Posted by: adithoughts | December 7, 2010

A confession: stress and writing

I have a confession. I often write when I am stressed as a form of procrastination and a means to deal with the stress. On the other hand, when I am not stressed, all of these creative impulses decline and I just want to sit in bed all day, watch TV and eat.

What I’m trying to say is that if it weren’t for the soul searching to come to terms with the soul sucking pressures of school, I would never have a diary, a blog, written in student newspapers or have gone to journalism school. Writing for me is a way to hash out my feelings, look for solutions and inspiration, and to connect with people.

Posted by: adithoughts | December 2, 2010

Lifetimes in a Lifetime

I wrote this poem a year and a half back as I was ending my Masters program in Lethbridge to begin my studies at SGU. It’s about how disjointed the past can be from the present, but at the same time it all comes together to make me who I am.

Lifetimes in a lifetime.. by Aditya Chhikara

Lifetimes in a lifetime,
At last count more than 10.
How many more before I die?

We’re separated from the ones we love
those we touched and those who touched us
by different lifetimes.

Each lifetime touched and changed
your past into your present.
The anonymity and the differences across lifetimes
make it hard to remember who you are.

People you meet,
people you love in one lifetime,
never know you,
never know each other across lifetimes.

So now I sit across from you,
you see me, but you also see
all those others who you’ve never met,
but who shaped me.

Can you fathom who I am,
without understanding those before you?
How do I tell you who I am,
without making you understand who made me?

It’s time to leave and start anew again,
I will take my moments with you
into my new life.
I will share the mark you left on me,
through thoughts and deeds
with people I meet but you may not.
And I will touch those you will meet,
but I will not know,
through the mark I left on your thoughts and deeds,
as we live,
yet another lifetime in our lifetimes.

Posted by: adithoughts | December 1, 2010

Defining Burnout

I “burnt out” earlier this semester and am experiencing it again the week before finals. Which made me wonder, what is it exactly?

The best that I can come up with is not being able to feel and being emotionally blunted. As a result, you cannot do anything well.

How do I deal with it? Rest, sleep, be positive and doing things which help me feel. For me this involves running, listening to classical music, drawing, writing, watching TED talks, alcohol, chai and having a laugh with friends. Then there’s always the Stress Reduction Kit.

Posted by: adithoughts | April 23, 2010

Emotions of water

The Physicians for Human Rights Club at SGU recently had a coffee house. The theme of the coffee house was water and I read a poem at the event.

Poetry usually expresses the poet’s emotions. This makes water a hard subject to write about because there is no single emotion I associate with water. Rather I think of water as a source of human emotions because of the immense impact it has on our lives.

Emotions of water

Brings relief to a thirsty person,
heartbreak when it causes disease.
Cities grow up around it,
villages are swept away by floods.
Nourishes the food that feeds my spirit,
breaks the spirit of the farmer praying for rain.
Indescribable, tasteless, colourless, odourless,
yet it affects everything.

Posted by: adithoughts | November 19, 2009

My trip to the International Museum of Toilets

On the occasion of World Toilet Day, here is a repost of an article I wrote for the student newspaper last year.

I was sitting around reading the news on my laptop about a month ago when I saw a link to the “International Museum of Toilets” in New Delhi. I was intrigued, particularly since I had lived in New Delhi for five years and never heard of the place. As it happened, I was to be going to New Delhi for a family wedding and decided that I should really go the Museum.

The International Museum of Toilets in New Delhi is run by an organization called Sulabh. Sulabh was founded in 1970 with the initial objective of stopping an Indian custom in which human “scavengers” carried the waste excrements and disposed of it. Since India had a caste system, the human waste carriers were/are treated as “Untouchables” and shunned by the rest of society. It should be noted that the practice of carrying waste and caste-based discrimination is illegal. However, the practice continues in some parts of the country. Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, the founder of Sulabh and a sociologist by training decided to set-up modern toilets in order to stop this age-old custom of discrimination. Since then, Sulabh has “been able to restore human rights and dignity to 120,000 scavengers, set up about 1,100,000 household toilets and 7500 community toilet blocks, constructed over 190 human-excreta-based biogas plants and made 640 towns scavenging – free. The sanitation facilities created by the Sulabh are used by over 10 million people everyday.” In addition, Sulabh has been involved in research and development in sanitation technologies.

