This image I observed on Social Media is the reason for today’s post.The whole single – ready-to- mingle stuff. Why is there so much hype attached to it? If someone is single, people are always trying to set you up. People talk to you about :
-The security of a relationship
– Your biological clock
– having your ‘own’ family
– a home
– becoming responsible
And woe betide you if you are single and Indian and over 30! Book your package deal with a therapist because you are going to have serious confidence, self -esteem issues. Depression even. Apathy? That’s better than depression. Seriously.
But wait. Talk to people in a relationship (read marriage) be it arranged or self made – the list of complaints is not short either.
– I just don’t have the time for myself
– In laws, In laws, In laws
– What do you know about the pressures of raising kids today?
– I’ve been taken for granted.
– I don’t know who I am , really.
– My Hobbies? Interests? What? Are you joking? I have forgotten those long ago..
– Don’t tell my wife/ husband about my outing… Please!
– I have to buy a “responsible” family car not the snazzy one I’ve been saving up for
– Career of my choice? Can’t shift now. Too much depends on me.
– Aah.. those were the carefree days when I was single.
Sounds familiar? Well, I don’t understand. If you are single , you want to be in a relationship. If you are in a relationship you want to be single again. Or do you just want to be in that in-between- courting stage? What gives? Let me address each issue in the image above first.
1. I annoy people : Yes. I annoy people by being bold and standing up to them. I have thoughts. And opinions. Try to make me understand . I will respect you for that.
2. I am never anyone’s first choice : You might also not be mine. Wondering why Ms. PYTs Or Mr.Balloon bicep type seem to always find the right person, while you struggle? Funny, when you are strong…
3. I f*** shit up : So people avoid me, as they need someone to cover up for them, because THEY f*** shit up too.
4. I am just bad with relationships : People are used to others putting up with their idiosyncrasies, so when I tell it to them on their face, they feel they’ve received a slap. And I have received my share of slaps of this genre too. So, I am just as bad / or good at this as you are.
5. I am not liked : I have wallowed in this area for quite awhile. And I am not afraid to admit that. Everyone wants someone to love them and someone whom they can love, so where’s the question of like?- They wanna leapfrog that and go straight for the love part! And you are so brought up to be the person others like. Else you might be considered selfish. Well, I have just one bit of advice – Give as much as you TAKE!
6. I’m an ugly ass mother-f***er : Body stereotypes. The bane of our lives today. Who sets these standards? Blue eyes. Fair skin. Bronzed look. Long legs. Tiny waist. Short hair. Long hair. Curly hair. Curvy but not curvaceous. Swimsuit body. Be the natural you. Be physically and mentally strong. Respect the inborn strengths of your body. Ugly ass or not .. you will figure out.
7. I spend my whole life locked up in a dark room with food and a laptop : I think food and laptop are better companions than 90% of the people on the earth.
Not so much about the dark room.
And the rest?- books are a better choice! I wanted to use a lot of swear words here. Lalochezia and all that? Wondering what it is? Go read a book!
Coming back to the whole discussion about being single or otherwise. I have just one thought.
And then, for sure, it won’t be all paradise. Be prepared to work on it. Put effort. Shed some tears. Raise your voice. But if, at the end of the day – you feel safe in your head and thoughts and the opinions you want to voice. It is worth it.
GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn – REVIEW
What started as some in-flight entertainment, ended up being a book that scared me about the mind of people – men and women alike. For people who have already read reviews about the New York Best seller “Gone Girl” on Amazon / Good reads – would have seen words like dark genre, thrilling read, and etc .Here are my thoughts on the book.
THE PLOT : Perfect wife Amy goes missing on her 5th wedding anniversary, but only after having organized her traditional treasure hunt for husband Nick Dunne. Nick, the bored male in the relationship, out of a job as a writer, and barely supporting his family by owning a Bar (bought with his wife’s money) – is definitely not in a “ Happy Anniversary” place right now.
With Amy going missing, a nonchalant Nick is forced to turn his attention to her absence, rack his brains for information that would make look less a suspect in the eyes of law. A confused Nick who remembers the “Amazing Amy” he met and fell in love with – is forced to deal with her parents, news that she was recently pregnant, the media, flirty moms who want their share of media, his sister, and the police – all the time wondering – whether he should have put more effort into the relationship. The introduction to Andie – the 23 year old Nick has an affair with, makes us like him even less.
