This is my journal of very, very imminent mortality.

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Mon 01.28.19

So I’ve decided that I have 6 months to live – not in any suicidal way or anything. I just want to live my life as if I have 6 months to live and so have decided that it’s the case. I’m actively trying to put myself in a mental state of assuming that come July 28, 2019, my physical form is kaput. I had a scary physical and physiological feeling a few days back that genuinely made me wonder if the next phase is nigh, or maybe the feeling was just trying to figure out this primal feeling of awe and raw emotion when thinking of one’s death, or maybe it was just really bad gas.

I’m still as fit as a goddamn commando in his prime, have been training for at least a half hour average every day for the last two years at least (try it, it’s no mean feat). But yet… I have this nagging feeling that death is just always around the corner is ever present, that I’m on borrowed time, weirdly enough when my life has never been more filled with love and fulfillment than it is now. I don’t want to do the doctor thing…would rather nature take its course with me doing whatever I can to leave behind a good looking corpse. Indeed this post is scheduled to come out midnight 6 months from today. And it will essentially be a journal of imminent mortality. There’s a high probability I’m alive to witness it’s publication and perhaps renew this experiment until I get it eventually right (which I will, of course.)

But who knows? There’s a small fear that it actually might be the case, give or take – just cos the more love and happiness I receive in my life, the shorter I fear it might be…so this is actually a very serious, somewhat scary experiment to just meet that fear head on.

Plus, you know, I’ve decided:

Imma live the way I live and Imma die the way I die…

I need to get over my fear of death and live in the present you see. But it’s hard for me to live figuratively in the present without some grounded timeline. Nothing brings the present roaring to life like the reality of a season or two left to live.

First things first – gotta ensure that my loved ones will be ok without me and, more importantly, without the labor I contribute to the upkeep of our household and sustenance.

That is all important.

Safety net for family in place. Check.

To the best of my abilities. Check.

Doing the best I can. Check. (I think?)

Grateful. Check. Definitely a big fucking check.

Daily Trifecta – workout, massage for Sus, and at least three domestic chores. Check. The third “chore” was ordering pizza for dinner, but my completely secure self is claiming it… I made sure to order salads as well.

Whatever.

Some kind of legacy in place. Meh, check I guess, but you kinda gotta look hard for it. And hopefully you’ll consider being a failed activist an honorable legacy.

Leaving the world a slightly better place than when I came in. Dang… check I hope. But who the fuck knows?

Oh well, time to sleep the sleep of the innocent, the slumber of they who hath a peaceful heart, perchance to dream such dreams of joy…as only a restless insomniac can.

Kaliamman Vazhgai.

Tue 01.29.19

Still alive and kicking. Though the extra pizza I ate late last night might just make this a 3 month thing.

Anyhoo…been mulling about making the best of these last 6 months of mine and have decided that taking care of business at home, daily warrior clown training, and satirical writing while dicking around with a doable bucket list before kicking said bucket.

I have set up a timetable of satire and revolution till my impending demise entitled Warrior Clown’s Open Mic “Journal of Imminent Demise” Wannabe Comedian and Failed Activist Tour – with tbe optimistic goal of a public comment at every Minneapolis Board of Education meeting till my demise…no idea what’ll happen, but we’re gonna find out.

Otherwise family and community chugging along, love, chaos and all.

Wed 01.29.19

It’s incumbent upon any honest soul to get a grip on one’s poisons & medicines…

Thur 01.30.19

…and when on sabbatical from the green goddess, at the very least get the trifecta out of the way.

Always do what is needed to take care of business.

Sat 02.09.19

I feel the need to be grateful. A cursory glance at the above dates in this journal of imminent demise will display a a yawning gap between the last entry and this.

Well, that is in part because I can safely confirm my first paid writing gig, which consumed my flow for a bit, rendering me unavailable for personal journaling. The job’s freelance and it doesn’t seem to be the greatest pay, but hell, it’s good enough for me. I get to write for a youthful audience about important stuff and call myself a legit Academic Journalist (my official title, which should mean dick to everyone except me).

Plus, I get to work out of my favorite place on earth – my home. I get to be with the souls I love, and carve out alone time in my own sweet little corners of the house so I can get the fuck away from them (i.e. get high and pretend to work or exercise).

I’ve decided that I’m gonna work for as long as possible before moving on to whatever the universe has in store for me – which, you know, will definitely include death but I don’t know why I need to get all morbid in a journal of imminent demise.

I’ll keep the subbing thing going (but now increasingly from a failed activist perspective – by maintaining my subbing license and presenting my research that no one will hear during the public comments section of the monthly board meetings).

It’s a pain in the ass to wake up so goddamn early in the morning every weekday, but I think it keeps me honest and I’ve decided that I’ve earned this delectable variety and choice I am setting up for myself in terms of labor sold for financial sustenance.

Maybe another part-time remote gig too. For a non-profit or something. Make me feel all good about myself and shit.

Plus I always have my strong, fit body that houses a humble ego quivering with unrequited pride, just waiting to go into beast mode in the general labor category during the non-winter months.

But all that is taking care of business only as long as I’m alive.

I’m glad to say that business has been taken care of even in the event of my imminent demise.

Through love.

