this, telling ourselves that striving for perfection is a good thing, not realising that it is actually our fear of failure that is masquerading as perfectionism.

The ability to experiment freely, fail, and then course correct is central to achieving success in any pursuit, not just in the creative arena. Henry Ford’s first automobile company folded up, while the first two ventures of Walt Disney and Milton Hershey were non-starters. Colonel Sanders had a series of failed entrepreneurial ventures before he founded Kentucky Fried Chicken in his sixties. Abraham Lincoln famously lost a record number of elections before he finally became President of the US. In the 1970s, Sylvester Stallone was barely making ends meet, living on the streets and acting in a series of forgettable movies before Rocky became a runaway hit. Even Prince Siddhartha experimented with various spiritual schools and techniques before he finally found his path and became Gautama the Buddha.

Mark Zuckerberg, one of the youngest success stories, also echoes this viewpoint. In his famous commencement speech at Harvard, he shares that, “Facebook wasn’t the first thing I built. I also built chat systems and games, study tools, and music players. “ He concludes, “The greatest successes come from having the freedom to fail.”

But the freedom to fail is not easy to come by. The first barrier is a financial one. The pressure to make a living and provide for the family comes in the way of experimentation. This is a real constraint to achieving a state where you can give yourself the freedom to fail.

But there is more to it than this. Do we shy away from taking risks even when finances are not as critical a constraint? Do we hide under an exaggerated need for financial security to avoid taking a creative or entrepreneurial plunge? Do we look for other excuses, such as a paucity of time or mind-space?

Often, in such cases, it is our inner critic, with its harsh glare of judgment, which prevents us from giving ourselves the freedom to fail and actually letting the rubber hit the road. A piece of advice that I often give aspiring writers is to put pen to paper and make a beginning, even if the writing that emerges makes you cringe. As the saying goes, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Giving oneself this latitude does not mean becoming an apologist for mediocrity. To quote Swami Vivekananda, “A sapling needs to be hedged for protection,” though, “when it becomes a tree, a hedge would be a hindrance.” During my own writing process, I write the first draft of my manuscripts exclusively for myself, switching off the inner critic. But I do subject my manuscript to other people’s scrutiny in subsequent drafts.

Letting go of negative judgements and being more accepting of ourselves is central to the creative process, a lesson that has much wider ramifications for our lives. It is only when we embrace the possibility of failure that we can truly embrace the possibility of success.

S.Venkatesh is the bestselling author of AgniBaan and KaalKoot, a leadership coach and an investor who has held key positions with JP Morgan, Credit Suisse and Macquarie. He writes about mindfulness and its link to creativity, business and wealth.

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Some Royal staff used to call Meghan Markle ‘narcissistic sociopath’

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Some Royal staff used to call Meghan Markle ‘narcissistic sociopath’

Author Valentine Low has written a book about the staff who work for the royal families called ‘Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind the Crown’. In the book, she quoted many staff who worked for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry during their term as senior royals in the UK.
According to the New York Post, the book details the alleged bad behaviour by Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry, towards their staff. In the book, the author even quoted a royal staffer calling Meghan, a “narcissistic sociopath”
Staff members coined the epithet for the Duchess of Sussex, according to a report in The Sun citing excerpts from the explosive tome, according to the New York Post.
According to Page Six, “There were a lot of broken people,” an insider claimed to author Valentine Low.
“Young women were broken by their behaviour,” the palace source added.
Valentine Low cites one alleged occasion in her book in which Markle scolded a young female coworker in front of other co-workers.
“Don’t worry. If there was literally anyone else I could ask to do this, I would be asking them instead of you,” Markle allegedly told the staffer, with whom she had been working to execute a plan of sorts.

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Celebration of 75 years of Independence with commemorative coins in Kolkata

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celebratION OF 75 years of Independence with commemorative coins in kolkata

