Monday, November 25, 2013

Crime of Comparison

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - Dec 2013
Some of us probably grew up facing questions such as these, “Have you ever seen him doing this? Or Why don’t you learn from her? Or What is that we don’t provide you that you can’t score like her?” Human beings are born with an innate nature to compare and see what can be made better. Unfortunately in certain cases the comparison does a lot of damage to a person that it even affects the psyche.
Comparisons during childhood have many a times proved to be negatively influencing a child than motivating to perform better. It becomes even worse when this concept finds its way into the life of a married couple. I remember a joke that I read in one of the national dailies a while ago. It says, ‘People always regret buying a new phone or getting married. This is because of an afterthought that they could’ve waited for a better model’! With a phone the afterthought is excused, but not with the latter.
Many of us still complain about the material aspects of life. The complaints range from the food that was cooked or dressing/grooming tastes or gifts that are bought or not bought for each other on occasions. Family and friends come into picture when these comparisons are worked out. A man could be complaining about a dish that would’ve been prepared better by his mom or the not so upgraded wardrobe of his wife. The woman will have complaints of how her wish remains unfulfilled to have a three stone diamond set just like what her best friend was gifted by her better half during their anniversary.
What people do not realize is the fact that with each of these comparisons you cease to respect the other person in your life the way they are. When you respond, “I do”, come what may, to the priest, what you mean is an unconditional “I do”. This is one clause that should not come with a * that says ‘Conditions Apply’. You cannot say that I thought she’ll cook like my mom or he’ll buy me what I wish or she’ll love all my friends or he’ll be exactly like my dad or brother who were such guardian angels to me.
You agree to a new life with a whole lot of uncertainties which is part of any life, married or otherwise. In marriage you in fact get a bonus of an additional pair of hands to hold you through these uncertainties provided you accept this as a blessing. The moment you start expecting your sweetheart to be like someone else you are in fact killing his/her self. Ask yourself, do you want to make a clone of your spouse by having the best of all what you have seen among your family and friends? On the contrary you let your partner-for-life be that. Just like the partners in a doubles game of tennis trusting each other with their abilities so that they take the game forward together to win the match.
The biggest gift you could offer to your better half is the trust you have on him/her. The moment the significant other in your life realizes that you trust him/her more than anyone else, a strong foundation gets laid. Being married is not a thing of the past. It is a present continuous process for future. You learn every day. You may even be surprised after ten years of being together to know a totally new character of your spouse since people seldom remain the same over a period of time. So the test of time is something every couple will face in their life. Bestowing your trust on each other is the only way you take this life happily forward.
Remember, to compare is a crime. You are here as a pair to trust and love each other so that you respect the other self and thereby yourself.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Push!

Year 2001, first year in the new millennium and I was happily walking towards the terrace of my college hostel in Coimbatore along with a bunch of my friends. We were to attend the flag hoisting ceremony to mark the 54th year of Mountbatten handing over the baton of power to Nehru.
The college principal being the ex-officio warden of our hostel was the one to hoist the flag. The ceremony was done with due reverence in the presence of hundreds of hostel inmates. The hostel building which reminded me of the cellular jail in Andaman, though not exactly in terms of the structure, was capable of accommodating more than 400 students. A learned discourse followed in perfect Tamil when the principal of course highlighted the struggle our forefathers had gone through to get us this freedom which we now enjoy free of cost.
Being my first year in Tamil Nadu and not that proficient in Tamil yet, I experienced the same struggle my forefathers did to perhaps understand the emotional words of wisdom that came out from the veteran principal. Nevertheless since patriotism does not need a language to describe I could still manage to figure out the critical aspects of his speech.
It was customary for someone from the hostel to give a return address after the principal finishes his speech. I was standing right in front of the crowd who had gathered in a circle around the flag pole. I could see a whole bunch of seniors and super seniors standing right behind me and was expecting any one of them to start with their return address.
Those were the days when you were expected to be quite respectful towards your seniors lest invite their wrath which will prove to be pretty difficult to survive in the hostel later. Hence seniors used to be in the limelight for all possible functions and juniors will await a day when their turn will come for taking the centre stage. Such thoughts went through my mind and were probably even thinking of a day when I’ll step forward to give a wonderful speech filled with patriotism uplifting the spirit of the nation and reminding everyone to be thankful to our previous generations for the freedom we enjoy today!
What happened next was not even in my wildest of the dreams! All I remember was feeling a very powerful hand right on my back which pushed me to the centre of the circle where the principal was eagerly awaiting for someone to come forward to give the return address. All these happened in a flash that it took a few seconds for me regain my composure. I could suddenly feel 400 pairs of eyes directly staring at me as if an animal of prey is about to pounce on its victim! All my words that formed the soul stirring speech that was part of my day dream a moment ago seem to have gone into an eternal hiding. I could not even utter a single syllable; forget about natural flowing sentences which have to be contextual as well.
Guess times like these generate a very specific hormone in human body which initially creates an excessive amount of fear which either turns you into a zombie-like mental state or wakes up the Phoenix within you which arises from the ashes of the fear that is burned! Goddess of fortune was with me on that day and out came the very first extempore I delivered in my life till then.
The Phoenix continues its flight till date and I’m happy for that hand-of-God that pushed me to the unknown territories which I explored quite heavily afterwards...

