Monday, September 21, 2015

Age and Hero(ine) Worship

I have never been a huge fan of respecting age. Unless the additional experience has increased your knowledge and your application of it, there is no reason for me to respect you just because you have eaten a few additional meals than me !

Our culture expects old age to be respected - unconditionally ! The other day, there was an interesting discussion on my WhatsApp group where someone posted a link where a mother of two sons explains why she refuses to look after her grand kids. If she had just said - "my life, my choice" I would have been far more comfortable with that than the way she framed some of the arguments. My first response was "If it were daughters, it would probably have been different". 'Cos unfortunately, in the process of child rearing, the dreams which get squashed are those of the mother...and rarely, that of the father. I also mentioned that ideally as a society there should be enough infrastructure for reliable care giving so that such issues do not arise.

As soon as I mentioned this, someone commented thus " Everyone gets their knickers in a twist when it comes to women's lib and freedom of choice, but the elderly in our country suffer so much discrimination, prejudice and torture from their own kids in the name of social reasons and cultural expectations. Why are grandparents expected not to live their life fully and in their own terms? Unless they feel so, they should not be forced to take on their children's responsibility. They have done enough and they should sit back and enjoy life. If things are not great between them, they should divorce, if they fancy spending money on anything they like they should. If they are single and fancy a partner they should and if they think their kids are assholes they should tell them to f off"

I replied back saying " as long as the same applies back from an adult child to parent"

Needless to say there was no response. Imagine reading this:

" Everyone gets their knickers in a twist when it comes to parents and obedience. But the adult kids in our country suffer so much discrimination, prejudice and torture from their own parents in the name of social reasons and cultural expectations. Why are adult kids expected not to live their life fully and in their own terms? Unless they feel so, they should not be forced to marry or have children (why the subtle and not so subtle suggestions about biological clock, seeing a doctor et al). Nor take on the responsibility of aged parents. They have done enough during their childhood and they should sit back and enjoy life in their prime. If things are not great between couples, they should divorce - who are parents to interfere and say 'adjust pls'? if they fancy spending money on anything they like they should (why ask them to build a house, save etc etc). If they are single and fancy a partner they should (why comment on the sanctity of marriage?) and if they think their parents are assholes they should tell them to f off"

Most people are still far more uncomfortable with the latter than the former. Sending a kid who can't communicate, to a day care which is not regulated by law nor run by competent authorities is considered far more acceptable than leaving a dementia afflicted parent in an old age home. The helplessness in both cases is the same, right?

The discussion then veered off into saying that there aren't good care options in India, 'cos grandparents voluntarily 'sacrifice'. I tend to disagree. Laws are weak in our land and child care institutions like any other enterprise, aim to make maximum profits - resulting in sub standard facilities and untrained staff. Naturally, the reliance on parents increase. And there is no free lunch - relying on parents come with its own price tag - we all choose our poisons, don't we?

As a society, we need to have far more respect accorded to care giving - and not differentiate between kids or aged parents. We also need to have sufficient infrastructure that is well regulated and monitored for care giving. This will allow everyone to have a far more contended and dignified life. After all, we all have just one life and a fixed time on this planet.

Friday, September 18, 2015

On Assholes and Being Nice

A couple of days back, I posted a quote by Aaron James on the definition of an asshole. The quote made sense to me, and I felt like sharing it with my FB friends. This led to an interesting discussion with Anu which started off with the need for gender neutral definitions and moved on to niceness. She mentioned that niceness and competence may not go hand in hand and niceness alone does not entitle one to finish first and that one should be nice as being nice is reward in itself. I mentioned that I would chose niceness over competence any day and then the discussion veered into why choose between the two.

I then realized that for me it had to go hand in hand, but in others I was more tolerant towards an absence of competence than an absence of niceness. I also mentioned that as long as there is no specific disadvantage of being nice then its ok not to have any advantage also. We discussed hiring candidates and how interviews can be manipulated by candidates. Anu, being Anu, and being fond of questions (she once had a blog post on it – you must read it – it will evoke images of a curious lil’ girl !) she asked me  what my definition of nice is and why I believed niceness cannot be taught or acquired. Now, that made me think…and hence this post!*

I thought long and hard on what exactly constitutes my definition of ‘being nice’ is…and here is what I arrived at. It is that quality which prevents you from stepping on someone else’s toes or walking over someone – no matter what the circumstance or reward is.

