Wrong Question?

As an organization, we impart a lot of training programs. As a trainer, I have always encouraged people to ask questions. I believed that there are no wrong questions, just wrong answers. Questions by their very nature are right and will always lead us to learn new things.

Since the last few weeks, I have been forced to think differently. A very common question that well meaning aunties have been constantly posting to me is – How much milk does Yog drink? (Yog is my two month old son). Whenever faced with this question, I am at a complete loss of words. Here’s why – 

1. I have never tried to measure how much milk he drinks

2. Even if I tried, it is impossible to measure the total amount, especially when you are breastfeeding

3. And even if I was, by some miracle, able to measure, how would it help to know how much he drinks?

Can anyone gauge if my son was healthy and happy just by the amount of milk he drinks? Among other things, his birth weight, the number of feeds he takes, the amount of reflux he has, his level of daily activity, the average weight gain over a period time, are some basic parameters to measure his wellness. But they never ask any one of these other questions, so they can never determine the correct answer.

I have, therefore, come to believe that asking one independent question without having the relevant background or context in place is actually more dangerous than not asking the question at all. Thinking more on this line, I realized society, in general, runs on such standard questions, which actually mean nothing, but are so much a part of our regular life. Some examples –

To determine how successful someone is – How much salary does he get? Well, Narayan Murthy gets Re 1 per annum as salary. Can he be termed Not Successful?

To determine how good a product was – How many defects were found in this product? If the answer was 3000 defects, can anyone tell whether it was a good piece of development or not?

I think we ask such questions to pretend that we care about the person, product or event. In fact, we don’t really care and we just want to form an opinion quickly.

A wrong question, by default, will beget a wrong answer. Going forward, as a trainer, before I answer the questions, I will try to help the audience form the questions correctly. But as a mother of an infant, I don’t have that luxury. So the next time, someone asks me, “How much milk he drinks?”, my answer will be “He drinks enough for what his body needs”.

Burp Time

I am blessed to have a 1 month old in my arms and as you may have guessed. most blogs going forward, for some time at least, will be based on inspirations provided by him. So here goes –

Most of our waking time together is spent feeding and being fed. As a mother, it took me precious days and weeks to figure out his feeding patterns and simple cues he gives to communicate with me. Once he is hungry he starts by licking his lips, followed by hand in his mouth, then turning his head from side to side in search of milk and the final cue (for the Mom who is silly enough not to catch any of the above) – Howling!! Once the feeding starts, he sucks as if the world is about to fall apart in the next five seconds and then as fast as the process started, it ends! And then starts the magical time called – Burp Time! 

For those who have not been so fortunate to feed a baby and experience the nuances of this skill, I will provide some explanation. As a baby drinks milk, along with the milk a lot of air also flows into the small tummy. This air tends to fill the stomach giving the feeling of fullness to the infant. The baby stops drinking thinking he is full, when it is hardly the case. This air needs to be rubbed out of the stomach through various techniques (which I am still figuring out myself). Once the air comes out, it makes a loud sound called a Burp and the baby starts feeding again! This is the most magical sound that a mother can ever experience as it tells that the feeding process has been successful so far and is all set to continue!

As I burped Yog today, I realized it is not only infants who need burps. They might need burps only while drinking milk, but we as adults need burps from the life around us. For example, like Yog, we all latch onto our work with such speed and passion, as if, we only have the next one day to live. Then of course, the speed of work fills up everything inside us and makes us feel completely full, with no space in our mind or heart to absorb anything further. We get stressed, frustrated and extremely tired thinking we have failed midway. We then force ourselves to believe that we need to work harder and harder. In the process, we keep getting fuller and fuller till we are ready to explode.

If only, we realized that like the tiny infant stomach, all our body parts including the brain and the heart only have limited space. When we experience the fullness, it doesn’t mean we have failed. It just means we need to stop for a while, give a few decent pats on the back or taps on the heads (whichever is deserved), and do whatever it takes to take out the accumulated air in our system. Once we have practiced burping ourselves a couple of times, we would have hopefully mastered the art and may even be able to experience the magic of it.

Next time someone tells me that they need a break, I am most likely going to tell them that they just need a burp. I think this term summarizes the issue more appropriately. 🙂

Windows of Time

I once had a house in a small village, It had windows all around

Some opened on lake side, some on parks and tree tops

I used to sit by these windows and soak in the small miracles of life abound

Watch the sun go down or smile at the treasures the children found

As I became richer, I moved to a big house in the city 

It had many more windows, each draped in silken hue

Sunlight danced behind these and street noises remained hidden from view

I kept looking at the windows but couldnt see past the drapes new

Slowly the sounds faded, the children grew

The smiles were lost as the wrinkles brew

Slowly one day I could finally see 

I had won a lot, but lost all that had ever counted to me

The windows were still there

But there was no one by my side to really care

Someone told me I have changed. Could it be that I have not changed at all, but their perspective of their own lives (including me in it) has changed?

Long long ago scientists used to think that the sun and moon change over the course of the year. Later they realized, it was not them but the earth which changes around them.