Friday, June 25, 2010

Mom & Dad

June 20, 2010 Sunday, my day began with a friend reminding me to call my Dad and wish him ‘Happy Father’s Day’. Though these umpteen ‘days’ look like a ploy by greeting card companies to make a fast buck, people really feel happy to be called and wished… especially parents. So I took my friend’s advice seriously and called Dad.

Dad was happy I called. He told me something he read in the morning’s paper:

‘85% of kids who call their dads regularly remain happy in their lives, but only 25% of the kids who speak to their moms regularly manage to be happy!’.
This analysis got me thinking. A typical ‘Father’s Day’ type of analysis I must say, but is it true?

I speak to my dad very little as compared to my mom. The situation was similar when I was in hostel. My mom would call n speak to me daily (thanx to the Airtel Free calls in those days!) but dad’s turn would be only once a week or so. And while speaking to dad I would maintain an air of formality, the talk would mainly concentrate on the studies, presentations and the like. Whereas with mom it was possible to discuss everything- roommate problems, food issues, etc…

All our lives, we kids live in awe of our dads, but moms are the ones who are bullied around. When I was a kid I remember how dad would never take action against me for any wrong doing and advise mom to do the disciplining… thereby making her look like a dragon…!!! He he… but still, to get something done by dad, the only passage route available was through mom… get her in n she will manage to get dad to agree…!!!

Today also, I speak to my mom about everything, be it problems at office, work, anything. But when it comes to dad, it is always about how much I am enjoying my work and how life is peaceful. A lot of my guy friends appear to be very pally with their dads. But even they tell me the closeness began only after they stepped into their 20s… earlier, even they were pretty formal with their dads!

So why is it that kids who speak to their dads regularly are happier than the ones who speak to their moms? One theory may be that with moms, we tend to pour out all our sorrows. Though it is believed that sharing sorrows reduces them, in reality I feel the lesser we speak about something painful, the easier it is to surmount them. When it comes to dads, there is always the idea of painting a hunky-dory picture. We end up highlighting the positives, thereby feeling better…!!!

In earlier days when moms were typically stay-at-home and dads went to offices, this distance between the kids and dads was understandable. But in today’s generation, neither the mom nor the dad are at home full time in most cases. So will the closeness to mom and the awe of dad still continue or will, with the changing lifestyles, relationships also change?

I remember the dialogue from Karah Johar’s K3G (its all about loving your parents). It said, baap apne bête se kabhi yeh nahi keh paata ki wo use kitna chaahta hai, aur maa kehti rehti hai, beta sune, ya na sune…!!! Moms have always been more expressive since time immemorial… but dads…

So on the occasion of ‘Father’s Day’ let us all reach out to our Dads… n let us try to make every day a ‘Happy Father’s Day’!!!


Monday, June 21, 2010

The First Time…

There are a lot of firsts in anybody’s life… events that bring about some change… which help in moving ahead. It is fun to take some time off and remember the firsts of ur life… relive the thrill of anticipation, the uncertainty, and maybe the joy of doing something new.

The first time of anything, however trivial it may be, gives rise to a plethora of such emotions. Consider the chill u feel when u first step into a cold swimming pool or a shower… the first instance when the water touches ur skin is torture, but normalizes after a few mins. The first sip of a glass of hot beverage is always the hardest… once ur tongue gets scalded, u can drink easily (;-))

My first day in school is pretty vague in my memory… I think I was not crying, instead, I was wondering at the other tiny tots why THEY were crying…!!! I guess I was too well prepared for school. On my first day in hostel during my MBA, the strongest memory is of my dad’s emotional face… dad like all other dads has always found it hard to express himself in front of us kids. Even my hostel warden made note of that fact and pointed out to me one day that my dad was looking very sad to drop me in hostel.