The love between a man, his chosen brothers and his chosen sisters. Through promises interred spiritually. Sacred oaths to stand tall for one another’s loved ones. Blood bonds sans blood ties.

Chosen siblings.

They will protect my family. My true brothers and sisters will protect my family.

Sus and Daya (not to mention Molly and Faiz and that cranky-ass Marley) are loved, will be loved, and will always have my peeps standing tall for them.

Should the reaper visit early to take me, I will tell him to do his worst. Hell, I’m feeling so grateful and fearless right now, I’ll smoke up with the bastard before he takes me with him on that final journey.

That makes me smile deep inside.

Sun 02.10.19

Writing is going well. Getting into that flow state rather easily and regularly now (green goddess is always there for me yo).

Training is keeping up too. I love taking care of business via the remote life and the freelance life.

Now if only I could do something about the daily ciggie or three I’m kinda feeling loathe to let go, this journal of imminent demise might just be all that.

I need to get into permanent fight camp…

Fri 03.08.19

The clock is always winding down. Love is the only way. Tending to the noble daily grind for our loved ones is indeed the glorious blessing that is this life. To nurture is to live. Anything else is always in danger of being corrupted by toxic patriarchy.

Bhoomi’s Grove – honoring all human and non-human souls, nurturing our community and the land, developing inter-generational resiliency to trauma while eliminating oppression – that is the way forward.

Radheyamman Vazhgai

Susie Q Vazhgai

Daya Shakti Vazhgai

All hail Faiz and Molly (and I guess Marley too)

Sun 03.31.19

There are some souls, like Vaddu and Rumi, who are too special to stay imprisoned by the limitations of this life.

I hope I live a life that honors their glory and love.

I can’t wait to hang out with them again…

But that can wait.

Mon 04.01.19

The green goddess is a great healer. I am indeed grateful for this most glorious of plants. She helps me workout every day and gets my creative juices flowing. She calms my restless mind so I can keep my head in the game and uphold my duties to love and life. She lifts my soul, connecting my quantum being to alternate timelines and universes.

The trick is to always be mindful in honoring her glory while preventing stoner regressions.

Fri 04.05.19

Finding meaning and fulfillment the more I seek it in the most obvious places of gut and soul.

Dancing with my demons while trying to make ’em dance for love and liberation.

And I keep finding long term purpose and short term goals to keep training every goddamn day. (I guess I just like them unhealthy carbs too much…)

As always…Susie Q Vazhgai

Wed. 04.24.19

I think, therefore a substitute teacher.

Now I need to just get the poisons under control before my imminent demise.

I’ve had many close calls.

But Imma keep on walking for love…

For great evil can only be destroyed with great love.

Wed. 05.15.19

And with great love comes great responsibility and even greater truth.

Sun. 05.26.19

I just realized something I’ve known deep down in my membrane for quite a while – we got a strong, stable mama bear on our side.

And she makes me fear nothing but fear itself.

Wed. 05.29.19

Why be anxious about death when love is forever?

Why be anxious at all when we have goddesses?

Kaliamman Vazhgai

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A punchers chance is a lot more than you think (and other rambling thoughts on UFC 239 and MMA strikers)

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Imagine for a second that you are arguably the greatest MMA fighter to have ever been born (at least according to an MMA fan base and media community that tends to be more concerned with consuming the sport rather than learning the art). You’ve been convinced that you pioneered creative ground and pound – that most quintessential component of MMA striking, beyond the obvious standup craziness.

Imagine, if you can, that you are about to go up against a man, with admittedly shorter reach and height than your freakish genetic gifts, but nonetheless a man who seems to have power and fearlessness in equal measure when fighting in a cage. Plus he’s actually seen violence and pain in his life that you couldn’t even imagine. It’s a dangerous fight against a dangerous striker – albeit a fight in which you’re the overwhelming favorite – but a dangerous fight against a dangerous striker nonetheless.

Now imagine you are warming up for your title defense in the locker rooms fitted with large screens broadcasting the fights before your main event. Like all fighters, you’re warming up and getting rid of butterflies (or flying them in formation? Is that what it is?)…all while watching colleagues duke it out on live TV.

You’re probably hitting mitts or whatever, maybe shadow boxing to stay loose and warm. Coaches and cornermen trying to figure out what they think is the physical and mental zone you need to be in. The “people’s main event” is about to start. Then there’s the co-main where you’re good buddy and durable former champion is likely to take the defending women’s bantamweight queen through a five-round war.

You’ve likely got plenty of time, you tell yourself.

All of a sudden, a street-fighting genius nicknamed “Gamebred” decides to dial his adrenalin to somewhere between Madman and Rabid before imposing a vicious flying knee upon one of the greatest MMA wrestlers of all-time (and silver-tongued betting favorite for their fight to boot)…to end up with what?

A 5 fucking second KO victory.

The shortest in the UFC’s short, megalomaniacal, over-compensating history with profit and bloodlust at its core.

A victory that halted the breath and dropped the jaw of every fight fan watching. And that’s not even being hyperbolic or anything.

A sprinting, blasting flying knee as a trash-talking, undefeated, scholastic scholar-wrestler telegraphed a takedown attempt one second into his fight.

