Day 111: He has 4 Masters degree and a law degree

Reconnecting with friends is always fun. And, PeePee has been a variant of all sorts amongst the friends circle. What started off as mutual likes on each other’s photo blogs, graduated to comments on the blog and moved on to email exchanges. I still remember the random, unexpected, first email that PeePee sent, full of techniques on shooting a closeup of the moon. I would generally have marked it as spam a d ignored the man on my photoblog. But, I followed it to the last T and this beauty happened. Since then, our mutual acquaintance would go through the phases of the moon; the full moon and its everyday conversations, on everything under the moon, that would wane to the no moon, with some serious virtual silence. He’s been one of those rare acquaintances that I felt at ease with almost immediately and we could talk after years and still catch up like nothing changed.

We reconnected today; I messaged him because I was captivated by his dp when reviewing contacts on the old phone. The new, self-grooming, was definitely spot on. And, we quickly caught up. A successful move to the US, a shack of his own decked up to his interests, new hobbies (wood work :)), and persistent old hobbies, family that lived a few miles away and parents that visited often, and he seems to be living the classic 30-year old’s dream life. And yet, the consistent underlying thread of regret was the mismatch between the familial expectations of marriage versus that of our generation.

He has been riding the same boat of evaluations for marriage as I have, mostly driven by parents. There are staunch restrictions for prospects; should be of the same caste, sub-caste even and all other factors, including matching interests, are trumped by superstitious beliefs. No amount of convincing, discussing have changed their mindset on that. ‘My father has four Master’s degrees, even a law degree, and my mother is equally qualified too. And yet…‘, his voice trails off.

Education vs. Family

A lot of their opinions, and life choices, seem to be affected more by their immediate society than the educational qualifications. Shouldn’t education automatically help you sift out the right from the wrong, the outdated from the relevant? I’ve had this similar query when having sociological discussions with ChemProf as well. Despite being one of the most educated in the larger family, he still has such obsolete, conventional, ideas about relationships, social statuses and gender equality. And I can emphasize with PeePee: the more I talk to ChemProf, the more I realize how futile the whole effort is, and how deep rooted some of these stereotypes really are.

Riding the wall

What also caught me in the whole conversation was the sincere pain I felt in PeePee for hurting his parents. Our generation has very strong principles and has the will to live by it; but it is also aware of the barrier that rests between our generation and the previous one; especially the big barrier about ideologies. The last time I said yes to getting married, it was not because I liked the gentleman; it was purely because I was tired of hurting my parents. And yet, my conviction to my own principles didn’t allow me to see it through.

We’ve become a generation that is strong about its own interests and needs, but is equally aware of the effect of these on the previous generation. We cannot hurt outright, and yet we cannot give in completely as well. We ride the middle line, a balanced act on the tight-rope, and only time will tell if we make it through or the rope tips over.

Talk about long distances, and you now know how we Yoga in KL. Well, mommy tries to do Yoga, but I usually beat her to the mat. And the dogasanas begin.” Goose

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Day 106: It’s a popular symbol of feminism

I’ve been nose deep in literature to prepare for the upcoming end semester exam. I start off with the subject that brought out the true expertise of the teachers in the department – Sociological foundations of Education. After the high-charged discussions on social justice and socially relevant issues of education over the summer, at Bhor, I was excited when I found out that I had this subject this semester.

And boy! What a disappointment it has been!

A few things I remember being said in class, by the respected sharer of information.

  • I wouldn’t allow my son to find himself a girl friend. It’s against my culture and culture is our God.
  • All these live-in relationships and all must make your parents so sad and disappointed in you.
  • The sole aim or purpose of a family is to give birth to young children.
  • Social stratification is natural and it’s these strata that bring a sense of calm in the society. If we were all in one big societal class, we’d kill each other and die.
  • I don’t know why the syllabus has Economic studies as a part of Sociology. Let’s skip that part.
  • All women in certain families in North India have to wear a ghunghat. They are not allowed to enter the living spaces with men without wearing the ghunghat down to their chests. It’s a popular symbol of feminism.

And a bonus one.

  • Myanmar is the capital of Burma.

