The Unconventional Learning

Keywords: Out-of-box thinking, Unconventional, Learning, Skills, Life-hacks, Surviving Disaster, DIY,

Learning can take any form, shape and dimension. It can happen now. Or never. That is totally on you! It doesn't stop at the gates of the schools. Or can be defined by a degree. For learning to happen only one thing is required - a willing learner. A curious heart. An inquisitive mind. A dogged pursuit. Shamelessness to ask questions and seek directions.

Most of what you learn up to your teens does not apply in life directly! But it creates a foundation on which you can build a fortress of knowledge. These testing times have revealed that conventional education is necessary but not enough at all. There are essential survival skills that can prove to be game changer when needed. You can be a life saver. A leader. The Alpha whom everyone would follow.

Nutrition & Cooking

You may need to leave your hometown. For work. Job. education. After marriage. Vacation. Official tour. Imagine that you get stuck due to a lockdown! That’s not good. If you have dependents. That’s even worse. It doesn’t get better if any of you have special nutritional requirements. Like an infant or a child. Or an aged person. Or a patient.

Understanding about nutrition, foods, and spices can save you a lot of trouble, money and pain! ‘Dadi Ma KeNuskhe’ are concoctions of readily available items in our kitchen. Nutrition comes from a balanced diet. Having vitamins, proteins, fats, sugar, water, fiber, carbohydrates, and minerals is necessary. Nothing should be left out. Supplements do not make a meal.

Learn to cook. Whole grains, coarse flour, raw salads, milk, poultry, eggs, fresh juices, fish, whole fruits & vegetables are great sources of taste, variety and nutrients. How you cook/process your food matters. Healthy cooking can be tasty cooking. Indulge yourself occasionally. Not daily. As Hippocrates has said “Our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food.

Eat in moderation. According to the guidance of a nutritionist or doctor. Have small meals spread over the day. Don’t gorge. Work out regularly. If you are not in professional sports, then exercise in moderation.


What happens when your PC breaks down. Do you fix it? Or hand it over at the service center? When your bike doesn’t start, do you clean the sparkplug yourself or push it to the mechanic? When the toaster doesn’t pop that crunchy toast in the morning, do you just throw it away and buy a new one? If yes, then you are very high maintenance.

Tooling, maintenance and repairing basic appliances is a must have skill. These skills can be as varied as gardening, landscaping, housekeeping, carpentry, plumbing, sewing, etc. In most developed countries vocational training is part of the High school curriculum. Students take up summer jobs in auto-shops, cafes, electronic shops, tailors, etc. to learn the trade skills.

A stitch in time saves nine, the age-old adage is the best way to put it. Next time your mother complaints of a washing machine not working, of asks for change of RO water-purifier membranes. If they are not in warranty, don’t call the mechanic. Try isolating the problem and fixing it. Make a schedule of monthly maintenance at home.

Your craftsmanship will come handy when you will pursue your engineering course. Or when you are in the field supervising your workers. Best engineers build their own bikes! Or homes. Or anything for that matter. Start sewing simple things like face masks, gloves, minor repairs of garments. You don’t have to be a master seamstress! Unless of course, If you want to pursue fashion designing.

First Aid and Trauma Management

Anyone can fall sick. Anytime, anywhere. Doctor or ambulance may not be available in the crucial golder hour. Being a first responder in any emergency will fill your heart with real purpose, warmth and jubilation. It will make you a hero for all to emulate. Most importantly it can save the life of your own loved ones.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is an emergency procedure that combines chest compressions often with artificial ventilation (or MTMR - mouth-to-mouth-respiration). It is the Silver Bullet for patients of heart attacks.

Heimlich manoeuvre is used for relieving someone of choking. It happens when some food gets stuck in the windpipe. BE FAST - Check the balance, Eye coordination, face drooping, hanging arms, slurry speech to identify patients of Brain Stroke. Early detection and medical aid can save most patients.

Similarly, first-aid for patients of Burns, Heat Stroke, Bleeding, Nose Bleeding, Electrical Shock, Hypothermia (freezing), and Accidents have different needs. Learning them will make you more considerate and humane. Learn these procedures for adults, for kids and infants, for senior citizens. All have different requirements.

Survive the Disaster

Disasters cause serious disruption in the functioning of society. Have widespread human, material, economic and environmental impacts. The impact exceeds the ability of the affected society to cope locally. Disaster management is how we deal with these impacts. The process of how we “prepare for, respond to and learn from the effects.

Natural Disasters:

  • Geophysical (e.g. Earthquakes, Landslides, Tsunamis and Volcanic Activity)
  • Hydrological (e.g. Avalanches and Floods)
  • Climatological (e.g. Extreme Temperatures, Drought and Wildfires)
  • Meteorological (e.g. Cyclones and Storms/Wave Surges)
  • Biological (e.g. Disease Epidemics and Insect/Animal Plagues)

Man-Made Disasters:

  • Environmental Degradation
  • Pollution
  • Accidents (e.g. Industrial, Technological and Transport usually involving the production, use or transport of hazardous materials)

No one can control them. But we can always mitigate their risks. If we prepare, support vulnerable communities and learn survival skills. These can be the difference between life and death.

Every disaster has its unique characteristics. And, therefore, unique survival skills. But some Survival skills come handy in multiple disastersand also in daily life but also.

