Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Marriage on the rocks...

I am aware of two marriages of close friends in downward spirals and heading towards a point of no return. It pains to know that both marriages have similarities and differences and yet they are both in the same state. One was arranged the other was a love marriage but the primary difference did not matter much. I would like to share some takeaways from these weddings and what could have been better.

1.    Expect the unexpected and be prepared for not meeting expectations: Marriages go off the rails when the expectations are unmet. Usually the men go into the marriage with expectations that may be let’s say unreasonable and when these expectations are not met the cracks appear. While expectations may not be wrong in itself, they come with the challenge of being a two way street. Pause for a moment to acknowledge that the other partner also comes with his / her set of expectations and it is his / her right to feel short changed when the expectations are unfulfilled. Very often it is a one way street and discontent leads to the partner(s) straying. What is fair to one need not be fair to the other and when people say win-win there is a lot of merit in it.

2.    The foundation of a marriage is undoubtedly love but it has to be built up on respect: In the search for love of the purest form people tend to forget that respect goes with love. Mutual respect is crucial as without respect there cannot be love. Marriage is complementary and is never a union of equal halves it is more of the joining of two irregularly broken pieces that will be unequal, big here, small there. So is the marriage and if the partners are hiding behind the fallacy of the weaker / stronger partner it is good to pause and appreciate that it never was and never will be equal halves. There are things the woman is better at, concede it and move on. Lack of respect for self and for each other is therefore crucial for the marriage.

3.    Keep the kids out of it: when the partners bicker in front of the kids then they are scarring kids for life. Respect for women is often missing in our country because the kids do not see respect for their mothers at home. How will that kid expect any better later on? A submissive girl or a bullying boy (cliche) would have probably learnt it first at home.

Marriage is all about glorious uncertainties and is a voyage of discovery. There is a lifetime to learn something new about each other despite a lifetime behind if the partners will make time for it. It is a two way street that may require more giving than receiving at times but if it is founded on love and respect will it really matter? Love and be loved, ultimately to make a marriage work only the two partners can despite the many around them. And yes if they are spiritual some divine help may just come in handy.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

I struggled but I overcame - a CBC contest

I struggled but I overcame… with help

This post is my contribution for a contest by You can read more about this group at their website where you will find more such works by amateur, semi-professional and even professional bloggers and published authors from our Chennai. Read on…

I like to be with others, my friends, my family, peer groups etc but there are times when I like to be with myself and these times are crucial because they help me to reconnect with myself. Years ago when I was struggling with some challenges, the challenges now appear so trifling that I no longer remember them except for the pain they caused.

During one of these low moments when things were so low that I questioned the meaning of life the people around me failed to see the challenges I was fighting with. My support systems saw the outer me and failed to realize behind the smiling face was confusion, despair and other emotions that tortured me. I had an image to maintain and so the fa├žade was solid and the reactions were normal but it was tough. Men hide behind illusions of power and control because the society can be unforgiving and weakness is usually not acceptable for the supposedly stronger sex.

Depression and its allied consequences can be tough and it is difficult for others to empathize with someone suffering from depression because to an observer it may seem exaggerated or even like a farce, but for the afflicted it feels like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Help is crucial be it the professional type or just a concerned type.

It was not so bad that I needed professional help but I did not have the realization that help would have helped me recover. Help came from where it was least expected, a friend saw through the mask and reached out to me. Now she was a friend who was not very close to me and we had a history or disagreements, how she saw through me I never knew but in the crowd of so many others she reached out with a kind word, then a phone call and slowly there was a light at the end after all.

What happened after that is a blur but when I look back at the day when I found someone who saw through me, saw that I needed help and stretched out her hand, I feel a deep sense of gratitude. And that hand which reached out to me, I have not let go since.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

I am an Indian...

I was in the branch of a Public Sector Bank on a Friday on some work and in the back ground amidst the noise of the busy branch was a faint tinkling of a prayer bell. In some time my meeting was interrupted by a priest who brought the sacred fire and the prasad to the occupants of the cabin. When he came to me, I smiled and stepped back; he saw me, smiled in acknowledgement and moved to the next person.

What happened is a regular occurrence on Fridays in many secular organizations in our country. We are proudly secular but we happily pray to the Gods of our choice and we respect the views and beliefs of others. When the priest entered, all the occupants in the room including me stood up immediately out of respect. My personal beliefs made me step back from the sacred light and this act was respected by the others in the room. They did not bear me any ill will nor did they treat me any differently. When the priest left the room our business conversations resumed where we had left off.

This instance did not make the bank any less secular than before nor did it make the people feel uneasy that one person in the room differed from them. If we extrapolate the bank to our country, these instances happen daily, sadly these days when someone steps back only because he does not have the same belief but respects the faith of others the responses have changed. Some feel offended even outraged and this is in stark contrast to the average person in the country.

All these years we have been secular and yet religious, pluralistic and yet patriotic, been different yet similar and we have been Indian. How can differences divide the nation today? How can some claim the right to the nation based on their choices when till date the only thing common to the 1.2 billion people is their nationality being different with their food choices, languages, cultures, beliefs, customs etc?

