Advice to a child who has just started dating

At 28, I am lucky that I don’t have the responsibility of a child in my life. At 28, I am also lucky to have relatives and friends with children whose character, maturity and sense of independence never ceases to inspire optimism in the next generation. Just a few days back I received word from one such friend that her daughter has some important news to share. As I got on to skype to talk to my niece, the increasingly red hues her face was assuming along with the sight of the young man seated next to her gave away the obvious, that she was dating for the very first time.

 

The lawyer within had just one thought ringing in my head, “background check”. But after what seemed like an eternal tussle between the lawyer and the uncle inside my mind, lasting an entire two seconds, I could only formulate one response, “Awwww, how adorable!”. However, I instead articulated another response which only a Banglorean can, “I am stuck in traffic right now. Can I speak to you guys later?”. So my longer and more layered response is as under.

 

Approval- one of the most highly overrated words in such situations. How can I on one hand preach the importance of recognising the autonomy and freedom of girls and on the other hand still emphasise that a daughter needs the approval of her father and her uncle to date a man she legitimately chose? So no question of approval here young lady.  Au contraire, my only hope remains that you share the happiness that you feel from this relationship with all of us, your family. I pray that you call upon us when you feel exhausted or in trouble from this relationship, so that we can create and hold your space as you find your way back up again. I don’t think you need approval, but allow me to ask your approval to remain available as and when you need us.

 

Every good relationship, especially the first one, follows a pattern- attraction, mutual awareness and the chaos called love. Nothing represents the utility of being alive than being in love. Your mind’s resolute focus and uncapped happiness at the mere concept of your boyfriend and the consequential understanding of how real he is, will remain the most thrilling of all the joys in your life. On the other hand that which you grow so close to, will also annoy and question your judgement like nothing else ever will. But so long as the integrity of your body and mind is recognised, respected and worshipped- enjoy this madness, for nothing makes a person grow as romance and love does.

 

Now we get to the part, where man excels best- hypocrisy. The fathers of this world have felt the joys of holding their partner’s hands, hearing the sound of their breathing and savouring the joys that come with physical intimacy. Awkward, therapeutic, hilarious and pleasurable are among the many words that can be used to describe those simple gestures such as cuddling or kissing. Yet, it is these very experienced men and women who dread the prospects of their child feeling these very emotions and experiences. Between my role as your uncle and as a brother to your mother, I have a thin line to walk on. So I will simply say this- You have a gifted intellect, an almost extraordinary level of emotional intelligence and intuition that has come from the efforts at self growth and mentoring that your own parents have provided you. I trust you to take care of yourself and to live life in a manner that makes you happy, contented and at peace. But if your parents ever ask, I spoke strongly about the merits of abstinence…..

 

So, to conclude- ignore the boring uncle who can’t stop speaking, craft your lies well (you never hugged your boyfriend, you simply shook hands with your man), have plenty of those experiences, the memories of which, will make you smile every single time and just celebrate the fact of having grown up and found someone special for the first time in your life.

 

And if ever, the man who is supposed to celebrate you ends up doing the opposite, let it be known to him, that the wrath of the law shall bring hell upon his very existence and that he shall cry like a little child at the end of it….. On that note, allow me to once again say, “aww” and wish you kids the very best of happiness.

 

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Melting Pot

A contentious issue raging in my family as I am sure it does in many other families, is the subject of migration. During my travels in Europe recently, I recognised noticeable number of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin men and women. A significant number of retail shops in Barcelona were run by asian origin families. In many ways its a melting pot of cultures. India too is no different. Having been invaded and visited by mongols, huns, arabs and Europeans, our ethnic origins are hardly indigenous anymore.

The question remains how good or bad is this? All seriousness apart, I am a strong believer in migration. India is a classic example of a melting pot. But history apart, today the sheer variety of wonderful food that one can find between one city and the other is a testament to the utility of the “melting pot”. Between the south indian bisibele bath and the kashmiri wazwan and the luchi and koshohari mangsho in bengal and the khichdi in gujrat, nothing illustrates the importance of national integrity like all the flavours that treat the senses.

