Day 121: Respect Shespect

I see the OldMan going through a major life struggle, something that is affecting him so heavily that it is evident in his every interaction with the family; especially with the OldLady. He is invariably aloof, struggle with his inner demons through the day. He lazes around during the day, making minimum conversations with us. When forced to participate, he generally snaps or spits his answers out. He’s given enough of those that OldLady responds in an equally frustrated manner. For a third person, their conversations qualify for a road-side brawl between sworn enemies.

He diligently dresses up at sundown and steps out for his daily dose of intoxicants. With it in the system, he suddenly gets very verbose, would like to know what my life plans are, would advice H on her marital woes and would push OldLady’s buttons some more. The daily drama is painful, an all too evident sign of a crumbling relationship. And yet, he finds no value in salvaging it.

It would have been much easier if I were able to relate to either sides; I would have easily picked a person to support and fought the other. Unfortunately, I’m unable to see either positions of view. I do not understand why one would resort to escape routes to sort their life struggles. I do not understand how one would blame their family for all their life’s sufferings when they would be nothing without the family in the first place. I, in fact, do not even know if that is the reason for all the melancholy. On the other side, I do not understand how one could be so submissive for these many years, without a voice of their own. I definitely do not understand a woman building her entire life around one man, making him her Achilles’ heel.

I do not understand relationships.

Humans are so complicated, S. All this yelling and screaming and loving and doving. Why! 

Eat, Sleep, Repeat, remember?” Scotch 

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Day 117: Most of that is the popular impression in media

And semester 3 ended in style, with a short 2 hour paper. This meant that the three of us got up mid-way, disturbed the tranquility of the exam hall, and walked out, in royal fashion. Like I’ve ranted about numerous times in the past, I’m glad this is over and I’m one semester away from graduating.

First time on the couch

The frustration associated with the university and the 3 semesters here poured out as I sat at the therapist’s couch, my first ever. I’d like to think that I was prepared for her deductions since I’d studied Psychology and Advanced psychology in the last year. But who am I kidding? It gave me enough information about mental health to make me realize that I needed to seek professional help. But beyond that, it was an eyewash of a course.

I poured out to the therapist about that, and the hypocrisy of the entire university, and the bureaucracy of the department, and the impending doom of the sector itself being so, and the family scenes, and the relationship conflicts, and then some more about each. She scratched her notes rabidly, while trying to guide me through a sane thought process.

It’s funny how a number of discussions in this preliminary session itself rested on a few key topics – body issues, father, mother and societal independence. As much as I complained about the uni, it was not in the top 3 things that I wanted to work on. Surprising.

What was also surprising is how heavy I felt, walking in to the session, anticipating definite water works, and how relieving the session was on the contrary. That may be the power of speaking to an independent, unrelated entity. Her judgments about me are as third-party as they are about my parents, and that makes it acceptable to the logical mind.

The need for a psyche consult has put me on the backfoot though; looney meds are scary, irrespective of how reassuring her rationale was. But I liked her point, it’s my mind and my medical course to work on it. I would get to choose where I go next. And so, I choose to get a preliminary psychiatric consult for the need for medication and then go back to the psychologist for the next session.

ChemProf Arrives

The house got an extra round of cleaning and prepping today because the ChemProf arrived. Two minutes into return ride, and he was already sighing and fluffing about how Bangalore is bursting from the seams and the Government is just a sham. I have mentally prepared myself for some serious debates on minority-provisions, partitioned India, black pepper’s ill effects and decluttering.

You went to seek external help? But why? We have a comfy couch here. Lie down. Look into my eyes. Tell me all your problems, and I’ll lick them away” – Scotch 

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

Day 108: You should never meet your superheroes

I don’t know whether I should blame the sociology paper or the extended conversations with SilverGhoster, on everything under the roof, but I have a strange cloud hanging over my head today. Some of the points of discussion during the leeching episode stayed with me and that kicked off our next big rant about relationships.

Black or White

Between the SilverGhoster and the DubaiCassanova, I see the two extremes that define the young men of today.

On one end of the spectrum are those that still believe in chivalry, address even women their own age as ‘Madam’ no matter how awkward it sounds to the modern ear, and prefer the clinical perspective on life, where superheroes exist only in fan fiction. They believe that trying to live the fancy life of glitter and glam painted by mass media will only result in heart break, and nothing is worth a lost peace of mind. They will settle with the charming damsel their mother, and the stars, pick for them, and will love that lady to the end of their life.

