Sunday, May 31, 2009

Earn More and Give Back More

Ambition, the desire to acquire wealth and material goodies and issues as these were on mind after reading Smitha's post titled "Thinking Big with Honesty". This post is about, some of what our scriptures say about wealth and material acquisition. Before I go ahead, I want to say that all my understanding (which is still very little) of Vedant comes from my Teacher.

I am aware, that Hinduism or Sanatan Dharma is probably one of the few philosophies or teachings where wealth is celebrated. We worship Lakshmi,the Goddess of wealth. Shree Suktam is one of the most beautiful and lyrical hymns where one invokes Lakshmi and asks for wealth. Our scriptures ask us not to hate the rich, be friends with our equals and have compassion for the poor.

So is Sanatan Dharm or Hinduism which is traced back to some 4000-5000 years ago blatantly pro-capitalist in nature? We do Lakshmi Puja during Diwali, but might be unaware of the fact that Vedic philosophy does not stop at approving the wealth generation but also lays down the code of conduct after acquiring that wealth. We have conveniently hung on to invoking God for ever increasing personal wealth, but have overlooked the qualities one should inculcate after amassing all that wealth. Therein lies the source of troubles that ail the society today. Hence it is not surprising that there are many in the world who live in abject poverty.

Ambition and a desire for the worldly goods takes on a darker color when we become a slave to our worldly possessions and also when we sacrifice the core values and barter our souls in exchange for money,power,fame,career.......Our scriptures say that wealth if used correctly can be a tremendous social force. I guess the same applies for power and fame amongst other things.

Our Scriptures have distinguished between ,Alakshmi,Vitt,Dhanlakshmi,Mahalakshmi.

Alakshmi: To simply put, wealth spent for wrong things.

Vitt: Wealth spent on oneself.

Dhanlakshmi: Wealth spent on someone else.

Mahalakshmi: Wealth spent for God's work.( This does not mean money spent in building ostentatious temples though. More like helping a needy family, but minus the unequal equation between giver(superior)-receiver(inferior).

It is said that when wealth is spent on God's work or given back to the society generously, the money stays in the family for generations. One example is the Raghuvansh Dynasty.


Tam M aavah jatvedo lakshmimanapgaminim
Yasyam Hiranyam Vindeyam Gamashvam Purushanham

Roughly and Literally Translated: Hey Jatvedas, I want to own a golden cow, horse and great friends, so grant me indestructible wealth.

Having siad that Shlok I must add that great wealth and power come with great responsibility. Owning upto the responsibility is what our scriptures ask of us. We maybe forgiven for our sins but we are always responsible for our actions. Wealth sans responsibility cannot become a positive social force.

I ask for wealth for all those who will spend it wisely and judiciously and worship it and treat it as Dhanlakshmi and Mahalakshmi.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Goodbyes and Heartaches

I am depressed. I am woebegone. I am moping and also convinced I will be rendered -unable to function. All this and more once my neighbor and friend leaves for India (for good) in 6 days.

I have been blessed with great neighbors and great friends. I have already said my farewell to two really close friends and now this one. She is my next door neighbor. My support system in a foreign land. My Two year old thinks, she is her second mommy or something close. Without an extended family to fall back upon and grandmas and aunts to fuss over you, not surprising. Six long months of winter (when being inside the apartment is not a choice but a compulsion) were never so tedious after all, thanks to the 'padosis'. We carved a 'Little India' in our corner of the apartment building, with kids running around and playing house during the long winter months. From babysitting each others kids to a 24/7 supply of onion/tomato/sugar/flour, its been a great journey. We have sneaked in the occasional movie or dinner with the hubby thanks to taking turns to look after each other's kids. Such bonding makes for a hell of a joyride but becomes a sea of pain when the time comes to bid adeiu.

So I walk around with a heavy heart and nothing anyone says or does seems to make a difference right now. My two year old senses something and is already prone to unexplainable temper tantrums and long crying spells. The four year old will have a somewhat lonely summer without one of his best friends. My only consolation being that I am to follow suit and head back home in some more months. But undeniably it is the end of a journey for now.