Forget the roaring crowds or the scarcely believable shock.

Why the fuck would you care?

You’re fighting far sooner than you thought for starters.

Gotta get your head back in the game after that shock knockout. Still plenty of time before they get Holly out for her fight. And there’s no way that ends in the first round. Amanda might still eke out a decision win, but she’s a boxer right? She’s not yet got that full blown, 8-limb, scrambling, parrying, moving, MMA striking that I have? Amirite?

But now at the back of your head is that flying knee and the knowledge that the only thing standing between you and the proper build up you probably envisioned is your training partner whose challenging the greatest female MMA fighter of all time for one of her titles.

Freeze this speculative moment and think about this now.

And really it’s only those who have been punched, kicked, elbowed, or kneed in the face at some point in time in their lives who might be able to contemplate this question in its entirety.

How hesitant are you going to be about shooting for a takedown?

Against a beast of a man with mad striking power and zero fucks given for your legacy?

When the elite-level-wrestling, betting favorite two fights prior to yours gets knocked the FUCK out by an instinctively brilliant, concussion-inducing move probably only possible in this glorious sport that you see yourself reigning over – childish lion emojis and everything?

Not to mention the fact that, holy shit, the greatest female fighter of all time just knocked your gym mate out with yet another blitz, in the first round, while you’re still warming up?

Only this time with a mad kicking game added to her boxing arsenal?

You gotta hurry up and fight.

You’re likely gonna take the safe way out and try to eke out a decision in a standup battle of wits.

(Probably banking on your history and aura a bit too much for it to be deemed truly honorable).

***end speculative imagination***

MMA striking is different than traditional boxing, kickboxing, TKD, Kyokushin Karate, or Muay Thai…though Muay Thai may come closest to providing a great striking skillset for MMA. I also think some fringe Southeast Asian sports akin to Lethwei or Muay Boran might be even better for MMA than the killer sport that is Muay Thai.

But no matter what we compare it to, and no matter how much coaches and pundits who have deep backgrounds in other striking sports might say that their chosen striking sport is the best, the fact is that MMA striking is in a league and specialty of its own, just like all other striking sports are as well.

MMA is its own fucking combat sport.

In my previous post where I gazed into the crystal ball to predict fights, I said this about MMA striking (minus the italics and bolding)…

“Usually when great MMA strikers are matched against great MMA grapplers, the grapplers have simpler paths to victory, based on grinding your opponent down to the point of tiredness and then getting a submission, TKO, or decision victory (Askren of course incorporates a lot more scrambling than just muscular grinding). Strikers on the other hand usually emerge victorious when they can match volume and power with great defensive wrestling, a slightly more complicated skill combination to master. Grappling cardio also holds up better than striking cardio in the later rounds. In the early years of MMA as a sport, the grapplers ran roughshod through the strikers for this main reason. Over the last decade or so however, one can see the tables turning. That skill combination I mentioned above is now integrated early on into training because people are starting to train from the get-go in MMA (which ultimately at its core, is a striking sport with some grappling, as opposed to the other way around – something grapplers in the early years tried). Indeed, I’d say we’re entering a new era of MMA strikers dominating the sport.”

That was from the heart, especially the last sentence. I still thought the grappling gas tank was going to beat the mercurial striker.  I actually really like both Masvidal and Askren. But from a fighting standpoint, I still thought the grappling gas tank was going to beat the mercurial striking artiste. The simplicity of the grappling path to victory held sway in the early years, and this weighted history to the sport affected my prediction. As the sport has evolved, creative MMA striking is now beginning to hold sway. (There’s a reason why I think Tony beats Khabib more often than not.)

Now, I came up 1-2 with my predictions for the three big fights of UFC 239. I predicted Santos, Nunes, and Askren to come out on top over Jones, Holm, and Masvidal. I was going with the betting favorites in Nunes and Askren, while hoping against hope with Santos. In the end, Jones eked out a very lucky split decision win against a fearless, one-kneed Santos – a decision I obviously disagree with; Nunes out-struck Holm to take a scintillating first round victory while retaining her bantamweight belt;

And of course, “Funky” got obliterated in the ultimate, awe-inducing, flash KO by “Gamebred”.

I’m still glad my prediction for that fight went so awry.

Like I said, my heart went with the striker but my head went with the grappler.

But I’m glad that my head needs to catch up with my heart this one time rather than it always being the other way round.

You see, like so many other athletes who possessed average physical gifts but nonetheless competed hard when they got the chance, I’ve only ever stood a puncher’s chance.

In MMA (and perhaps life) I now understand that’s a lot more than one might think.

Combat sports in a collapsing world (and UFC 239 predictions)

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The allure is strong and yet not without intense self-reflection, even self-flagellation.

Combat sports is my escape in a collapsing world.

A world I have come to peace with because I have no choice but to do so. A world that somehow has contrived to provide a lucky bum like me a life of love, adventure, and realization. A world full of scary and glorious unknowns.

With that little intro, let’s dive into UFC 239’s crackerjack main card, while I dust off my crystal ball.

(Hey, way back in May 2016 I predicted that the comb-over rapist would occupy the White House. Now that’s one helluva start to my crystal ball gazing. Admittedly, my fight predictions haven’t been as on point. I lost my “zero” solely because of a sociopathic man-child who also happens to be the greatest light heavyweight mixed martial artist of all time…more on that soon.)