Let’s take this analogy of walking a lil’ further. Now, in life sometimes we walk in a large beach where there is enough room for everyone to stand and watch the sunset – being nice is relatively easy here. Only a sadist would close the eyes of others so that only he/she enjoys the vista.

Sometimes however, you have to pass through a one-(wo)man wide cave to arrive at the sunset. Time is running out and unless the queue moves forward fast enough you may not see the sunset. This is tricky. A lot of people may push forward. A nice person waits his turn patiently. He may also allow weaker members to move forward and help some of them who may not get another shot at seeing the sunset. The problem with being nice as a reward in itself, is that someone who is a jerk might push you down and walk over you. Too many jerks walking over you and you doing nothing – terms you a pushover. In my eyes, a nice guy(gal), would  probably try and carve out a new path through the rocks. Or decide to sacrifice that day’s sunset – painful, yet that’s what a nice person would do. And that’s why I want to believe that the nice guy still gets a better view of the sunset – someday! 

And I believe that while technical mastery uses your brain or muscle power, being nice is about how you define it for yourselves and if fundamentally you believe that being a jerk is ok, then it is far more difficult to change that – there are several euphemisms that help you to continue being a jerk and justify that behavior.

I am yet to come across a jerk who has transformed himself over time into a nice guy – whereas I have seen far more examples of improvement in competency. ‘Cos in the case of competency, the rewards are more instant and material – so maybe the motivation is higher? (I am not too sure of this one – in my eyes, being nice is non-negotiable)  This is not to say that I have always been nice in my life. But, every time I have not been nice, I have felt royally ashamed of myself! And in this journey towards perfection, one keeps striving!

* I am currently reading a book titled Mindset, which is making me question a lot of what I believe in. So maybe, I will completely change my view on this whole topic someday !

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Path Not Taken...

Every life is a series of choices and outcomes. Sometimes, the outcomes are good, sometimes they are bad. Very often, you do not have sufficient data or time to arrive at the best choice. Your egos, relationships, prejudices all come in the way as well.

However, recently I have seen/heard several people brag about how the choices that they made were superior just 'cos the outcomes are superior. I find this irksome. Hindsight is always 20/20. And its extremely easy to take credit when things go right. As they say "success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan".

You never know where the path not taken would have led - you can only speculate !

Being Selfish; Being Resilient...

There is a thin line - a very very thin line between being labelled selfish or being labelled resilient...
Surprised? Well, here is a story.

A and B are both having trouble in their families and left their spouses and moved to far away places with their kids. They started a new life albeit difficulties and at least in the short term kids seem to be doing fine as well.

A is termed resilient; while B is termed selfish.

Because, A is family and B's spouse is family !!!

Now, onto stereotypes ....Most people to whom I relate this story to, implicitly assume that both A and B are women - 'cos the kids are with them....

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words !

I was getting irritated about not being able to upload pics on to my blog, but what better way to introduce her here than this picture, where she is held by the person who is most proud to have her in his life !


My Little Girl... no longer that little...She recently celebrated her first birthday! She has been a charmer right throughout and the difficulty in feeding her, disappears the moment she smiles at me. She is far more physically attached to me than my elder one, though when it comes to emotional attachment and unconditional love and support, her brother still wins hands down! I am re-discovering the world of fashion and style - thanks to her. I finally managed to get a gown stitched and wore it for her b'day - something I wanted for my wedding reception, finally got done after 7 long years ! And, on that note, here is to you lil' one - my first letter on life lessons.

