Wednesday, November 4, 2015

At Home?

Have you thought about the feeling of displacement?

I was born to two Army Doctors. This meant that every two years we shifted lock, stock and barrel, to a new city, new climate, new friends, new school, new teachers and so on. I have always wondered about all the affects this lifestyle has had on me. I can vouch for a zillion ways this has shaped me; And a few more. But one of the things I wondered the most about was the feeling of belonging/feeling displaced.

While I was growing up, and probably because that is the only way of life  I knew till I moved to my last school in Kerala, I always believed I could not imagine surviving in one school in one city for more than two years. In fact, after I came to Kerala, I remember asking my mother repeatedly to change my school because "I just couldn't take it anymore". Now, there were several reasons why I could just NEVER fit into the school in Kerala. That should be material for another post. Or several. But at that time I assumed that my body clock just told me that my time here was up. Eventually, I realized that there were no more moves for me, at least not till I finished school and decided to leave on my own. Not the "my world moves with me" kind anymore. And I was miserable. I was convinced, my system was convinced, that I just had to set myself up in a new city and get a new bunch of friends.

Well, my point is, all this time I was sure that I was always used to moving and could get myself to feel like I belong there for however long or short duration I stayed there and not feel displaced. For me, wherever mom and dad were was home. No matter which city and what house.

Then Kerala happened. When I came to Kerala I never felt that I belonged here even though it is the longest I have ever stayed in one city till date. It simply felt like a long, torturous but temporary phase. Like an in-between to belonging. Like a transient uncomfortable place that I had to simply get out of to start being me again. This wasn't me. These weren't mine. THEY weren't mine. I could never belong. I was ALWAYS an outsider.

Funny thing, this displacement. I realized it has nothing to do with a place. So you could finally be living among "Your own" people, relatives, friends your parents have known forever, people who speak your "mother tongue", a home your parents have built for themselves finally, a place of permanence after all that moving about and here I was totally completely displaced. Totally completely. An alien.

Finally when I got to leave, this time on my own travails, I went to a few more cities, to study, or work; lived in college hostels and PG and my own apartments and wherever I went, I managed to go right back to being at "home". Yes, there have been instances when I have felt alone, once again like an outsider, like  couldn't stay anymore. But those were phases and they had specific reasons or incidences attached to them. I knew where those feelings were originating from. But the bigger picture was that I managed to more or less feel comfortable in my own  skin wherever. And then circumstances brought me back here, to where "home" is. Again. Once again, in the last 6 years, this has been the  2nd longest I have stayed in a city, the 1st being the same city. And once again, I am floating in this transience. Everyone is an outsider in my life. I just cannot let people in. I can't understand why people function the way they function. Why families, hate and plot and fail. Why everyone gossips about each other. And then get together and celebrate each other's joys and share each others' sorrows. And then goes back to finding faults. I really am not a part of this, of them. Once again, I am displaced. Not at home; At Home.

Friday, May 29, 2015

But Why...Part 2

Why are people so confused and complicated?
How is it possible for someone to be so self centered?

You walk hand in hand with someone down a breathtakingly beautiful mountain trail with the waves lashing far below and forest all around. It is one of the loveliest walks of your lives. You are both amazed and immersed in the beauty of the moment.

You suddenly, breathlessly claim you would never leave the other person's hand again even though the other person insists they don't need promises. Because they don't need expectations to spoil anything about this ethereal walk that has no name.

Then, as you walk by the side of the cliff with the beautiful waves right below, still holding their hands as if you would never let go, you suddenly give the other person a shove sending them hurtling down the cliff. The person is hurt, physically and emotionally. Confused and unable to walk for a little while, eventually the person decides to get up and start walking again. What else is there to do anyway. They need to get out of their slump. They need to get out of the prickly shrubs and rocks.

But the question would never go away. "But why". Not just "But why did you push me down and leave me here?" But also, "But why did you need to make these promises when you didn't mean them and more importantly you were not required to?" But Why?

Days passed, weeks. As you walk your beautiful mountain top path and the other person ascends through rocks and shrubs trying to get themselves back up somehow, you once again get a sense of them.
You ask "Hey you, down there. How are you?"

