Friday, June 1, 2018

Political Signs

The recent Assembly election in the state of Karnataka was labelled as a major political drama. When election result got announced, the party that is in power in the Parliament became the single largest party though they still didn’t have majority in the Assembly. Two of the next biggest parties formed a coalition post-election and claimed the right to form the government since, together, they have majority in the Assembly.

The plot thickened with Governor of the state applying his discretionary power and invited the ruling party to form the government giving fifteen days to prove majority. A Chief Minister was sworn in as well on the same day tasked with the challenge of proving majority. The opposition parties filed a case at the Supreme Court and got the duration offered by the Governor reduced to four days. The climax of the drama unfolded with the one-day-wonder Chief Minister resigning after failing to prove majority in the Assembly for his party! As I write this, the erstwhile opposition was invited by Governor to form the government and it is now their turn to prove majority in the next four days.

So what is the moral of the story and what has a family with a husband and wife got to learn from this political debacle? The most important take away from the whole story is that you should know when to accept your defeat and exit gracefully. Else you’ll make yourself go through twists and turns finally forcing you, against your own will, to accept a humiliating end.

I’m pretty sure that many of us relate quite well to the parties mentioned in the story above. We may have situations in life where we know that we’ve lost the battle, yet our ego wouldn’t allow us to accept the defeat. Instead we’ll cling on to the invisible ray of hope looking ahead to the future which ironically has got dooms-day written all over it.

Even when we are fully aware not to push our luck any further, we continue to deploy all possible means with a vicious intention of achieving the impossible at any cost. This will even include reaching out to someone to vouch for us, all the while knowing that it is completely unethical to do so.

What we purposefully do is to turn a blind eye on the reality itself. We blatantly ignore fact that our attempt to cover up our mistakes is seen and understood by the significant other in our life. The truth is played right in front of their eyes just like in a movie theatre and there is no merit in trying to close your eyes and assume that others are equally blind!

The most right thing to do is to accept your mistake or defeat at the earliest. It isn’t easy, but being open to your dear ones about your downfalls will help you to recover from the losses faster than you think. What we need to keep in our mind is that we are not fighting an election battle here. The one from whom you are trying to keep a secret is not your political rival. He or she is your partner for life. A coalition that needs to be secured with the divine thread of love and trust. Doubt has no place here.

An equally important learning from our story is that, during situations like these, it is important you sort these out among yourselves than involving an external influencer. These most often backfire as you saw in the story.

It may seem quite strange that India being the largest democracy, we find our political parties playing all sorts of games that eventually turns out to be digging the grave for this great democratic nation. At least what we could make use of is such lessons these politicians teach us without they even being aware of it. More importantly apply them in our daily lives to ensure that we learn to live our life to the fullest.

May the good God bless you with the foresight to know when to stop and accept a defeat so as to recuperate from your loss and rise from the ashes as the legendary Phoenix bird! 

For a change, may the signs of politics be a leading light for better life!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Independence – The Double Edged Sword!

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - May 2018

Many years back when an aunt of mine came home from US for vacation, she made an observation about the families there. I was quite surprised to learn that kids over there are encouraged or many a times even forced to move out of their parents’ home by the time they attain certain age, say 18 years, sometimes even younger. They need to find their own way of living by getting into smaller jobs first and later with the education they obtain, learn to stand on their own feet. Once they are ready and find a suitable partner, they will decide on having a family.

I for sure found it quite hard to digest this as a concept at that time, since in India, staying with your parents was quite normal even after you get married. In the past we even had multiple families staying together under the same roof in an arrangement fondly named joint family system.

There are good and bad about both the arrangements. While the American method makes the kids more independent from early ages, the Indian way provides a well-supported infrastructure of a family which may prove helpful in different phases of life.

While the Indian approach seemed to have worked very well for many decades, the more recent changes in the design of families demand a rethinking of this structure. The number of siblings compared to yesteryears’ generation have come down, leading to a reduction in number of families. My dad and mom both have a family of eight siblings whereas I’ve just one brother. This is the case with most of my cousins where the maximum number of siblings they have is three. When it came to the next generation the trend is not too different with few exception where there are more than three kids in a family.