Cheers to such neighbors and friends !!(to the 2 special ones too, who left already). My friend is a Mumbaikar (Maharashtrian) and I as North Indian as they come (hailing from Jammu and Kashmir) here's to the Shiv Sena Brigade and the Regional Fanatics : Eat Your Hearts Out!!!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Day the Americans wanted to know us Better

I had mentioned earlier in my Post titled "Uthishta Bharata" that I was due to give a presentation in my son's pre-school about India and the Indian culture. This was a part of an exercise by the Director of the school to bridge the cultural gap and equip themselves with skills to better deal with children of the Indian origin. I was asked to do the honors and I was more than happy, public speaking being something I love and India and the Indian culture being one of my favorite topics.

Some of the questions that came up were:

1. Americans:What is the meaning of the mark on the forhead?
Me: To myself: I think I know the answer thanks to the spiritual literature I am reading.
To Them : The mark is applied by the Indians who follow Hinduism (a name given by the Western scholars)or Sanatan Dharma ( Eternal Law/Eternal teachings). It is done for aesthetic purposes too. But the religious and cultural connotation being that it celebrates the power of the mind. It is our mind which explores all that is good in us and stifles the evil. Immense power lies within it and hence after we worship the creator we worship that mind which will lead us to him.
Honestly, followed by (mostly) blank looks.

2. Why do many people of the Indian origin eat with their hands?
Me: To Myself: I would rather not eat, than eat Rajma Chawal with a spoon and I am sure my South Indian sister feels the same for Dosa-chutney...
To Them: An elaborate process of cleaning up which includes hands and sometimes feet and face too(remember:"haath munh dho kar khane baitho")precedes our eating. Our food is such that we cannot possibly eat with a spoon/fork/knife. You would not think of eating a Pizza or a Burger with a a fork or spoon
Followed by laughter!

3.Are there any foods you do not eat and why?
Me: To Myself: Beef.Gai Humari Maata hai!!Why else?
To Them: Many Indian Hindus are vegetarians (they do not believe in killing animals for food) and almost all of them do not eat beef. We consider the cow a sacred animal (amongst a host of other things) since it is the source of the most nourishing food(which is actually for its young one)and hence we have given the animal an elevated status and no Hindu will be found killing or eating a cow. I understand the Indian Muslims do not eat Pork.
Followed by "you are crazy to give up steak and ham " kind of looks!!!

4.Why do Indians celebrate birthday parties with the cake first?
Me:To Myself: Another example of aping the west. Why, oh why the tradition of offering prayers, seeking blessings from elders etc is replaced by one upmanship birthday parties. The kids sometimes more concerned with the gifts they receive and the return gifts they will take back home.
To Them: Cutting the cake is not part of our culture, we adopted it from the west and took the liberty of changing it to suit our needs. We eat sweets on any special or joyous occassions hence we eat the cake first???? Maybe?
Followed by Hmmmmmmmmms!!

5. In childcare we the satff strive to make the children independent and self- sufficient. Does this conflict with your cultural beliefs?
Me: To Myself: You will be doing us a favor.
To them: Exactly that.."You would be doing us a favor" we appreciate the efforts you take to make our children independent. Gone are the days of extended families and extended childhoods... being pampered by grandparents and aunts and uncles. In a situation where nuclear families and working moms are the norm, the children need to grow up fast and be independent. So the culture is changing and hence needs to be follwed by relevant practices too.
Follwed by smug satisfied looks.

6. Do extended family live with you?
Me : To Myself: I know so many who are scared to move back because of their extended families and so many, who want to move back for the very same reason.
To Them: Extended families was the way we were. It is fast changing because of the economy. People have to move away from their towns and cities and country in pursuit of career/money/what have you... But when the parents get too old or sick to take care of themselves it is understood that they will move in with their children. This is the usual practice and one cannot easily get away with something otherwise. This accounts for less old age homes and less societal acceptance of such instituions. (Thank God!)
Followed by Admiration and "I wish I could say the same for our family value system"(especially by the elderly staff)kinda looks

7.If a child is able to walk- why do you carry them?
Me: To Myself: Hmmm why do we do that? Is it just that we are a very loving people and amotionally expressive? Not really when you come to think of it.
To Them: Not sure about this one. Maybe because the Day-Care thing is a relatively new concept for us and the Indian mother is still struggling with a lot of guilt about it.Guilt and motherhood go hand in hand.
Followed by "we can so relate " response.