They are shocked. They are immovable with anger and hurt and disappointment (By now it is all directed at themselves for putting themselves in a vulnerable place like that. Again.) and speechless. They want to say a thousand things. They want to call you names. They want a zillion answers.

They want to know one thing only. "But Why?".
So, for the sake of their curiosity, they tame their anger for a bit and reply " I am fine. Thank you. How about you?"

You reply "Why are you being so formal. Are you mad?"

Now the anger is simmering. The reply "No. Not mad. I was hurt a bit. And I wondered what happened, a lot"

You "Oh. But I am like this. I can't explain. I couldn't come rescue you because I couldn't explain why I pushed you down in the first place."

That's the answer? No reply from down below.

You "So are we cool now?"

Reply "Oh yeah. Sure."
The weird cryptic conversation continues in fragments with no satisfactory answers to either party, one being extremely vague and the other extremely sarcastic.

Finally you ask "So where do we stand now?"

The reply, quiet and thoughtful now, floats up from somewhere below  "I don't know. I really don't know where I am at this moment."
 (There is so much more to say. So much to explain. So much explanation needed. But are you worth it at all? I guess not.)

And then you say "But hey, everything is the same. At least, I am still at the same place always."

Of course you are. You were not the one who was pushed down the cliff, remember? Why wouldn't you still be in the same place up there?

I don't get it.
Why are people so confused and complicated?
How can they be so self centered about everything?

Saturday, May 23, 2015


I learnt this the Hard way. Very hard.

Now, when I say "learnt" it doesn't really mean that I have stopped making the same mistakes. It's more like I love learning so much that I keep making them over and over again.  

But, I am digressing.

So the thing that I learnt the hard way over and over again is this. We humans have a HUGE capacity to take pain. And by that I don't mean the physical kind. I mean the emotional, hurtful, really-don't-feel-like-getting-out-of-bed-in-the-morning kind. We handle bereavements, separations, failures, loss, everything. We cry a bit, we hurt a bit, we mope a bit and we let time do its thing and eventually shrug it off and move forward. And yes, though on the one hand it may be said this is because of a dearth of any other option, I still find this ability to take that kind of hurt and pain and sadness and still move forward quite remarkable.

So that is established, we can take Hurt, a lot of hurt, a lot of kinds of hurt. It's even sort of easy especially when you know why it happened. When you can explain it as "I saw this coming" or "This had to have happened with how everything else was".

And THAT is what I am writing about today. How the "Why" matters. So bloody much.

Only if we knew the reasons for why some things just happen. A lot of people find peace in explaining it as "God's mysterious ways" and so on. I mean, it must be a relief when you can believe in something that strongly that the unfairness of it all doesn't hit you in the face and there is this explanation that helps you heal quicker.

But a lot of us don't have that relief. We just don't know why a completely healthy happy young person would suddenly be taken away from us because just like that their heart stops beating. We don't know why a person who tells you they cannot imagine not talking to you all the time suddenly decides to just simply cut you off, no phones, no messages, no replies and worst of all, no reasons. That is just so not fair.

I truly don't believe life is fair. I, of all people, definitely don't. I know that at every turn, every cross way there is pain, heartbreak, waiting for us. I believe that everyone must face whatever they must face in this life, and I also know that no matter how unfair, we just don't get any explanations for a lot of them. Sudden, unexpected losses of loved ones is probably the most painful thing one must endure in this lifetime and especially so when they seem so totally unreasonable like when old age, disease or even a freak accident cannot explain it for us. 

And that is exactly why I believe that whenever possible, wherever the loss, the distancing is caused by the choice of one person, the other person definitely deserves a reason. Stop talking if you don't feel like it, don't reply if you decide the person you "Couldn't survive without" yesterday has become uninteresting and blah today. That is hurtful enough for a person to deal with and will take a few days for the pain to start healing and the void to even start feeling like there is a chance to fill it. Ever. Do not top that up with the confusion and hurt of having to wonder why and imagining the worst about ourselves and our actions that might have caused the other persons' disinterest.