So, the UFC 239 main card takes place in a few hours today, Saturday, July 6th, 9pm central. I’m only doing three big fights of the main card because I have some sense of all the fighters and have seen a few fights of each – in addition to their styles, strengths etc.

Let’s start with the main event, Jon “Bones” Jones (the aforementioned man-child and fighting savant) versus Thiago “Marreta” Santos (whose nickname means hammer…he even has a sledge variation of the same tattooed on his torso). Jones is a -600 betting favorite, which for the gambling-uninformed means he is MASSIVELY favored to win this fight. Jones is the reason for my sole loss in the crystal ball gazing, back when I predicted Gustaffson to defeat him in UFC 232 in Jones’ title defense.

Well, I’m risking another loss by going with Santos. I don’t know. It’s just a feeling, most likely just hope. In addition, I almost always want the underdog to win. Mind you, he’s only got the proverbial puncher’s chance, which really should be changed to “striker’s chance” in MMA but what a chance he is giving himself. Brawling power with absolute fearlessness in the cage. And from what I can tell, he seems to be a really caring, honorable guy who gives back to his community without the usual fanfare. I like good human beings winning nice things for themselves and their people. Vamos Marreta, fight your fight and wrench hope from the bowels of darkness…

***Santos by TKO (and NEW UFC Light Heavyweight Champion)***

The co-main event is for the women’s bantamweight title with my favorite female fighter, the awe-inspiring, two-weight champion, Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes (the greatest female MMA fighter of all time in case you were wondering) versus another all-time great, former bantamweight champion, Holly “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holm. This will be a stand up, striking battle unless one is getting thoroughly outclassed in a round and shoots for a takedown in order to survive. I think Holm will bring the fight to Nunes and it will go the distance, but I think Nunes will take a solid decision. Holm has phenomenal striking no doubt, great boxing and muay thai, with decent movement, but Nunes has two exquisite weapons that any striker dreams of having in tandem – sniper accuracy with serious power. She stalks, throws accurate bombs without going crazy, and then when she’s hurt her opponent, she has one of the greatest blitzes in the game. Her first round TKO of Cyborg, where she came in as a betting underdog only to became the first female two-weight champion, was a knockout artiste’s dream. The scary thing is that I think she still has a while to go before she hits her peak. Imagine a killer submission game along with powerful leg kicks added to her arsenal. She can keep those two belts a while and very soon, seriously lay claim to being the greatest MMA fighter ever. Even if Holm pulls off the upset (which would put her easily in the top two or three greatest female fighters of all time), Nunes still has the featherweight title, not to mention an automatic rematch for the bantamweight crown. She is in a rare position to stake a claim and continue her path to all-time greatness without losing too much of a step, even if she loses this fight. But I don’t think that’s gonna happen…

***Nunes by unanimous decision (and STILL UFC Bantamweight Champion)***

Prior to the two title bouts, is the apparent “people’s main event” (so dubbed because mindless social media traffic constitutes “people”). Nonetheless it’s a mouth-watering affair and I’ll admit that this is the fight I’m most looking forward to in the card. A welterweight fight and a possible shot at the belt up for grabs, with “Funky” Ben Askren and his scrambling-heavy, elite-level wrestling style taking on “Gamebred” Jorge Masvidal’s street-fighting background and excellent, technical boxing skills. Both of these guys are colorful characters to say the least, but in very, very different ways. Suburban scholastic meets urban rough and tumble with all the internecine frictions. Masvidal needs to keep the fight standing while Askren will do everything he can to get the takedown and a submission or TKO. In the cage I love the strikers in stylistic matchups, but that’s only because I came into martial arts via striking sports like boxing and kickboxing and NOT because I think the grappling arts are any less effective (though they can be boring as fuck at times).

Usually when great MMA strikers are matched against great MMA grapplers, the grapplers have simpler paths to victory, based on grinding your opponent down to the point of tiredness and then getting a submission, TKO, or decision victory (Askren of course incorporates a lot more scrambling than just muscular grinding). Strikers on the other hand usually emerge victorious when they can match volume and power with great defensive wrestling, a slightly more complicated skill combination to master. Grappling cardio also holds up better than striking cardio in the later rounds. In the early years of MMA as a sport, the grapplers ran roughshod through the strikers for this main reason. Over the last decade or so however, one can see the tables turning. That skill combination I mentioned above is now integrated early on into training because people are starting to train from the get-go in MMA (which ultimately at its core, is a striking sport with some grappling, as opposed to the other way around – something grapplers in the early years tried). Indeed, I’d say we’re entering a new era of MMA strikers dominating the sport.

Having said that, I’m leaning towards the grappler here. I think Masvidal has great technical striking and defensive wrestling, but is not as powerful as many of the other welterweights around. He also likes brawling occasionally, which plays right into Askren’s game. From what I’ve seen in past fights, Askren can take a hit and keep coming. He is also a takedown artiste. I think Gamebred will catch Funky with some shots, enough to make this a serious fight and maybe even prove me wrong, but I think ultimately Askren gets the takedown and a submission win.