Hard to also forget all the good looking people that emerge from a melting pot. Barcelona a city that I absolutely fell in love with, stood out for the sheer concentration of beautiful women. As I was telling a friend recently, it isn’t a city of men and women . Rather, it is a city of gods and goddesses. I am given to understand that because Barcelona has had people from so many different parts of the world living there, the resulting glow and radiance among its people is inevitable. India is no different. Women from every part of India have distinct features and few other places in the world allow for the opportunity to celebrate diverse feminine beauty as India does.

One must however caution oneself against celebrating migration so quickly. Migration also leads to a dangerous infection called exchange of ideas and history shows that nothing good can come out of it. Christopher Colombus introduced sexual violence and ethnic cleansing in the Americas. Christian influx into India successfully convinced us to hate our bodies, body shame women especially and introduced guilt into an act our sages had branded as natural and even divine.

Another manifestation of a melting pot is the internet. Having spent a fair amount of time in this melting pot, I grew up embracing strange ideas like liberal human rights. A lot of stereotypes that had been drilled into my head went away. I made friends with people from religious backgrounds that were supposedly out to eliminate me. To my horror I discovered they would rather spend their time more usefully than being concerned with an idol worshipper in India. As my extended family will now testify, a melting pot does nothing good except to create rifts between family members and alienate older generations from the newer ones.

So speaking as a victim of the melting pot, beware of the probability of sin. But speaking as a sinner, I can say how totally worthwhile it is 😛

You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  MariaPravin and Shackman, Ramana

Angels and Demons

Angels and Demons? Uniquely christian concepts I suppose. Reflecting on Hindu Mythology, the concept of devas (gods) and asuras (lesser of the demigods) are so much less black and white. In fact, some of the so called rakshasas were ardent devotees of various gods and earned many favours for their faith and penance. Devas, besides being mighty and noble and all that had their weaknesses and often ended up doing vain things. Perhaps Hindu mythology understood that the dichotomy of good and bad, while academically sound just won’t work in reality. Greek Gods too were similar in their character. Between Aries and Zeus, they indulged in their share of hanky panky. Don’t believe me? Ask how Hercules was born.

 

Basavanna, perhaps one of the greatest philosophers to have walked this earth, was a 12th century poet who understood the essence of vedic philosophy and founded an egalitarian movement. His poetry condemned all kinds of discrimination and urged people to find their soul through reflection, instead of seeking out god in the temples of the land. His poetry in Kannada remains true for generations. He and many other kannada poets like Sarvagna, constantly reminded people that heaven and hell are within and it is for one to find them with good conduct and behavior. But what is the right thing to do?

 

That then brings me to Angels and Demons. To me the first exposure to angels and demons occurred through the cartoon, Tom and Jerry. Often times, when faced with a crisis of conscience, the characters would have a demon and an angel appear on either side of their shoulder and offer advice both good and bad. But in hindsight, I admit that the bad advice could have led to more fun whereas the good advice would probably deprive good old tom of some much needed rewards. Its yet another thing that no matter what advice Tom took, Jerry always got the better of him because the script said so.

 

There lies, ladies and gentlemen, the lesson for us all? Angels and Demons are not the all powerful influences in our life. Their boss, like the script writer, just so happens to be “karma”. You listened to the angel and worked hard for a reward and yet it escaped you and instead the reward was in favour of someone less deserving? Lo, behold, Karma. On the other hand you decided to listen to the demon and indulged a nefarious inclination? Immediate gratification notwithstanding, live the remainder of your life wondering what fate awaits around the corner. Either Karma delivers or Karma inspires fear. Karma, come to think of it, is like batman. Angels and demons on the other hand are like your beat cop and criminal henchmen respectively. Ultimately, they both have their egos and bodies handed to them by the Bat.

 

But if you are looking for a shorter more crisp answer as to how to distinguish between angels and demons, I leave you to reflect on the photo taken of the pope and a certain orange man together…..

 

You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  MariaPravin and Shackman, Ramana

Creationism or evolution

The debate between creationism v. evolution is all about who is responsible for the mess that the planet is in right now? What convoluted logic would allow for mankind to forge ahead of other species and become the dominant one? After all, one look at the people we elect to power, mind you, elect to power, will reveal the inherent lack of intelligence in allowing man to rise this fast and this quick.

