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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Nona Walia finds out about ‘The Slow Movement’ that’s asking people to take a few steps back from the hurdle race, and enjoy every moment of their lives

 EACH one of us has felt it — the sheer exhaustion that envelops us as we rush through the day completing chores at home, beating the traffic, meeting deadlines in office and multi-tasking. At the end of the day, we may realise that we have matched the pace of the ticking clock, but lost a lot in the bargain — whether it's peace of mind, our health or the satisfaction that one derives of a job done well or a day spent well. Fareed Zakaria, one of the most-respected journalists in the world, after being recently accused of plagiarism, and being too busy to check the details of his column, said, "It forced me to rethink my heavy workload and slow down." Pop diva Rihanna said in a recent interview that she was so overworked during the making of her recent album that instead of a creative high that every artiste has the right to experience and enjoy, she felt sick. "I realised I needed to cut back on work, slow down," she said. TV actor Sanjeeda Sheikh explains, "People like us in the television industry are always on the run because there is this feeling that if we slow down, we will miss out." 

Why go slow? 
H owe ve r, that life in a hurry is superficial is being felt by people these days, and it's because of this rea
son that the 'The Slow Movement' (see box), a cultural revolution that began in the West in the mid-1980s, is fast catching up. The basic idea is to cut back on speed, slow down and derive satisfaction out of work, rather than just finishing it in a hurry. 
    Mumbai-based textile designer Padmaja Krishnan is part of this global movement. "Slow Fashion looks at all that's useless and discarded. I choose techniques that are slow and not fully controllable. I'm against mass consumerism and don't believe that you need 20 outfits. My fashion doesn't follow trends or seasons. I take time and joy in making clothes," says the head of Transit Studio. Jogi Panghaal, a slow design activist from India, says he has bridged the gap between traditional craft and modern design by being a part of the same movement. "I learn the traditional skills of tribal artisans and combine them with modern technique. Our process is slow and we believe in conserving," says the NID graduate. 
    In 2001, Time magazine rated the Slow Food 
Movement as one of the 80 ideas that shook the world. The movement has found its takers in India too. Vandana Shiva, who owns Slow Food Café, in Delhi, says, "We make food from organic produce and use ingredients that are fast disappearing from India. For eg, we make pizzas and crêpes from ragi and upma." 
    Fad or necessity? 
Slowing down isn't just a fad or a luxury. Neither does it mean one's inefficient or ineffective. It's more of a necessity. Believing in this movement does not mean one undoes all the advantages technology has offered to make life easier; it simply professes one should live life fully, at a slower pace. It asks each individual to 
own his existence. The aim is to find the right pace for each part of our daily routine. 
In a recent poll, half of the British adult population confessed that their hectic life caused them to lose touch with their friends. Latest neuro-scientific research too suggests that the human brain is not very good at multi-tasking. Says psychiatrist Dr Avdesh Sharma about multi-tasking, which is professed as a super-positive trait in today's world, "There's a tendency for people to be less and less mindful. Texting while driving, eating while talking on the phone, reading and listening to music at the same time… it's exhausting. And you derive pleasure out of none of the activities that are keeping your mind occupied. What's the point?" 
In his best-selling book, In Praise of Slow: How A Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed, Canadian journalist and author Carl Honore talks about the negative impact 
of life in the fast lane. "Today, one can do a course on speed yoga, speed dating, speed meditation, but the fact is that you can't hurry up relationships." He says in the bargain, parents and adults apart, children also suffer. "Children need slowness even more than adults do. It's in the moments of quiet, of unstructured time, of boredom even, that kids learn how to look into themselves, how to think and be creative, how to socialise.We are doing a great disservice to our children by pushing them hard to learn things faster and by keeping them so busy. They need time and space to slow down, to play, to be children." 
    Rushing against time also has medical repercussions. Cardiologist Dr Anil Bansal explains as we inch closer to the World Heart Day (September 29), "Fast-paced 
life isn't heart-friendly. Stress increases cortisol in the body and puts one at an increased risk of a heart problem." 
Slow is the new fast 
The cult of speed actually ends up slowing us down, because a slightest hiccup may stress us to the extent that we lose our temper, and instead of thinking of solutions, we slow our minds down with more problems. Christine Louise Hohlbaum, author of Power of Slow, says, "Slow is actually faster whilst fast is merely exhausting! When you slow down long enough to actually think, you make smarter decisions, that leads to better outcomes and thereby saves you time in the long run. You learn the art of managing expectations." 
    As Gandhi once said, "There's more to life than increasing its speed." 

Slow Food strives to preserve regional cuisine making optimal use of the local ecosystem. Slow Design includes materials and processes that are forgotten.Slow Cities are characterised by a way of life that supports people to live in the slow lane. These cities have less traffic, less noise, fewer crowds.Towns in Italy have banded together to form an organization and call themselves the Slow Cities, also known as Cittaslow. These apart, the concept of Slow Mail, Slow Music, Slow Parenting, Slow Homes, Slow Cars, Slow Travel etc.,are also catching up.

    — Mae West, actress/writer

— Edgar S Cahn, a pioneer of The Slow Movement, who asks people to invest time, instead of money


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