Sunday, September 26, 2010

Are Asians congenitally dishonest?

After the recent revelation of “spot-fixing” in the Pakistani cricket team, the question that was being debated on Indian TV channels was this: are we congenitally corrupt?

This is a question that ought to be asked by all Asians. Corruption sweeps across Asia like a disease. Just look at the cases of corruption in India and Pakistan. There are plenty of recent examples: Match-fixing scandals in Indian and Pakistani cricket teams, alleged tax evasion in the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament, bungling in this year’s Delhi Commonwealth Games, alleged corruption in the allocation of 2G spectrums by India’s telecom ministry. Across the border, Pakistan’s Asif Zardari has been known as Mr. Ten Percent. This percentage might have gone up now that he is the President, according to his niece Fatima Bhutto .

With the exception of Singapore, all Asian countries are by and large corrupt. From the top level politicians to low level officials, dishonesty runs deep in our blood. From China to Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines, no country escapes the taint of corruption. Of course, this is borne out by the figures of Transparency International, the global anti-graft body. To get a sense of the spread of corruption, just look at the world map at the Transparency International’s website : as you move from East to West, the deep blue color fades to light blue, indicating less and less perception of corruption in the Western world.

Let us consider some specific figures: Transparency International puts India 84th on its corruption perception index with a 3.4-point rating, out of a best possible score of 10. For a contrast, look at New Zealand. It ranks first with 9.4 points. Singapore is 3rd with 9.2 points. Somalia is last on 1.1 points, which is more or less mirrored by Myanmar (1.4) in Asia. The index for China is 3.6, Malaysia 4.5, Thailand 3.4, Indonesia 2.8 and Philippines and Bangladesh are is 2.4 each.

If the water is too clean, there are no fish

Given their size, the incidence of corruption is more prominent in the case of the two Asian giants, India and China. Almost one-third of Indians are "utterly corrupt" and half are "borderline", said Pratyush Sinha, the former chief of India’s corruption watchdog, Central Vigilance Commission . India’s former Union Law Minister Shanti Bhushan recently told the Supreme Court that at least eight of the 16 chief justices of India (CJIs) were "definitely corrupt". It might sound ludicrous but one of the anecdotal explanations behind India’s ability to survive the 2009 global financial meltdown was that India had plenty of black money. According to one estimate, the Indian black money stashed away in Swiss banks and other accounts may be of the order of US$1.4 trillion.

The news from China is not good either. Corruption is consistently rated the number one concern by Chinese, ahead of pirated goods and pollution . Unlike India, because of its system of governance, there is often no report of corruption at the top of China’s political hierarchy. However, media reports abound in corruption scandals involving China’s government officials and businessmen. China's anti-corruption watchdog has said 106,000 officials were found guilty of corruption in 2009, an increase of 2.5 percent on the year before.

Not just officialdom, corruption also touches the business world of China. A moderate tolerance of corruption is a fact of doing business in China . People who do business there live by the proverb, “If the water is too clean, there are no fish.”

Interestingly, China at least has the image of cracking down on its corrupt businessmen and officials. A BBC report said that the number of government officials caught embezzling more than one million yuan ($146,000) in 2009 jumped by 19 per cent over the year. The government says the increase is due to better supervision of the problem. In September, China has ordered death penalty for food safety crimes (Today, Sep 17, 2010)—a much reported crime that caused deaths of infants and children in the last few years in the country.

In India, corruption is seen as part of ‘bad governance’, or accepted with a creative spin called the jugaad culture. Upright Indians who are against the culture of corruption give examples of China when it comes to dealing with corrupt officials. For instance, the former head of oil giant Sinopec, Chen Tonghai, was sentenced to death last year for taking nearly $30m in bribes. Many Indian commentators on TV demand China-style executions of corrupt Indian leaders and bureaucrats.

Why are we so corrupt?

All this is background. The main question that often gets lost in the discussion is why are we so corrupt whereas we blame the West to be materialistic?

India and China are two of the oldest civilizations in the world. Corruption would have existed in these cultures in one form or another but the levels it has reached now, when these countries are once again part of a historical boom, is alarming. This is a great comedown for a country like India whose official slogan is Satyamev Jayate—truth prevails.