***Askren by submission (with a shot at the welterweight title as reward, or, wait for this – a shot at the inaugural title for the spanking new 165 pound division!)***

MMA is a sport where adult human beings, usually with families and responsibilities, get into a cage to beat each other up under controlled circumstances for performative glory and apparent reward.

I can appreciate that because I understand the fear and pain of getting hit.

But I also know I’m finding ways to rationalize my escape…

I’m retired (from all boss work) at the age of 39 – here is what I’ve “achieved” and what I’m looking forward to…

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First off, what I’m looking forward to…

Spending as much time as possible with loved ones, human and non-human.

Spending as much time as possible working on family and community-building projects that have intrinsic meaning and universal purpose devoid of fiat currency exchange or capitalist market value pressures.

Spending as much time as possible enjoying life, working out, eating good food, drinking nice libations, doing interesting shit, learning new skills, making new friends, and of course finding spiritual nourishment from a myriad herbal products.

We’re at a financially stable enough place with strong enough community ties and good enough investments where I’ll only be working very part-time, one-off and likely one-day gigs as and when needed, mostly to stay sharp in the immediate labor market while constantly learning new, interesting skills. And primarily through community contacts and neighborhood networks, which usually make them much more enjoyable. I’ve also found one-off gigs really satiate my need for constant mental stimulation and are almost always interesting enough to make the day go by fast without having to worry about any douchey co-worker the next day.

But absolutely no more boss work whether that boss be a person or an institution.

From now on I only ever will work with people for fair wage or barter (including just for the lulz from time to time), but never ever for anybody.

And I will only work gigs that I can give a middle finger to at any point in time if the person I’m working with ends up being an asshole. Even if that person is someone I will buy a beer for afterwards to make up.

I’m really loving this retirement shit. It is quite liberating. I am feeling rather liberated in the midst of all this love and struggle.

As a little celebratory blog post and just for egomaniacal kicks, I thought I’d upload my highly embellished, constantly updated CV, not to mention the last iteration I will ever use (slightly modified and formatted for the post) as I don’t ever plan on applying for a “job” again.

Goodbye professional career, fare thee well and thanks for all the dark comedy.

Shree Varuna aka Sriram Ananthanarayanan aka Sri Ananth aka Warrior Clown

Email: forthematriarchy@gmail.com

Blog: https://loveliberationstruggle.wordpress.com

PROFILE

  • Status: US Permanent Resident (Green Card); Citizen of Canada; Overseas Citizen of India. Hold Canadian and Indian Passports.
  • Language/Communication Skills: English (native), Tamil (fluent), Hindi (fluent), Urdu (good), and Kannada (average).
  • Teaching/Education Skills: workshops (design and implementation), sessionals, online lectures and presentations, remote workshops, curriculum development, popular education, street theatre, discussion groups, and mass communication (utilizing newsletters, flyers, pamphlets, handouts etc.).
  • Computer/Publishing Skills:
  1. Microsoft Office (Word/Excel/PowerPoint) and various Adobe products (Publisher/Photoshop);
  2. WordPress and Blogger site construction, maintenance and management (including flexible usage of multiple templates, graphics, textual styles and design styles, mostly focusing on minimalism and simplicity);
  3. E-book and paperback POD publishing skills (Createspace, Smashwords etc.), including pdf/epub/mobi creation, book-blogs, and websites;
  4. Blog creation, maintenance, content generation, and taxonomy for informational/cultural sites; SEO best practices and blog promotion experience.
  5. Film/video editing software, documentary film-making, and camera work experience, especially for simple 5-10 minute YouTube videos and vlogs.
  6. Podcasting experience – via sites like Blog Talk Radio and with recording software.
  • Writing Skills: nonfiction essay/article, narrative journalism, reportage, fictional autobiography, research papers, position papers, creative nonfiction, and speculative fiction. (Publications below)
  • Editing Skills: Content editing and copyediting experience in multiple formats/media.
  • Committed to liberatory social change with anti-oppression principles, especially in my primary life endeavor as a parent and nurturer. Committed to peace, nonviolence, self-improvement, social justice, mindful self-reflection, and striving to live in harmony with the earth and all non-human souls.

 

EDUCATION + COLLEGE MEMBERSHIP

Degrees:

  • May 2004 – Masters in Public Health & Human Geography, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA.
  • Nov 2001 – Bachelors Degree in Engineering, Bangalore University, Bangalore, India.

Post-Graduate Studies:

  • Sept 2008 to May 2011 – Teaching Fellow at the Department of Geography, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, MN, USA. ABD thesis papers published in two different peer-reviewed journals.
  • Courses completed include graduate level courses in Human Geography, Political and Economic Geography, Feminist Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Research Methods, Research & Development, Urban Planning, Political Science, Cultural Studies, Subaltern History, and Sociology.