And then a U-turn, Amy is alive. Milking her disappearance to her benefit. Playing a game to send Nick a message that he cannot take her for granted. Or mess with her emotions. A game she has played before. She watches in perverse happiness as her carefully executed plot to frame her husband, unfolds. It is not justice she seeks, but control.
And as Nick senses he is being framed – he counters her every action through his. Some subtle power play and ego we read about here. Amy who is now in the clutches of her one-time stalker, carefully executes another sterile plan – that of murder. She returns home into the arms of Nick, with an effective fool proof story for the media. Cameras flash, the police are satisfied, and the case is closed. But Nick is not satisfied . Neither are his sister and a detective on the force. After all no one can plan a perfect murder. But Amy did. And got away with it.
And while we wait for Nick to be a normal man, who divorces his psycho wife and moves on with life – he stays in the marriage. Because Amazing Amy is pregnant. With Nick’s child. Yes, more devious planning to keep him in the marriage. Before you start sympathizing with Nick – wait to read his justifications and hers for keeping the marriage going. That is something I am not giving away here.
MY THOUGHTS : The book starts of in quite an average manner. Moderately paced, Nick and Amy narrate their versions – each person characterizing the other through their own experiences and emotions. You understand Nick through Amy’s eyes and vice versa. You empathize with both of them in your mind. The narrative keeps trudging along – you are almost bored with the detailed descriptions of their life events.
And then the author does a 180 and steps up speed. Suddenly you are thrown into the vortex of Amy’s brilliance, her cunning, premeditations and patience. Just when you want to support her for not taking the situation lying down – you are stunned by how affected a person can be when they place too much importance on their own emotions and ego. For Amy – till now an above average person suddenly progresses into an unemotional, manipulative person – efficient in planning to kill, be killed if necessary and to ruin people’s lives devoid of guilt.
I quote Amy’s thoughts from the book “I was told love should be unconditional… Love should require both partners to be their very best at all times. Unconditional Love is Undisciplined love …”
And in the words of Nick Dunne “ … I write down everything about her day, her likes and dislikes… I am a great husband because I am very afraid she may kill me. The fact is , my wife is a murderess who is sometimes really fun.
This whole scenario scares me and would continue to if the roles / gender were reversed. Is this a trend in today’s world? Nick and Amy seem like a normal couple who go through the regular hills and valleys of life. Is this how people think now? Are they manipulated to stay in their marriages / relationships? Would they want to kill / frame someone they loved before? Is it all about power play and being in control? Having the last word at all cost?
In a life where we don’t get to choose our families and our own genes – we do sometimes get a choice of our partner. Someone we think might grow to be our soul mate. Granted we are on our best behavior during the courting phase – that is but a normal reaction. We preen, we coo, we coddle, we exhibit the best side of us. But when you end up sharing mind space for a long time, physical space, or even room space – you are bound to let your guard down. You are just who you are.
You know that their best behavior did not last. Maybe it shocks you. Surprises you. Hurts you too a bit. But News Flash : Neither did yours. He picks his nose. You snore. He is sloppy Joe. You whine and nag. No one is perfect. You need not be. For that would be unnatural almost.
Its good not to take things for granted. But to pretend? Lifelong? Is that a solution? I quote the author’s words here :
“ We pretend to be in love… and it feels almost like love sometimes… Reviving the muscle of early romance”
Early romance. The key words here. That beautiful period of discovery. Euphoria and Peace. Fear and Courage. Talk and Laughter. What poets write about. What films are made on. And then it changes? Does it fade? Or change? Or grow? I have no answer.
In true style of the book – here is my Quiz.
If the period of early romance is so special, how do we make it last?
A) Experience the “early romance” with as many people and move on when it fades out?
B) “Pretend” to be in the “phase” with your partner for as long as possible?
C) Accept some changes as growth but keep some silliness going?
What would you do? Have you felt all the things that Amy and Nick felt? Its time to think. Before committing to a person, folks – wait to think. Am I in love with the person? Or am I in love, with the idea of love. Its not the same. At all.
For a person like me – where a book transports me to a different world, where I visualize the characters as someone I interact with or observe – it terrorizes me. Are people like Nick and Amy people on my Facebook List. My whatsapp groups. Do I know them already? I hope to God, I never have to interact with such people on more than a superficial level. Peace out!
