In a world of sound bites, long-form conversations are a lost art. So, join us (Susheel Chandradhas and Rohan Tharyan) as we engage with each other and our guests, giving ideas and insights the time they need to unfold gracefully. These ‘sliding doors’ of opportunity — where real conversations happen — are rare and need to be savoured. So, pull up a chair and join us. This will take a while … we promise!
Also, ambience is everything for these sorts of exchanges, so join us wherever you’re most comfortable:
Twitch.tv – For now we are streaming our recordings live before editing them and posting the final output on YouTube. So if you want to ask us questions, or discuss stuff live, join us live. We will be announcing our schedule on social media. Links below.
Growing up in the 80s in India was quite the experience. You had just 2 TV channels, would rent VCRs to watch movies on VHS tapes, and absorb every bit of entertainment because there was (relatively) so little of it available. Then satellite TV came, you grew up, and decades later revisited those childhood shows, only to be horrified by how badly some of them have aged. (Ref: the fall of Bill Cosby and Michael Jackson, the infamous Sean Connery ‘It’s okay to hit a woman’ interview, etc.) In this episode, Susheel and Rohan re-live these memories and invite you to re-live yours, too. If you’re a child of the 80s and 90s, this is the ‘walk down memory lane’ you deserve. And if you’re a young millennial, check out what us dinosaurs used to get up to!
[The shows we fondly remember: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Star Wars, Star Trek, Robocop, Crocodile Dundee, GI Joe, Allo Allo, Yes Minister, Mind Your Language, and more.]
We live in an increasingly polarized world where facts and opinions get tangled up with emotions and identity. How do we navigate all this? Should we be fighting for our beliefs? Or is it smarter to just ‘unfriend’ people and move on? In this episode, Susheel and Rohan explore what ‘tolerance’ looks like (or perhaps ‘should’ look like) in the 21st century.
00:00 – A WhatsApp forward about Trump, to start the discussion 03:25 – Does Trump plan ahead? Or has he stumbled into history? 05:40 – How do you handle someone who sees the world differently? 07:45 – Losing friends over political disagreements 12:05 – Facts vs. opinions — Why do CNN & FOX News react so differently to the same facts? 15:50 – Fact-checking is important, but isn’t it hard? Is it realistic to expect people to fact-check everything? 19:28 – Is unfriending someone the best option if they refuse to listen to your point of view? 25:25 – ‘Us’ vs. ‘Them’ and how this kind of thinking divides us 27:45 – Staying civil but ‘agreeing to disagree’ 29:27 – Conspiracy theory: Is America’s 2nd Civil War unfolding? 31:20 – Is ‘protecting your culture’ the same as xenophobia? 33:40 – Liberals and conservatives have a fundamentally different reaction to change 35:45 – [Detour] The ludicrousness of people who believe the Earth is flat 42:20 – Leaving India to get away from intolerance isn’t the answer 45:15 – The unique Indian subculture of the ‘Americanized’ Indian 49:39 – A lesson from the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship): You can get along with people if you have something in common 52:33 – Susheel’s timeless quote: “Do more of the good things, and less of the bad!”
The pandemic is stripping us of many of our coping strategies for stress. We’re in lockdown (so can’t meet our friends for support), we’re getting crazier deadlines (so can never really unwind), and there’s a virus spreading in our community (our lives are potentially in danger). But do we need to be spiralling out of control? In this episode, Susheel and Rohan explore these issues and then invite neuropsychologist Anirudh George to share his take on them. Plus, they explore the role of ‘middle-class privilege’ (https://projecthumanities.asu.edu/content/middle-upper-class-privilege-checklist) in shaping the way we respond to crises.
Introducing Our Guest — Anirudh George
Anirudh George is a neuropsychologist working at the internationally-renowned Christian Medical College (CMC) in Vellore, Tamil Nadu. He finished an undergraduate degree in psychology at St. Xavier’s College (Mumbai), and a postgraduate degree at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS, Bengaluru). He’s passionate about studying the theory of neural networks and enjoys clinical therapy, too. And he joins us halfway through the episode (at 34:21) to offer a psychologist’s perspective on ‘COVID-19 anxiety.’
00:00 — Introduction to the episode.
01:14 — The horror of the migrant crisis (Harsh conditions, no government help) and its effect on Susheel.
03:30 — Reconciling two world views — one where COVID isn’t a big deal, and one where it’s a pandemic!