Lack of sanitation is a problem all over the world. It is estimated that 2.6 billion people (about half of humanity) do not have access to proper sanitation. UNICEF estimates that lack of safe water and sanitation is the single largest cause of illness in the world, with 4500 children dying each day because of it. However, because sanitation can be a queasy subject, people are often loathe to talk about it. One of the biggest accomplishments of the International Museum of Toilets is to make people think about the problem in a clear-headed fashion. Here are a few fun “potty facts” that I learned from my tour guide:

1)      Did you know that the English used to shit on toilets that were shaped in the form of French books and the French kindly returned the favour. Here’s a picture of a replica toilet that I took at the museum. The toilet is shaped in the form of the Shakespeare classic “Macbeth”.

2)      Managers used to shit on top of their employees heads in the US. You might ask, so what’s new? Seriously though, here’s a picture of a two storied toilet which was used where the managers used to use stall on top of the employees.

3)      King Louis the 14th of France used to sit on a “toilet-throne” and pee in front of his court. Here’s a picture of me on a replica of the “toilet-throne”.  I could sense the power King Louis the 14th must have commanded as I sat on the toilet.

4)      Toilets used to be a part of living rooms and hence were elaborately made.


5)      My personal favourite was this toilet from Japan which washes, dries, plays MP3s, and releases room fresheners, all at the press of a button. 90% of Japanese use this kind of toilet. I think I want one.

Posted by: adithoughts | November 8, 2009

what goes “WOW” at night? Answer: me

I’m sharing my room with a person for the first time in 12 years. This can be a bit of an adjustment as you can imagine. But it can also lead to some funny incidents and moments of self-discovery.

Apparently, I talk in my sleep. That’s news to me. Not just talk, but talk loudly. A few nights ago, I went “WOW” with a huge smile on my face, then turned over, and continued to sleep with a grin on my face. My roommate thought it was hilarious.

I like visuals, so here’s a picture of me lying down with a grin on my face.

grin on facewisdomRoommate


PS: In case you were wondering what I was dreaming about, I don’t remember. However, my roommate and I both suspect that I was probably listening to Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major live in concert.

Posted by: adithoughts | October 27, 2009

Running and I

I love running. I started running as a 4-5 year old and still have vivid memories of those times. I ran initially to increase my lung capacity which had been diminished due to childhood asthma. I remember my dad cheering me on as a 5 year old as I ran around the track next to my house. My asthma and running continued till the age of 12 or 13, and my dad continued to be a part of running, organizing friendly races between me, my brother and friends. My love affair with running continued after I went away from my parents and got over asthma in Grade 9 and continues to this day. Running on the beaches in Grenada is some of the most wonderful running I’ve done, with the sights and sounds of the ocean filling my senses and the soft sand beneath my feet. Running for me now is as much an emotional way to keep in touch with my past as it is a way to relieve stress and stay fit.

That’s my relationship with running. The NYTimes did an interesting feature recently on the relationships some other people have with running which I would recommend. The NYTimes also had an article on the evolution of running and how humans might have evolved to be proficient runners. The article notes that humans have incredible cooling systems (our sweat glands) relative to other animals, most of whom can only pant in order to cool themselves off. As a result, humans are exceptionally adept at running long distances in hot climates and are capable of outrunning a horse over a 26 mile distance on a hot day. This ability is used by present day hunter-gatherers to catch their prey. The Tarahumra Indians are a commonly cited example of a people who have pushed humans ability to run to an extreme.

On a slightly different note, here’s a song titled Running by No Doubt which I absolutely love.