In addition, the area of education have seen a whole lot of new avenues opening up. It is quite common now for children to go far away from their parents’ home for higher education. They start to lead an independent life and decisions big or small are made many a times all by themselves.

All these and more I believe have led to a need to adopt a hybrid approach to the previous Indian method for families. As a society, Indians are designed to be quite a close-knit unit. Hence it is essential to design an approach where both independence as well as family bonding are addressed.

It is quite natural for parents to be patronizing their children. For parents, a child will always remain as one, how much ever older he or she become. This is genetically designed and can never be changed. Hence it is important for parents to realize that the longer they keep the children under their wings lesser empowered they’ll be. It is important to let go, even if it is emotionally painful.

For young adults especially the ones who are ready to start a family or who started one recently, it is important to learn and handle situations independently. The more you are dependent on your parents the less efficient you will be in handling a family all by yourself. It may seem ironic how our parents achieved this capability all the while being with their parents. The secret of their success lay in the sheer numbers in the family. Just because of the multitude of numbers in families in the past, parents really didn’t have dedicated time to focus on every child. That naturally led to children handling responsibilities independently making them better human beings.

The culture we have in India is such an enriched one that we should reap the benefits that our forefathers have sowed with their lives. Having said that it is equally important to learn to go with the stride so that we don’t fall behind the rest of the world with respect to becoming better human beings.

It is a huge cultural stir and it is quite important that you don’t get drowned in this change. The secret here is to embrace the change by knowing when you can swim against the current and have a safe base to return to in case you get carried away by the current. That’s where parents and children need to agree on a common set terms of how to handle this double edged sword to make best use of the virtue of independence.

Take care and God bless!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Flashback Funda

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - Apr 2018

The scene reminded you of day one of battle of Kurukshetra. The royal family was at war. The only difference compared to Kurukshetra is that, the opponents are the king and the queen themselves. Both are ready with their army fully equipped with weapons. Infantry, cavalry and artillery are all summoned. Even the mightiest of the weapons including ‘Brahmastra’ will be available to be deployed if required. Both the king and the queen are fuming with rage. A mighty war is about to begin!

All of a sudden comes a sage cutting right through the battalions that are all set to fire their weapons at each other. He is carrying a huge canvas on which he projects one after the other, every single moment of happiness the king and queen spent together. Right from the days before they became one, through their courtship, into their lovely marriage and their beautiful children, all unravels in front of their eyes.

The fuming faces slowly reains the lost emotion of love. With every passing image, the anger that was deep down got pushed aside by the soft and gentle feelings. By the time the projection ended the king and the queen were looking at each other in their eyes. They reached out and hugged each other not realizing that their army of millions have been replaced with a beautiful bed of red roses!

Now, bring the above scene to your homes. Replace the king and the queen with you and your sweetheart. An argument or two led the both of you to face each other to be battle ready. Your arsenal is prepared automatically with all the reasoning in the world to sling mud at each other. You even kept the secret Brahmastra ready, the one complaint that you’ve been hiding deep down in your mind which you never bothered to open up and speak with your partner.

So who is the sage that comes in between? That’s none other than your emotional intelligence that you need to apply in such a situation. Take a step back and probably with some efforts try to bring into your mind all those beautiful moments that you spent with your loved one till date. One after the other let your mind be in a slideshow mode that projects all the awesome memories you cherish.

Voila! You’ll be surprised to know that you no longer are in a mood to fight. What is even better is that you have found a way to work around the argument that led to the bitter mood earlier. This is nothing but the ‘flashback funda’!

We live in a world filled with a lot negative emotions. It is quite natural that we could get influenced by many of them in our daily lives. Knowingly or otherwise these come up between you and your sweetheart on a daily basis. Many a times these lead to arguments and eventually an exchange of heated words or a complete silence for a duration that’s not known.