Completed Certifications:

  • Nov 2016 – Sexual Assault Advocacy Training, Sexual Violence Center, Minneapolis, MN.
  • Dec 2015 – Refugee Mental Health, CAMH, Toronto, ON.
  • May 2015 – Crisis Intervention & De-Escalation, Parkdale Community Health Centre, Toronto, ON.
  • Dec 2014 – First Aid & CPR, Parkdale Community Health Centre, Toronto, ON.
  • Nov 2014 – Techniques in Anxiety & Depression Management, Leading Edge Seminars, Toronto, ON.
  • Sept 2014 – New Approaches to Treating Traumatic Memory, Leading Edge Seminars, Toronto, ON.
  • April 2014 – Professional Practice and Jurisprudence in Psychotherapy, College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario, Toronto, ON.
  • March 2014 – Post Partum Depression and Healing, Parkdale Community Health Centre, Toronto, ON.
  • Feb 2013 – Addressing Violence and Aggressive Behaviour in Primary Care Settings, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, ON.
  • May 2013 – Trauma-Informed Counselling and Therapy for Front-Line Workers, The Hincks Dellcrest Centre, Gail Appel Institute, Toronto, ON.
  • Nov 2013 – CBT Treatment of Anxiety and Depression, Leading Edge Seminars, Toronto, ON.
  • Nov 2013 – Mindfulness and Affect Regulation Approaches to Trauma Therapy, Leading Edge Seminars, Toronto, ON.
  • Past Certifications: Understanding and Managing Aggressive Behaviour (UMAB), HIV & Substance Use Training, Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Fitness, Health & Nutrition, and De-Escalation Techniques.

Past professional college membership:

  • College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) in Toronto – Passed membership requirements via the grand-parenting route established by the Transitional Council of the CRPO.

 

WORK EXPERIENCE (HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND SOCIAL SERVICES)

Mar 2016 – present

Parent, Freelance Writer, Teacher, and Labor Artiste

  • Ever since our daughter, Daya, was born in March 2016, co-parenting with my partner Susanne has been my full-time life occupation. We made a conscious decision that I would make a shift in my career for a period of time to more flexible income-generating labor, like freelance writing, consulting, and substitute teaching, in order to share the parenting load while simultaneously cutting costs in our lives so we could live simpler, more intentionally caring lives with time for each other.
  • Past consultancy/writing projects have included advocacy trainings and violence prevention workshops. I also worked for 6 months with the Sexual Violence Center, where I completed and later conducted the 40-hour state-mandated Sexual Assault Advocacy training.
  • For a brief while I worked part-time as a freelance journalist for The College Daily
  • For nearly two years during this period, I worked as a Reserve Teacher for Minneapolis Public Schools, which was wonderful due to the flexibility of the position. I was able to uphold parenting responsibilities while generating income in a position that still gave back to society in many ways. But I eventually decided to stop and indeed retire completely from professional work following this position. I saw too much structural oppression going on in the public school system with nary a way of doing anything to dismantle, which was rather depressing eventually.
  • While a sub with MPS, I enjoyed working different full-time jobs that required physical exertion during the summer months when the schools are closed, including stone masonry, carpentry, construction, demolition, landscaping, and more. I like working out so try my hardest to incorporate it into work that helps me develop interesting skills while going into beast mode.

Dec 2012 – Dec 2016

Counsellor/Therapist (Parkdale Community Health Centre, Toronto,ON)

  • Full-time. I provided trauma-informed therapy and healing support for clients dealing with numerous deep-rooted life struggles, including PTSD, Complex PTSD, anxiety, and depression. This included several clients dealing with severe childhood trauma. I was also the only man in our counselling team, which meant that I had a case load of about 80-90 clients, mostly men, 45-50 of whom had severe, complex trauma that brought with it accompanying struggles with violence and substance use.
  • Utilized a variety of therapeutic methods such as modified CBT, motivational counseling, general support, providing structures for daily living and life/health-management, helping to develop healthier coping mechanisms, and assistance in building stronger, healthier relationships. Strived to incorporate anti-oppressive principles and self-reflection that often ran counter to the prevailing frameworks of care.
  • Pursued a holistic method of providing care and support, with the aim of long-term health, healing, and happiness.
  • Utilized an anti-oppression and harm-reduction approach in providing advocacy and referrals to support clients in dealing with institutional marginalization, homelessness, poverty, racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, and systemic abuse.
  • Ran low-intensity groups for people dealing with many of the above issues.
  • Conducted community outreach and popular education events in the area.
  • Developed partnerships with sister agencies and ran joint programs for marginalized groups in the community.
  • From March 2016 to Dec 2016, I was on full-time, paid parental leave. Yeah, the benefits with this job were phenomenal (plus, Canada).

Sept 2011 – Dec 2012

Community Health Worker (LOFT Community Services, Toronto, ON)

  • Full-time. Provided trauma-informed counselling and case management for clients in McEwan Housing and Support Services (Community Mental Health Program).
  • Engaged in community support and legal/social advocacy for marginalized, homeless people living with HIV/AIDS, and requiring support surrounding housing, physical/mental health, legal issues, fiscal management, and employment support.
  • Low-intensity counselling for clients dealing with PTSD, Complex PTSD, anxiety, and depression.
  • Advocacy for clients with government bodies like border services, immigration the police and court system, as well as state social agencies like disability support, city housing, public guardians etc.