Do not leave them to deal with a lingering "But what did I do" for all of eternity. I am not saying that this would be the most active thought in their head for eternity. At first it will be all they can think of for a log time and then it'll become a dull throbbing thought at the back of their heads. And even as they stop thinking about the loss of that friendship/relationship and move on with their life, the 'not knowing why' just never totally goes away. 

And life is tough enough as it is with it's unreasonableness of loss, that doing that to someone by choice is simply cruel.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Fight Clean. Respect Self.

The last day in the month of March. The month of International Women's day. The month of "India's Daughter". The month that ended with Deepika’s Video by Vogue; and I have a small story to share about why I am still skeptical about the future of mentality against women in this country. (Considering it was also the month when Anushka Sharma was blamed for India's performance in the World Cup Semis.) 

So, circumstances were such in the last few months that I found myself heading a committee of around 20 young (mostly freshers) Engineering Graduates, mostly male. The interactions started of well, thankfully. For more than two months, from their joining to the end of our project, the general rapport of the committee was lots of fun and friendship. I mostly felt like the lucky, very loved and respected big sister to them. With some, they'd constantly come to me for advice regarding girlfriend problems, to discuss personal matters, to discuss options about their future like next jobs or further studies, to borrow money and so on.

Considering they were freshers and had never worked anywhere before and were suddenly put in extremely difficult circumstances at sites, most of them went out of their way to complete the tasks assigned to them and I considered myself very fortunate to have been able to command that kind of respect, regard and support from the boys. (I sounded a little like Azharudin in my head with that). And I can seriously vouch for the fact that the support shown to me (or at least perceived by me) was definitely reciprocated manifolds, since my concern for their betterment, their hardships and challenges during the projects, their well-being and safety, their relationship problems and their future was truly extremely genuine.

Then something rather funny happened. These boys came back from their assignments and the general level of fun and camaraderie continued for another week. Everyone had stories of hardships to share tinged with lots of fun and laughter. But every basket has to have their share of rotten apples and the ones from this basket also returned one day. The good thing about these rotten apples from my basket were that before they all left for their assignments, these two never really were interested in this basket and hence never really spoilt anyone in here. This ensured that the basket remained fresh and un-spoilt at least till the end of the assignments and so that went well. Then the rotten apples came back and this time mingled with all the other apples in the basket.

Here is where the story turns.

The rot started spreading in the form of an idea regarding money. And where money is involved the "boss" gets blamed because, hey, the boss has money and it is his/her duty to share it! Who stops to think that he/she is as much part of the system as they are and has no say in the distribution of money; at least I had none. Well, without getting into more details, the rot spread to a point where they all stopped talking to me. Just like that. I walked into the office one morning and found them all huddled together away from me and the hostility was palpable. Not one word. Not one question even from the ones closest to me. Nothing. Just silence and cold war. 

Okay. Misunderstandings happen. Stupid ideas spread. I was hurt because there were at least 3 or 4 among the 20 who could have asked me anything or clarified this before launching the war, but I still took it in my stride. Fights are normal in any relationships. We get angry at parents, at siblings, at the closest of friends. That was okay. They would get over it, I figured.

What I hadn't vouched for was the realization that I wasn't their family or sibling or even friend (No matter how close a few of them were to me). No. I was a "woman" who hadn't helped them in some manner they thought I should have. And they were angry. So what is the easiest, most cowardly thing to do when a bunch of 15-16 boys gang up and get angry at a woman? Disrespect her as a "woman", of course. Talk about her cheaply. Talk about her morality and character. Call her a whore. Call her a slut. Every time you get together and get drunk, make sure all dirty jokes turn to her. Even involve people who have nothing to do with her or this committee into the joke, because hey, when you are insulting a woman, the more the merrier. New heads, new insults, new jokes, more laughs. 

Of course, the mistake was mine. It had to be. I am the woman here, after all. I was even told by certain superiors that the problem was that I was always "friendly" with the boys. (you can imagine the connotations behind that). It was my ‘not being "boss" enough’ and being more like a mentor and friend that caused them to turn. Aaha! Why hadn't I thought of that. Because if I had always treated them as a "boss" should (I think their definition is more "Hari Sadu" when they think ‘boss’), the boys would never ever say anything bad about me. Hmmm. How stupid of me to not think of that.