8. Please explain jewllery and its traditions - e.g. a gold chain around the waist of a little boy. Also there was aboy who wore ear-rings for just a few weeks and then didn'twear them again.
Me: To Myself: We today do many things merely as rituals , not knowing or bothering to find out why we do it. But everyhting had a reason which may have been contorted beyond recognition.
To Them: This is my understanding in the Indian culture which dates back to pre-historic times emphasizes upon the connection between metals/peircings(which is related to accupressure) and good health or healing. We also are believers of Astrology and the influence of various stones on our well being. Many things like threads around our waist and vermillion on our hair-parting are symbolic in nature.
Follwed by very interested queries. Many wanted to know wether they shoud wear a moonstone or a topaz....I was like Whoa!!! wait a minute I can't help you need to see some expert.Having said that the image of crude ads of Bangali Baba as seen from the trains flooded my mind. :)

9. Please explain "oils"that are used in the children's hair.
Me: To Myself: LOL I am sure the mustard/sesame/coconut oil fumes must be making them dizzy.
To Them: We believe in natural organic products (this organic word sells like hot cakes here)The oils have been proven to be good for healthy lustrous hair besides having a cooling/warming effect. I personally have kept friday nights as the 'oiling night' when I liberally oil my children's hair and shampoo it the next morning. Is it a wonder that India is the biggest exporter of natural hair and the US the biggest importer. The Indian hair is considered the best in the world and is used for wigs.
Followed by laughter and questions on natural beauty care products.

10. What is the discipline used for children?
Me: To Myself:You really don't want to know. We think of innovative ways to threaten,scare, coerce and traumatize(unknowingly) our children. We ourselves are products of childhood 'pitai'..the occassional thrashings and many a spankings.We have masterd the art of covertly pinching our children in public places where we fear recrimination esp. in the US. God forgive me for the blatant lies I told that day.
To them:We do the usual thing like 'time-outs' and taking away priveleges or TV time etc. We also resort to the occassional spanking.
Followed by approving looks.

11. As raising a girl versus raising a marriage...
Me: To Myself: Girls are over-protected and boys over-coveted. Though I thoroughly dislike the over exposure in the US which leads to sexual maturity and sexual activity at an obscenely young age followed by increasing percentage of teen pregnancies.
To Them: We are generally more protective of our girls.Marriages mostly arranged and the love marriages are also mostly eventually arranged and paid for by the parents. Marriage is between two families rather than between two individuals.Dating is a big no-no for teenagers and anything of that sort will have to be done in clandestine.Divorce rates are low inspite of these practices or maybe because of these practices.
Followed by queries on the state of happiness of the women.

12. What do the children like playing with?
Me: To Myself: Are you kidding me?
To Them: Are you serious? They love the same things as an American child would. Blocks, puzzles, cars, dolls,legos,balls......
Followed by sheepish looks.

13. Is it ok to shake hands with the Indians?
Me: To Myself: I am ok with shaking hands but distinctly uncomfortable with the peck on the cheek. I could happily do without it.
To Them: Namste with folded hands is our traditional way to greet each other. Though we may not refuse a proferred hand, many women ( esp. those not working)might be uncomfortable shaking hands with a man.(actually I am more ill at ease while shaking hands with an Indian Man..I am like why does he need to do that?)
I added that it was a better way to greet consdiering the times we are living in ..swine flu, bird flu etc etc etc.
Followed by the very very germophobic Americans' whole hearted agreement. They left the room practicing the Namaste.

All in all it was a great evening. They loved my collection of bangles and my baluchari saree. They liked the fact that my family does the evening prayer together. They tsked-tsked about the undue academic pressure on the Indian children, as did I, though appreciated the parental involvement.Their jaws dropped at the number of languages we have and the thousands of unaccounted for dialects. The many religions and the regional variations.They enjoyed the samosas, the kadhai paneer and the chicken tikka(we had an Indian dinner). I came home happy with a pot of daisies and sent them pleased with a hand painted clay diya.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Uthishta Bharata

I dreamt of Chanakya last night. Not surprising since he is one of my favorite histroical figures. Also because I believe in Chanakya's dream. The dream of Akhand Bharat..United India.