Follow Government Guidelines

With better weather forecasting and alert systems, the government can timely issue warnings and advisory for precautions and safety. Follow them to the tee. Note down and keep the rescue helpline numbers. Sew waterproof tags on clothes of family members with name, phone number and address.

Be Ready

Keep the phones and emergency lights charged. Keep supply of emergency medicines. Keep at least 15 day’s supply of medicines for patients in the family. Have sufficient supply of bottled water, packaged ready-to-eat food. Essential items like candles, waterproof match box, lighters, sleeping bags, tarpaulin, ropes, life jackets should be in the kits. All important documents, jewelry, cash must be in a waterproof bag. Keep knives, hammers, gloves, batteries, and other such important items.

Rule of Three

Remember this golden rule. Always. A person cannot live three minutes without air, three days without water, or live three weeks without food. Find a way to swim to top and breathe, find safe water to drink, and find food to survive.

Learn to Filter your Water

Unavailability of safe water can lead to dehydration and later many more infections. Keep bottled water. Portable water cleaning kits. Alum and chlorine to treat water. Learn how to collect water from rains or dew using available resources. Make it potable as much as possible to avoid future complications.

Identifying Safe Food

If packaged and safe food is not available, then you’ll have to survive on whatever is available. Identifying what can be eaten and what to avoid is of utmost importance. Food becomes scarce and even carries infections during disasters. So, it is very important you learn about foods.


A very good exercise and a lifelong skill. If you live near rivers, waterbodies, seas, it is a must. Even in cities heavy rainfall in very small time with insufficient drainage systems can lead to flood like situations. Remember Mumbai in 2005 and 2017, or Bengaluru in 2019, Chennai of 2015, Kerala in 2018. Swimmers not only saved themselves but were the Godsents for many more.

Tying Knots

Having ropes and not knowing how to use them can be the worst thing. Ropes can be used in fire accidents to escape, to rescue people fallen in ditches or wells, to air lift, to climb, to reach to safety. Learn different knots and ways to fasten people, patients, pets and items.

Star Gazing

If the mobile phone is not charged or the network is down there is no way we can find the right direction. Right? Wrong! Only until 20 years back people used landmarks, the Sun, the Moon and various stars to find their general direction and position. Simply using your hands and approximate angles of different celestial bodies one can find his current position and the desired directions to a safer place.

Climbing pipes/ropes/rocks

In times of disaster like earthquakes, avalanches, landslides, floods, etc. if you know climbing, then you can rescue not only yourself but your loved ones too. After the initial devastation, more people die because they could not reach safety.

Stress Management

Stress is the silent killer. Of career, mental peace, health, and relationships. Studies, college choices, career options, digital overload, expectations of family, money troubles. Many reasons are attributed to causing stress.

Stressful person can never be in the moment. Cannot concentrate, or even breathe properly. The brain is wired to handle extreme pressure for short bursts. Our environment gives us continuous stress for longer durations. This can alter biochemistry of the brain and neural activity in it.

Physical work out can release toxins accumulated due to stress and relax the brain. A good night’s sleep always refreshes and recharges. Muscle relaxation by stretching, massage, hot bath or shower also help. Yoga and meditation provide both the needed exercise and focus. Pranayama or deep breathing can saturate oxygen in the brain, relieving it of any toxins.

Eat light and healthy. Heavy food causes troubles and increases susceptibility to stress. Don’t skip any meal, neither indulge in stress eating. If there is an urge, then have fruits or salads. Have plenty of water - warm water for releasing toxins, cold water for refreshment, sparkling water to enjoy a drink. Smile, giggle and cackle with laughter. It is infectious, spread it.

Avoid stressors. Manage and plan ahead. Set watch to 10 minutes ahead. Be on time, better reach early. Drive in the slower lane to enjoy the drive and avoid road rage. Take breaks. Treat yourself with soulful music, chat with a friend, or a comedy clip. Develop and nurture hobbies - reading, gardening, sports, puzzles, collections - that demand time and effort.

Don’t hesitate, talk about your problems. Listen to others, empathize and relate. Never set too high expectations - from yourself and others. Tell yourself “All is well” and go easy on yourself. Try and eliminate triggers from your life and schedule.

Money Management

Cash is King!

Taxing times test everyone.

Taxes and death are unavoidable.

Unless you are immortal, you need life insurance.

The big money is not in buying or selling, but in waiting. ~ Charlie Munger

A Budget is telling your money where to go, instead of wondering where it went. ~ Dave Ramsey

Never loan any money to family or friends that you are unable to write-off entirely. ~ Emily Yoffe

Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it. He who doesn't, pays it. ~ Albert Einstein

The above quotes highlight the importance of understanding our most obedient servant and our most vile master - money. We use it everyday, and yet its ways are alien to us. We need it but don’t want to understand it.

Keeping a tab of expenses is boring. Running budgets is difficult. Controlling credit card use is stressful. Investments are not giving super-returns in a month. Insurance is the money I won’t be around to enjoy. These are only some of the misgivings about money matter.

The best way to dispel them is education. Learn yourself. Start with some great blogs like that describe each concept with graphs, diagrams and cartoons. Take charge of the money. Don’t let it put you on a leash! Then you can make money work for you, instead of you working for money.