The first time is also always the toughest (obviously!)… Sometimes when you remember the kind of fear you had when you were doing something for the first time might make you laugh later… I remember the day I travelled alone for the first time in the Mumbai local… being rush hour I had to travel in the ladies compartment alone… at every stop I asked the women around me if Dahisar (my station) would be next… he he… I have come a long way from that day and the apprehension I felt then is a joke in my mind!!!

Remember the time when, in school or college, u mustered up courage to catch the attention of ur first crush… it seems really funny thinking of those days now when u r a professional and the world around you is much more serious than it was in those days…!!!

Our Hindi movies also make a great show of the ‘pehla’… pehla pyar, pehli nazar, pehli baar dil ka tootna… reams of script are spent on these things… it is probably true that one does not ever forget one’s first crush, first love… more than remembering the subject of crush in those days, it is the emotion which remains in one’s mind forever…the tingling u felt when the person in question looked at u or the gentle ribbing by ur friends… those memories are indeed priceless…!!!

The first time one does anything wrong is also momentous… coz after the first time, the act seems less scary… I do not want to elaborate (for obvious reasons!) but I am sure most would remember some such event in their lives and agree with me…!!!

Every day brings about new firsts in ones life… had there been nothing new to look forward to, who would have wanted to get up… so let us remember all the first times and thank those events for being there to spice up our lives…!!!

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Train Conversations

Train Conversations

Train journeys, as I have said in my earlier post, are an irreplaceable part of life in Mumbai. Since the office crowd generally travels in the same train over a long period, there is a possibility of forging friendships with regular co travelers. Train friendships are quite common in the Mumbai locals. But in my 3 years of Mumbai train travel, I have also come across some different kind of interactions… one off interactions between people travelling together for that journey… bidding goodbye after the journey as friends, probably never to meet again. These conversations help in passing the time faster and before u you know, it is time to get off…!!!

Yesterday I travelled alongside one such pair who was chatting. I realized that they have just met. The fat lady was the one indulging in most of the talking while the thin one mostly listened offering sympathetic comments at the right junctures. Sample this:

Fat Lady (FL): I have the habit of forgetting packages on train racks…
Thin Lady (TL): (Sympathetically) that’s bad…
FL: Yeah… once I left this lovely lunch box-water bottle combo… I had just purchased it from Marine Lines… so beautiful they were… costed me 300 bucks… imagine…I lost 300 bucks on the rack…
TL: (sympathetic clicks of the tongue)
FL: You know, I had also bought a lovely saree on the same day, luckily I gave it to my friend for safe keeping… else I would have lost the saree too…
TL: (coudnt u give the other stuff also to your friend?) yeah that was really lucky for u…!!! ;-)

Needless to say, for FL the journey might have felt very short… I hope the same was the case with TL!!!

Another time, in a crowded Virar, I witnessed a conversation between a very Posh looking lady carrying a stylish small clutch bag and a simple service class girl looking tired after a long day in office. Here’s what transpired:

Posh Lady (PL): That’s a nice bag you have.
Simple Lady (SL): (probably surprised at the praise of her very unstylish utility bag) ohh… thanks.
PL: You might be able to keep a lot of stuff in it na…?
SL: Oh yes, the usual things apart I am also able to keep my tiffin box and water bottle.
PL: And look at me… mera yeh chhotu sa bag… I can’t keep a thing!!!
SL: (smug, no comments)
PL: Where did you get the bag from?
SL: This bag is easily available… you can get it at Borivali market for 150 bucks…
PL: That’s great… I m going to Borivali Market this Friday…!!!
End result being both PL & FL enjoyed their journeys…

Trains are actually a study in human nature for a person who is new to them. I have seen women in groups berating their mothers-in-law, singing ‘happy birthday’ for someone turning a year older, sharing goodies with regulars, etc. No one even knows the others’ names… but probably, this world away from office and home is a time when most chill… and though inane at times, train conversations might go a long way in easing the minds of the speakers and helping them look forwards to the responsibilities waiting for them as they step out of the compartment…!!!