When we are mentally ‘at a state of war’ it is quite difficult to think of alternate options to bring back the peace in our lives. That’s exactly why we need to put our minds through an exercise that is guaranteed to work wonders. Your momentary anger could be nothing compared to the magnitude of happiness you experienced till date in your life. It is important not to let that anger spoil the value of happiness you invested in your relationship.

Who doesn’t like to look at an album filled with wonderful images from the past? These are moments that we preserved for future. These are the slices of life that we want to go back and live again. That’s exactly what flashback funda proposes to you. When you are at a point where you think life is not fair, bring back your memories and remind yourself, this is just a passing phase. Life had been fair to you indeed and that exactly is the reason you enjoy what you have now.

May you have the wisdom to press the pause button on an imminent ‘war’ and the prudence to bring back to your minds the moments of celebration from the past. This is guaranteed to sustain the peace in our families and allow us to enjoy our life the way it should be.

God bless!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Pappam or Papam?

One of the most recent debates that is taking rounds in the social media during March 2018 is attributed to a cover photo on a Malayalam magazine. Published from Kerala, the southernmost state in India, portrays a mother who is feeding her baby and has a tagline that says “Moms to Kerala: Don’t stare, we need to breastfeed”.

The girl in the picture is in fact a model who posed with the baby of a mother who was also present during the photoshoot. The big question that is trending now is, ‘Was she / magazine right in doing this’? There are quite a few supporters as well as critics for the assignment taken up by the young model.

The more I think about this debate, two words in Malayalam come to my mind. First one is ‘Pappam’ a term which babies use to denote the most natural feeding bottle available in the world. Second one is ‘Papam’ which means ‘sin’.

It is quite a strange situation that a simple organ in human body is looked at with such a wide spectrum of meanings. What is stranger is the fact that, sheer perception of human beings is what gives one the most innocent and an almost divine aspect whereas the other makes it an object that precipitates a state of a sin being committed that the society almost considers it a taboo!

A baby says ‘Pappam’ and look forward to the mother for quenching her hunger. The act by which the mother and baby becomes one again, is probably the only time after the umbilical cord gets severed. It is an experience something short of being one with God where you take part in sustenance of life on Earth!

The other side of debate borders around topics of sexuality and societal norms that demands women to cover their chest while feeding or otherwise. It is quite interesting to observe that not long ago, when caste system prevailed, there was a revolt in the state of Kerala among the lower castes fighting for their right to cover their chest!

Back to the big question, what is right? I doubt if we’ll ever get a single answer. What is the right thing to do when the same object is perceived by some as a symbol of selfless love and others as eternal icon of lust?

We’ve both sets of people around us and hence I think it is wise to leave it to the prudence of mothers to apply their judgement on what to do when they’ve to feed their little ones. You’ve a million pairs of eyes staring at your chest, of which some are of babies whereas others definitely not; both with an intention to satisfy hunger, with totally different perspectives!

Love your baby & stay safe!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Deputy of God!

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - Mar 2018

It was a few minutes past midnight on a cold and dark winter during January 2018. My two year old daughter woke up screaming ‘Amma’! She scrambled out of the bed and dashed towards the living room through the darkness, totally ignoring my attempts to pacify her. I switched on the light and it took a couple of minutes before she realized that we were still in the middle of the night. Fortunately I could calm her down and soon she was back on the bed sleeping peacefully through rest of the night.

This was just a beginning! One of the many incidents that made me realize that we’ve a very special person in our family, whose absence is too significant to be filled by anyone else. A few hours before the incident, I had dropped my sweetheart at the airport. She had to leave to India, alone, for an unavoidable trip for 3 days. With full confidence and days off from office planned, I took charge of our little ones, 6 year and 2 year old assuring her that everything will be alright. Little did I know what I was signing up for!

Our son had earlier showed signs of a developing cough and cold. It was as though the cold and cough were scared of the mother that soon after her flight took off, it broke all barriers. He was coughing and sneezing badly. I had initially planned to send him to school the next day, but with this, I decided otherwise. I couldn’t have imagined what I’ll end up with this decision.

