Friday, May 6, 2016

Driving and anger management - how to face challenges like stammering

The philosophers say “it is not the problems, but our reaction to the problems which matter a lot”. Indian philosophy, especially Bhagavat Gita speaks about Sthitaprajna. Sthitaprajna is a person who takes both good and bad experiences of life with equanimity. For him all experiences are alike. If we can develop an attitude in which we do our activities in the best possible way without reacting too much to the situations around us, the life becomes very simple! Let us see this in one of the situations in life, where the people become angry very easily, namely driving!  

Some people say driving through chaotic traffic makes them stressful and angry and that they do not enjoy the driving. All of us face situations, which irritate us, while driving, but if we deal with them in a composed way, we will enjoy our driving.  

While driving, several people feel bad when somebody overtakes them. I remember seeing a TV program, when I was young, about good driving. According to the guy in the program, if somebody is trying to overtake you, allow him to, as he is driving faster than you. Instead of that, you  drive faster when you see others closing in on you or try to block them by not giving much space to them. When you drive faster or block others, you are in fact putting others in trouble. They become agitated and it can even lead to accidents. When I faced these situations, the old program and whatever the guy told in that came to my mind. I realized that allowing others to overtake didn’t make me a bad driver. We drive to reach our destination and others overtaking you doesn’t affect that goal at all! So why should we be worrying about that too much? In life too, some people might achieve whatever you were trying to achieve, faster than you. In fact, you also will reach your goal, if you follow your path! 

Some people change the lane and suddenly move to your lane and some other people overtake you through the wrong side and come to your lane. You are following the lane discipline, but other are not. You become angry and again try to block others. Usually these happen when you are stuck at a signal or in a traffic jam. When you try to block others, it, in fact, makes the situation worse. The gridlock in which you are stuck increases! You get more and more delayed. It is not that others were right in changing the lane and overtaking in the wrong way. They will realize the mistake or face the consequences in due course of time. Our reaction to these doesn’t change them or change the situation, but only aggravates the situation. Similarly you might see others irritating you in some way or the other. Don’t react unless it is a major issue. They will fritter away! 

Some people especially two wheelers and autorikshaws squeeze through the gaps between the vehicles. This is very similar to the one described above. This happen in slow moving traffic and when you are stuck in signals or in traffic Jams. If you allow them to go, they just go away and do not trouble you at all. They will find some other gaps and move ahead! Instead of that if you try to stop it, it can make the situation worse. It can lead to them scraping your vehicle or can even lead to arguments and fights. It spoils the day.  

In some cases, people come in the wrong direction, through the wrong carriageway or by breaking the one way rules. You get irritated by this. In some cases, you stop these people and it leads to traffic pile up, arguments and fights. Again, they were not right in breaking the rule and they will realize the mistake or face the consequences in due course of time. In life too, you might see people achieving the goals in the wrong way. Let us follow our path and achieve our goal without getting affected by others. 

Another irritant while driving will be, vehicles, especially heavy vehicles, going slowly and we getting stuck behind them. In most of the cases, you get stuck as the roads are narrow or due to heavy traffic. If you observe, in some cases, if you patiently follow them, you will get a chance to overtake and move ahead when you reach wider stretches of the road or when the traffic subsides. The same with problems in life too. If you patiently wait, you will get an opportunity to overcome them. In some other cases, the vehicle in front of you will take a different route, allowing you to move freely! Like this, the problems in life too may go away on their own! In other cases, the vehicle in front of you will continue till end of the road. It might delay you, but you will reach your destination safely. If you had tried to overtake them forcefully, you would have become agitated or it would  have led to some accidents. In the same way, some of the problems will remain with us, but if we accept them, we will ultimately achieve our goals.  

So, the way we react to the problems faced, while driving and also in other fields in life really matters. If we improve our reaction to these situations, we might improve our reactions to other situations too (including stammering) and manage them in a better way.  Initially we might feel angry deep within, though we might not show  it outside. It will improve over a period of time. May be, we can use our reaction to these situations as a measure of our own improvement or spiritual progress!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

How to interact with people with stammering

There is a scene in Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam where the protagonist is trying to buy egg (Kozhimutta in Malayalam), but ends up in buying cauliflower. This scene is a very good representation of the problems faced by stammerers. The shopkeeper is in a hurry and asks him what he wants. He struggles and a lady standing near him laughs. He struggles again and the shopkeeper shows his impatience. This compounds his problems and it becomes almost impossible for him to say Kozhimutta. In the end the shopkeeper decides to help him by completing his word and asks him whether he is asking for cauliflower. He thinks enough is enough and decides to buy cauliflower!

If you are thinking what all need to be taken care of while interacting with a stammerer, this scene gives details of what all should not be done! Recently I read somewhere that a person, who is dumb, is usually treated with much dignity, but a less severe problem of stammering, in comparison with dumbness, is usually ridiculed. Most of the time the people who laugh at stammerers do not understand how much it affects the self esteem of the person. He is struggling to convey his thoughts and when he faces these situations he goes into a shell and dreads facing the world. Please give them the same respect that you give others.

Please be patient while interacting with a stammerer. Please listen to him and maintain normal eye contact. Do not allow your expressions, words or acts convey the message that you are becoming impatient. Let him take his own time, but never advise him to slow down or take a deep breath. All these will only aggravate the situation. If the situation becomes friendly, he also will become relaxed and speak better.