I got a rude jolt when I read Nita's post titled "Kashmir through the eyes of a Kashmiri" lead there by Kislay's brilliant post "The Idea of a Nation". I was shocked by the comments on Nita's blog and I seriously thought I must have been sleeping when Diversity and Patriotism went out of fashion. Or maybe as Kislay says there is a Patriotic gene which I deinitely have inherited in plenty. I am also exuberantly optimistic as far as my country goes. I consider myself a global citizen but identify myself as an Indian first, then a Dogra from Jammu and Kashmir, who married a Bihari and has an Oriya sister-in-law. I have friends from Kerela, AP, TN, Rajasthan, WB, Maharashtra, Goa,Meghalaya, Manipur, Sikkim, UP,...Hindus, Muslims,Christians,and Buddhists

My immediate reaction to the particular post was anger.Kislay's post took away some of the hurt but I was mad enough to write a post which was reactionary and almost incoherent. Sanity returned and I deleted it with a promise of a post written in a better frame of mind. So here it is:

I am dismayed by the secessionist remarks but I believe everyone is entitled to an opinion. Though this kind of entitlement taken too far can be very dangerous, because not only does it threaten Nation Building efforts but also the World Peace at large. Primarily because if diversity is the issue, we are doomed. What and who is similar in absolute terms...thoughts, actions, language, orientation, religious practices, color, race, physical attributes etc.? Those who claim that any community is united because of a common geographical boundary,language,food,religion,way of dressing etc. are not being completely honest. There are divisons and sub-divisons and then further divisions based on the most inane of things.

Fair enough that as a Mumbaikar who in most liklihood migrated to the city from Tuljhapur, Ratnagiri or Aurangabad and earlier never faced the troubles of fast worsening problems of overcrowding and crumbling infratructure, the 'outsider' be it a 'bhaiya' from Jaunpur or Saharsa is the easiest punching bag. I would be angry too after battling through an Andheri or Virar Local. I would be very angry when I have to get up at 5 a.m to fill water because there will be no water supply during the rest of the day. I would be angrier still because my childern have no parks to go to. I might also feel threatened when I see huge crowds thronging Juhu beach during "Chhat" (a Bihari/U.P festival which celebrates the Sun God). But does the solution lie in thrashing the Bhaiya who moved from his village because his children were dying from hunger. Unlike the many Indians who move to the US or elsewhere desiring a better life, this Bhaiyaji was merely trying to survive.

As a Tamilian I might be furious at having to accept Hindi as my National Language. Tamil Nadu being a land of the great Sangam Literature. It is most likely that the question,that on what grounds was Hindi chosen over a rich language like Tamil will perhaps always remain in a Tamilian's mind. Personally I would choose Sanskrit as a National Language any day. But I was not asked and I am not a political player or an actvist citizen as yet (by my own choice) who can color and influence such decisions.So who am I to complaint?

As a Dogra, a Hindu from J&K who believes that my people have been caught in the crossfire between the Kashmiri Pandits and the Kashmiri Muslims (all the dirty politics included),I am very mad. I am sure the Ladakhis, Gujjars, Bakerwaals, Paharis, Poonchis etc are also not happy. There are more players than just Kashmiri Pundits and Kashmiri Muslims of which the country at large seems to be unaware of.
As a Dogra again, who speaks Dogri I have lived my life with a sense of identity crisis which is not amusing. I have not met any Indian, in India or abroad barring a few ( I could count them on my fingers) who are aware of the Dogra identity. I can relate to what many of the isloated North East Indians from Meghalaya, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland might feel.
Growing up,I travelled all over the country and my family never found another person who spoke our language. We just integrated versus assimilated with other similar regional, linguistic groups. We picked up many Indian languages, mouth watering recipes and a rich variety of textiles in the process. And yes it has never shaken my faith in India.