On the far blue corner, are the partyholics, who define the quality of life based on the glamour shown on their Instagram page. Their badges of accomplishments vary from the number of men/women one has slept with, to their varying sexualities, to the ability to fool the system entirely. They flout rules like their fathers owned the world, and if money was sufficient to build a social repute, ideologies could be dumped into the farthest shelves of living.

Neutral Ground

Does the world stay in stability because of the two extremities that abound in it? Or is the reason for all these doldrums in the world the very fact that such opposites try to co-exist?

As I continued probing and questioning the life choices on one of these extremities, my natural tendency was to advice him to loosen up, and enjoy the world for what it was. My recommendations were for a more loosely bound life-system, where it was acceptable to put oneself out there, to love and to crash and burn. I asked him to look at those on the other side, their learnings, and realize that he was missing out on so many interesting experiences just because of his principles of life.

And then, I stopped myself short. Was this just my human tendency to change anything that exists and to alter its natural state? If I had been talking to the DubaiCassanova, would I have instead advised him to look at the other end and be more sensitive? Now, wouldn’t this whole process, of advising one to become like the other, define my hypocrisy. While I profess hatred towards any form of advice, especially the uncalled ones that are very generously dished out by the society, wasn’t I doing the same thing by asking the SilverGhoster to let his ghosts of the past lay to rest and explore the world’s colors?

I still stand by what I said about my hatred for advice; any man that has a girl child will give you advice on how to raise a girl; anyone that has loved and lost will start dishing out relationship advice; anyone that has written a competitive examination is now your guide on how to crack it; and anyone that has raised a child, albeit a crack addict, will turn parental coach. What qualifies them to wear the superior cape of a guide, shaping your opinions and experiences, based on theirs? For me, someone that truly qualifies to advice another would be one that has seen that person in their entirety – at their massive highs, their utmost vulnerabilities, and knows the truest principles that shape their life. Or, is a qualified, certified psychological practitioner.

Anyone else is just using their number of years on the earth, their supposed experience, to place themselves at a position of power over you; the holy I’ve-been-there-I-know-it position.

The elusive karma

My barrage of counters on why he didn’t do a lot of things a typical 27 year old would do increased, and the sober SilverGhoster brought in the elusive karma. He said his interpretation of karma was that ‘anything that was meant to happen, would happen anyway, without any known push from your end‘. So, in love and life, he let things take their own course and watched how they evolved.

Funny how I think that’s the pop culture interpretation of karma while the true intent behind it is the opposite. From up his holy chariot, Lord Krishna said ‘कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन। मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥ २-४७’, or, ‘Karmanyevadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadacha na. Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani’. With this background, I see karma as the duty that you have to do for any result to come by. And inaction, or letting the universe do its thing, doesn’t count for karma.

So, when we say ‘What will be will be’ and use that as a reason for not doing something about it, we are basically doing anti-karma, and not the reverse.

That’s some deep stuff brewing, S. If you ask me, the man is right. Just relax, smell the rain in the winds, and things will fall into their place. And maybe that idea of relaxing and having fun is the karma we are all chasing. 

What say?” Scotch

Day 107: Explain Unity and Diversity in India

As expected, the Sociology exam was a bummer. 1/5th of the paper was simply about Unity and Diversity in India. Reminded me of writing similar essays in school; Social Studies, we called it back then. And at least then, all this was new knowledge and there was hope.

Now that I’ve spent 33 years in this world, I see how language divides us more than it unites. Ask every child who’s ostracized for not speaking English. I know that there is as much division between the North and the South of India, as there is between India and Pakistan. We are so hung up on our food preferences, that we’ll go hunting for an idli-vada place in New Delhi, and then complain about the poor food taste.

Our culture, our language, our eating choices, our dressing choices, our sexual preferences, our movie picks, our living spaces, the car we drive, the tourist spots we go to and the money we earn or spend; all make us more and more divided from each other than united.