Being Indian is more than sloganeering or bullying others to walk one way, it is about living together and growing together in more ways than one.

Image courtesy Google

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

My little princess

One of the small joys of life in the mornings for me is watching my little daughter sleep peacefully. Sometimes she wakes up and spotting me nearby rushes over curls up nearby holds my hand and goes back to sleep. She sleeps secure in the knowledge that her dad is nearby and I delight in this simple joy of fatherhood.

Can things change a few years down the line? Will a father despise the choice of his daughter so much that he will not hesitate to kill her for the sake of honour? Is there really any honour when this precious daughter marries or chooses to marry someone outside their circles? Can the happiness of his precious one be less important than social acceptance?

Why is this craze for this silly thing called caste? Why is it important for marriage? Why will the mixing of bloodlines make a difference to people’s lives? Does a blood bank have blood caste wise? Or does a dying man refuse the organs harvested of someone of the lowest class? Why do people fear the society that will not bother to feed him when he is hungry or clothe him when he is naked or give him shelter when he is homeless? How many people stood and watched when some mercenaries brutally attacked a young couple recently. In this indifferent society why does social acceptance matter?

If you still say we are a tolerant country, you are in a dream. I read somewhere that only 7% or so is the share of intercaste marriages in our country. Happily I am in that 7% and I am grateful for it.

I pray that I love my daughter and I will continue to love her for her choices even if they are not mine. 

Images courtesy Google

Monday, March 07, 2016

The radiator in the basement

Home Alone has crossed 25 years and the cute little kid who still makes you smile is now close to middle age. Of the many memorable and silly scenes in the movie including the mandatory mushy climax there is one scene where Kevin conquers his fear of the basement and the radiator. You will recall his initial reaction to the radiator in the basement where he will make a hasty exit and hide under his bed; his fear will consume him till he takes charge and conquers his fear by saying “Shut up”.

Now let is shift to the sedition, defamation and many other cases that are piling up in our courts usually by people in power. Whether it is a simple folk singer or a college student, ordinary people have managed to throw the fear into people causing laughable knee jerk reactions. Government machinery including well qualified and competent officers spend their time doing things that will make them wince otherwise. Freedom of expression or public criticism will lead to defamation adding to the already long list of pending cases in our courts. Not only are these acts silly they also waste public time and resources. Tax payer money is being spent to fight these cases, cases which the media bring into public domain and the erstwhile nobody becomes somebody worth noticing.

I find it difficult to believe that people in power can feel offended by such insignificant acts. How easy it would be to simply ignore the irritant and go on. If there is a speck in the eye, washing it with water works as well as going to the eye specialist and opting for the most advanced retrieval technique.

To all those feeling slighted, scared or uneasy take some time off grab some popcorn watch Home Alone and get a lesson on how to conquer your fears. It is as simple as saying, “Shut up” and walking on. 

Images courtesy - Google Images

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Pappu cant dance...

I got yet another Pappu joke from another fan of the current government.  The attempt to look invincible by projecting a weaker adversary is laughable at best for the effort and not the joke. Make no mistakes that I am a Rahul Gandhi fan, in case you still wondered about Pappu; I am not anybody’s fan, not least a politician.

For all his faults that have been loudly proclaimed by many I would like to give him credit for being someone who tried and who is taking the difficult option. It would have been easy to live with the silver spoon he is born with and have a good time but it calls for a certain degree of character to get into the world of politics and to step into the frontline and fight an election campaign.

What are the odds stacked against RG?
Many in my opinion:-
  • -         A party of geriatrics who refuse to let go
  • -         The bright sparks who struggle to come up
  • -         A legacy of dysfunctional government that was given a second term
  • -         The usual baggage of incompetence and corruption
  • -         The list just goes on

In my opinion however the biggest challenge is the absence of a good mentor, someone who is well versed in the business of politics and who can strategize well.

Is Rahul Gandhi a bad politician?
The answer lies on the metrics he is being judged with. I am not sure that there is one stellar politician who is liked by all among his contemporaries today. Let us be honest, how many of us aspire to be a politician or even feel charitable to an average politician. When the very word politician brings revulsion to the average person what is the scale to judge that RG is worse than the others. Yes he may make mistakes and that is what happens when you end up with a job that you are ill prepared for and with only experience as a teacher it will take time.

The challenge before him is to not make mistakes but to learn from them and grow. There have been many star sons who after being handed a legacy on a plate have gone on to lose all that and have no qualms about it. The rise of this government was aided by the absence of a strong opposition and there lies the challenge & opportunity. It takes some character to stand up in the midst of ridicule and expose oneself to public scrutiny without any bravado.

I look forward to RG learning and learning fast and giving a good fight. The strength of a good democracy is a strong and vibrant opposition and here lies my selfish desire. If he rises up to the challenge and is able to go beyond the jokes he may become a good politician.

To those who still amuse themselves by sending silly jokes and cannot understand that the joke is on them, maybe “Pappu can’t dance saala” but he most certainly will not dance to your tunes.

Image courtesy: Google images