Is it that the sudden economic boom has warped our minds? This can’t be entirely true as there has been a history of corruption and scandals in India, for example, even before the era of economic liberalization. So what explains this explosion of corruption?

“When we were growing up I remember if somebody was corrupt, they were generally looked down upon,” Sinha said about corruption in India. “There was at least some social stigma attached to it. That is gone. So there is greater social acceptance.”

In India today, it is agreed that the love of materialism has ripped apart the moral fibre of the country. Sinha said that in modern India “if somebody has a lot of money, he is respectable. Nobody questions by what means he has got the money.” What Sinha says is it in a way an expression of the Hindu attitude of fatalism, and acceptance of the fact that we are living in Kaliyug, the era of vice?

Similarly, in the older generation of Chinese, there is widespread anger at the ostentatious lifestyle enjoyed by some Communist Party officials, police chiefs and bosses of state-owned companies, according to the BBC’s Quentin Sommerville. Canadian journalist Jan Wong, who studied in China in the 1970s, reports in her book, Chinese Whispers (2009), about the attitude of the present day’s Chinese youth: “Now young people are different. They don’t want to enter the party. They just care about money. In the old days, we had a zhandou mubiao (a battle objective): ‘Serve the people’, ‘Everything for the revolution’. Now there is a spiritual crisis. People have no goal except to get rich.’

No goal except to get rich—that sounds true for the youth of all Asian countries today that have opened their doors to marketisation. But that still does not explain the high incidence of corruption.

The problem can’t be just materialism that has been parachuted in through the forces of globalisation. If it were so, the perception of corruption in the West would be higher too because we have always accused the West to be more materialistic than us.

The explanation, in my opinion, lies in the governance structure and the application of the rule of law. That’s why Singapore, despite being part of Asia, is a shining beacon, an exemplary corruption-free state where a police officer can be jailed for as petty a crime as stealing 70 dollar from a lost wallet (this is not even a case of bribery!) . Singapore is corruption-free and Singaporeans don’t accept corruption because the government is honest and rule of law is applied without discrimination. Also the fact that Singapore’s ministers and civil servants are well paid helps to check their corruptibility.

In the final analysis, I don’t think that Asians are congenitally corrupt. But when they see their top leaders, their civil servants and their society’s rich and famous getting away with loot and murder, they too learn to accept and practice dishonesty in life and business. In Asia, corruption is more of a survival tactic than an ingrained human trait, though if it remains unchecked, it will not only dampen a country’s economic prospects but will also lead to its spiritual suicide.

An edited version of this article appeared in The Daily Star, Dhaka (24 Sep, 2010).

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Reading Orwell in Singapore

Started this new blog today: Reading Orwell in Singapore.

Reading Orwell in Singapore is where I will keep posting my thoughts that will be triggered by reading and re-reading Orwell. A tribute to Orwell, it can also serve to like-minded writers as a manifesto, as a guiding post, as a lighthouse, and remind us how to live and ‘write without hope and without despair’ (that is from Isak Dinesen), and how to write ‘from within the whale’ (Orwell). This is not a political blog (that itself is a political attitude, Orwell will tell you that). If you have any thoughts on it or on Orwell or his works, you are welcome to broadcast them through this blog.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sonya Chung on where she finds her characters

Where do you find your characters? What inspires you to write?

People are so darn interesting and complex and strange; everyone has a story that is layered and mysterious and to some degree incomprehensible. Everyone is damaged and gifted. Everyone is ambivalent about everything. Everyone. So the work for me is not coming up with characters, but paring down and choosing from the crowd in my head. It’s the mystery and complexity that inspire me most -- what does this person’s life or situation mean? How do we make sense of all this weirdness in life? Chekhov is a touchstone for me, in that he didn’t worry too much about plot points; his primary goal was to show/render/reveal a life, a character, a moment -- as honestly as possible. Story, I think, is born from there.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

'Love and Lust in Singapore' launched

The steamy short stories anthology 'Love and Lust in Singapore' was launched yesterday @Earshot Cafe at the Arts House. Out of the three editors, Joseph Hoye could not attend. Caz Goodwin flew down from Australia for the event. So, Caz and Femke Tewari launched the book. More than fifty supporters of the project showed up.

In their intro, the editors said they were extremely happy with the project and the way it turned out from an idea to a book. The proceeds from the sale of the book will go to a local charity.