I feel cheated at the end of this semester. A Master’s program should not be spending 60 hrs dishing out definitions and meaning of ideas like culture, social classes and Inequality. These should be pre-reading for the students to come prepared to class with. And the discussion should be around matters of social relevance. Nobody will ask you for the definition of gender bias in real-life. It will stare you down your face when a father chooses to pick his teenage girl out of school. And you will be unprepared to handle that situation.

All this studying and you seem to be in pain. Do you need a hug?” Scotch 

Day 77: Snooze fest 

Formal Welcome Session for the Swiss team:

  • Started 40 minutes late, because we’re Indians.
  • The organizing professor was stuck in traffic even 20 minutes after the event was supposed to begin.
  • The Dean of the International Affairs Office left a Swiss student in tears, because she ignored her when asking every visiting student a question.
  • The Dean of the International Affairs Office bordered on being a racist by ignoring the above-said student because she was of Indian origin. That’s a two-in-one shot at racial profiling.

Logistics and Configurations:

  • Indians are not as tech-savvy as the world is made to believe. The IT department of this leading University, in the Silicon Valley of the country, could not set up a Guest WiFi configuration that actually worked.
  • We give undue attention to tea breaks, and snack breaks, and lunch breaks. It seems like between lunch and dinner we are talking about what we ate and are planning for what to eat.
  • The Swiss pronounce WiFi as ‘Weee-feee’. Teehee!

Evening Cultural Program:

  • Started 40 minutes late.
  • The department that had the auditorium booked for the slot before us was fashionably late. It was chaired by a Father, and when I told him about the foreign students gathering were waiting, he asked me to show them some Bharatnatyam mudras to engage them.
  • The performing arts teams did a wonderful job. I still stand by my belief that this uni is great for cultural activities: beats NITT of my time any day.
  • I still have it in me to MC for an event and not sound silly. *Pat pat*

At the end of the day, every delay and every transgression is forgotten after a crazy round of dancing. Fun! Buoy where we all ready for dinner!

Just listening to your story about all these delays and waiting makes me want to go Uggggh! How did you even put up with it all, S?”

I dared and failed

Annoying music from the yonder years, that bites into my inner ears, plays for what seems to be a million years. I nervously clutch the hand piece to my ear, waiting for what lay ahead. As I watch the minutes tick by on the desk phone, beads of little sweat trickle down my forehead. 

Click!

The other end: “ABC Corporation’s Customer Service. My name is Princess Wattanabee LoohaToonya. How may I assist you?”

Customer Service is our priority.

Me: “Hi. I’m an-equally-long-named-person. I am moving back to Yonderland the end of this month. So, I need you to cancel my account, please?”

Princess WLT: “Hello Ms. **** (tried really hard to mispronounce my overly simple name and succeeded). I can definitely assist you with that. Before I assist you with that, I will need your account information. Can you please give me your account number so that I can assist you?”

Me: “Sure. Here goes. 0-2-2-4-5-66-7-123-5-2-7-10485”

Princess WLT: “Thank You, Ms. #### (an even worse way pronunciation of my overly simple name). I can definitely assist you with that. Before I assist you, for security purposes, can you confirm your phone number?”

Me: “Sure. Here goes. 9-2-3 4-6-1 0093”

Princess WLT: “Thank You, Ms. !%&# (totally blew my mind with this one). I’ve confirmed that this is correct.

I am really close to assisting you. But before I assist you, I need you to confirm the last 4 digits of your SSN, your date of birth, the name of your first neighbor’s third cat and your address. This will make sure that I assist you in a secure manner.”

Me: “Really? Wasn’t the account number, the matching phone number and my overly simple name enough?”

Princess WLT: “For quality and training purposes, this call may be recorded or monitored and everything that you say will be held against you while we swing you upside down into a pot full of steaming hot lava”

Me: “Oh! Here goes.

My SSN is Flee-Flaai-Floo-Flum (Yes! My real SSN is Flee-Flaai-Floo-Flum).

My date of birth is most-awesome-month’s awesome-date in the summer of awesomest year.

My first neighbor did not have a third cat (Ha! Totally nailed the trick question).

My address is 007, Superman Dr, Boringville, RandomState.

Phew!

Princess WLT: “I am sorry, Mr. @#!$ (I stopped listening at Mr.). I will not be able to assist you because we could not successfully confirm your identify. You did not mention the zip code of your address and that is a confirmation that you are an imposter. I will hang up now and go back to my knitting”

Click!

Me:

True story!