THE GREAT INDIAN OBSESSIONS
Under the broad theme of Life in India, I would like to talk about “The great Indian Obsessions” as I call it, which are almost similar ideologies among diverse groups. Be it across social strata, religions, the urban and rural population – some things do not change.
Religion is important for anyone who is Indian by birth. There are those who say they are confirmed atheists, but even they would have evolved some pattern of faith by themselves, be it self-introspection, or plain hard work – but you cannot extricate the concept of religion from the average Indian. There are those who starve, who piously follow the many formalities that go with each deity, or day of the week. Then there are those who attend bhajan classes, or satsang prayers. There are those who listen to religious sermons, or wake up early to watch a devotional program, or visit a temple, or write the name of their deity a 100,008 times over. And then there are those who decide that it is not about the festivities or formalities, and decide to organise community meals at the temples, maybe once a week. There are those who just simply donate huge amounts to a temple – thereby believing that the Lord will take care of requirements, and then there are those who hand make their lamps, grow their own flowers to be offered at the Temples. Even the most playful student will appear for an examination with the sacred ash on his forehead, the highly corporate vice-president will break a coconut in front of his new BMW, the most corrupt politician will go to the temple before elections, and deified movie star will offer prayers before the premiere of his new film. Religion is linked to festivals, elections, sports,cultural arts, schools, business, movies, astrology, culture and marriage.
The Indians have strong family ties. Though the recent cosmopolitan Indian will scoff at the family and seek refuge in his friends circle, the average Indian can never give up the ‘family’ totally. Family businesses, Family honor, Family friends, Family ties, Family doctors, Family outings – family is used more as an adjective than a noun. While in urban India, people tend to be more isolated and independent hence not feeling the need to be surrounded by ‘family’ – these ties and the importance associated with them become more pronounced as you go deeper into India. Children are sent abroad to be educated, so that they may come back and take care of the ‘Family businesses’. Once that is done their weddings are arranged with the son/daughter of ‘Family friends’, so that the ‘Family honour’ is maintained. They go on ‘Family outings’, every weekend and vacation, the pregnant daughter or daughter-in-law is sent only to the Family doctor, and thus’ Family ties’ continue to be maintained.
But despite the sarcasm – the concept of the Joint Family actually is an extremely advantageous one. For one it offers you massive “economies” of scale benefits. Not to mention the strong support system when it comes to children and the home-front being taken care of. Add to it the amazing people skills you are almost forced to develop at a very young age and you will realise why some Indians hold on to it rigidly even to this day – for they believe that no other pattern or person could give them these amazing advantages . (E.g.) A grandmother who looks forward to feeding your child simultaneously telling him a story, an uncle who voluntarily gives you his friend’s contact for your business , the older cousin brother who takes the little ones for a spin on his bike and ice creams. These used to be normal occurrences in every family for a long while. True , the lack of privacy or individual space was a big negative factor that worked against the ‘joint family’ system but many families are now regulating their family pattern so as to enjoy the benefits of both systems – joint and nuclear. The working women of today realize the advantages of having parents or parents-in-law at home, the support system they offer on a daily basis and the once dictatorial in-laws now realize what a fresh lease of life it is to be around their grand children at home, as against sitting by themselves and solving crossword puzzles or visiting temples. People are rediscovering the benefits of staying in a Family. The reason they are anchored in life.
Tying the knot as so vividly described above – is one of the biggest Indian obsessions. From the day the girl or boy has reached a ‘marriageable’ age (18 for girls and 21 for boys) parents across all castes, communities and religions, perk up the radar for identifying suitable partners for their wards. Despite the education, and the fact that the average Indian male and female would like to postpone their “socially” acceptable marriageable ages, this is something which an illiterate and a literate person would almost have identical functioning of thoughts. The biggest challenge being finding a suitable mate for your child before he/she reaches the ‘expiry’ date which would soon begin with the onset of the thirties. Once the marriage is ascertained – look back to previous point of ‘family’ and the next paragraph on ‘children’ to get a complete picture.