In some cases you might get a feeling that you should help the stammerer by completing his words or sentences. Please don’t do that. It will give him a feeling that he failed in conveying his ideas and will affect his confidence. Let him finish the sentence and if you couldn’t understand what he told, please ask him to repeat. It is much better than supplying words. In some cases, in order to escape from the situation, he might accept the word supplied by you, even if it was not what he meant! That is exactly what happened in this scene. The shopkeeper was impatient and he decidied to buy whatever he suggested.

Please treat stammering just like any other disability. Please give them some space. They will also become comfortable with the situations and lead a normal and dignified life.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Bangalore stammering SHG – What was ailing it initially and how is it now?

Initial meetings

The first meeting of Bangalore stammering SHG happened on 13-Sep-2009 and it went on till 11-Apr-2010 with at least a few participants. After this there was a meeting in which nobody turned, up other than me, and then there were no meetings for a long time. After a few months Karthk took the initiative to rejuvenate it and decided to meet at Cubbon park on alternate days in the morning from 28-Aug-2010. The details of the meeting on 28-Aug-2010 can be read at and  This went on for some time but didn’t continue for long.

 What went wrong?

When I look back I feel the factors which contributed to the downfall of SHG initially were these; expectation of the participants that they would find a cure in SHG, not much attractive activities in SHG which help them in improving the communication skill and the same person doing the role of coordinator. Let me go through these points a bit more in the following sections.

Most of the people consider SHG as a place where they could learn some techniques which would cure their stammering. Most of these people come to SHGs after trying different methods like speech therapy, psychotherapy etc. They would have not seen much improvements in their situation or would have experienced relapse after seeing improvements. They think SHG might give them a lasting cure. SHG surely is a place where they can learn some techniques used by fellow stammerers but TISA and SHGs try to convey the message that there is no known cure for it. In other words, it remains with us throughout the life though there are some cases in which a cure is reported. We can manage it.  For that, we should accept ourselves as stammerers and learn how to deal with it. We have to do those things from which we always used to run away and work on our communication skill. SHG is to be used for that. Whenever these points about cure and acceptance are conveyed some of the participants become upset which subsequently lead to them not turning up. May be, the coordinator in me failed in conveying the points clearly or in a more diplomatic way.

The second point was about working on communication skills and giving opportunities do things which the participants were scared to do. Though the SHG was run taking into consideration the views of the participants and we had some activities like slow reading, speaking about a topic etc, there was no structured agenda. By nature, most of the stammerers are introverts and they do not open up. So there were not much inputs about the activities they wanted in SHG. So most of the time it was limited to introductions, discussions about the problems faced, practicing some of the techniques and very rarely somebody presenting a topic. It would not have helped them in improving their communication or attacking their fears.

The last point was about the same person running the SHG continuously. Initially though Amit was available as a coordinator, I had to take up the role of coordinator due to his non availability. So the SHG was run on a monotonous way, though I used to take the feedback from the participants on the activities they wanted. Unfortunately as pointed out earlier, not much ideas came out. Though we tried running the SHGs by identifying a volunteer who would take over the coordinator role in a particular meeting, it was again run in the same way! So fresh ideas were not coming up.

How the SHG was revived

Though the SHG was dormant for more than a year, some more people like Dinesh joined the SHG google groups and they suggested, modelling the SHG meetings on some of the famous personality development and communication skill development programs. The discussions went on for some time and Dinesh planned a meeting on 26-Feb-2012 at Madiwala. The details can be read at

How is it different now?

Though the SHG still conveys the message that there is no cure for stammering, that is more than offset by addressing the other two issues with the previous SHG. May be, the present coordinators are better than me in conveying the messages!

As was mentioned earlier, the SHG meetings are now modelled on some of the concepts from well-known programs. They are well structured and the attendance in the meeting is steady. This itself is a proof that the people are getting benefits and are enjoying the activities. I understand that they also plan get-together and some outdoor activities. The details of the meeting are available in TISA blog.

The meetings are now run by different people on a periodic basis. It helps in giving a chance to different people in taking up leadership role and also in bringing in fresh ideas. Previously it was held in Madiwala and now it has come back to the old place of Cubbon park. Some of the old participants like Pramod, Karthik are still active. They also have a WhatsApp group which helps in staying connected.

This means most of the issues plaguing the initial SHG were taken care of and it is running successfully now. Attending SHGs will be the best way to deal with stammering. If interested the person can even take over the role of the coordinator! So please go ahead and join the Bangalore stammering SHG by sending a mail to

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Banglore group talks to media

The article about TISA came in 'The Hindu' on 11-Jan-2010 under the column 'Urban Rites'. It can be read at .

The details of the meeting with the reported can be read at and

(Originally written on 11-Jan-2010 at

Speaking about stammering

Naveen is one of the members of the Bangalore SHG from the very first meeting itself. I still remember the first meeting and was really surprised to see a person like him in the meeting as he was speaking fluently. He told he acquired this habit when he was in seventh standard and that he was a good speaker and an actor before that. He spoke a lot about the problems of stammering like running away from situations in which he had to speak and his struggles to hide his stammering. He told none in his company knew he was a stammerer.