As I wrote about the beauty of a Durga puja pandal in Bangalore and a Muslim community hosting Ganesha celebrations, I felt hypocritical. I felt like I was using stray incidents of color, to obscure how dull and grey this world really is. As I highlighted the cosmopolitan nature of every Indian city, I felt like I was hiding the fact that every city is one Kaveri verdict away from a curfew and localities burning.

Have I just been wearing my dark shades for too long?

I have never

The much-awaited MAED-MBAELM party happened; in the middle of the day, with the lure of free booze. Well, technically it was four out of the 12. But, it was the most likely crowd, I would say. The usual, shots, beer, pizza and I-have-never.

The dark black shades were on through the day, and I wondered if I was just becoming too cynical in life. As A guffawed at every silly joke, and touched and petted DubaiCasanova at every feasible opportunity, I reminded myself what a make-believe world this was. ‘I have made out with more than 50 men’ and ‘I have hooked up with a teacher in the Uni’ were worn like awards of honor. Such is the pitious state of today’s youth.

And through it all, what surprised me was the overly comfortable Gemini twin in me. An outsider would have found me at the center of it all, reeling in the fun, not feeling an inch out of place. I laud and condemn this strange ability that I seem to possess.

You know it’s a myth that dogs see only in black and white, right?  We actually have a reduced color spectrum, but definitely not the Grey scale. Maybe that’s the filter you need to look at the world. 

What do you think?” Scotch

Day 123: Bumps 

Early morning bump

The OldMan decided to head back home much sooner than originally planned; Daddyma needed him more. I shudder thinking of the midnight conversation with him, when he caught me up with his newly made plan, with his slurring words. I knew I wouldn’t have been able to put up with another day of conflicting emotions anyway. So, I was up at 4, and he drew himself to the station while I sat along.

He managed to find an unreserved ticket, and a seat, with sufficient time for the train. So I headed out, slowly inching out of the train station and a cabbie in front of me navigates the hump very poorly and rolls back into me. Great start to the day!

A little argument and some yelling on my part down, and I no longer had a front number plate. For the rest of the way, I drove more watchful than before.

Mid-day bump

Since heading home from the dinner last night, I had a strange unease about the whole thing with SilverGhoster. That unease, coupled with the early morning train run, meant I slept poorly all night. All I wanted was to catch a decent snooze during the day, to recoup, and yet it failed me. At some point mid day, SilverGhoster and I connected, and the entire reason for my unease became evident; there were ill vibes coming my way and the universe has a way with such things anyway. Turns out that post dinner, he had met his pals, and updated them on the dinner. What followed was a barrage of teenage mockery, directed at my age, my body, my life choices and everything that lay in between. Like that wasn’t enough, he went home and a similar tirade came from the mother.

I accept that body, age or fat shaming is not new to me anymore and I’ve seen more than my fair share growing up. But I would be kidding if I said that it did not affect me. While one can put up a straight face, or laugh off the comment, something inside crumbles. In fact, as I think about it, something inside you builds another wall. Another layer of fortification is added, and you push yourself deeper behind shut doors. If you didnt face such negativity, you wouldn’t be hurt in the first place.

What annoys me is the triviality of the world. For one to be a friend with another, why would gender, age, orientation, or any such factor be of any importance? And who gave mankind the authority to always play the role of the high-horse, judging others as if it were their birth right? A 30 year old is not married yet, and something HAS to be wrong with her. She quits an enticing career, and she MUST have been kicked out for poor performance. Four years into her marriage and she still hasn’t popped a baby, and it HAS to be her fault. She finds a friend in a younger man and she HAS to be a cougar. The man is more well-off than her and she HAS to be after his empire. She is chubbier than the society approved size zero and she MUST have an eating problem.

If only we all spent our days looking into the mirror and judging, as much as we do otherwise, we’d be more gentle on others.

Dusk drive bump

All that riddling and puzzling left me in a dizzy all day, and I left for Valley School much later than I’d planned. I’m looking forward to spending the next week or so at the school, observing from close quarters the functioning of an alternative school. I started the drive on a great mood, knowing that running away from civilization, and toward such an environment might be the answer to all my problems.

Chatted with SilverGhoster on the way to Valley, talking about the complexities of relationships. It amused me to think of how certain relationships complicate our lives by simply caring too much. By being overbearing, you invariably push someone away. By being overly snoopy, you unconsciously force them to life. Little things that you don’t realize until you’re deep into it.