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lingua franca

India, though one country is a study in diversity. And for me, most fascinating is the number of languages spoken here… language in itself is an amazing concept… how some sounds might be gibberish for a few but might make perfect sense to some others…! I have always had great fun in trying to learn nuances of a new language from any friend of a different region… as a result I have working knowledge of most languages in the south plus a few languages commonly heard in Mumbai, my current base.

But languages in India are also now becoming a means to segregate people… at one time India had unity in diversity, now it seems vested interests see language as a means for creating divisions…

The situation in Maharashtra is quite well known, thanks to the excessive media coverage of the propaganda by a very charismatic regional leader. Mumbai has progressed (???) from the 70’s where the agenda was to send back the South Indians (Idlis or Madrasis to most!!!) to today where the agenda is to send back anyone who is not Marathi Speaking.

Linguist that I am, I have a good working knowledge of Marathi. Anyone with common sense would agree that language can only be learnt by speaking to the ones who are fluent. But I have noticed that people here hardly give me a chance. I am greeted with laughter ever if I speak in the local language due to the difference in the pure accent. So guys, if you laugh at me, how will I learn…???

I recently visited a city which I love, Chennai. Tamil is a language I love hearing, and am quite fluent speaking it, along with being able to read and write the script. As a result, I love it when I am surrounded by people speaking Tamil. This time too, I had 3 days in Chennai speaking the language of the land with the people. And my!!! What a response I got…!!! People were overjoyed whenever I spoke to them in Tamil. My request for traditional ‘Sambhar-Rice’ at a restaurant for lunch amazed the waiter so much… he had actually come with a bowl of Dal to serve me…!!! I have forever believed ‘In Rome, do as the Romans do’. And it has held me in good stead always.

But I was witness to a disconcerting incident in Chennai too… I was at the tourism office with my parents waiting for the bus to Tirupati. The bus was delayed. I had conducted all the enquiries at the desk in Tamil eliciting a favorable response from all. They were very helpful with the replies and I was asked to wait for the bus. In came a very tall guy who moved to the desk and began requesting for information in English. Here is the conversation between the Tall Guy (TG) and the desk…

TG- I need info regarding the rates and trips for Tirupati.
Desk – Where are you from?
TG- From here itself (confused at the question).
Desk – Are you Tamilian?
TG-Yes, from (XYZ) village.
Desk (shifting to Tamil from English) – Why are you speaking in English if you are a Tamilian? Don’t you know we have a rule here… no signboards except in Tamil… no speaking except in Tamil. Don’t you know that Kalaingar (Karunanidhi, I think) has asked us to be true to our mother tongue? Then how dare you come here and speak foreign language?

Needless to say, TG was nonplussed and beat a hasty retreat. As a witness to the whole conversation, I understood what language fanatics were all about. They would have accepted if I had spoken in English, coz I am not a Tamilian. But I checkmated them by conducting the conversation the local tongue. But poor TG will never speak English in Tamil Nadu again!!!

I believe that any language is beautiful… be it the hoarse North Indian dialect or the lilting South Indian words. And above all, isn’t it that I find the South Indian words lilting coz I make sense of them more than I make of the North Indian dialect? So enjoy the diversity and find unity in it…!!!


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Kaho Na…

"You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But
if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget."

How true na… Expression of feelings is an art which is lacking in most. Everyone loves to be told that he is loved, she is looking good, etc. But how many actually say that to others? Not many. As long as you don’t express ur feelings to others, how to u expect them to feel free to say the same to you?

People are really miserly when it comes to paying compliments to others. It is sad the way many people just feel things in their minds and do not say them out loud. This reticence probably stems from a thought that by appreciating the other, we would look like we r lacking. Or maybe, we are conditioned in such a way that appreciating another is just not priority…!!!