Recently he sent a mail to the group telling he faced some personal tragedies and was living in his native place which was around 100 KMs from Bangalore and was travelling daily to Bangalore and back. His stammering had also aggravated due to this. In addition to that he was denied a promotion to the managerial post in his company. His CEO felt he had some attitudinal issues as he always used to reply in monologues to him and always avoided talking to him over the phone. He did this as he didn’t want them to know about his stammering. He asked for suggestions to come out of this situation.

Most of us including Dr. Sachin suggested him to speak to the CEO about his problem and to avoid hiding his problem. Though he was a bit apprehensive, in the end he decided to speak to him about this. After a few days he sent a mail telling he had a discussion with his CEO about stammering. His CEO told him that he knew about his stammering and that he was waiting for him to talk to him about this! He promised all his help to him and asked him to work on his presentation skill and prove to himself that he was a good presenter.

After a few days, he sent one more mail telling he talked to one more director of the company and she also told she knew about his stammering and used to communicate to him only through the mail because of that. He always used to speak in monologues and she thought that was the best way to talk to him! She advised him to practice yoga and meditation and offered all the help.

These incidents show the advantages of not hiding the stammering. We undergo a great amount of tension hiding our stammering and most of the time stammering comes out on its own without our knowledge. Most of the time the listeners are not concerned about the stammering but about our habit of running away from the situations and going into a shell. Sometimes they might even offer help! So, let us not hide the stammering. Let us remove some tension by openly speaking about it.

(Originally written on 15-Jul-2011 at and


Don’t be confused. This is not a write up telling surgery is a solution for stammering, but a write up about the hernia surgery I had to undergo recently, 13-Jan-2011 to be exact. When I contacted Dr. Sachin to tell him about the surgery, he told me to write something inspirational after the recovery. I was wondering how to write something which would inspire the PWS. Later I could realize that surgery was something which I didn’t want to happen in my life, but had to undergo. Similarly stammering is also something which we do not want, but have to tackle. So, in the end, I though of writing how I decided to face the surgery.

Some times back, I had read the book 'The new earth' by Eckhart Tolle, again on the recommendation of Dr. Sachin. Incidentally, I also happened to see a write up on 'The power of now' in the TISA blog, which is another book written by Tolle. Some of the points of his book were in my mind, as I had completed the book only a few days before I decided to go for the surgery.

One of the points was "A situation you find yourself in may have something to do with it. Action may be required to change the situation or remove yourself from it. If there is nothing you can do, face what is and say, “Well, right now, this is how it is. I can either accept it, or make myself miserable.”"

I was diagnosed with Hernia around two years back and the surgeon told me not to go for the surgery at that time as it was not troubling me, though I might have to undergo it at a later point of time.

I was scared of surgery especially general anesthesia. So I decided to do something for it and face the situation based on its outcome. I searched the net and read the experiences of some people who got it healed without surgery. They had formed a mailing group to discuss about the hernia healing without surgery. I joined the group and did some of the exercises suggested by them. It was not of much use and I realized that the hernia had progressed much, though it was not causing any pain.

I again consulted the doctor and he told that I could go for the surgery if I wanted. Hence I decided to find a doctor who would do the surgery under local or regional anesthesia as I was scared of general anesthesia. Finally I found one and decided to go for it.

When it comes to stammering, I think, we should do whatever we can to improve the communication skill and accept the outcomes as they are.

Another point of the book which had struck me was " Nonresistance, nonjudgment, and nonattachment are the three aspects of true freedom and enlightened living. When you become aware of the transience of all forms, your attachment to them lessens, and you disidentify from them to some extent."

Previously I was resisting the idea of undergoing the surgery. I decided to change it and accepted it as a necessity. I think a PWS should also remove the resistance to stammering from his mind and accept it as a part of his life.

Then, I decided not to judge the situation as good or bad. Every situation has a reason and I decided to accept it as it is. Again most of the PWS brood over their issue and think that it is bad. If we can remove this mentality and accept it as it is, I think, it would be really useful.

The last point of nonattachment is about the transient nature of events. Nothing is permanent and every situation will change. Hence we should not get attached to anything; in this case it translates to thinking much about the result of the surgery. I think, for a PWS, if he can think less about stammering and concentrate on what he wants to do if the stammering was cured, it will make a big difference.

With these points I faced the surgery calmly and now I am recovered. Am I able to do the same with stammering? Not completely, but I am doing my best to move on that path!

(Originally written on 2-Mar-2011 at and 

Bangalore SHG meeting on 11-Apr-2010

Bangalore SHG met on 11-Apr-2010 after a gap of two weeks. The meeting had to be cancelled in the last two weeks due to non availability of the members. This week, I got the confirmation from Pramod, Aashish and Tanoy and I reached Cubbon Park by 10 AM. I was joined by Pramod by 10.15 and indulged in some casual discussions. Soon we were joined by Aashish and Tanoy.

We started with Pramod. He told he was planning to perform a mime in his college. Then we discussed about drama therapy and the article about it, which came in DNA. Karthik, who is a member of SHG is an active member of that group and his name was also there in the article. It was followed by discussing about activities of army as Pramod was going for an SSB interview. He told about his experiences of visiting the Pakistan border along with his uncle.