As long as you are single – the only thing parents and society seem to want for you – is to get you married. If you thought, that once you succumbed to their wishes , they would let you in peace – think again. Then it is almost like Jumanji – you have to get to the next level and you cannot decide to do away with the game without playing it. Same way, once you get married – you have to move to the next step i.e. procreation. Are you one of those couples that are thinking of pet cats / dogs/ or birds. Sorry not possible, for 6 months post your marriage – you will hear many subtle and not-so-subtle hints about it being time for a little one around.
And once you even succeed in procreation – the new parents along with their own parents start to obsess. The new age parents, who get their parenting tips from Google, download relevant information regarding milestones in their child’s lives – generally the people who are the bane of the pediatrician’s lives start wanting to give their child an early start in life. They start playing classical music to the child in the womb (hoping to subconsciously ignite its musical genes), decide that the child has “foot ball” talents coz of its’ kicks in the mother’s stomach, and generally overloading the child with too much too soon. The child is introduced to umpteen other classes,schools and different types of peer pressure…and very soon feels stifled. And when it finally decides to have its own way – many parents end up depressed, for they actually did all the stuff they did – with the child’s best interests in mind. But that is too long to elaborate here…maybe another post on it soon.
Children have to be educated, but they have also to be left to educate themselves.
Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.
-John W. Gardner
Let me put it this way. If you read the above two quotes – Indians try to give their children hugest bouquets and there is hardly any space at home for a garden (Pun intended). But the efforts to add more cut flowers to your bouquet are genuine.
The good thing is India has undergone a huge transition, whereby the importance of education has been communicated. There are schools in rural as well as urban India – and as much as one may question their infrastructure and qualification of teachers – there are still schools. Makeshift ones in rural India.
And the classy ones in Urban India. Much has been achieved in the field of educating girls. And everyone seeks to give their child a formal education right from the common laborer till the ‘qualified’ software professional. The top 3 preferred professions have slightly moved from doctor,lawyer and engineer to doctor,engineers and MBAs.
Education in India is provided both by the Government (central and state) as well as private schools. The most important thing is learning to communicate in English. English-medium schools are sought after, a ‘convent’ or a private school enjoying high reputations. So much so that people insist on sending their children to private schools that charge exorbitant fees and miscellaneous expenses throughout the year despite it being beyond their reach. All the while thinking that they are laying a strong foundation for their children – who can just take a ‘giant leap’ forward. What is really sad, is – that India, home of learning centers like Nalanda University, scholars like Aryabatta, Tagore, Chanakya,Srinivasa Ramanujam and Vivekananda are now engaging in mass-production of a highly mediocre work force.
Other jobs like farmers, dancers, researchers, tailors, sculptors, musicians, teachers, are all almost forgotten because it is not considered economically feasible. Education in India is right now a means to an end – the end being a well-paying job, the journey as many will tell you, is neither interesting nor comfortable.
There are many more things that the Indians obsess about – Films, Cricket, Politics, Food, Social standing, Vegetarianism, Astrology, even their next-door neighbour … but the above 5 have assumed such paramount importance that each of them have now become a multi-billion dollar industry in the country.
Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.
This might as well be the Motto of the average Indian – especially with the above 5. He has to win. He will do what it takes to get there.
I am a mere observer
Others lives I record and see
What this one-word institution
“Marriage” is meant to be
Some marry in a hurry
Like there will be – no other chance
Soon, neither gives the other
As much as a second glance
Some marry for money
It seems to be a practical choice
But then, its not all honey
Often, their thoughts have no voice
Many marry under pressure
With people dictating- what they SHOULD do
And when the big day is over
On their own, the partners
hardly have a clue
Some marry their friends
And discover a new avatar
Men – scream, Women – cold war
Well,That’s how this relation ends
Some marry for security
And standing in the “society”
Unless blessed with serious conviction
Their life fades into obscurity
Some try their luck at ” _____ . com ”
Firmly believing in technology
While chatting, fiance(e)s are in full form
And later a mismatch in psychology
Some marry for fame
And try desperately to fit in
Very few survive
The others, just can’t seem to win
Some just feel alone
They need to get themselves a spouse
The difference is similar to –
Creating a home
And just buying a house
Yet, there are those who strive
Unassuming, sometimes unglamorous to the eye
This small fraction
shares their strategy, which is
To keep it going, they say
there are a few many things
you have to do,
If not –
Kiss peace of mind – Adieu!!!