Anyhow, the point here is “Respect” and "Decency". Would they have done this if the person they got upset at was indeed their mother or their sister? They could get angry, not talk, show their temper in whatever manner, but would they disrespect and insult and make dirty stories and basically brand her a whore? The point is simple. We teach our boys early that if they are angry at their friend who is a boy, no matter how angry, they must try not to get into a fist fight. Try (even though that is just impossible to expect, but hey as a parent we will always try and hope) not to use abusive language, try not to lose their temper but to talk it out, solve, walk away or whatever else non-violent. But do we, consciously, teach our boys that if they are angry at a woman, no matter how angry, they simply shouldn't brand her a whore, shouldn't immediately think the best revenge is to sully her “character”? (That word is in quotes because Hey! I don’t even want to get into the whole ‘“moral character” of a woman’ thing right now) No, we don’t. 
Yes, we probably teach our sons early on that women are weaker so "You shouldn't hit a girl" (I am not so sure that when put like that, does that teaching do more harm or good). But do we simply teach our kids that the reason why you shouldn't hit or abuse or call someone a slut is not so much about Should" and "Shouldn't" as much as it is about Respect for another being and just decency? That anger, no matter how righteous, doesn't give you the right to be indecent and disrespectful and potty mouthed and abusive?

Yes, we need to teach our boys that it is just NOT OKAY to rape. Yes we need to teach our boys that it is just not okay to force or abuse. Yes, we need t teach our boys that it is not okay to eve-tease. Yes, we need to teach our boys that it is just not okay to get back at a girl by being cheap about her. That is as below the belt and as easy and cowardly a revenge as it gets anyway.

In one word, in order to get to all of the above, we simply need to teach our boys the concept of respect and being decent about their anger as well.

You may get angry, upset, you may disagree and argue; you may start a cold war or an open fight, but, no matter what you do, you cannot get cheap and disrespect another human being. Keep your anger clean. If we can only teach our boys this simple thing. To fight fair. That's it! Give another person enough consideration and yourself enough respect to learn to keep your fights fair, isn't that easy?

And till we don’t, and till we have educated, young, smart engineering graduates who actually justify this action as “Hey, when guys get together and get drunk they talk shit about girls. So what?” (Yes one of them actually used these exact same words to one fellow who actually stood up against what was happening), I remain very skeptical about the quality of “empowerment” women are going to get in this country.

P.S Incidentally yesterday was the last day for these guys at work, last day to work under me. Leaving behind a skeleton staff of 2 guys, the rest left yesterday. They say well begun is half done. Thank God for that. For the fact that the beginning was nothing like the end. At least things got done well owing to that. But it wasn’t a happy sight. It wasn’t a happy feeling that things ended in this sour note after the way they had begun.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Criticizing Criticism

Straight off this is about the women's empowerment video by Vogue starring Deepika Padukone etc.

Straight off, I liked it. I liked the camera work and aesthetics of it. I liked the attempted intent/message in it. And of course, I liked Deepika Padukone in it also. Because I like her way too much and I am hugely biased.

Yeah so that's out of the way.

This is actually not so much about the video as much as it is about the criticism against it. Of course, in today's day and age of when outrage on anything and everything in social media is the new fad, the criticism had to be expected. But some were so freaking ridiculous, it actually got me off my laziness of typing and brought me back to this long forgotten blog simply because I had to express my opinion somewhere. 

So let's get to the more ridiculous "offences" of this video straight away.

One of the first points raised was "Hey, because this message was by Vogue and it is their marketing strategy, they only want you to buy their stuff and you shouldn't fall for it." Yeah, because, hey, a marketing strategy by Vogue or Elle or even Victoria's Secret for that matter, using words like "empowerment" and "choice" should not be believed and even if they say good things you have to keep in mind that it is to sell their products. Oh! the evil plan behind it! Marketing their products by talking about empowerment! And have you thought about the fact that whether or not you like the video, you still have the "choice" to buy these products? They are not "cheating" you, you know.