I’ve two little monsters on the loose in a recently moved in house void of a very important person and there I was, like a man on a boat sailing on a seemingly peaceful river in an unexplored jungle with a blind turning ahead, beyond which awaits a steep waterfall to take me all the way to the rocky bottom into a mysterious abyss!

Next three days were filled with lots of incidents, some of which were thankfully managed and others where I felt like being driven to my wit’s end. I always thought and was even proud of myself that I am one of those husbands who helped their wives at home, the ones especially without a maid, so as to bring in an element of balance in the family. I was totally mistaken.

There have been multiple times during these three days when I stopped for a moment and wondered how in this world did my wife manage to do all these in a day?! All of a sudden I found myself attaining an enlightenment on the world of a ‘maid-less housewife with kids’ and the battles they’ve to fight on a daily basis while their spouses think that the petty issues they face in offices are nothing short of a World War.

I am now blessed with a completely renewed respect for such super humans who qualify for a title nothing short of ‘Deputy of God’. The amount of challenges they have to juggle around with are simply endless. This is something which others in the family will never get to know unless experienced first-hand.

It is quite natural for a lot of us to take our dear ones for granted. We’re not tuned to look at the daunting tasks each of our family members go through every day, especially the ones who choose to stay at home and look after the kids. This does not mean that the work done by the traditional bread-winners are less important. From the incident portrayed above, I would even strongly recommend every bread-winner in a family to go through such an experience which I’m quite sure will help you turn out to be better human beings and even result in a more loving family.

After what seemed like ages, finally the day came when the life of our family returned. We picked her up from the airport and as soon as we were all together back home, we gifted her with a beautiful picture frame where the letters read: “World’s Best Mom”!

Dedicating this to all loving mothers across our families and all those fathers who take an effort to appreciate these unsung heroes!

God bless. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

In loving memory…. Really?

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - Feb 2018

In the last one month I have seen three deaths in my family almost one after the other. All three were uncles and aunts with whom I grew up and spent my childhood. When the news of their death was known, the first thing that came rushing to my mind was some of the good old memories I shared with them. Obviously the number of incidents I remembered with love, varied from person to person.

I would like to call the aunt who passed away, ‘the bond’ of the family. She was the one who worked as the glue between various families on my mother’s side. She was so good with her hospitality that most of us cousins never had a second thought of which house to visit when we get a vacation. A whole lot of fantastic memories associated with my childhood is in and around that house. My aunt was not just a wonderful host but also made sure that her kids, my elder cousins, also extended a warm welcome to each one of us every time!

One of the uncles who joined the good God, taught me some of the basics about humanity. He reinforced the thoughts in me about the importance of treating all people equal. I also learned the ‘joy of giving’ from him, through his various actions. He was a silent teacher where his actions spoke louder than his words.

The people I mentioned above are only a few among many who left us with nothing but a bunch of memories. There are others whom we don’t even recall for good or bad. What’s more important for each one of us will be this question, “Will you be a loving memory after you are long gone?”

We all know we are here in this world for a short period of time. During this time some of us are lucky enough to be born in good families and create ourselves good ones too. What will be interesting is to do an introspection and check if we’re really creating good memories about ourselves. The best way to do this is to check how we lived our life till date and see if anyone will find anything good about it if we became part of history today.

Think about everything that we do for our dear ones. Ask ourselves, is this enough? Is there a room for improvement? Many of us fail to understand the realities that surround us just because we’re not a party to it. As long as we don’t have a first-hand experience of the difficulties faced by our dear ones, our empathies don’t hold much value. It is quite a challenge to overcome some of the practices or habits we have cultivated over a period of time. This includes and is not limited to various behavioural patterns such as addictions, lethargy and indifference to name a few. All these in one way or other increase the suffering of our dear ones either at present or soon in future.

Addictions in all cases destroy both you and your family either directly or indirectly. You’ll be depriving your sweethearts their right to live. Addictions such as smoking and drinking directly kills you and thereby lets your family suffer. Others such as social media or gadgets’ addiction denies them the quality time you should be spending with them thereby shaking the very base of your relationship as a family. All these thoughts are applicable for each one of us throughout our lives and is not just a one off case at some point during our short stay here in this world.