It was followed by a description of Orissa by Aashish and Kolkotha and communist Government of West Bengal by Tanoy. The participants asked questions about these topics.

It was a good experience, though all of us stammered, as we were able to practice some techniques like slow speaking, bouncing etc. We dispersed by 12.30.

(Originally written on 17-Apr-2010 at and 

Bangalore SHG meeting on 21-Mar-2010

This meeting was attended by three people, I, Tanoy and Krishna. Krishna joined us late by around 11.30 AM and we had started our activities before that. We decided to synchronies the breathing and speech in which we speak after inhaling fully and exhaling a bit. We started with reading a passage and presenting the same. It was followed by discussing about the recent movie watched by us.
Since there were only two people, we were left with a lot of time and were thinking of dispersing. By this time Krishna joined us and we continued discussion on some other topics. Later we decided to roam around the park and find out where Visweswaraiya museum was, as two groups of people asked the direction to the place. Though we knew the approximate location of the museum, we had not visited the location. So went towards the museum and decided to ask some people about the location. Though we fumbled here and there, we could speak well and could locate it.
We went to the museum and since it was already 12.10, we decided not to enter it and dispersed.
(Originally written on 22-Mar-2010 at and 

Bangalore SHG meeting on 07-Mar-2010

This week, we were expecting a guest from Chennai, Chittibabu, who was in Bangalore on a short visit. I also received a message on the eve of the meeting from Aashish that he would be joining the meeting. He was a member of the Mumbai SHG and is now settled in Banaglore. Amith informed his unavailability the previous day.
This week, occupying the hut was like playing musical chair. When I reached the hut some people were sitting there and I sat on a chair very close to it. I was sure that they wouldn’t occupy it for a long time. As expected, they left the hut in 10 minutes and I occupied the hut and started my usual activity of reading the newspaper. By 10.40, I received the call from Chittibabu informing me that he was near the Library building. I tried to guide him to the hut but he couldn’t locate the hut. So in the end, I had to reluctantly leave the hut to pick him up. I was apprehensive about the fact that somebody else might occupy the hut if I left it. I brought him to the hut and we found to our dismay that the hut was occupied by a couple. Again we went to the chair near the hut and indulged in some casual discussions. By this time we were joined by Krishna. Very soon the couple left the hut and we occupied the hut.
By this time Aashish also joined us. We started the activities by getting to know the activities of Chennai SHG and Mumbai SHG from Chittibabu and Aashish respectively and by sharing the activities of Bangalore SHG. The only activity which was missing in Bangalore was doing some breathing exercises and meditation during the meeting as meetings were held in a public park.
Once this activity was over all of us spoke about ourselves, the family, the profession, the therapies undergone by us, the problems faced and the techniques used. It was followed by others asking questions about these. One incident narrated by Aashish is worth sharing. Once he went to a cable TV office to pay the bill and approached a girl sitting in the counter. Due to stammering, he could not speak properly and she began to laugh and told one of her colleagues to look at his stammering. He went out, practiced what he was supposed to tell and came back to her. She guided him to the proper counter and he paid the bill. After that he came to her and told her that a lot of people did whatever they could to see a smile on the face of a girl and that he was happy that his way of speaking brought smile to her face. When he was near the gate of the building, this girl came to him and apologized for her behavior. That was a very good way of conveying the message.
Krishna told he had difficulty in speaking to girls and he overcame it by deciding to talk only to them for some days! It again proves that if you did what was dreaded by you, you would overcome the fear.
We concluded the meeting and then went for a walk which has become a common practice of late in our group. We went to a vendor selling juice and Krishna bought Mango juice and we dispersed by 1 PM.

(Originally written on 8-Mar-2010 at and
The incident mentioned by Aashish is included in the movie Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam) 

Bangalore SHG meeting on 28-Feb-2010

I was attending the meeting after a gap of three weeks and reached Cubbon Park by 10 AM. Amith and Karthik 2 had informed their unavailability and a new person named Krishna called me the previous day to inform that he would be attending the meeting. I started to read the newspaper, I was carrying, as was my usual practice while waiting for the participants to come and by 10.30 I received the call from Krishna telling me that he had reached the library building. I gave directions to him to come to the hut where I was sitting and almost by that time I was joined by Subash. We started some casual discussions and then I got one more call from Krishna. He was finding it difficult to spot the hut and I went near the place where he was standing and brought him to the hut.

We started with the introduction and by the time we completed it, we were joined by Karthik 1. So Subash tried to introduce Krishna to Karthik. It was very funny as he told Krishna was doing body shopping whereas actually he was working in a body shopping (staffing) company and was in Bangalore on deputation for a year. Almost at that time Vivek came to the hut and asked us whether it was the TISA SHG meeting as he was meeting most of us for the first time. He had attended the previous two meetings but most of us were absent in those meetings. We welcomed him and we decided to start the proceedings by a fresh round of introduction.

We spoke about ourselves, what we were, when we started to stammer, what all we did to overcome it and what all were the useful techniques for us. Krishna is a very mild stammerer and he told he could control his problem by improving his confidence. Most of the participants told they stammered more when they spoke to stranger. Krishna told he would speak to strangers by not giving much importance to them as we would be meeting them only once in our life. He told he used a lot of gestures while speaking and that it increased his confidence. He told he used to learn the subjects very well if there was a presentation to be made as the stammering will increase if we were doubtful about the topic. These were really useful suggestions.