As the most awaited festival of Durga Puja is around the corner, preparations for the festival are in full swing in Kolkata, which is known for the yearly event. The Durga Puja of Kolkata is world famous and it was also included in UNESCO’s representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2021.
Every year, Kolkata brings a new theme to Durga Puja pandals, which are unique and innovative in their own way. From pandals to the Durga idol, devotees get to see various themed Durga puja in Kolkata.
In keeping with the celebrations of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, the Babubagan Sarbojanin Durgotsav Puja pandal at the Dhakuria in South Kolkata has come up with a unique pandal, which is made of thousands of commemorative coins issued since independence.
The Babubagan Sarbajanin Durgotsav Samiti Durga Puja Pandal, made of thousands of commemorative coins issued since independence. The theme of this year’s Durga Puja pandal is “Maa Tujhe Salaam”. This time, Babubagan Sarbajanin Durga Puja is being celebrated for the 61st year.
Realising the artistic vision of Sujata Gupta and welcoming Maa Durga in an atmosphere of remembrance of 75 years of the country’s independence, tributes have been paid to the great freedom fighters of the country.
The theme of this puja pandal depicts the freedom fighters and great personalities through Maa Tujhe Salaam.
Upon entering, one can feel the presence of prominent figures of India, who were directly involved in India’s freedom struggle and who shaped our modern India and various Indian independence movements.
The park will also have landmarks of various pillars of our country that have helped them stand on their feet.
Prof Sujata Gupta, Concept Maker and Puja Committee Treasurer, said, “Maa Tujhe Salaam is the theme of the pandal. Maa means ‘Durga Maa’ and it also means ‘Bharat Mata’. We are celebrating 75 years of India’s independence. The pandal is made of thousands of commemorative coins issued since independence. From 1947 till date, a number of commemorative coins have been released on important occasions. We have collected such coins and adorned the pandal with them. While some of the coins are original, the rest are replicas. “ The idol will be placed in a coin museum.
“There will be a coin museum. The idols of Durga Maa are replicated on the coins. Also, we have placed replicas of freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, Swami Vivekananda, and others on coins,” said Gupta.
She further said that around 150 coins have been used in the pandal.
“It is my hobby to collect coins and this is my concept. My husband also used to collect coins. We had all these old coins that are not in use today. So we thought of giving a message to the next generation with this pandal. Senior citizens will feel nostalgic as they are not able to see old coins. This will work as a feel-good factor,” she said.

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Viruses may have ‘eyes and ears’ on us

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Viruses may have ‘eyes and ears’ on us

New research suggests that viruses are using information from their environment to ‘decide’ when to sit tight inside their hosts and when to multiply and burst out, killing the host cell. Right now, viruses are exploiting the ability to monitor their environment to their benefit. But in the future, “we could exploit it to their detriment,” said one of the authors.
A virus’s ability to sense its environment, including elements produced by its host, adds “another layer of complexity to the viral-host interaction,” says Ivan Erill, professor of biological sciences and senior author of the new paper.
Right now, viruses are exploiting that ability to their benefit. But in the future, he says, “we could exploit it to their detriment.”
The new study focused on bacteriophages—viruses that infect bacteria, often referred to simply as “phages.”
The phages in the study can only infect their hosts when the bacterial cells have special appendages, called pili and flagella, that help the bacteria move and mate.
The bacteria produce a protein called CtrA that controls when they generate these appendages.
The new paper shows that many appendage-dependent phages have patterns in their DNA where the CtrA protein can attach, called binding sites.
Erill says that a phage having a binding site for a protein produced by its host is unusual.
Even more surprising, Erill and the paper’s first author, Elia Mascolo, a Ph.D. student in Erill’s lab, found through detailed genomic analysis that these binding sites were not unique to a single phage, or even a single group of phages.
Many different types of phages had CtrA binding sites, but they all required their hosts to have pili and/or flagella to infect them. It couldn’t be a coincidence, they decided.

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NAVRATRI 2022: All about the 9-day Auspicious festival

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NAVRATRI 2022: aLL about the 9-day AUSPICIOUS festival

The 9-day-long festival of Shardiya Navratri, dedicated to Maa Durga and her nine avatars, began on Monday, marking the first day of the festivity (Kalash or Ghatsthapna). The festival is celebrated with great fervour all across the country by Hindus.
It is intended for the worship of Maa Durga and her nine avatars, known as Navdurga. Navratri means ‘nine nights’ in Sanskrit. Hindus observe a total of four Navratris throughout the year. Only two of them, Chaitra Navaratri and Shardiya Navaratri, saw widespread celebrations, as they coincided with the beginnings of the seasons.
From Ashwin Shukla Paksha’s Navami until the Pratipada, Shardiya Navratri is observed. While the holiday is celebrated with great fanfare across the nation, distinct traditions are more commonly practised in different states.

Timeline
This year, Navratri will last nine days, starting on 26 September and concluding on 5 October.