Dawn Farnham (with Marc Checkley) and Jacyntha England read parts of their stories to great applause.

Not all contributors to the anthology were in town. Damanyanti Ghosh came down from Malaysia. Apart from Dawn and Jacyntha, other writers who participated in the book launch were: Mary Byrns, Linda Collins, Marc Checkley, and myself. Writers were signing autographs on each other's copy of the book--and I found it to be the funniest part of the evening. I am not saying this in a snarky way, seriously.

Next up is a live event--Love and Lust Live!--on September 30, 7.30pm, Substation Theatre. The event will feature live performances by Koh Chieng Mun, Felix Cheong, Marc Checkley and others. This is a ticketed event ($20) which includes a selection of tapas, wine and drinks. Please RSVP if you are keen to attend.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dabangg in Singapore

Dabangg is an illustration of how Bollywood processes the filth, crime and corruption of India’s heartland into celluloid masti, and probably, into a blockbuster.

It is midnight and I am just back after watching Dabangg at Bombay Talkies on Beach Road. Thankfully I had bought my ticket one day in advance, so I did not have to stand in a long queue. The crowd reminded me of Om Shanti Om, and I am sure the movie is going to be as big a hit, if not bigger.

The threatre was houseful and people thoroughly enjoyed the movie: they clapped at Salman Khan’s entry in the film, and were making catcalls and whistling during the songs. I thought the days of Amitabh Bachchan’s magic were back—here was a mass hero in a mass entertainer.

What took Salman so long to recognize his niche? Comedy and action go together in Hindi films (and of course melodrama too, dollops of it) and if Salman had done films like this after Govinda’s exit from cinema to politics, Akshay Kumar wouldn’t have risen to the heights that he has. This is not to say that Akshay does not have his own goofy charisma.

Coming back to the movie, what people enjoyed above all were the dialogues. The dialogues work and even at serious moments they tickle you. However, I would have snipped off the fart jokes as they cheapen the character. Similarly, dancing on a mobile phone ring while fighting the goons looked like a bad idea to me.

Some critics, including Anupama Chopra, have said that the film hardly has a plot. That is a fair complaint but I guess the filmmakers were not bothered about plot. This is a character-driven film, and if people watch it (and there would be a sequel too, it seems), they would watch it for Chulbul Pandey (Salman). The film is out and out on Salman’s beefy shoulders and he has delivered it very well. There are a few moments where he seems a bit out of character but that does not make much of a difference. I am tempted to add one more thing: Salman, with his cockiness, moustache and Ray Bans, reminds me of Marcello Mastroianni (as Ferdinando Cefalù) in Divorce—Italian Style.

Sonakshi Sinha has made an impressive debut and she conveys a lot through her eyes and expressions. Mahie Gill has been underutilized and she remains a sidekick, not a second lead. Arbaz has tried his best—I could sense his sincerity in his role. But the problem is that his part has not been written well. His characterization is uneven (he can fight but he is dimwitted; he is strong but he cowers in front of his step-brother; he has a moral sense but he allows himself to be manipulated). Where is the depth in his character? He could have been like John Malkovich (as Lennie Small)in Of Mice and Men, but of course not that demented (I'm just giving you an idea). Malaika’s item number is so good it seems to come and go in a jiffy. So sad!

Sonu Sood is a good actor and he is in his Yuva avatar. But again his character falls short of the villainy that is required of him to match Salman's over the top herogiri. His character is not good enough a counterfoil to Salman’s—if that was done, the film’s level would have risen.

As for the plot, who cares about it in a masala movie? The public was lapping up Salman. I heard people clap when his body bulges in anger a la Hulk and his shirt flies off his body. The action is pure filmy, South India style. Some (girls/women) might find it a bit too much.

Dabangg is not Kaminey or Omkara but it could have been. For that layered telling you need a Vishal Bhardwaj and a touch of expertise from Hollywood’s script gurus. Dabang is pure UP-bred and has no intellectual pretensions about it. It is shamelessly, and I would say, even boldly, a single screen film. That’s why it works even with a shoddy plot.

