Saturday, March 29, 2014

A CBC inspired post

It can be tough to be a woman in India but is it easier in many other places? I wonder. This post was inspired by another post by a blogger I like.

The following is a set of random observations that collectively seek to answer one doubt:

I know of  a man who at the young age of 18 was forced to become the man of his house, take up a job and take care of his mother and three sisters due to the untimely demise of his father. With just a class 12 he put his sisters through college and got them married. Today each of his sisters is well settled with their families and he married late and is blessed with two daughters. He has worked very hard and has put the elder daughter into a prestigious engineering college and his younger daughter may join her in a few years too. He has always been tied down by debt moving from one expense to another for all the weddings and all the responsibilities that he took on or rather was forced on him. The other day when I asked him why he chose engineering for his daughter he said that having studied only up to school he wanted to give the option of the best education in college he could afford to his daughter(s). Incidentally this daughter is now rebelling against the father because she feels inadequate among her peers as she never has enough money on hand.

I know of another young man, actually a colleague who has been supporting the family immediately after college with the first job he found. After an expensive treatment for his ailing father who passed away he had to get his younger sister married. He worked extra hours saved up money, borrowed from money lenders at usurious rates of interest and got his sister married off. Mercifully there was no dowry but yet a wedding can be economically draining. And then there are the festivals and other events when jewellery is given, gifts are given because it is traditional. His own wedding is far away since he has to clear his debts before he can even consider it. Recently he started taking the bus to work because he could not afford to pay the installments on his much loved motorcycle.

There may be others like these men who were forced to take up roles that they were not ready for, they gave up dreams that had, and they walked the extra mile because they had to. Did they really have to? They could have opted out but they chose to do what they do because they loved their family. They made big sacrifices not because they had to but because they chose to.

In India women are considered a burden because of the big W the wedding and the big D the dowry that comes. One solution for this is to avoid education and save that money for the wedding day. Though it is workable it is silly and no parent these days does that. Standing for hours to get admission in good schools and colleges to give the best education for their daughters is normal for parents today. So what about the boys? It was believed that the girls will be married away and the boys will remain and be the pension system for the parents. This fallacy has been rudely shaken because for one parents seldom plan their retirement and two they spend a lot of their earnings in bringing up their children and getting them married. This fear of the future spurs many parents to get their children married in time and there appears to be a lot of merit in this argument.

The mushrooming of fertility clinics across the city tells you that increasing number of men and women are becoming infertile and they are willing to spend obscene amounts of money for assisted reproduction. The reasons are many including lifestyle changes and late marriages. I read in an article that women are postponing marriage and childbirth to focus on their careers and consequently the number of patients for treatment is increasing day by day. Medicine has helped grandmothers conceive but you wonder if it is avoidable.
These days two working parents with children have contributed to a host of lifestyle changes which come to affect the children. From lack of parental care, to bad food habits, the problems and complexities keep increasing. Earlier one working parent and one stay at home parent ensured that the child got the attention the child deserved. Be it homework or meals on time one parent was available and the growth of the child was monitored. Today caretakers and sometimes grandparents take up this role; sadly they can never replace a parent.

The recent advertisement by a matrimonial site where a young woman expresses her desire to work after marriage and the advertisement shows the husband explaining the choice to his parents. While the choice of getting married is not often with the children, the choice of spouse is given to them especially in urban households. Parents allow prospective matches to meet and surely aspirational men and women can take the opportunity to articulate their dreams and desires.

Life is all about choices. Some choices may affect only one, some may affect many more. Some choices can be enablers, some can be disablers. Blaming others for the situation one finds himself / herself is a choice. Life is very difficult only if someone is denied the choice.

Monday, March 24, 2014


I have started walking daily after so many broken resolutions. Actually I have completed the 21 days of habit forming schedule and so walking has become routine. Living in Anna Nagar with so many parks can be a blessing and with a park very close to home I have made it my morning haunt these days.
A worrying BMI, a family history of diabetes were some of the reasons for this walk routine but among them is my desire to complete a 10KM run in the next Chennai marathon. I remember completing the 5 KM run many years ago and never got around to it again since and each year I resolve to do it next year and this year it seems I will do it.

I always enjoyed running and mix my walk with short runs aiming to build up stamina before I go for the longer runs. Sadly I have not been able to find newbies like me in the neighbourhood as yet to train together. I realized among the many benefits of exercise is time with myself. The early morning cool breeze and just you pushing yourself to the next milestone is really therapeutic and the stillness of the hour works wonders. I actually started walking when I woke up with a splitting headache and on the spur of the moment I decided against popping a pill and stepped out. It was a decision that has stayed with me and the headache vanished that day.

The “me time” allows me to meditate if you can call it that since you feel at peace, you can hear your breathing, you feel at one with the environment around you at the early hour before the sun rise till you hear one annoying walker walking around with a mobile phone playing a bhajan on speaker. Do not get me wrong I do not object to his prayer but I do wish that he use a pair of headphones. The other annoyance is the world changing gentlemen loudly debating politics and everything under the sun so loudly that they wake up the sleeping crows which start cawing intermittently. Even these can be pardoned till you hear a mobile phone ringing and you are treated to a never ending phone call.

Despite the many irritants it has been a good effort and if I stick at it I should complete the 10 KM run this year. If you happen to see me at that time and you see me fitter than before you will know why.