 

I suspect that once you see this in perspective, the believers will argue for evolution not wanting to blame God for this mess and the non believers will perhaps…. continue to give evolution the credit. Between the theists and the atheists I have found more integrity among the latter than in the former. So I would like to assume that they will take responsibility for evolution even if its product is messed up.

 

Creationism or evolution? It doesn’t matter really. Lets assume its evolution for the sake of argument. I have a condition that is the product of some idiotic ancestor of mine deciding to stand up on his two feet when the human body was clearly not ready for it. Despite the lapse of several thousands of years since that one poor judgement call, my back punishes me for my ancestor’s karma. The cure is apparently another twenty thousand years away when the human body finally figures out a solution. But I wonder what other errors of judgement I will make in this time posing more challenges to my descendants? For example will I decide to reproduce in space resulting in my child being born with a tail to navigate zero gravity? It may sound far fetched. But the crazier an act is likely to be, the more likely it is for a human being to do it.

 

Now let us assume it was creationism? What kind of an angry and spiteful being would inflict such poor sense into the aforesaid ancestor of mine resulting in punishment for thousands of generation? And is there any cure at all? Does the cure depend upon me pandering to the lord’s merciful and all powerful spirit? If so how long must I prostrate, with my back condition that too, to convince the good lord above to take mercy upon me? I suspect, with the quality of my faith, that this method would take longer than the next twenty thousand years.

 

The summary of the debate simply is this- creationism or evolution, the outcome of it is disappointing and reveals incompetence. The focus must be on solutions. That to me has just one answer- the people of this world must stop reproducing. Of all the things mankind did wrong, the one thing he did get right is birth control. I am sure creationists would be happy to give the evolutionists the credit for birth control. So let us pay our tribute to our maker, whoever it may be, by defying their wishes and simply stop reproducing. For every child we don’t bring to this world, we give ourselves and our planet a fighting chance to survive.

 

You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  MariaPravin and Shackman, Ramana

 

 

 

Language

So when I was in Spain, I was eating the famous churros when I heard this really catchy song playing in the background. My Spanish is slightly less atrocious than my latin and greek and I couldn’t help but get addicted to how catchy that tune was. With some difficulty, I registered one word “despacito” and when I returned to my hotel, I promptly retrieved the song on the net. As I grew increasingly addicted to the tune, I thought I should learn the meaning of the beautiful lyrics. Viola- like most pop music, the song was all about sex and rather explicit about it too. What sounded like passion and latin expression proved to be just another catering to popular culture.

 

Make no mistake, the song was still addictive. In Italy though, my friend and his 4 year old son were listening to yet another catchy song. While I couldn’t grasp much of the words, I could hear something that sounded like “dentalis karma”. Being the arrogant english speaker that I am, I naturally assume that all words have intended english meanings. I was entirely convinced that the song was about how an encounter with the dentist is the product of one’s bad karma. However, when I looked up the song, it was actually “occidentalis karma” and had really deep lyrics about the futility of western culture.

 

Clearly, my first experience as a foreigner in a country that doesn’t speak my languages ended in some rather stupid mistakes on how I understood words and expressions. But I am also amazed at the common elements of so many of these languages. “Babo” in Italian, a word used by children to call their father is remarkably similar to “Bapu”, a word commonly used in Indian languages to call for a father. “Venga, Venga, Venga”, the spanish expression for hurry up is frightfully similar to “Bega, bega, bega” which is the Kannada word for hurry up. Across the 7 seas, the common elements to human language is astounding.

 

The diversity and the lack of it involved in human languages is intriguing to say the least. While the human brain is anatomically rather similar across races and cultures, its understanding of the environment and how it evolved ideas and expressions never ceases to amaze. Why do we have different languages across different regions? What caused the Spaniards to develop “ola” as the sound to greet someone and why did the English developed “hello” instead?

 

Could it be that the diverse experiences of the human race across different regions influence the diversity in sounds and languages? Did we experience emotions differently? How did these emotions sound in our mind, so as to enable the words that express them? Why did some cultures define languages to express courtesy and restraint whereas other cultures define languages to express liberally, emotions and ideas?

 

If anything, I am more ignorant than ever after these experiences with foreign languages. While some master languages across cultures with ease, people like me remain flummoxed and amazed at what language can do and achieve. Hopefully one day I will find answers to the above questions.

 

You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  MariaPravin and Shackman, Ramana