By paying a compliment to someone you know you might be just making his/her day… I believe no one forgets the good someone tells them about themselves… sometimes a compliment given from heart can light up a gloomy day of the recipient… whenever I feel low I remember the good things which my friends and family have noticed about me and appreciated… and once I do that, I feel a renewed confidence to take on whatever is disturbing me then!

The bashfulness in expressing is much more when it comes to feelings of affection. It is funny how we find it so easy to compliment our friends but find it difficult to thank our family for being there. It is amazing how a married couple get lost in the world of responsibility so much that love flies out of the window, even though they might have been lovers in the past. The same couple who used to say ‘I love You’ n number of times to each other earlier feel it frivolous now and do away with saying it. But what they lose is the intimacy created on saying that simple phrase from the heart…

Can anyone look at their parents and tell them how much they love them? Or thank them for all they have done for them? Just get a card from Archies or Hallmark for your parents and make their day. But the effect of the spoken word can never parallel the effect of a card na…!!!
I once saw a very cute young couple at the station, probably lovers, having a very animated discussion with each other using all sorts of gestures. But when I crossed them I realized that their gestures were all they had… they were mute! But even in their silent world they were partaking in the joy of the spoken word through gestures… We have it so much easier as we have a voice, so kaho naa… express what you feel!!!


Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Grey Matters

Grey may not be a favorite color with most… a mix of the 2 most staid colors – Black n White- may not be the perfect idea of a style statement. But in life, Grey is probably the most dominant color. I m talking about the situations to which our responses are grey… nahi samjhe…?

A bad habit which most of us (including me of course!) have is to live life according to others’ diktats… society is the most important thing here… how many times in a day do u think ‘wat will he/she think?’… or ‘wat is his/her opinion about me?’… I think like this a number of times in a day… coz that’s how I have been trained in life… The mental conditioning of a kid in India is probably done in such a way that he is born with a ‘right-wrong’ rule book which ought to be followed life long. And when the kid grows up and realizes that things are never black or white (if at all he does realize!) he is too well conditioned to rebel against the rule book.

So who decided what is right and what is not… who made the rule book? Frankly, it seems that we r in a catch 22 situation: society made the rules for the society, thereby ensuring full compliance. But then, if WE ourselves have made the rules over the generations, then we ourselves should have the right to change them with the times na. Fodder for thought definitely…!!!

We have so many rules to live by:
1) Thou ought not to use study time for sports/artwork/dance/singing. Study time is for study only, extra curry is just that… EXTRA.
2) Thou ought not to make a career out of anything other than Science/Commerce/Math. Most artists and sportsmen don’t earn enough to feed even their own stomachs… so thou will not find a spouse for thyself.
3) Thou ought to have a professional degree… only that will ensure thou a good job.
4) Thou are a girl, thou studies will ensure thou a good spouse and thou needs to be a PRO at housework as that will distinguish thou from boys. Thou ought not to make the 1st move with a guy… thou will be labeled badly.
5) Thou ought to marry a girl/boy of thou parents’ choice. The girl/boy in question shall be of the same Religion & caste & community & village & social standing & education & (o my god, it doesn’t end!!!)….

(The list is neither exhaustive, nor totally experienced by me… but I guess these are the most commonly faced ones… )

In a society like ours, it is very difficult to be a rebel. U find urself alone with even people u care for on the opposite side. But then, when will all this change…? The key is to make decisions u feel like making and then have the courage to STAND BY THEM. Being responsible for ur own actions, whether they turn out well in the end or not, is the sign of strength of character. It is never wrong to admit that what you did didn’t turn out well… but at least… be strong enough to admit that whatever happened was because of YOU urself… A lot of people probably think that strength of character means defending everything they do whether it turns out well or not… but isn’t that actually cowardice? Grey matter stands for intelligence… so why always think in black or white… be grey and love it…!

I have lived too much according to the rule book… time to shut it n start writing another book… not of rules, but the things life has to offer if u just open ur eyes to see… !!!