Opening song courtesy Youtube from a bad I enjoyed back then
Image Courtesy Google iMages

Monday, March 17, 2014

Its a red dummy!!!

What do you do when the traffic light ahead turns to red?
If you are not on foot, I suppose the universal rule of law is that you stop.
It is quite plain and simple and usually the above statement is non-negotiable. I say usually because in Chennai and I would like to believe in many other parts of India, the red light is subject to negotiation and even debate. These negotiations are between the driver and his / her conscience and it appears that the winner in most cases is the driver.

Stopping at the signal appears to be the most difficult thing to do and for some it can be an annoying distraction when a light turns red. For some others standing behind someone waiting for the light to change can be a life altering moment and usually ends up in exaggerated outburst of road rage.

Usually I get bullied by some idiots behind when I wait at a traffic light simply because it appears that there is no traffic from the adjacent lanes, forgetting for a moment that lights also permit walkers to cross the road. I make way just to get these pests out of my thoughts to preserve my sanity. Today at the landmark Anna flyover (also called Gemini flyover) I waited for the light to change green. I was treated to a blast of horns from the cars behind when they saw that some others were not waiting and I was holding up progress for them. Today I held firm, ignoring the blasts by plugging in my earphones and by increasing the car stereo a little more than required. After a few seconds the blaring of the horns stopped I suspect out of sheer frustration. I moved on when the lights changed.

At the next dubious intersection (I call it dubious because people have a doubt on the utility of the same) on Poonamallee High Road, I pulled up for the red light and held my line. The usual rule breakers rushed on but then I noticed a MTC bus pull up behind and wait patiently for the light. This was a real surprise knowing MTC bus drivers and along with the bus other vehicles fell in line. I leant today that if you are firm you can make a change.

People may think you are mad to follow the traffic rules and you may get laughed off but it calls for a lot of self-control, maturity and discipline to hold your line. In the long run it is well worth the effort because if you cannot be disciplined for such a small thing, bigger things will be way out of your league.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

A post for today

In case you missed it, it is Women’s day today. The day when businesses fall over each other with special offers for women, when the media honours women from every field many whom they may have never realized existed on 364 other days, when oh never mind, you would have got the picture by now.

However well-intentioned it may be many of them are hollow and everyone seems to have an opinion either for or against the celebration. Personally I say, why not? It’s like a birthday, everyone has one and we celebrate that day even if we do not celebrate the person the other days and everyone is entitled to one more day of being celebrated. So let me first wish all the women a very Happy Women’s Day.

Having done that I would like to expose one fallacy many hide behind, that men and women are equal; they are not, not always. There may be one more, men are superior to women, they are not, again not always. So if you wonder then “is the corollary right” and have expressions varying from delight to ridicule I would like you to pause and hold that thought for a moment. Take a look at the picture below

You can choose either piece to represent a man and a woman and spend a lot of time measuring the bigger piece and I will wish you well if you are able to accurately measure it. But I would like to draw your attention to the two broken segments and see that the break is uneven, in one bit one side is bigger and just below the other side is bigger and it continues. Each piece separately looks unfinished but together looks complete even beautiful.

The challenge therefore is for either piece to seek completion in the other and be aware that in some areas men are simply better and in some women are. To those who ask can a piece not survive alone or look good by itself? Of course it can. Will that unfinished piece look good? It will for those who think so, beauty after all is in the eye of the beholder.

One endearing memory I carry of my mother. One day working in the kitchen making food she burnt herself, the usual cooking incident for her but I was surprised to see her ignore it because at that moment food for her sons was top priority. I had to stop her and then get a cream for the burn. One endearing memory I carry of my father. There were days when he had to go with less food when he was working alone, so that he could save and send money for us. Makes you wonder, who therefore is stronger…

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Three annoying things...

Driving past the Stella Maris College while always pleasant is even better these days. The beauties outside the campus make you slow down for a second look and are potential traffic hazards. A thing of beauty always warrants a second look and when you have so many of them in one place you can be forgiven if you stop and stare. You move on feeling extremely annoyed and angry with this government for whitewashing the walls of the YMCA and other public buildings.

Improper use or lack of grammar annoyed me no end. These days grammar has been reinvented along with the language being spoken. Among the many Tamizh dialects is Tanglish a forced marriage of Tamizh and English which has become the language most commonly used and understood by the common man in Chennai. Earlier we used to “fying” everything to make the English cousin of a Tamizh word, remember “suttufying” which sounds like shooting but means looting. The latest Idea ad in Tamizh, rather Tanglish is Poo Soothing! Looks like Fy,fy,fy has been tholachufyed.  So does it annoy me? I am not really sure but do I have a choice?

Music can soothe a troubled soul. Good rerecording or back ground score can enhance or destroy the visual experience of a movie or a play. The best back ground pieces that stick are those that stay in the back ground, but then you have the mega serials. Going with the theme of exaggerated expressions on screen the music also gets exaggerated and therefore excessively annoying. As a rule I do not watch mega serials but with generous neighbours around you are always in the midst of a marital discord, scheming in-laws, murderous relatives and so much more. Sometimes you wonder if the viewers are oblivious to the assault on their ears.

P.S. In case you wondered about Stella Maris College