It was relieving to hear SilverGhoster revalidate my theory on the universe and its strange mysterious ways. It’s something that I’ve internalized over the years of heartbreaks and of talking to random men for the arranged marriage scenes. If the timing is not right, if the universe hasn’t sorted its plan for you, come what may, your trials would go in vain. And the opposite is true too. In that comfort, I rest for another day.

Wait a minute! You’ve gone back to bangalore already? Means I’m with dad and mom now? And I can beg for food to the entire neighborhood? 

Guffaaaw!” Scotch

Day 96: I wanted to go alone, and be invisible 

Drama, drama, drama

We finally got the teaching practicum report printed, collated and spiral bound, only for SrA to realize that two of her pages were swapped and out of order. Well, too bad. That’s exactly why I’d handed each one of them the report before it was bound. That time was spent staring at her own pictures and now she was in a fit. A and I tried to pacify her, suggesting she put page numbers to clarify. But before long the whole spiral binding had been ripped out.

A and I agreed; had it been either of us, we’d have submitted the report as is and dealt with the consequences later on. But somehow, because it was SrA, the value of our time was immaterial. It frustrates me more than while printing itself she took twice the time as the other two, and claimed some of her reports had ‘disappeared’ although she’d put them in. Whacky-O!

Vidheyak

GardenMan, his senior and I have been working on submitting a policy proposal for an upcoming competition at IIMB. So after all the drama of submissions, I read up about the case and worked with GardenMan while Senior joined us. We spent a lot of time traveling between one workspace and another: no access, no charger, whatnot.

When we finally got discussing, I realized that public policy, especially the tender and bidding process was something I knew very little about. It also became evident that a lot of work in India is wrapped in so many litigations that the good ones chose to stay away from it while the bad ones make all their money. What also got me thinking was how we’d picked sides with a company in the case, purely because we knew it and had heard about it, while the other two was very new. Branding and marketing definitely plays into our psyche.

Plans on the fly

As we were driving back, Gardenman and me at our usual cynical best, he told me about a play that he was planning on attending in the evening. Societal Woes, st Jagriti Theatre. Both the location and the topic were close to home, and I agreed to join him.

He willingly invited me along and then told me something that sent a chill down my spine. ‘I was tired of being social all week. I wanted to put on my black sweater and black jeans, and be invisible for the night’, he said.

How often have you felt the need to disappear? To feel like you dint exist anymore? Wouldn’t it be powerful if we all had an invisibility cloak? We could walk into and out of situations, unnoticed. We could read, learn, explore, and grow, all while going unnoticed. We wouldn’t have to put on this mask that we all draw over our true selfs every morning. We could cry when we wanted, yell and scream when we pleased, and not worry about what the others would take out of it.

Restaurant with the perfect garden

The evening began with a great dinner at The Fat Chef. I love this place for its ambience, the garden at the back. There’s always a dejavu of walking in with H the very first time and being thrilled at the garden. The food was good too. I let myself fall off the diet and enjoyed an all American dinner. Funny how all I craved when I was in the USA was for good old parotta and egg curry.

Societal Woes

I was watching a play after ages and the feeling of sitting amidst the actors, with the scenes unfolding around us, was exciting. All the characters were very relatable, right from the Kasi mama and NRI Rahul, to the skimpily clad Roshni. The story took an unexpected twist from the mirth and banter to suicide and societal pressures, and the entire audience drew silent after the concluding soliloquy.

An amazing performance by the actors, and to think that most of them were senior citizens, well into their 60s, was very inspirational.

White’s Field

I’ve always had a pessimistic view of Whitefield, because of the manic IT crowd, the ever-changing migratory population and their lack of regard for what the city originally stood for. Thanks to GardenMan, I saw a certain side to Whitefield that I did not know existed.

We drove by the twin lanes, Inner circle and Outer circle, encompassing this huge garden at the center. We drove my the oldest villa in the locality, a 150 year old house; Paul uncle is a sweetheart and he lives with his mother, he said. We drove by modern, posh houses, complete with their security cameras and their neighborhood watches.

Seemed like the place Whitefield Rising would rise from.

After all your shenanigans of the day, all I get is a single carrot to munch on? Unfair. 

They should make a play called Doggie’s Woes and I will lead the cast.” Scotch