Vivek told he had difficulties in speaking over the phone and wanted to know how it could be reduced. We asked him not to run away from these situations ad to call some of the toll free numbers and talk to them. We suggested taking some deep breaths while speaking over the phone to control the anxiety.

In the end we decided to go for a walk and talk to some of the vendors selling homemade fruit juices. We went to a vendor and Subash bought a bottle of mango juice after asking the details. We dispersed by around 1 PM.

(Originally written on 1-Mar-2010 at and 

Bangalore SHG meeting on 21-Feb-2010

The meeting on 21-Feb-2010 was attended by Amith, Pramod and Vivek. A reporter from the magazine ‘Time out’ attended the meeting and there was a discussion of more than one hour. The article will be published in 2 or 3 weeks. The reporter left after taking some photographs.

After this the participants went for a walk and discussed about various topics.

(Originally written on 26-Feb-2010 at and 

Bangalore SHG meeting on 31-Jan-2010

By the time I reached Cubbon Park, I received a call from Amith telling Manohar from Pune was in Bangalore and that he would be coming with him by 10.30. I went to the hut where we meet, but some people were sitting there. I also occupied a seat in the hut and began to read the newspaper. I completed the newspaper and still nobody from our team was seen. It was 10.40 and I was getting bored. By this time the other people in the hut left the place and Amith came with Manohar.

We started the activities by getting to know each other. Manohar came to Bangalore to attend the wedding of his friend and decided to attend the SHG as he was free in the morning. We asked him about the activities done by Pune SHG and he told they started the proceedings by doing some relaxation exercises and meditation. The rest of the activities were the same as those done by us.

Though we thought only three of us would be there for the meeting, Pramod joined us soon and we decided to start the activities by self introduction as Manohar was new to us. It was followed by a discussion on the concept of acceptance. It was one of the most misunderstood concepts and the participants felt that the concept was not properly communicated. Acceptance meant accepting the stammering and not trying to hide it. It also meant that you were not ashamed of stammering, but you would work on improving the communication skill.

It was followed by extempore speeches. Manohar spoke about the changes in Bangalore from 2005. He was working in Bangalore at that time. Pramod spoke about the activities of the last three weeks. I spoke about my college days and Amith spoke about his most favorite movie. He told he liked Persian movies as they were very close to real life.

Then we decided to have a walk in the park. Manohar told his father had told him to go to Cubbon Park and he decided to take some snaps to show his father. We took some snaps, had some fruit juice from a vendor and took a stroll around the Park. We dispersed by around 12.45.

(Originally written on 4-Feb-2010 at and 

Bangalore SHG meeting on 24-Jan-2010

Contrary to usual practice, this week, Pramod was already waiting for me when I reached Cubbon Park. Amith had already informed his unavailability. Tanoy could not be reached over the phone and Kartik 1 was into some meeting and was also not available. We thought of contacting Kartik2 and surprisingly he told he was on the way. He joined us soon and we started the activities by indulging in some casual discussions.

Kartik2 suggested practicing belly breathing and it was followed by a discussion on the technique itself. After that we practiced the technique.

By that time Pramod bought some snacks and we decided to practice speaking without rushing by having a bite before talking. We asked each other some questions and he was supposed to answer them after having the bite. Though most of us forgot to have the bite before answering, it was fun.

It was followed by some more casual discussions and we dispersed at 12.30 PM.

(Originally written on 2-Feb-2010 at and

Bangalore SHG meeting on 10-Jan-2010

I reached Cubbon Park by 10 AM. Karthik 1 had informed that he wouldn’t be coming. Tanoy contacted me in the morning and told that he also wouldn’t be coming. Amith had confirmed the participation in the morning. Soon after reaching the place I was joined by Vinay, Amith and Pramod. Amith informed us that Karthik 2 also wouldn’t be joining. I just asked Amith why Subhash was not coming for the meeting as they were colleagues. Almost at that time, Amith got a call from Subhash, telling he had reached Cubbon Park. He was attending the meeting after a long gap.

We started the meeting by describing the way we celebrated the New Year and the activities of the last week. After that Subhash told he was in his native place last week and that while paying with the kids in his neighborhood he was teased by a small boy for stammering. He wanted to know how we would have reacted in that situation. All of us were of the opinion that we should neglect it and if possible, join him in his laughter.

After that there was a discussion on the places to be seen in Kerala and Tamil Nadu as Viinay was planning for a trip to Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Then each one of us described the good and bad incidents of stammering of the last week. It was followed by Pramod and vinay describing their future plans and the rest asking questions. The last activity was reading and we dispersed by 1 PM.

(Originally written on 14-Jan-2010 at and

Bangalore SHG meeting on 03-Jan-2010

The first meeting of the Bangalore stammering SHG of the year 2010 was held on 03-Jan-2010 at Cubbon Park. As it was holiday time due to Christmas and New Year, I was expecting a low turnout. I reached the Park by 10 AM and went to the hut where we usually meet. Within a few minutes Vinay joined me and we began to have a chat. By this time I received a call from Amith and he told he was on the way. He came within 15 minutes. Later we were joined by Aravindan.

