October, 2021Dear Friends!The month of October saw the Navratri festivities – of victory of good over evil, of fasting and introspection, of the power of Shakthi and the celebration of life in general in the dolls displayed, in the rangoli drawn, in the dandiya played, in the exquisite flower decoration of the deities and what have you ! A treat to the eyes, ears and taste buds. It also marked two important days – Breast Cancer (BC) and Mental Health (MH).While there is increasing awareness on BC, MH lags behind as a poor cousin. The stigma attached, the refusal to acknowledge its presence, the denial that it needs special care, the lack of diagnosis at the right time, the openness to discuss about it and seek help – all of it continues even in educated sections of the society. While a few years ago, insurance coverage has become available, employability is still a challenge since there are pockets of ‘good days’ and ‘bad days’ affecting the stability of performance. I don’t think there is any sure shot solution to this except, acceptance and adjustments by the patient, his family and friends, employer with of course early medical intervention and counselling. The question is can we offer them an inclusive livelihood ?While I was introspecting on this, I realised it is just not genes, education, fitness or family circumstances that trigger certain mental health conditions. It could also be one’s attitude in general, the environment we are living in, the responsibilities we take upon ourselves and the will to not succumb. MH like depression could both be the cause as well as the consequence. However, not one for Jayaram, a sugarcane juice seller in Mysore. Having lost his ‘captain’ job in a well-known star hotel in Mysore, he has reinvented himself as an entrepreneur with a difference, displaying his zest for life. No more ‘vanilla type’ sugarcane juice with just lime and ginger. He has come up with 15 different flavours including fruits, tamarind, gooseberry and a variety of medicinal leaves. It tastes amazingly refreshing and different. Many people who lost lives of dear ones and livelihoods during the pandemic gave up on themselves but the Jayarams of the world have displayed a rare courage and optimism to live and thrive. They are living with joy and spreading the good cheer as well…..as I saw it in his colourfully decorated sugarcane gaadi as well as his pleasant welcoming style carried from his hotel experience. He was very courteous and explained the ‘juice-menu’ enthusiastically urging us to try different flavours on each day. Must admit he has taken the sugarcane experience to an altogether different level hailing it as a health drink, which it indeed is. No wonder he has been covered by the local press of Mysore as ‘From cocktails to mocktails’ which he proudly displays behind his gaadi. So much for his marketing, PR, customer service and entrepreneurial skills. Reminds me of Swami Sivananda’s saying ‘Be Up and Doing’ that our Yoga teacher quoted in one of his classes. Resonates well with another of his explanations – Do Karma Yoga not just Karma, meaning whatever karma or action you do, do it joyfully and with awareness, with the enthusiasm of a child. This is one way of experiencing and reflecting ‘manah prasad’ or ‘happy mind’ which is the need of the hour for all of us !Regulators may be able to extend the ‘last date’ for certain filings as we saw under the IT Act, GST Act, Companies Act & LLP Act but unfortunately as individuals, however well-known and wealthy and healthy we are, we cannot extend our ‘last date’ – not a moment more, not a moment less. Our expiry date is written the day our first cell takes birth – sometimes too long, sometimes too soon. Rarely an ideal date. What else can be said about the untimely death of Puneeth Rajkumar (son of the legendary actor Dr. Rajkumar), the Power Star of Sandalwood film industry who suffered a massive heartattack yesterday at a young age of 46 ! Not even the best medical care could ensure extension of his ‘last date’ !! I recall 25 years ago he was my co-passenger in a flight. A budding star even then, he had no airs about himself, no star tantrums. He quickly got into a conversation with me and came across as a young, bright lad, full of life. One can only wish that his next journey is longer, smoother and even more meaningful.