So what’s required for creating good memories of yourself? Motivate yourself to lead a better life. No one has ever said it is easy to overcome addictions or lethargy. It requires a strong will. Accept the fact if you need help and take it before it is too late and do what is required to sustain the change. It will hardly help yourself or your family while you are connected by a bunch of wires in an ICU. Promise yourself to be a better human being and promise again not to cheat yourself and in turn your dear ones.

It requires a lot of courage and strength to create and sustain good memories about yourself. May the good God help you with showers of blessings to find that one motivating factor that will help you push forward to achieve a better life for you and your family!

God bless!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Demons from Heaven!

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - Jan 2018

I remember seeing an advertisement a few years back. A young father is shopping with his son in a supermarket. The little boy keeps a big packet of chocolates in the shopping cart. The father keeps it back. The son promptly returns the packet to the cart and stands there with his arms folded as if challenging his dad. The father keeps the packet again on the stands. The kid takes a deep breath and starts screaming on the top of his voice. The whole supermarket comes to a standstill and stares at the kid but even more at the dad. The ad ends with the face of a completely helpless dad with a caption showing the brand of a contraceptive urging the viewer to use it!

The above scene is not completely alien to us. We all must’ve seen or experienced similar scenes while shopping. There are quite a few couples in the world today who get influenced by the message passed on by such an advertisement and decide not to have kids in their lives. For them, kids are nothing but a nuisance or little devils. There are also a few couples who decide not to have a second child for the same reason or think that they have served their purpose as parents in this world by having one child. Ads like the one I mentioned above masks a complete spectrum about kids from the viewers. A prospective parent or a bride and groom to be who sees such an ad won’t see the other side of fence. Though having kids can be argued as a purely personal choice, here are some of the thoughts related to parenting.

Yes, kids can be demons at times, but they are demons from heaven! No kid in this world has ever asked their parents to bring them to this world. It is a choice that the parents make. Hence as parents it is not ethically correct for us to blame the kids for their behaviour which by itself is inherited from us or our ancestors.

One quite interesting fact which many of us don’t realise about parenting is that both the ‘parents’ and the ‘child’ share the same age, especially with the first child. A parent is born on the same day as the first child. Parenthood is a completely new experience for the couple who till that day didn’t experience a third person in their life. The magnitude of change that brings in with this new status in their life is huge, most often a bigger change than getting married itself! Obviously it will take a long time for anyone to get adjusted to such a change.

Your second child arrives and a magic happens! Without you even realizing it, you mature yourself as parents. You are no longer the same novice parents when you had your first child. Being more matured as parents equips you to handle the tantrums of kids better. What’s even more interesting and at times embarrassing is the truth some of us realize that you could’ve loved your first child even better if you’d known what a child really needs. It is very similar to getting experienced in a job that makes you do the job better than having no experience at all.

There is more to parenting than just the experience of being a parent. You will become better in managing finances since you’ve to now plan for additional member(s) in the family. Every other expense in life will now be multiplied with the number of kids you’ve. Decisions on careers many a times get influenced based on kids. Some of us stop working altogether whereas others have to shift jobs to ensure financial freedom and security. Without these little devils we would’ve just continued working where we were earlier. The choices you make on almost everything in life get influenced with kids. The movies you see, the cars you buy, the vacation you plan or even a simple decision as a restaurant to have dinner are just a few examples where kids directly or indirectly influence your decisions.

All these and more are nothing compared to the beautiful sight of your little ones hugging you dearly and sleeping peacefully looking forward for another bright and beautiful day where they can spent time with the God that they can see in this world, that’s none other than you!

Here is wishing you a beautiful parenting experience which is nothing short of being one with God.

Wish you all a very happy new year! God bless! 

Political Signs

The recent Assembly election in the state of Karnataka was labelled as a major political drama. When election result got announced, the pa...