A pat on the back of debutant director Abhinav Kashyap who has done a great job in his very first film (If you disagree, try to direct a film and you will know what I mean). The kind of desi stylization that he brings to this small-town movie (Bunti Aur Bubbly was also great fun) is original. Now that is something in Bollywood, isn’t it?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Love and Lust in Singapore book launch

Today I received copies of both Love and Lust in Singapore and Best of Southeast Asian Erotica (Monsoon Books)-- each volume has one of my short stories (A Fraction of a Whore in Love and Lust in Singapore, and Closely Watched Dreams in Best of Southeast Asian Erotica). Both volumes have stories by some well-known regional writers such as Dawn Farnham, Chris Moonis Singh and Felix Cheong. The book is already available at leading bookstores (such as Kinokuniya, as seen in the picture above; editor Femke Tewari at Kino, Orchard Road).

Love and Lust will be launched on Saturday 18 September at Earshot Cafe, The Arts House from 7.30pm. Please RSVP to if you want to attend.

There will be a live event too--Love and Lust Live!--on September 30, 7.30pm, Substation Theatre. The event will feature live performances by Koh Chieng Mun, Felix Cheong, Marc Checkley and others. This is a ticketed event ($20) which includes a selection of tapas, wine and drinks. Please RSVP if you are keen to attend.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Find your agent

Delhi-based writer Abdullah Khan has penned this interesting piece (advice actually), Such a long journey, on the importance of finding a literary agent. He has mentioned me in the piece among more worthy writers such as Anees Salim and Vikas Swarup:

For a beginner, it is very important to understand the basics of ‘How to approach an agent'. “You should know whether a particular agent is right for your kind of work. An agent specialising in young adult fiction or romance will never take on a writer of ‘high-brow' literary fiction, even though it is well written. Further, you should follow the submission guidelines of the agent you are submitting to. For example, if an agent wants a query only at the first instance, sending sample chapters to him or her will certainly not help,” says Zafar Anjum, an author and journalist based in Singapore. He further adds, “An author should submit to an agent only a fully polished work. If there is an iota of doubt in the mind about the readiness of manuscript, I would like to advise him to avail the services of a good manuscript assessment agency. They will not only point out the loopholes in the plot but also take care of structure, grammar and give the manuscript a professional look.”


Sunday, September 05, 2010

Twilight and the young adults

Here is an interesting interview on the impact of Twilight type lit on the brains of Young Adults (How 'Twilight,' other dark fiction affect teen brains):

The trend for darkness and dystopia in children’s literature reflects concerns in the wider, adult world, Nikolajeva said. A hundred years ago, books for kids were dominated with stories about boys having adventures and girls finding husbands; then, from the 1950s to the 1970s, the themes were emerging sexuality and parental conflict.

Inside the teenage brain, synapses are breaking and reforming, and the chemistry keeps changing. Teenagers can’t make decisions in the same way adults can, Nikolajeva said, and she noted that authors, filmmakers and game developers have a moral obligation to make sure that their works contain some positive ethic.

The trend for darkness and dystopia in children’s literature reflects concerns in the wider, adult world, Nikolajeva said. A hundred years ago, books for kids were dominated with stories about boys having adventures and girls finding husbands; then, from the 1950s to the 1970s, the themes were emerging sexuality and parental conflict.

Inside the teenage brain, synapses are breaking and reforming, and the chemistry keeps changing. Teenagers can’t make decisions in the same way adults can, Nikolajeva said, and she noted that authors, filmmakers and game developers have a moral obligation to make sure that their works contain some positive ethic.


Saturday, September 04, 2010

Gandhi's experiments in chastity

From The Independent:

Eighteen-year-old Abha, the wife of Gandhi's grandnephew Kanu Gandhi, rejoined Gandhi's entourage in the run-up to independence in 1947 and by the end of August he was sleeping with both Manu and Abha at the same time.

When he was assassinated in January 1948, it was with Manu and Abha by his side. Despite her having been his constant companion in his last years, family members, tellingly, removed Manu from the scene. Gandhi had written to his son: "I have asked her to write about her sharing the bed with me," but the protectors of his image were eager to eliminate this element of the great leader's life. Devdas, Gandhi's son, accompanied Manu to Delhi station where he took the opportunity of instructing her to keep quiet.