Since Vinay was having his exams till the last week, he spoke about his exam and he told he stammered a bit more because of exam related stress. After that we talked about the activities we did in the last week.

Then we decided to read some news from the newspaper after implementing any technique which is suitable to us. It was followed by a discussion on the movie 3 idiots and the controversy about not giving much credit to Chetan Bhagat for the story. By that time, Vinay got a call from somebody and he left the meeting.

We continued the meeting with the activity of story building. Aravindan could not understand he concept in the beginning and we had to do a demo to make him understand. Then we built a story around the Firoz Shah Kotla fiasco, where the one day match between India and Sri Lanka had to be cancelled.

Then there was a discussion on controlling the anxiety and Amith suggested talking with the eyes closed to control it. We tried that and found that to be useful. He suggested practicing it over the phone as it may not be possible for us to do that while talking to somebody.

Since there were just three people, we could complete the activities by around 12.30PM and we dispersed by that time

(Originally written on 12-Jan-2010 at and

Stammering and Diabetes - similarities

Today, 27-Dec-2009, we had the stammering SHG meeting of Bangalore. During the course of the meeting, all of us spoke about a subject and one of the participants spoke about ‘Landmark education’ and accepting ourselves as we were. He told the people attending the landmark forum got breakthroughs for the problems of the life like stammering, diabetes etc. He mentioned about diabetes as I was also diabetic.

After that when my turn came, I told that there was no known cure for stammering and that we should learn to live with stammering and accept ourselves as stammerers. After that it was the turn of one of the new attendees and he told, he became disappointed when he heard my words and he told there was a cure and we should be very hopeful of a cure. I spoke about the real meaning of acceptance as removing the shame from our mind and working on our communication skill. I am not sure whether he was convinced.

Later when I reached home, I just thought about the two problems of my life, namely diabetes and stammering and suddenly I could see some similarities between the two. There is no known cure for both of them. If you are diabetic, you will have to accept yourself as diabetic and then move on in life by following diet control, so that diabetes doesn’t affect your life. If a diabetic did not accept his diabetes and tried to hide it, it would be catastrophic as he would take food with sugar and it would aggravate the problem. If he accepted himself as a diabetic, he would avoid food with sugar and his diabetes would be under control and he would lead a normal life.

Similarly if somebody is a stammerer, he should accept himself as a stammerer and shouldn’t try to hide it. At the same time he should do the things necessary for controlling it, like speaking slowly, prolongation or bouncing, whatever is suitable for him. In this way it will be possible for him to lead a normal life where the stammering doesn’t affect him. If he is trying to hide it by struggling to speak fluently, there would be a lot of stress and the severity of stammering will go up thereby affecting his communication.

I hope I could have used this parallel between stammering and diabetes in the meeting and convinced the person who was a bit apprehensive about the idea of acceptance.

(Originally written on 30-Dec-2009 at and 

Bangalore SHG meeting on 20-Dec-2009

I started for the meeting at 9.20 AM. Tanoy had requested me to pick him up on the way. When I reached the spot mentioned by him, he was not there. I called him and he told he was on the way. He reached there in ten minutes and we started. He told Murali was waiting for us on the way and he contacted him. By this time Murali had already boarded a bus. It seems he became bored of waiting for us.

We reached Cubbon Park by 10.20, parked the vehicle and moved to the hut. Some more people came to the hut and occupied the remaining seats. Then I received a call from Satish Chandra who had contacted me the previous day, showing interest in participating in SHG. I went to pick him up and while coming back I saw the people still occupying the seats. I was wondering whether we needed to move out to some other place, when they themselves left the place leaving it for us. Almost at the same time we were joined by Sharan and Murali.

We started with the introduction as we had a new member. Satish told the experiences of being a stammerer and the troubles he had due to stammering. After the introduction, he spoke about the techniques that had helped him like belly breathing and speaking after taking the breath and starting the exhalation.

It was followed by a reading exercise in which everybody read a passage using some of the techniques like slow reading, breathing and bouncing. After this everybody spoke about a subject given by others. The last activity was story building.

We dispersed by 1 PM and when we reached the parking lot, my car was not getting started. Initially I thought it was the problem with the battery of the remote, but then Murali told me that he saw the lights of the car as turned on when he reached the park and that he forgot to tell me. By the same time, the caretaker of the parking lot also came there and told the same. Then I realized that the battery of the car might have gone down and opened the car with the key. The SHG members and the caretaker helped me in pushing the car and making a jump start and we left the place by 1.10 PM.

The picture of the hut where we meet is given below.

(Originally written on 22-Dec-2009 at and

Bangalore SHG meeting on 08-Nov-2009

The meeting of the Bangalore Stammering SHG, on 08-Nov-2009, was held in Cubbon Park. In the morning, I got a call from Sharan and he wanted to know whether the session would be held and whether there was any change in the location as it was drizzling. Amith who is the coordinator of Bangalore SHG, called me when I was about to start, telling he wouldn’t be able to come. Karthik 1 had already communicated his inability to come. Since it was drizzling I had a feeling that the turnout would be low. I reached the place at 10 AM, but nobody was to be seen. I decided to go to the hut where we usually meet and decided to read the newspaper and leave after 11 if nobody came. After some time, I got a call from Sharan and he told he was on the way and that he would reach within 20 minutes. After some time Vinay joined me and we began to discuss the activities we did in the previous week. By this time I received a call from Karthik2. He was in Cubbon Park and wanted to know where we were. He had gone to the hut where we met for the first time and couldn’t find anybody. This was his second meeting as he could not attend any meeting after the first one. I told him to come to the library building and went there to bring him to the hut where we were. 

