Friday, March 28, 2008

End or the beginning.............?

I know I blog in sporadic bursts, but ACJ has taken most of my time. Which is also the reason why am blogging in the midst of all the chaos and pending work that is due on March 31st.

Yes, thats my last day for submission of all my work in order to obtain my Journalism degree, but like most things in ACJ dont think all our assignments will meet this deadline. They cant blame us, they have overloaded us with soooooooooooooooo much work that at two different points in my final term, I wanted to quit ACJ and give it up.

But common sense prevailed and shouts like "Are you mad? You are this close to getting your degree and you want to quit? Crazy girl!" from various corners of the room were reasons for me to go on.

Now that the end of life in ACJ seems so near, I am actually missing the dread of meeting deadlines and the labs seem lifeless.

The past few days that I have spent in labs 3 and 4, make me feel so lonely that I cant sit there for more than a few minutes at a stretch. The labs are empty without the 'staff'' of Digantik working on the site. There is no hollering out, "Is that story in? Where is the damn reporter?" and the frustration creeping in, "Why is the damn style sheet not attached? Why are the links not working?". The tension, "Are MJ and Gita going to approve of this headline? Is the banner all right?" All of this is gone, to be replaced my silence. Although most of us were stressed out with the tension in our news rooms or in this case, news labs.. we used to thrive on it too. We made scores of mistakes and our two Hitlers ensured that we learnt from them.

The postmortems as MJ and Gita liked to call it, but Manikandan, our software prof, thought it was uncool and unfair to call it that as he felt that we were creating something (our site) and not killing it. Nevertheless, all three of them joined hands when it came to ripping the site apart and pointing out our mistakes. Of course, after asking us what our problems were. But at most times I thought that was just a formality and the true reason was that they were eager to get their teeth in.

ACJ is/was stressful annd I have had my moments when I wanted to tear someone else's hair out (mine is too good ;) ), but I also learnt to tame myself and keep my short temper in check.

Alas, it has to end. But there is also a beginning.. to life outside of ACJ which begins with our placements on April 1st. And like a true ACJian, am looking forward to the fun of sitting it a room with media bigwigs and although I did like to tell them that we are a bunch of crazy people to the all that we do, I shall sedately sit there and sell my talents to them. In this case, my ACJ degree will do most of the selling for me. :D

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Laugh your way to health

Doctors may not agree that laughter is therapeutic, neither is there a scientific way to explain the healing powers of laughter. However, 15 members of the Laughter Club at Marina beach believe that, “Laughter is the best medicine” and practice it despite a skeptic audience. Every morning they begin their day with a 45-mts session of laughter.

Manohar Bokadia, a businessman, is the initiator of this club. He said, “Do not call me the club founder. Laughter has been around for centuries. I haven’t discovered it.” His technique includes combining laughter with breathing exercises, which he learnt from Dr. Madan Kataria, a general physician in Mumbai. To spread laughter, he has set up laughter clubs in different parts of Chennai – Haddows Road, Besant Nagar, T.Nagar, and Harrington Road. To be a member one does not have to pay. “You cannot take money to make someone laugh, and then you aren’t making them laugh. You are upsetting them by asking for money,” he laughs.

To keep them laughing Bokadia has named the exercises according to their purpose. The ‘boxing laugh’ is for people to punch their anger out. People form two groups and laugh as they pretend to box. He explained, “This helps people to release negative energy from the body.”

Dr. Pravin Agarwal, general physician at Apollo Hospital, said, “It is true that the common reasons for headaches are anger or nagging thoughts. Maybe laughter can help to a certain extent, but not always.” On a lighter note he added, “While laughing the face muscles are stretched removing the wrinkles from ones face, it would help in making one look younger.”

One of the exercises involves pressing the head with the palms while breathing in and out while laughing. This is an alternative to Pranayama, the breathing exercise in yoga. It helps releasing unwanted energy and keeping headaches away.

The ‘beer laughter’ is the most popular cheering routine. This strengthens the bladder and helps them hold their urine for as long as 30 minutes. All they have to do is place their left hand on their kidney (“pot-belly”) and touch their toes with their right hand while laughing. The ‘backhand swim’ walk helps reduce weight. Kavitha, a 55-year-old grandmother said, “I am as thin as my daughter because of this. So why would I not want to laugh and lose weight?”

Jayvel, former Crime Branch Inspector and a trained Siddha practioner, suffered a 30 per cent heart blockage in 2002. But after joining the club, his blockage cleared and humour found its way back into his life. He said, “I did not need to undergo bypass surgery. After one year of daily dose of laughter, my blockage was completely gone.”

The daily routine also includes pressing acupressure points. Pressing these points activates them and circulates the blood throughout the body. This also prevents heart attacks. Bokadia said, “When you clap with your palms spread out, you are pressing all your acupressure points. Clapping 1000 times everyday is equivalent to a 10 km walk.” Thanks to hearty laughs he no longer worries about those hearty meals “Because of these exercises, I have lost 80 kgs in the past three years and my hair too has grown back.”

There are many others like Bokadia who have recaptured some part of their life that was missing. K. Lal has gained the self-confidence he lacked five years back. He said, “I used to stutter a lot as I was shy. But after coming here it has improved.” Laughter improves team building, communication skills and self-esteem.

There are also members like Radhakrishna who believe that prevention is better than cure. He said, “I do not suffer from any sickness, maybe the laughter has kept them at bay. I come here to forget my worries.”

Next time you a see a group of people laughing hysterically early morning, do not laugh at them, but laugh with them. The happy hormones in the body are waiting to be released.