Of course, the whole question of morality! How can we ever let that one go. "To have sex out of marriage" oh Whoa! really?! Because in India everyone is so moral and right that how dare Vogue even mention this?! Well, here's how. She said "choice". Maybe, you are not okay with it and I am not okay with it. But maybe the point is someone out there is okay with themselves and their partners doing what they want. We can't accept it and we can choose to hate it but it IS after all their choice. Why are we assuming that they are talking about adultery or cheating at all? Maybe they have a sexless marriage and who are YOU or I to judge the right or wrong of someone in that situation? Or  maybe they are unhappy but decide not to be separated for a zillion "moral" and "societal" reasons (read that as fearing the judgement of the likes of you) and so find whatever solution suits them. Or she knows her partner loves someone else and she deserves some love too or whatever other many hypothetical situations. Why assume that they are okaying cheating at all? Cheating is the highest form of disrespect one can feel. Ask me about it and I can tell you tales about why I am a single mother for the last 5 years. But what if there are a hundred ways either one of the two partners are being disrespected or hurt or abused or not even being acknowledged or if it is some kind of agreement between the two. I don't know what is right and wrong. But. I know enough to not judge that choice because I don't know that story. (Shit! Now I am branded immoral for life! :D)

Another problem of course was with the "size zero or 15 bit" and you know why the criticism was especially ridiculous? Because this was the logic of it. Deepika shouldn't have done this ad. Because, Deepika acts in the Kellogs ad that talks about losing weight and regaining shape in two weeks?! Or in the garnier ad? Or that, and this is the BEST bit, she dates only "good looking" (very very subjective because I don't think that way about Sid Malya or Yuvraj or Ranbir Kapoor, for that matter) men.
Oh! the irony! you say? Hey! it's her "choice" I say. "She" (read that as any woman who) wants to lose weight for her friend's wedding? Her choice. She wants to look fairer (And I am so against the whole fairness thing, my complexion is evidence to that), but it's still, her choice. She likes her men to look "good", her choice. The point here isn't to be one way or the other. The point was simple - the girl has a choice to what she wants to be and an outsider doesn't get to criticize her personal choice like YOU seem to be doing in that response. Have you considered that we live in a day and age where parents constantly criticize daughters to eat less, to get thin, to look pretty and so forth? Yeah, there is a thought behind that. HER choice. Simply, if a woman does want to look thinner or fitter, that's also her choice. Why assume that that is a message to get anorexic, woman?!

Another one was that she said "You are my choice. I am not your privilege." and the criticism? That that one should go two way. Of course, I agree that that should go two way. But why was the message necessary and more woman oriented? Because, guess who is treated like a privilege in this country more? Like a property, to be exact. Even today, I personally know very well educated guys from decent background who don't flinch while saying "I want my wife to be a virgin when I marry her because no one should have "owned" her before". Yeah. She is not a person. Just a package for that thing he alone is born to "own". 
Guess who is still given a choice about their own life decisions and who is not? Guess who is forced more for a hundred zillion things to do and not to do? Oh for Heaven;s sake, guess whose "right" (not even choice) to be even born is taken away in unimaginable numbers. Of course it should be everyone's choice. But this just happened to be a more "Give the woman also a choice" message. That is like saying why are all the "prevent rape" ads more women-centric. Indeed, they shouldn't be. Boys get raped too. Don't you think they deserve protection?  It is all okay to create Hoo-Haa and find things to criticize every word that is said out there. There is no justification for why the talk s always about protecting or giving right for "only women".  Just that women do get raped a lot more and women do get subjugated and their rights taken away a lot more. But, under all regular "I am not here to criticize everything" thought, it would be fair to have a message out to save everyone and make everyone a choice for everyone. This one just happened to be about women, like most of the "equality" and "gender rights" messages usually are.