Questioned in the 1970s, Sushila revealingly placed the elevation of this lifestyle to a brahmacharya experiment was a response to criticism of this behaviour. "Later on, when people started asking questions about his physical contact with women – with Manu, with Abha, with me – the idea of brahmacharya experiments was developed ... in the early days, there was no question of calling this a brahmacharya experiment." It seems that Gandhi lived as he wished, and only when challenged did he turn his own preferences into a cosmic system of rewards and benefits. Like many great men, Gandhi made up the rules as he went along.

While it was commonly discussed as damaging his reputation when he was alive, Gandhi's sexual behaviour was ignored for a long time after his death. It is only now that we can piece together information for a rounded picture of Gandhi's excessive self-belief in the power of his own sexuality. Tragically for him, he was already being sidelined by the politicians at the time of independence. The preservation of his vital fluid did not keep India intact, and it was the power-brokers of the Congress Party who negotiated the terms of India's freedom.


Friday, September 03, 2010

From Chandni Chowk to China

I recently met Julia, a young Chinese girl, at a dinner party in Singapore. Julia told me that she had an Indian boyfriend and that she had recently visited Mumbai along with him. She had come back impressed with India’s colors, culture, and cuisine. That was not surprising. But then she told me something that struck me strongly: “We Chinese know so little about India. We are so close to each other as neighbors but we know so little about each other’s culture.”

Quite true, I thought. India and China may be trading partners, but culturally we know next to nothing about each other. I wondered if this gap could be bridged through cinema.

The Days of Awara and Caravan

I asked this question to Pallavi Aiyar, who has spent more than six years in China writing for the Hindu and the Indian Express. She was, at a time, the only Chinese-speaking Indian foreign correspondent based in China. Now based in Belgium, Aiyar has also served as advisor to the Confederation of Indian Industry on China-related issues.

In her book, Smoke and Mirrors: An Experience of China, Aiyar provides an account of her life in China. Before going there, she knew that Raj Kapoor’s films, especially Awara (1951), were well-known in many parts of the world, from Russia to Peru. But she didn’t know that the Chinese too loved that film and people of an older generation still remembered it. When I met her at a literary soiree in Singapore in July, she told me that even now some Chinese people knew “Abala Hoon” (“Awara Hoon,” the film’s title song) by heart.

“Film imports have always been controlled in China,” Aiyar explained. “In those days, Awara was perhaps considered socialist enough to be allowed a release in China.” The film was seen widely from the late 1950s till the late 1970s.

Another film that has stayed fresh in the memory of the Chinese people is the Jeetendra-Asha Parekh starrer, Caravan (1971). According to Aiyar, Caravan was shown in China only in the 1980s, after the end of the Cultural Revolution. People still have VHS copies of the film, she said.

But after Caravan, no Hindi film was released in China in the last century. After a gap of nearly three decades, Aamir Khan’s Lagaan became the first Indian movie to be released in China in 2002. At its release, Joe Zhang, an official from the Columbia Tri Star Film Distributors International said, “Continuing with its international success and now reaching here, Lagaan brings us a great chance to break the wrong idea that ‘good movies are the American ones.’”

Despite these films, the Chinese don’t know much about Indians. According to Aiyar, the Chinese think that India is a very crowded country (which it is) and all Indian women can sing and dance like Bollywood heroines (which they surely can’t)! She told me how she often gets requests from ordinary Chinese people to perform similar dances for them.

Hunger for India’s culture

Clearly, there is a hunger for Indian culture, including its song and dance, among the Chinese people. Perhaps they find Indian classical dance and music closer to their own cultural traditions like Chinese music and opera. Indian yoga is already a big hit in China.

I had a first-hand experience of this hunger for Indian cultural traditions when I used to help out at the India China Trade Centre (ICTC) around 2003-2004. Many musical troupes wanted to go to China and perform there but from the Chinese side, the demand would always be for those groups that could perform Indian classical singing and dancing.

If you turn the equation around, what kind of perception do Indians have of China and the Chinese? The most common perceptions are that China is a socialist country with an authoritarian regime, that China is the factory of the world and that it is way ahead of India in terms of infrastructure. Even the Indian Prime Minister talks about turning a city like Mumbai, not into London or New York or Tokyo, but into Shanghai. “Chinese cities have become sort of benchmarks for us now,” said Aiyar.

To a great extent, the assumptions that Indians have about China are correct, perhaps because of India’s free media and the culture of debate and discussion that prevails in most parts of India. But how much do Indians know about the Chinese people and their culture?