Posted by: adithoughts | October 11, 2009

post-midterm cricket on the beach

The mid-terms for the first term just finished and I can honestly say that I’ve never worked as hard as I have in the last few weeks. Luckily, I love studying all of the subjects for this term, which makes it a much more enjoyable experience and putting in the hard work easier.
Today I spent the morning at the beach volunteering for the Orphanage Students Organization. It was a blast as usual. I returned to the beach later in the day for a run. This was followed by cricket on the beach with some Grenadians. In my experience, you can go to people playing sports anywhere in the world, whether it be cricket in India, squash in Canada, or cricket in Grenada and ask to join in, and you will always be welcomed. After my game of cricket, I was offered some beer by the folks I was playing with, which I happily accepted. Good times.
Beach Cricket

Posted by: adithoughts | July 15, 2009


I often have an urge to find the perfect song for a moment which expresses how I’m feeling. I also have a hard time finding the perfect song. I figured today that during these times, listening to yourself by concentrating on the sounds around you, the typing of the keyboard, the fan running on your computer, the sound of your breath, the cars outside; just the process of concentrating on what’s around you and trying to pick as much out as possible, works just as well as listening to that perfect song.


Posted by: adithoughts | January 18, 2009

my article on the situation in Gaza

This is the article I wrote for the student newspaper last week.

News and View: The Gaza Strip Conflict
By: Aditya Chhikara • Posted: January 14, 2009 • Category: Features

As it stands, Israel claims that it is trying to defend its citizens, while Hamas says that is fighting against Israeli control. What will be the immediate result of this gruesome and tragic affair?

I read an article saying that in news reporting, “attempts at fairness and balance in the Middle East are doomed.” I believe this to be true. Even if a reporter tries to be fair and balanced, news will undoubtedly seem biased because of the passion stoked by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That being said, I am going to try to present both sides of the story below, although I do not think I will succeed.

The latest round of fighting in Gaza has claimed over 800 Palestinian lives and wounded more than 3 000. According to UN estimates, about half of the dead were civilians and nearly half of these were women and children. About 13 Israelis have been killed in the fighting, 3 of whom were civilians.

From its perspective, Israel is fighting against an enemy that does not recognize its right to exist. Israel had no other immediate option available to stop the rockets fired at its citizens out of Gaza. In addition, elections are coming up in Israel and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is one of the contestants, is looking to change his image. He has been seen as soft and unable to deal effectively with Hamas. Furthermore, this war is an attempt to restore Israel’s capacity for deterrence after the war in Lebanon, which Israel is widely considered to have lost.

From Hamas’ perspective, it won free and fair elections in 2006, in which Palestinians gave it a clear mandate to govern. However, Israel and the international community refused to deal with Hamas and boycotted it. Severe restrictions were placed on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, where Israel controls the air, land and sea entries. Israel’s embargo has made life increasingly hard for the people of Gaza. Hamas will see that the ceasefire it had previously agreed to and observed bore no fruit. The embargo on Gaza was not lifted or eased, and Israel breached the ceasefire by killing 6 Palestinians, which Israel claimed were trying to attack it.

As it stands at the time of writing, Israel claims that it is trying to defend its citizens while Hamas says that is fighting against Israeli control. What will be the immediate result of this gruesome and tragic affair?

From the Palestinian perspective, the civilian casualties will undoubtedly cause further radicalization of the Palestinian population, which will be a big blow to the moderates. Hamas will no doubt gain in popularity because of the radicalization, and for taking a stand against Israeli aggression.

From the Israeli perspective, no one will doubt Ehud Barak’s capacity for taking tough action against the Palestinians and Ehud Barak might just win the elections in February on the back of the surge of patriotism, which such conflicts inevitably create. If Hamas is destroyed, Ehud Barak will undoubtedly claim that it has restored Israel’s deterrence after the loss of the Lebanon War of 2006. However, if Hamas survives and is able to maintain control of Gaza, the war might just be seen as a loss for Israel. In that case, members of the present Israeli government will be remembered for losing two wars.

A third and equally important consequence of the war will be its affect on international public opinion. The suffering caused to the Palestinians is far greater than that of the Israelis. People are hearing reports of emaciated children trapped in the fighting, of the lack of access to food, drinking water and medical supplies. This will not bode well for Israel. It has always projected itself as the victim, surrounded by enemies and fighting for its survival. This image will take a beating when the world sees such one-sided suffering in the present war. The last weekend was marked by pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian rallies in many of the cities in the world, but the pro-Palestinian rallies were much bigger than the pro-Israeli rallies.

Israel, like the US in Iraq, will have to realize the limitations of military power. Israel’s best hope for cordial relationships with its Palestinian neighbours is to restore order and dignity to the population of Gaza, call another election, and deal with whoever is in power.

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