05:00 — Being stressed but not realizing it.
06:55 — Things that are stressing people out: Keeping your job/getting paid, economy dipping, etc.
08:00 — The importance of calming down, because we can’t control everything.
11:15 — COVID has become politicized. The numbers are larger than what has been recorded.
11:28 — Why COVID numbers are being under-reported: (1) Relatives choose not to record deaths as COVID deaths, (2) Many deaths already go unreported, and relatives don’t get a death certificate.
14:05 — How the news stresses us out. The challenge of being aware of what’s happening but not getting overwhelmed. Going on a social media diet. The wisdom of having someone else update you on key events, to cut out the emotional component of watching the news.
17:07 — The dangers of being constantly stressed out, especially when you don’t know you’re stressed. How to spot that you’re stressed by using friends’ behaviour as a cue.
20:50 — Middle-class privilege & COVID-19: Should you carry on with your life (a luxury the middle-class has)? Or stop and help people in need during this crisis? A case study about Susheel’s friend’s social outreach.
27:42 — Hope in the middle of this crisis: Can we can learn from our experiences? Are we changing for the better?
29:20 — Why working from home isn’t necessarily better than going to the office. IT folk find it more stressful.
32:52 — Susheel’s plans for ‘lockdown’ work over the next few months.
34:21 — Introduction to our guest: Anirudh George (Neuropsychologist) – a.k.a ‘Chandu.’
35:15 — Why Chandu hasn’t been very anxious about COVID-19. The role of his work in helping him cope with the implications of the virus.
39:40 — How to cope: (1) Get in touch with your emotions. It’s a skill you can develop. (2) Recognize that bad things do happen and appreciate the ordinary things in life.
42:15 — A psychologist’s take on ‘middle-class privilege’ and the luxury of social distancing. How do you ‘socially distance’ when you’re stuck in a slum?
42:58 — Stopping your life to help others does have its costs. And by doing something to help, you will have to give up some convenience. These types of small sacrifices are how we can use our ‘middle-class privilege’ to help people who don’t have it.
53:40 — How your work situation can limit or empower you to help people in need.
57:33 — Do privilege and guilt go hand in hand? Should you be ashamed of your opportunities.
1:01:14 — Chandu’s advice (as a psychologist) about coping with COVID-19 stress. The power of taking small steps.
1:06:22 — Reflections on the conversation with Chandu.
The COVID-19 lockdown has us swinging between paralyzing anxiety and a gnawing feeling that we should be ‘doing more’ with our newly gifted time at home. But what exactly are we afraid we’re missing out on? And will we really be happier once we find it?
00:00 – Opening question: How do you make the most of this COVID-19 ‘lockdown’ time?
01:45 – Reason #1 for FOMO: The curious reality that with the lockdown, we suddenly have more time in the same 24-hour day!
3:17 – Self-improvement FOMO: Shouldn’t I be busy making a better ‘version’ of me?
04:22 – Ways of dealing with lockdown stress: Tune out the news, binge-watch shows, immerse yourself in work (Susheel experimented with the voice-over business), etc.
07:46 – How it helps to be able to ‘do’ something when you’re anxious. E.g., Rohan’s father, Dr. Prathap Tharyan immersed himself in studying the COVID-19 phenomenon. (Refer Episode 5 of The Sliding Door Podcast.)
11:22 – Reason #2 for FOMO: When anything is possible via the internet, how do you choose what to do?
12:00 – FOMO and internet gaming: Susheel’s system to not getting addicted to games.
15:57 – Reason #3 for FOMO: With everyone working at home, there’s no ‘lost time’ at work. So, people are being creative with their free time, and you’re constantly reminded of how ‘productive’ they’re being.
17:06 – WhatsApp overload! What to do when you’re being flooded by messages. And how to handle people getting annoyed that you don’t reply to them quickly.
20:10 – Dealing with FOMO, Solution #1:Digital Minimalism — a concept explored by Cal Newport. Main takeaway: Be deliberate about what you do. Try to decide what specifically you want before looking at the options you’re offered.
23:05 – Dealing with FOMO, Solution #2: Let the anxiety ride itself out without acting on it.
24:06 – Introverts don’t have to worry about social FOMO!
30:06 – Conclusion [How to handle lockdown FOMO]: The lockdown is stressful, and that’s okay. Let yourself be confused for a while. Just think of a few goals, break them down into bite-size chunks, and work on them a little bit every day.