Aiyar sees a difference between how Indians and Westerners see China. For example, when a Westerner arrives in a city like Shanghai or Beijing, he is appalled by the unruly traffic on the road or the behavior of the Chinese drivers. When an Indian arrives, he is all praise for the Chinese drivers and their respect for traffic rules. Obviously, Indians see Chinese citizens as better behaved than Western visitors do. Aiyar herself finds much to admire in China, like the fact that low level workers in China, unlike their Indian counterparts, at least get to wear gloves while carrying out menial tasks such as carrying refuse or cleaning toilets. “That glove, a barrier between the dirt and the worker’s body, provides him with a modicum of dignity,” she says.

In terms of cinema, perhaps a section of Indians might be familiar with Chinese stars such as Jackie Chan and Chow Yun-Fat because of their action thrillers such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but beyond that, Indians know very little either of Chinese cinema or its other arts. Clearly, there is a great wall of cultural ignorance between the two countries.

When a film like Chandni Chowk to China (2009), Warner Brothers’ first Bollywood film, tried to cross over this great wall, it fell flat at the box office. So what is the way forward?

Slumdog Millionaire replaces Awara

Unfortunately, the current generation of Chinese youth is not interested in Indian films unlike the older generations. According to Aiyar, the young dig international cinema (particularly Hollywood and Korean films) and they approach Bollywood as exotica, as most in the West would do. The current generation of Chinese youth knows India more by Slumdog Millionaire than by Awara. In a situation like this, there clearly is a case for the Indian and Chinese governments to encourage each other’s films in their respective markets in a mood of cooperation and friendship.
Take the example of Singapore and China. In July 2010, the two countries signed nine agreements paving the way for industry collaborations ranging from financing, pre-production, production to distribution and marketing.

When a small country like Singapore can take steps in this direction, why can’t India?

And it’s not just the governments that ought to do something, although Indian ministers do have a duty to do more than just tweet or appear on TV. Trade bodies like the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the ICTC can also pitch in and bring the film companies together to co-produce or get TV channels to share some television content. For the two countries to come closer, the youth of both countries have to become aware of each other’s cultures. One way to do this is through the exchange of students and cultural groups between the two countries on a large scale, to facilitate more interaction.

China maybe the factory of the world but India has a vibrant cultural scene, and for once, at least, China can be a net importer rather than an exporter in this arena. Knowing about each other will help India and China in the long run. If familiarity breeds contempt, ignorance breeds suspicion. In the case of India and China, I think a healthy contempt is better than layers of dangerous suspicion and mistrust.

This article was published in September 2010 issue of Khabar, Atlanta.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Maintaining your confidence

Here is some great advice for writers (I guess for all types of writers) who have confidence issues (HOW SUCCESSFUL WRITERS KEEP UP THEIR CONFIDENCE):

Self-confidence is the single most essential ingredient an author needs to succeed, since good writing is never that quick or easy. To keep at it requires energy, discipline, and a sense of humor.

The most accomplished and productive writers I work with are able to sustain a level of assurance and optimism. And that's even when they're feeling blocked, burned out, and unappreciated.

It's admirable and a little amazing they're able to do this, since there's so much hard work and delayed gratification in writing a book.

I've worn two hats in my professional life - as an acquisitions and development editor and also as a licensed therapist specializing in crisis intervention. This has given me a useful perspective on what helps writers sustain their confidence during the often grueling marathon of producing a good book.

There are no universal cookie-cutter techniques writers can use to keep up their hopes and dreams. Each writer is unique, with an individual temperament, culture, and developmental process. But here are some general suggestions all writers can consider to help soldier through periods of doubt.

Stay connected

Withdrawal and isolation can be debilitating and reduce creative energy. Writers can work with other people doing research, brainstorming plot ideas, and building characters, but ultimately writing is a solitary occupation, with hours alone facing that blank screen or that big empty pad.

Consequently a conscious effort to reach out is the only way to prevent isolation and loneliness. Maintain contact with other people, loved ones, family, friends, and colleagues. You don't have to ask for help, just engage as much as possible in regular human relationships. Look for people who can make you laugh out loud. Get out of your head, get out of the house, go and talk to another person. You don't have to be alone. Repeat: you are not alone.