1. Aim for the Stars and let not anyone tell you that reaching midway is good enuf. You have the power to aim for the stars and actually reach there !
2. Try to have both Style and Substance - the world expects that of you, and your mom was misguided in her childhood to believe that only substance matters. However, if you really have to make a choice then always chose Substance Over Style - the former is more difficult to achieve, but once achieved has far more staying power than the latter.
3. Quoting from the movie 'How Old Are You' - Let no one else decide the expiry date of your dreams. Believe in your dreams - they are your biggest motivator when the chips are down.
4. Choose your partner wisely - Society hasn't changed much over the years when it comes to claustrophobic thinking about women and their rights. I don't expect society to change in your lifetime either. A partner who is truly one, can make it easier for you to BE the change that you want to see in the world around you.
5. Rebel it, live it - more on this later.
6. Understand that 'well-behaved' means different things to different people. Take your time defining your own yardstick, but once defined stick to it across people, places and circumstances.
7. Believe in magic. I for one, believe that 7 is a magical number and so will stop now.


Friday, May 29, 2015


April & May is the time of anniversaries - my birthday, wedding, entry to corporate life, re-entry into my firm all happened in these 2 months. Summer is generally flush with positive memories for me. This time it was my younger one's first Vishu and that added to the charm. (A separate post on this one later)

Birthday: It was a fun day, I had my b'day cake. Hubby gifted me an amazing watch and the in-laws gifted me - yet another amazing watch ! And, I was thrilled - I love watches and perfumes and always love receiving these as gifts. The day was conspicuous by the absence of my birthday bouquet from the super boss and wishes from a dear friend.

Work Anniversary: It's been 11 years since I joined the workforce and 5 years in my current role. Being at the right place at the right time is far more important for career success than talent or hard work. And that is precisely where many women still lose out - late nite informal networking events are rarely attended by women, and their choice of work location is often dependent on the convenience of spouse, parents, children etc, and their career prospects are mostly not even a variable in the equation. Still, given the circumstances that I have chosen for myself, I am happy with my progress - as my hubby says, 'There is always a later bus to the destination' and if I may add 'after you have thoroughly enjoyed the scenery of the bus stop'.

Wedding Anniversary: Now, this one is complicated. Every time, we have a baby, our relationship goes through a really tough time, and I wonder which sage ever said that kids act as a glue in a marriage - definitely not for us. With busy and fulfilling careers, we depend on family to help us take care of kids - lots of people have strong opinions on why this should not be the case, but I find it natural - I grew up primarily with my grandparents and I wouldn't have wanted my childhood to not have them. Anyway, the associated family dynamics on both sides of the family make us feel lousy most days, but we are proud that we survived ! The more difficult question is on the long term - I still haven't come to terms with this city and I don't think I ever will.  How that will affect our relationship - only time can tell. I just hope love conquers it all ! After all, in those wee hours of the morning when your soul is awake, but your body is not, I reach out my hand and feel immensely happy that the hand that reaches out for mine is yours, dear hubby.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Airport Vistas

Some random observations (totally based on my experience - so don't generalize or take offence):

1. Most security guards spend an extra minute checking credentials of a single lady traveler and ask redundant questions such as "So you are travelling in Flight AI123 today?" Definitely not reducing security risks !

2. A lady in a business suit commands more respect than one in a saree ! If respect can be measured by "Which seat would you like today?" ; the no. of times you are referred to as 'Ma'am' etc.

3. The tearful farewells in the airport for families travelling to the Gulf, makes you wonder - Was the world a better place when smaller communities were self sufficient.

4.  Observing young kids dressed in age inappropriate clothes makes me puke - Yes, once they are old enough, let them choose what to dress in. But as a parent, why is it so difficult to accept that babies are not props ! And that comfort first, style later and vulgarity - best avoided.

5.  Even if you can afford it, and even when there is a book shop right in front of you, why do you choose not to buy a book and instead waste time and energy just cribbing about the late flight and the world in general ? (I was myself guilty of this, till I promised myself to make the best of the situation)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


My son's vacation has started and he told me last week, "Why don't you smile more ?" That's when I realized how stressed I have been. Then the other day, he again said "It's vacation - time to enjoy - you should smile more". For which I had a ready retort "It's vacation for you, not for me". But, his answer surprised me "Amma, I am your favorite, so if it is vacation for me, you should be happy". Yea, once in a while its ok to be happy, just because your loved ones are happy !!! I am off to Indonesia next week and I can't wait to be on the plane !