Friday, November 8, 2013

Mothers - The Natural Managers!

I was preparing to get back to work after a long leave of more than two weeks. Office restarts the next day and I thought of refilling the empty grocery stands at home by paying a visit to the hypermarket. I knew it’ll be a bulk purchase and it made sense to go there. The visit was initially planned for during the day but having a little one at home does not always help with sticking to the plan. It was close to 8 o’ clock in the evening by the time we decided to go out. The kid was given a bath and was dressed up to go out. I then went in for a quick bath and by the time I came out the little one was leaning to his mom and had started to doze off.

My sweetheart asked me to reduce the volume of the TV where she was watching one of her favorite shows. As a pseudo time conscious husband, I promptly switched off the TV asking her to go ahead and wash herself so that we can leave without much delay. Guess that’s the moment when she promptly switched over to her management hat.
I was all set to go out as soon as she was ready so that we can return early after finishing the shopping. That’s when she asked me a seemingly innocent question. “What exactly do we need for tomorrow?” I started with a list I had in my mind. Milk, bread, fruits, juice, eggs, vegetables… By the time I finished the list, as if using a magical wand she had already prioritized the items as, critical to have, should have and nice to have.
She identified that there’s one apple left in our fruit tray which I could take to office tomorrow. She could have a pomegranate that was still there or watermelon in the fridge. She promptly remembered the idly batter that was also chilling out in the fridge and mentally mapped her breakfast and my lunch to that, solving that question as well.  A couple of eggs that remain will do for tomorrow just as the case with some of the left over dishes that she can have for lunch. The only thing that remained and critical was milk.
Hypermarkets obviously take longer time with the variety of options they offer that make you drag through the store as well as the long queues awaiting you at the cash counter. Round-the-corner supermarkets always offer a warm welcome for quick buy and it is no surprise that she could visualize the milk cans sitting nicely on the refrigerated shelves of the nearby supermarket.
As I was ready to go, the most natural thing for me to say was, “Ok then, I’ll go and get the milk from the supermarket”. She thought for a moment and said, “If it is only for the milk, why don’t you just give them a call and get it delivered? We can get the rest of the stuff tomorrow either on your way back from office or we can go together”. 
A whole day of planning to go to hypermarket was reduced to a phone call in a matter of couple of minutes. Oh yes, she promptly put the baby to bed and switched on the TV. Her favorite show was still on.
I bowed to the brilliance of the natural born management genius and I knew for sure that it is not the B-school where she had gone that taught her this!

Saturday, November 2, 2013


The morning was quite as usual. This small town where she was married to has now become her world. She has learned to fall in love with the quiet neighborhood and the simple people at her in-laws’ place. The one who brought her here is a proud son of India fighting for the country. Serving the nation was not alien to her since she grew up with her dad being part of the police force. All this has taught her what to expect from a spouse. She never complained, though felt a pain once a while for not having enough of him.
She remembered the conversation with him last night. He was miles away from the homeland in one of the tiny island countries in the Pacific. It was a training duty to prepare the men of the sea for any eventualities. His life in the Navy always demanded such extreme training measures. Swimming in the sea has always been a cake walk for him and he used to be quite confident about that. Nevertheless she asked him to be careful. Prompt came his reply, “Why do you even bother dear? Sea is like mom. I’ll be as safe as lying on her lap while cutting across the waves”.That made her smile though her hands naturally reached out to the rosary and prayed to the Mother of all, the one that has always been her solace especially during the times when he had to be away from her.
It was mid-afternoon and she was a bit annoyed that he had not called yet. Then again she thought the training could have been day long and that’s not unusual. She was quite sure of a call as soon as he could reach a phone. They’ve been married for over a year now and though the times spent together were less, they both felt the connection. For this they didn’t need any endorsement of a Platinum Day of Love.
She prepared for the evening prayers as was customary in most of the Catholic families. By the time she was half way through the prayers, her mind started wandering with thoughts of why the call never came. She could feel that she is starting to get worried. A full day without a call had never happened before unless he had told her in advance. She tried to put her thoughts to rest and finished the prayers in full faith.
There was no number where he could be reached. All what she could do was wait. She picked up the very exciting book which was half finished. Somehow it didn’t seem to generate interest anymore. She skimmed through the pages like in a dream. Stories about defense personnel have always been her choice and this book was no different. The main character was a Navy personnel himself and had left his wife and their newborn for a combat mission. A few days of action and at the end of an anticipated day of return of the war hero, she received two uniformed military officers at her home.
The officers were carrying a small case with them wrapped in a national flag. She had read about this in multiple books and seen enough movies to understand what that means. Her hero is now part of nation’s history of its fight against evil. Her heart skipped a beat but her eyes never gave her away. She remembered his statement and told herself, “Lie down on your mother’s lap my sweetheart. Sleep well. Your country is proud of you. So am I”.
Her in-laws tried to console her. But she knew that she was in a dream. A dream from which she’ll never wake up...

Planning Your Trip

It is a well-known truth that nothing is more refreshing than travelling to locations, especially new ones. Many families do this at least...