And oh! again. To have your baby or not. Okay. Have you ever stopped to consider that most of the (no matter how lame) "women empowerment" messages are not for people like you or me who, thank heavens for that, are from way more protected and empowered background than a vast majority? That women are still married off as little girls an forget given a choice, but FORCED to bear multiple children? Or that a woman who gets pregnant out of wedlock decides to keep the baby when the guy doesn't want her and should be given a choice to do that. Or simply that she is addressing the society against the stupid prejudice that every woman who does not become a mother is "incomplete" in some way and/or something is wrong with her? Maybe she AND her partner have decided to not have a baby and she is addressing her in-laws and parents who only and always criticize her (never the "beta").  Once again, the point is not that a woman should always refuse her husband. No. The point is simply that the woman should "ALSO" be given a choice. After all it is HER body. She shouldn't be forced or criticized for what she wants with that body.

Another one of the most ridiculous flaws about the video was that it was made by almost all men, that is written, directed and produced by men. Yeah because when men make a video on giving women choices we are taking away the choice from women to make similar videos. And instead of being happy that we have men who do stuff like attempting women-"centric" videos, we somehow see it as anti-empowerment. Yeah well, that one is so stupid it doesn't even warranty a response.

Of course, there were more. There were so many about the things that were "Not" said in the video. How the video was lame in not mentioning the more important things like career and work and medical problems and discrimination but instead only mentioned things like choices about sexual orientation and stuff. Erm, yeah that's the point about choice. People can make videos about whatever aspect of a topic (in this case the aspect of "choice" among various topics related to empowerment). People make videos about preventing rape, about what to wear being a woman's choice and not a license to be raped, about career choices or the choice to be a stay at home person (not using wife or mother. Just a person), about equal pay among genders, about medical problems and what not. This one was someone's choice to be about "Choices" like body image issues and sexual orientation and whether to have a baby or not and about feeling like a queen in her life. So what? Why would you criticize their choice for a subject of their video? 

The whole point is to be given a choice. What people do with the choice they have, whether they take the "right" path or "wrong" is for them to decide.  Everyone  must have the right to do what they choose to do in life and then suffer the consequence of that  choice. The whole point is that no one should go around defining how people of a certain race, cast or gender should live. It's is person's perogative to choose.  Just as when we raise our children.  We can teach them about "right" and "wrong". And once they grow up, we can hope they make the right choices. But we still can't force them to do one thing or the other. But we have to five them the right to make that choice and hope for the best.  Well, enough said. 

And, if you haven't seen it yet, this is the Oh! So offending video by the Oh! so wrong people:

Thursday, July 10, 2014


No no! This is definitely not a preachy post teaching moral values and spewing the advantages of being nice. Quite the opposite actually! Basically, a post asking people to stop living their lives out of a sense of obligation. I am rather tired of this phenomenon where we do everything out of "courtesy" ALL THE TIME.

Okay, let me try and begin at the beginning. I am someone who always believes that it is important to be nice, to be courteous, to put others first, to show compassion and consideration, these are after all the traits that make us human. However, things have taken a downturn in these last few years in a very weird way. I say weird because these days I see courtesy being used as an obligation or rather like being held at gunpoint. Courtesy has turned into nuclear power, a good thing used for very bad ends.

Once again, getting back to the beginning (Oh this is so tough!). The other day I heard a parent tell a child, "go meet your grandmother, it is not nice manners to refuse to meet aged relatives." Really? Nice manners? If I have grand children ever and if my son needs to tell them to come meet me because of manners and courtesy, I'd consider myself such a failure. No kid, don't meet your grandparents because it's a "nice thing to do", go meet your grandparents because you love them and you want to meet them. And if you don't, then there is something the matter with the relationship you shared with them and that's okay in one case. But, do not meet all your grandparents only because you are expected to!

And we start this ingratiation training so very young, don't we.We as Indians do everything for "courtesy", "because that's the right thing to do", "Social norm", "please your parents" and a billion other variations of these reasons. And basically when I say everything, I mean every damned thing regarding living our lives.

So, finding the right person to marry at the right age, having your first kid at a certain age, then your second, then the decision to stop having kids and so on and so forth, are predefined by social/familial expectations. And I would be labelled a rebel for thinking or trying to convince anyone that these are some of the most personal decisions of our lives. In fact, majority of the kids in India have been socially conditioned by their early teens to believe that prearranged everything is the normal way of life and thinking/acting otherwise causes major disappointments from family and friends, close ones to have-never-heard-of-before, no matter how happy or successful you are in your chosen way of life.