History:
The festival of Navratri honours the defeat of the demonic Mahishasura and the triumph of good over evil. Because of Mahishasura’s unwavering devotion to him, Lord Brahma bestows the gift of immortality upon him at the beginning of the narrative.
The blessing did, however, come with one stipulation: only a woman would be able to overcome him. The demon began terrorising people on Earth because he didn’t think any woman would be strong enough to overcome him. The gods were unable to halt him.
Since Mahishasura was to be demolished, Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva pooled their efforts to create the goddess Durga. They gave her a number of weapons. Ten days passed during Maa Durga and Mahishasura’s conflict. However, Maa Durga was able to overcome him when he at last transformed into a buffalo.

Significance
During the nine-day Navratri festival, devotees worship Maa Durga’s nine incarnations in order to obtain her blessings. There is a goddess manifestation linked with each day of Navratri. During these nine days, people maintain ritualistic fasts, recite shlokas dedicated to each goddess, wear new clothing, offer bhog, and clean their homes. In their prayers, they ask the goddess for her favour in order to have prosperous, joyous, and fulfilled lives.
Ramlila is organised extensively during Navratri in North India, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh. During the Ramlila, the tale of Lord Ram’s triumph over Ravana is acted out. The effigies of King Ravana are burned on Dussehra to commemorate the triumph of good over evil.
In fact, on the tenth day of Navratri, also known as Vijayadashami, a large procession is organised during which clay figurines of Maa Durga are ceremoniously submerged in a river, sea, or ocean. Popular places to do this practice include West Bengal, Odisha, Assam, and Bihar. The most significant day for Maa Durga’s worship is thought to be the day of Durga Visarjan.

Celebrations
Numerous dances, including Garba and Dandiya Raas, are performed during the nine-day festival. While Dandiya Raas involves dancing with dandiya sticks to the beat of the music, Garba is a traditional dance in which participants clap their hands and move in a circle while making rhythmic gestures.
In India, Navratri is celebrated in a wide range of ways. Ramlila, a celebration in which scenes from the Ramayana are performed, is organised in North India, mainly in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh. The burning of King Ravana’s effigies marks the conclusion of the story on Vijaya dashami. 

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After shooting at Russian school, six people, gunman dead

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A shooter killed six people and injured 20 others in a school in the central Russian city of Izhevsk on Monday morning.

According to the Udmurtia branch of the interior ministry, the shooter killed himself. According to the Russian official, the school has been closed and the surrounding area has been fenced off.

Alexander Brechalov, the governor of the Udmurtia region, of which Izhevsk is the capital, stated in a video message that the as-yet unidentified shooter entered the school and killed a guard and some of the students present. Children among the victims and wounded, according to Brechalov.

(More details are awaited.)

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Malayalam filmmaker Ashokan dies at 60

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Raman Ashok Kumar, also known as Malayalam filmmaker Ashokan died on Sunday (Sep 25). He was 60. Recently returned from Singapore, he passed away while receiving medical care in Kochi, Kerala, at a private hospital.

Ashokan, a Varkala native, began his career in film as filmmaker Sasi Kumar’s assistant. After roughly 25 years of working as an assistant director, Ashokan released his first picture, “Varnam,” in 1989. The ensemble cast of the critically acclaimed movie “Varnam” included Jayaram, Suresh Gopi, Ranjini, Thilakan, Meena, Jagathy Sreekumar, Parvathy, and Mukesh. He collaborated with director Thaha to co-direct the Suresh Gopi and Parvathy-starring film “Saandaram” a year later, in 1990.

He teamed up once more with Thaha in 1991 to co-direct the slapstick comedy “Mookkilla Rajyathu,” which starred Mukesh, Thilakan, Jagathy Sreekumar, Siddique, and Vinaya Prasad. The movie “Mookkilla Rajyathu” earned positive reviews and became hit. After that, Ashokan directed “Aacharyan” in 1993, starring Thilakan, Suresh Gopi, and Sreenivasan, and the movie also succeeded in attracting viewers. After that, according to reports, Ashokan relocated to Singapore and concentrated on business, but he never lost his love for movies. The telefilm he later directed, “Kaanappurangal,” earned him the Kerala State Award for best telefilm.

The filmmaker’s funeral will take place on Tuesday at his Varkala home. Ashokan is survived by his wife Seetha and their daughter Abhirami.

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