June 2011 – Sept 2011

South Asian Community Development Worker (Parkdale Community Health Centre, Toronto, ON)

  • Part-time (14 hours per week, 4-month contract). Community-development, outreach/education, and advocacy on issues surrounding gender rights, LGBTQ+ rights, health access, food access, and immigration.
  • Ran an advocacy group for marginalized South Asians in addition to developing new support groups for newcomers, youth and the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Networking with religious institutions, community-organizations, and direct service programs in order to conduct presentations/workshops that address the above issues.

Sept 2008 – May 2011

Lecturer and Teaching Fellow (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN)

  • Part-time (20 hours per week). Lectured, developed course material, graded papers, and ran workshops for students as part of teaching fellowship.
  • Ran office hours for students, which included counseling them on their academic progress.
  • Courses taught: Globalization 101, Cities and Change, Biogeography, Human Geography 101, and Our Globalizing World.
  • During this time I was intimately involved in organizing around grad student rights with Grad Student Workers United. I organized on issues surrounding education/healthcare access, and fees reduction, while also coordinating the monthly newsletter for our group.
  • I was also an active member of the Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign, a Palestine-solidarity BDS campaign that continues to be active in the state (and also happens to be where I met my glorious partner, Susanne).

Jan 2007 – Aug 2008

Co-Founder and Director (Jan Manthan, Gujarat, India)

  • Full-time. Co-founded a community-based organization in the state of Gujarat in northwestern India.
  • The organization was based in two poor working-class neighborhoods, having many survivors of fascist violence that targeted minority communities in 2002.
  • Jan Manthan was involved in running a women’s labor cooperative, building youth groups, running a civic rights movement, and advocating for the rights of survivors of violence.
  • My responsibilities included program direction, fundraising, networking with international donors, and month-to-month visioning with activists on the ground.
  • I worked pro-bono for the organization until December 2014, offering part-time outreach, networking, and fundraising services until the organization was stable.
  • While working on setting up Jan Manthan, I also freelanced as a writer and organizer on issues surrounding social disenfranchisement, economic marginalization, gender justice, and militarism.

June 2004 – Dec 2006

Outreach Coordinator

  • Full-time. Worked primarily on education, outreach, and violence prevention.
  • Implemented many education programs for youth/adults on violence prevention, gender rights, immigrant rights, grassroots organizing, and conflict resolution.
  • Was involved in coalition-building, community-outreach, and developed two curricula on preventing gender-based violence within multi-cultural settings and immigrant rights.
  • Duties encompassed direct advocacy, including running the shelter from time to time, conducting intake interviews, and legal support.
  • Integrally involved in starting an anti-trafficking coalition called Mata Hari: Eye of the Day.
  • Recruited and trained volunteers in outreach, education, violence prevention, fundraising events, and direct advocacy.
  • During this period, I was part of a month-long, solidarity delegation called Boston 2 Palestine. We travelled through occupied Palestine to participate in nonviolent direct action and learning about colonial occupation and apartheid, with the larger plan of strengthening the Palestine-solidarity movement in Boston. Upon return, we conducted multiple popular education events and plugged into campaign work in and around Boston, building cross-movement ties of solidarity.

May 2003 – May 2004

Curriculum Developer (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD)

  • Part-time (20 hours per week). Research, writing, and module/workshop-development.
  • Networking with educators and various departments in developing curricula for their distance education courses.
  • Developing and conducting “Train the Trainer” workshops for professors and teachers.
  • Curriculum development for courses in Public Health, Environmental Studies, Political and Economic Geography, Environmental Health, and Social Work.

April 2002 – Dec 2002

Emergency Aid Worker (Aman Samudaya, Gujarat, India)

  • Worked with peace and justice coalition involved in the relief and rehabilitation of victims of violence that targeted minority communities in Gujarat.
  • The first phase of the work was in relief camps, and involved shelter construction, procurement of rations and medical relief.
  • The second phase of the work, after the camps closed down, was community-centric, and involved livelihood-generation projects, house reconstruction and health advocacy.
  • The work involved extensive networking and research for human rights and justice campaigns.
  • Also involved in security and safety in the camps, as well as conflict resolution.

Sept 1997 – March 2002

Volunteer Organizer and Elected President (VISIONS Bangalore, Bangalore, India)

  • Volunteered in student-run AIDS awareness and sexuality rights group in South India.
  • Helped implement awareness programs, street theatre, a health advocacy network, and gender/sexuality rights campaigns.
  • Co-founder of the education/prevention committee and the health advocacy network.
  • Served as elected President for two years from Sept 1999 to Sept 2001.

 

RESEARCH/WRITING/EDITING EXPERIENCE + AWARDS/FELLOWSHIPS

Past Published Papers:

  • Conceptualizing Solidarity and Realizing Struggle, Interface: A Journal For And About Social Movements, November 2014.
  • The Politics of the Palestinian BDS movement, Socialism and Democracy (Routledge), November 2013.
  • Scheduled Tribe Status for Adivasis in Assam, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies (Taylor and Francis), August 2010.
  • SEZs: New Mechanisms for Imperialism in India, Socialism and Democracy (Routledge), March 2008.