Is minimalism just about getting rid of stuff? And if you want to be a minimalist, are you allowed only 1 spoon, 1 bowl and 2 t-shirts? In this episode, we debunk some of these mainstream myths, explore what minimalism could be about instead, and offer some real-world examples of how it can change your life.
00:00 – Introduction: What is the ‘Swedish conundrum’?
00:55 – Why did Sweden not lock down? What has their strategy been? [Refer to PDF 1 below for statistics and data]
14:20 – Why did they think this strategy would work? [Refer to PDF 2 below for statistics and data]
20:00 — Is their strategy working? [Refer to PDF 3 below for statistics and data]
27:55: Summary — the Swedish response isn’t about doing nothing. Instead, they’re making targetted decisions based on the unique characteristics of Swedish society. It’s worth keeping an eye on their success/failure, but we can’t generalize strategies from one country to another.
Then, download Dr. Prathap’s documentation
These are 3 PDFs outlining his argument in detail. You’ll find statistics, graphs, and images to back up each point he makes in the interview.
As a demonstration of what machine learning and AI can be used for in daily life, NVidia has released the beta version of their RTX Voice application. What this app does is truly amazing. It filters out all audio except for human voice that is spoken into a microphone this means that in most cases, it will also filter out background voices. This makes it a boon for people who are in video conferences, video game streamers, webinar hosts, podcasters and more! In fact, this episode of Sliding Doors was recorded with RTX Voice for both Rohan and Susheel. Listen to it and let us know what you think.
The COVID threat is both new and old. The coronavirus and the way it infects is novel, but we’ve seen pandemics before. So, what have we learned from them? And can we distill those lessons into actionable solutions for the COVID challenge? Dr Prathap Tharyan (Adjunct Professor, Clinical Epidemiology Unit, Christian Medical College, Vellore) talks to us about his experiences dealing with the AIDS pandemic in the 80s and the striking parallels to what COVID is doing to us. He discusses the data, the facts, and then his reflections on what we as a community can do — not just to survive, but to thrive.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE EPISODE:
— How Prathap got involved with the AIDS pandemic (03:28)
— Tackling AIDS in the Northeast — heroin kingpins & shampoo-sachet syringes (07:10)
— Parallels between AIDS & COVID-19 — The origins, no treatment, global panic, stigmatization, faulty testing, and more (13:08)
— How Prathap knew COVID would be a big deal — analyzing the data from China (22:14)
— Question: Mainly older people die, so is it okay for young people to go out? (29:48)
–Question: Is COVID here to stay? Is it something we have to just live with? (33:44)
— Lessons we can learn from other countries (38:05)
— Why a lockdown alone isn’t enough (45:32)
— What is a ‘social vaccine’? (48:33)
— How to tackle the psychological impact of social isolation (56:13) — There is hope … if we do one crucial thing (1:07:56)
How do communities form? What keeps them together? And why do they split?
Referencing events discussed in the first episode of the season, Susheel recollects his behind-the-scenes experiences of Parkour’s birth and growth in Chennai. And over the course of the conversation, he captures a basic truth about many young communities: They form without structure and purpose. A bunch of people just get together to do something they love.
𝐇𝐈𝐆𝐇𝐋𝐈𝐆𝐇𝐓𝐒 𝐎𝐅 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐄𝐏𝐈𝐒𝐎𝐃𝐄:
— How do many communities start? Is there a mission and a vision? Or is it spontaneous? [03:36]
— How does a group get its identity? Is it a conscious moulding? Can any one person control it? [18:18]
— Why do communities split? What caused the split with Chennai Parkour? [22:25]
— Is conflict inevitable? And if so, why? [33:06]
— Why Susheel doesn’t see himself as a ‘community builder’ but, rather, a problem solver. [37:24]
𝐂𝐎𝐍𝐍𝐄𝐂𝐓 𝐖𝐈𝐓𝐇 𝐒𝐔𝐒𝐇𝐄𝐄𝐋:
–Follow him at @susheel_c (Twitter) and susheel02 (Instagram) –Consult with him at ColoursAlive.com
𝐂𝐎𝐍𝐍𝐄𝐂𝐓 𝐖𝐈𝐓𝐇 𝐑𝐎𝐇𝐀𝐍:
— Consult with him at rohantharyan.com — Follow him at rohantriesthinking (Instagram)
Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/sliding-doors-podcast/message