Basically, our life is hardly OUR life. It is just an opportunity to show how courteous and considerate we are of people's expectations of how we must live it. In ways and manners that really don't affect them at all but are purely only OUR life decisions, living up to their expectations still matter. 

Very selfless in a manner, this tradition of ours. So the parents' expectations aren't really for their own benefits and the kids' actions are not for their own benefit either. Very sacrificial, and yet, doing no one any good. Bravo!

This doing things as a courtesy for these mystic "others" has trickled down into our social structure and mental makeup so very much, we can even see this in how people treat their own professions. Yeah, personal decisions for other's sake wasn't good enough. 

To begin with, most career paths are chosen by parents even before the kids are born. But that's not where I am getting at. Look at our attitudes towards "work". The driving force behind work is "We need to have a job that pays and is good enough to be publicized and garner social approval". People who follow their passions are also rebels. I have heard the phrase "married to their jobs" thrown around in great aplomb. I ask you this, when you say married to your job, do you mean I am passionate about my job, I love it, I am dedicated and get great joy from it, it is very fulfilling; Or, do you mean, I am married cos this was what was charted for me, this earns money for me, I come here and do what needs to be done and it keeps bearing me fruits in terms of promotions and bonuses (first kid, second kid and so on). 
I mean are you in love in this marriage or is it another of your functional Indian marriages, this work of yours?

How many employees do we meet who are dedicated, excited and passionate about what they do? Who are pleased to see a client not because it means a better incentive but because it means they get another opportunity to present their skill set and enjoy doing it? No, they treat you with courtesy, they earn their salaries. Because that is what they have been expected and conditioned to do all their lives without a second's thought about what they are really getting out of this for themselves. Be passionate about your jobs, be a workaholic if you will, be married to your jobs and definitely earn great money, but all I ask is love what you are married to and whatever your reasons, do it for you, for your reasons.. Get something out of it by the end of it all which is not just "I am fulfilling the expectations of my family".

I wish we could teach our kids that it is not selfish to be passionate and to love who/what you have decided to be dedicated to. My biggest wish for my kid is he never do anything in life because he feels that he owes it to me or anyone else. Oh! hell, I'm an extremist when it comes to teaching him to be courteous and compassionate and nice. I will do that to the best of my abilities. But, my only wish in his personal or professional life is he be happy, truly, completely happy with whatever decision he makes. If being single is his things, so be it. If not, I hope and pray he finds a person who can love him, treasure him and make his world that much of a better place, and he theirs. And no matter what he chooses as a profession, that is one choice I want him to take only for himself and never feel obliged to please me or this damned "society". And I also truly hope he and all the kids of coming generations learn to chose a career based on passion and interest and whatever their priorities are, even if that is money, but not based on anyone else's expectations, as a courtesy to them.

Teach your kids the slightly more difficult things like love and respect. It is easier to teach courtesy, cos hey, who can't say " this is what is expected of you by the world". It is just a slightly more polite variation of "because I told you so". But we all know what good comes out of shortcuts and taking the easy way out, especially with child rearing.

So really, teach your kids to love. Love who they are, love what they do, love the people around them so that they want to do the right things by them out of this love, and not out of fulfilling expectations.
Teach your kids to be nice and polite and less rude, because it is so wonderful to be all those thing and it keeps everyone, including themselves happy. 
Teach your kids compassion towards animals and old people and little kids. True compassion, not just manners and courtesy. 
Teach your kids to definitely consider others in situations where their actions might directly impact/affect others, because that is how you care and help. 
I think all these go a long long way instead of teaching your kids to do things because of courtesy or because it is "the right thing to do", because they are obliged to meet expectations.

Meeting your aged grandparents, getting married to the right person, loving and caring for that person, being true to them because you love them, being nice to others because you love and care, getting a job you love and doing it happily because you enjoy it (and I include earning money and living a good life as part of it because where is any happiness if times are always tough), . Basically, living a life being true to themselves, not just out of a sense of obligation.