We started with the introduction as Karthik2 was not known to Vinay. We almost completed the introduction when Sharan joined us. So I requested Vinay to introduce Karthik2 to him. There was a suggestion from Karthik2 to have a session of extempore speech on any subject. Sharan suggested the topic of ‘our achievements’. We decided to implement the techniques that suit us the most and give the speech. We started with Sharan himself and he decided to speak slowly. He did a good job, though there were some blocks. By this time it began to rain heavily and some people came to the hut. Next it was my turn and I decided to speak to these strangers and try bouncing. I spoke to them about the SHG and asked whether they would like to join the conversation. None of them wanted to join us and luckily almost all of them left soon, thus leaving the hut to us. I tried bouncing and prolongation. Next it was the turn of Vinay and he tried slow speaking, which was followed by Karthik2. 

After that Karthik2 spoke about the technique of energy passing which they do in drama rehearsals. To do this, we sat on the ground in a circle and held the hands of each other. The left hand is for receiving the energy and the right hand is for giving it. So the left hand face upwards and right hand downward when we hold the hands. Then we closed the eyes and he gave some positive suggestions. Then we imagined some force coming from above the head and entering our body. Which was followed by chanting the sounds Aa, ae, ee, ae, Aa and Ohm. 

In the end we decided to go to a restaurant and have some snacks. We went to a good restaurant suggested by Karthik2 and had some food and then dispersed. I could implement bouncing even in the restaurant and it was really satisfying.

(Originally written on 13-Nov-2009 at and 

Bangalore SHG meeting on 25-Oct-2009

Last week the meeting had to be cancelled as the members were not available on account of Deepavali. This time we stuck to the usual plan of meeting on Sundays and met on 25-Oct-2009. Navin and Praveen were out of station and had informed about their inability to come for the meeting. Subhash had reached the spot by 9.30 AM itself and was roaming inside the library. We met by 10 AM and were soon joined by Kartik.

The hut where we met in one of the meetings was very close to the passage and Kartik wanted a secluded place where he could shout. We searched for a suitable place, but could not find one. By this time Amith joined us and we decided to go to the hut itself. At that time, Amith got a call from Pavan, who used to interact with him before the SHG was formally launched. He was a +2 student and was planning to come for the meetings for a long time. So, this week we had a new member.

We started by introducing our names and the activities we did in the last week. Pavan told he was going to a speech therapist and was practicing the breathing technique, in which he would inhale through the nose, exhale a bit through the mouth and then speak. We encouraged him to read and speak using that technique. Though he struggled a bit, he could manage it. Then all of us spoke about a topic for about 15 minutes using slow speaking, bouncing, prolongation etc.
Kartik raised the concern that the strength of the group was very less and then we decided to explore the possibility of giving news about the SHG meetings in newspapers and approaching some of the therapy centers to check the possibility of putting the details of the SHG in their notice board.

We dispersed by 12.30.

(Originally written on 3-Nov-2009 at and

The third meeting of the Bangalore SHG

The third meeting of the Bangalore SHG was held on 27-Sep-2009 at Cubbon Park, the usual venue of the meeting. We were expecting only Amith, K1, S and I for this session as N and P had conveyed that they would be out of station. I reached the venue by 9.50 AM. Some function was going on in the place where I usually parked the vehicle and I had to park the vehicle in the road leading to the parking lot. Since it was on the road and nobody came to collect the parking fee I had a feeling that I would be able to save Rs.20/- as parking fee.
I went to the side of the library building thinking I would be the first person to come, but as I reached the place, I could see S going towards a concrete bench to sit. I followed him and greeted him. We indulged in some discussions about treatments of stammering and the method of bouncing which I learned from Dr. Sachin over the phone some days back. By that time S received a call from K1 and he was waiting for us in front of the library building. S waved at him and he came to us. I started to bounce with him and we talked about bouncing for some time.
Since Amith was getting late, we decided to go to a good place to sit and inform him about the place when he called. Last week, I had seen a hut with some seats in the park and we decided to go there. We reached the place and it was empty but for a dog. The caretaker assured us that it wouldn’t bite and we decided to sit there. Luckily the dog didn’t disturb us:-).
We decided to wind up the meeting by 11.30 as K1 had a function in his building. K1 spoke about the experiences of visiting Landmark foundation and how it helped him in speaking fluently for a day. It was possible by imagining that we have achieved the end result of curing the stammering and doing the things that we wanted to do with that feeling. I had taken the newspaper with me and we decided to read a report from it and present it to the team by applying the techniques we have learned through different therapies.
I decided to apply bouncing and read and presented one item from the newspaper without any difficulty. After that it was the turn of S and he also decided to apply bouncing. Though it took some time for him to learn the technique, he also could complete the task in a good way. K1 decided to apply the technique he learned in Landmark foundation and started to read the report, but struggled with that. He decided to try bouncing and struggled with that too. Then he tried bouncing slowly and could read it fluently.
In between we received the message from Amith that he was stuck with some guests and that he wouldn’t be coming. Then we decided to disperse by standing a distance apart and saying something loudly. We told about ourselves, our education, activities etc and left by 11.40 AM. I reached the place where I parked my vehicle and nobody came to collect the parking fee, thus saving Rs.20/-:-).
(Originally written on 29-Sep-2009 at and