Past Published Articles, Writing Projects, and Short Stories:

Current Writing Projects

Awards/Fellowships:

  • International Book Awards, Finalist, Multicultural Fiction for debut novel, Across the Sabarmati (2014).
  • Special Appreciation Award from community members of Parkdale (2015-2016).
  • Dunn Peace Fellowship, University of Minnesota (2010).
  • Teaching Fellowship, University of Minnesota (2008).
  • Achievement Award from Jane Doe Inc (Boston) for gender justice work among immigrants/refugees (2006).
  • Appreciation Award from South Asian Network (LA) for anti-sexism work in California (2006).
  • Department Scholarship, Johns Hopkins University (2003).
  • Commendation Award for AIDS awareness and sexuality rights work in Bangalore (1999).
  • Cultural Artiste of the Year, People’s Education Society, Bangalore University (1998 & 1999).

Hobbies/Passions and Sports Awards

  • Writing, martial arts, cooking and learning new cuisines, exploring different philosophies & spiritual teachings, cuddle-torturing my pets.
  • Gold Medal, 4×400, Bangalore Track & Field Senior Collegiate, People’s Education Society, Bangalore University (1998).
  • Double Silver Medal, 400 & 800, Bangalore Track & Field Junior Collegiate, SBMJ College (1995)
  • Silver Medal, 4×400, Karnataka Amateur Athletics Championship, Sports Authority of India (1995).
  • Most Improved Fighter, Bangalore Mixed Martial Arts Youth Tournament, Club Yuva (1995).

 References available upon request (fair warning though  – I keep company with some real wingnuts like myself)

 

What is it about combat sports that speaks to me? (Redux)

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During some restless teenage years in Bangalore, it was boxing and kickboxing with a dog-eared edition of The Tao of Jeet Kune Do.

Then ensued a long break where activist adventures and delusions of revolutionary grandeur across multiple continents held captivation for head and heart, with ciggies and booze emerging as two bosom travelling companions.

Now, as I come to the end of my significantly mellower and peaceable thirties (rooted in Minneapolis of all places on earth, whoulda thought?) – I’m back to being obsessed with combat sports.

(MMA this time around…and that dog-eared copy of Bruce Lee’s brilliant text still floats around our living room).

Funny.

As the glory and responsibilities of being a family man bless me with identity and meaning, there is still one part of me, a restless part of my soul that clamors for full realization.

This need for the relief of realization, as I’m starting to call it, lies at the heart of that restless part of my soul, which for now finds a modicum of groundedness in seeing two cage fighters beat the crap out of each other for my entertainment.

Of course, my obsession with combat sports will not be without self-critique.

How can it be?

That will negate the quest for full realization.

Simultaneously, I celebrate the fact that it grounds that restless part of my soul.

I think one reason might be because it helps with fear – fear that resides in the pit of my brain, causing it and thus me to do dumb shit.

I go back to my many escapes, from what feels like lifetimes past.

And in this most blissful of life stations, happiness running over, struggle always coupled with joy, love in my life like never before, I now know that the relief of realization lies in inviting this fear – the fear of death and ending – into my life as an authentic friend and loyal travelling companion.

This fearful friend then makes me grateful for the life I’ve led thus far and whatever might lie ahead.

At a less pristine level, it also makes me very, very grateful for crazy-ass cage fighters like Gamebred and Showtime, defying the bookies against bigger, heavier fighters and knocking them the fuck out.

(Now, if I can just deal with the inherent toxic masculinity interred in MMA, we’ll be good…)

Training Diary – on the difficult lessons of honorable manhood

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Sadness is always ok.

Fear is to be accepted.

Frustration is but a part of this noble grind called life.

Anger, so easy to deploy but so very dangerous, must be used as nothing more than fuel to defend love, justice, and higher knowledge.

But never to hurt.

Or control.

That is one of the struggles towards honorable manhood that dismantles the patriarchy.

(The earthen green goddess will help with the rest)

***SUSAMMAN VAZHGAI***

***RADHAMMAN VAZHGAI***

***KALIAMMAN VAZHGAI***

Training Diary, Week 5 – Do I just have a crazy goal so I’ll workout every day?

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I’m weak in a multitude of ways.

Like all humans I guess.

But I just don’t feel like I have the mental strength to workout every day unless I have some goal to commit to. And when I say workout, I mean something that gets that heart rate up, a sweat going, and some muscular stress. Even if it’s just for 15 mins. Hopefully more like 30-45.

Every day.

I don’t think I’d do it in a way that keeps me honest and true unless I had a goal to keep my lazy ass motivated. Because really, when I think about it, laziness and the need for relaxation is a critical baseline from which humanity operates from. If we’re truly honest with ourselves, we work the week to enjoy the weekend, we labor in order to enjoy the fruits of relaxation after, we sweat so we may later rehydrate with a crisp honey lager.

We struggle so we may feel joy in all its glory.

So then why can’t I workout every day just for the sake of feeling those endorphins and post-workout treats? Why this goal of becoming a pro fighter?

I really can’t say. What I do know is that unless I have a genuinely hard athletic goal in front of me (that also doubles up as a spiritual quest to figure out this toxic masculinity shit), I’m gonna get lazy with my workouts. And I haven’t exactly gotten the healthiest grip on all the pleasurable poisons I indulge in to help me with the struggles of life.

So I have to keep imagining a beast wanting to beat the shit out of me to get a good sweat in.

After all, we must dance with our demons to defeat the devil inside.