In short, teach your kids to be happy and from there, to make others happy. Not to make others happy out of courtesy and be miserable in the process. That simply sucks, this generation of make-believe "courteous", miserable youngsters.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Of Givers and Takers

So many times people think not having someone in your life is the loneliest, most painful thing in the world. Really lucky people, those. In other words, the "takers". Now let me tell you what is much, much worse than that kind of "loneliness". It is being surrounded by people and still being neglected, being all alone. This happens because, unlike common belief, loneliness is not about the number of people you are surrounded by. It is, in reality, about the number of people you have who are willing to spend a little amount of time and attention on you. The "givers". Givers of love, care, attention, happiness, a reason to smile, a reason. When you are surrounded by all those takers in your life and spend most of the time feeling empty and disappointed, more is definitely NOT merrier. It is just lonelier. More so, because it is very human to expect a little in return and when people trash the smallest of your expectations, it is painful.

The thing about intrinsically happy and strong people (these are the kind that naturally are givers) is that despite getting angry and upset at not getting a thing back, they are unable to stay that way for long. AND, most of the leeches in their lives are people amazing at spotting this "quality" from a mile. So, these takers have learned that even when the other person is upset at you for not bothering with any amount of care, attention, or just bothering to keep yourself peppy and happy to be with, you can still continue to NOT give, because these happy people have an automated make-everything-alright system that kicks in in minimum time and restores their happy, giving nature. You can then just saunter in with "hey honey, how you doing" and that's it, life is all hunky dory again, for you. Amazing system you have got yourself going there. Unfortunately for you, it only lasts till the person has hurt too much for too long at the shameless negligence and finally realized that this whole system is simply a burden and pointless to them. Don't forget, they are nice, but they are also strong. They will move on. And they have very little to lose considering they
never had much in the first place.

In fact this reads just like the story of my marriage, and especially of the one and a half years AFTER I pointed out to my loving husband how I know about his affair. He had so much confidence in my perpetual giver status that he thought it was okay to carry on with it for another year and a half, giving me absolutely no apology and  zilch efforts to make it up to me; and then, after she went her way, to actually come back and ask me to join him especially cos it is good for the "Kid". Yeah, just like his affair and negligence was. And the point to note is that I still GAVE him an year and a half to simply show me a little effort. Sigh! No wonder everyone that comes and goes thinks it's quite okay to walk all over me. I will simply keep trying.

Now that I am seeing a new phase of this trend set in, I have learnt a few more things about this parasitism. I realize that the stronger and intrinsically happier you are, the more difficult it is for the other person to prove their worth in your life. If most of the time you are quite capable of finding the reasons of your happiness and strength from within, what role does the other person have really? They then have to do so much more to earn all that they are taking from you so they don't end up feeling like burdens and disappointments over time. They HAVE to be givers too.

And nothing can be more beautiful than two givers meeting. The flip side is, nothing can be more devastating when one of the two turns. After many heartbreaks and disappointments, you meet someone who FINALLY gives you all signs of being a lifelong giver, just like you. Everything is rosy because both have reached a point where they are tired of being walked all over, and so, both are grateful that the other person is ready to reciprocate. And this makes both want to contribute more and more. It couldn't be a better equation. All is beautiful and magical. Till, suddenly, one of them passes over to the other side. i.e., they see the convenience in finally stopping all efforts from their end and to just sit back and leech. An actual lifetime giver is not capable of stopping. It's like an OCD. So even when you realize that the other has stopped, you are incapable of 'being in' a relationship in your head and not give them all your attention and care and thoughts. So, you go on and on and on giving, all the time hoping, waiting that they will restart, the magic will be restored, but usually only end up hurting yourself more than ever before. Cos taking is like a bad bad addiction.
And the worst thing is that despite the hurt and disappointment that surpasses all failures ever before, you feel unable to let go because this is one person with whom you had actually, finally, seen the magic, known the possibilities. And yet, after all your efforts, talking, conversations, reasoning, pleading even, to try and get that magic back, if the other person has nothing better but reasons, for not so much as moving a little finger to try and get that magic back, what other options do you have, really.