The Second meeting of the Bangalore SHG

The second meeting of the Bangalore SHG was held on 20-Sep-2009 at Cubbon Park. In the first meeting, it was decided to have the meeting at 10 AM every Sunday, with the available members. Since it took only half an hour the previous week for me to reach Cubbon Park from my residence in Marathahlli, I started only by 9.20 this week and reached there by 9.50. The place, where I parked the vehicle was very empty and nobody was there to collect the parking fee. I had taken with me the newspaper of that day for some reading practice and an old one to sit on. I just went to the side of the library building where we assembled for the first meeting. Amith who is the coordinator of the group was not feeling well and had asked me to coordinate the meeting, the previous day.

Nobody was there near the library and I was wondering whether the members had not taken a note of the timing as 10 AM when I received a call from N, who told he and P were standing near the entrance and whether they needed to go to the hut where we met the last time. Since nobody had come and since it had rained heavily the previous night, I told them to come to the library building. I was thinking of sitting on a concrete bench somewhere near the Library building as the ground was very wet.

In 5 to 10 minutes both N and P reached the place. In fact N had contacted Amith the previous night to enquire about the timing and had messaged me after coming to know from him that the meeting would be coordinated by me. So I was expecting at least him for the meeting:-). He told even P was a bit confused about the timing and that the coordinator should have sent a confirmation mail on Friday. It was decided to send a mail on Fridays to all the members informing them of the time and activities planned so as to avoid the confusion. N told he went through some of the pages of the ebook ‘the power of the sub conscious mind’ and that he was very impressed by that book. P told he downloaded the recording of the self suggestions I make from Rapidshare and would be listening to it. He wanted to know about EFT and I gave a brief description of it.

Even N and P were of the opinion that we could not go to the hut as the ground was wet. At that time we realized the need of having an indoor meeting place. We decided to move around the Park and find a suitable place to sit, as there was no sign of anybody else joining us. We moved to the opposite side of the Library building and found a circular seat around a tree. I covered the surface with the old newspaper, I had, and all three of us sat on it. Then we discussed about possible indoor meeting places. N suggested contacting some NGOs and proposed the names of ‘Art of Living’ and ‘Sri Rama Krishna Ashram’. It was decided to explore these further.

It was told by P that he went to Nimhans that week and had a consultation there. He was asked to do some breathing techniques and speak slowly. N told he contacted Amith’s cousin who had almost overcome stammering by taking up a marketing job. They talked for about half an hour. Amith’s cousin told N to master the subject in which he was working and to be more confident. That was how he could control his problem.

Then we decided to call Amith to know whether he had got any message from other members about their availability. Since he didn’t pick up the call, we decided to start the activities of the day. We decided to speak slowly and implement all the techniques we have learned through different therapies we attended while speaking in the group and do our best to follow the same when we go out of the meeting. Then we decided to introduce ourselves and speak about some topic. P started the activity and struggled a bit in the beginning. After that he implemented the breathing techniques and spoke slowly about himself and about football and cricket. He didn’t stammer on a single word:-) . Then he read some parts from the newspaper too. After that it was my turn and I spoke about myself and my career. I spoke slowly and stammered only once:-). Then came the turn of N and as usual he spoke fluently.

In between this we could connect to Amith and could get the number of K. I contacted him and came to know that he was also not doing well. He told he had messaged S about his unavailability, but even he didn’t turn up. Then he gave S’s number and in the end I asked P to call S and enquire about him by implementing the techniques learned by him. He talked to him, but didn’t implement any technique:-). He was fluent as they spoke in Tamil in which he was very comfortable:-).

Then I told them about the visit of Keith from UK and asked about their opinion about the activities and a suitable day. P wanted it to be planned after Deepavali as he would go to his native place and wouldn’t be available during that time. Any day after that is okay with him. N wanted it to be planned on Sunday as he works even on Saturdays. It would be impossible for him to come on any other day. All of us were of the opinion that we needed to have an interaction with him, probably at an indoor meeting place or at the residence of one of the members. I offered to have the meeting at my place if no other place was available.

We dispersed at 12.30. This time, the person collecting the parking fee was available there and the parking lot was almost full:-). N was coming to Marthahalli to visit his friend and I dropped him near Marthahalli bridge. On our return journey, N told there was a press club in Cubbon Park and if a press meet was required during the visit of Keith the details of arranging it can be obtained from there. We decided to explore this in the next meeting. It was a useful meeting except for the low turnout of the members as I could speak slowly during and after the meeting, which I am doing even now. I feel this should be an opportunity for us to practice the techniques learned by us and improve our confidence.

(Originally written on at 21-Sep-2009 at and