As an Indian I might be angry at the Bihari who excels in all the premier institutes...IIT, IIM the UPSC Exams but fails to take responsibility for Bihar. I am angry at the apathy and denial I see in Bihar. I am also angry at Maharashtrians who believe they own Mumbai and are a united force against the North Indians, whatever that really means.I have best friends who are Maharashtrians who complaint and tell tales of strained relationships between the orthodox Maharashtrian Brahmins and the lower castes. They get along better with their North, South, East Indian friends versus a stuck up Konkanasth Brahman. I am angry with the auto driver in Chennai or Bangalore who understands Hindi or English but pretends not to. It pains me to see my fellow contrymen from the South who think the North Indians are a roudy, uncouth lot. And it also pains me to see North Indians who make harsh judgements about the South Indians. The Bengali who sings only 'Amar Shonar Bangla' , 'Mera Bharat Mahaan' being conspicuously absent.

But these are aberrations which will probably remain. And I think and fervently pray that such people are also few and far in between.They are a result of divisive state politics, upbringing,misplaced anger, lack of vision and corrective action and more. It is also a result of talking of only RIGHTS and not RESPONSIBILITY.I will not waste my time in talking about the fact that such diferences are a universal phenonmena. The only variable factor being the degree and nature of differences.

I feel sorry for a thought process which measures the value of a state and a people by its functionality,productivity,and usefulness. I am referring to some arguments supporting 'cutting off' the BIMARU States, NE, Kashmir...Where such a reasoning exists, is it a surprise that we see the rise of old age homes, increasing divorce rates and an over all crumbling of the social institutions all in the name of being "practical".I view my country as my extended family. I may complaint,differ,hate dislike somethings/someone... but a break up is unthinkable.

We are a nation in its infancy.As a realist I know things are not perfect. In fact far from it. But what is not perfect is not what we just throw away. And I heard this somewhere and I think it is equally important to remember that perfection could be very different from what we imagine it to be.

Finally I thankfully have seen more who identify themselves as an Indian first and anything else later. "Desi" is the umberella under which the Indians from different parts of India happily huddle under, atleast in the part of US I am temporarily residing in.

I must tell you a little story. I am giving a presentation in my 4 year old's pre-school on India, its family and education system, cultural and religious beliefs. This is to help the American teachers better handle the Indian child who eats with his hands, sleeps with his parents and liberally oils his hair irrespective of his region, language and faith. My son's teacher was flabbergasted that the 3 Indian students in her class, spoke different languages. As a matter of fact their cuisines differ too. One speaking Gujrati, the other Marathi and mine being exposed to Dogri, Hindi, Bhojpuri and Maghi/Magadhi. She was amazed that we had 18 official languages and God knows how many dialects. She said to me: "If this was the case in America, we would not be able to functional at all". I have no words to describe the pride I felt in my people and my country which is so fresh out of a foreign rule which systematically and deliberately broke our faith and pride in our religion,culture and nation. The country will slowly and surely emerge from the shadow of its past.The cycle of ups and downs is never ending but the faith, 'vichaar'(thought) and 'kriti'(action) towards One Nation should remain intact.

One should certainly not create a nation on the basis of faith.But I know for one, that faith and culture teach the lesson of loyalty to one's motherland.

I renew my commitment to my country. I also realize that there is a need for more action than talk. The differences therein are more imagined than real and the so professed similarities fragile. Let these words resonate within us and spur us to action: Rise India Rise!!!

I say this prayer:

Samani va akuti samana hridyani va
smanmastu vo mano yatha va sushaasati

(Roughly translated: May our thinking, vision and hearts become one, and this one is true, divine and beautiful.)

In the end I leave you with one of my favorite clips from Chanakya. Please do visit it at(since I am unable to load it for some reason) :

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Matree Devobhava

Well, hubby and I are no big fans of "Days" like Valentine's Day, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Friendship Day..............days galore which are over commercialized are not our cup of tea. Simply because as Indians and very importantly as followers of Vedic Philosophy, we value our relationships with friends,parents,spouse etc. and strive everyday in both big and small ways to strengthen these bonds. We sincerely thank God for all our loved ones. My son during the Sayen' Prarthana (evening prayer) says his 8 'Bodhvachan', of which one is "Matreedevo Bhava". Loosely translated it means "Respect your mother because she is just like God". Personally this particular bodhvachan reminds me of my position of power and immense responsibility.

Our Family principles aside I have to talk about my 2 tiny tots. Since this blog is primarily a legacy for my children... I believe they will know what their mother was like in her 20s, 30s and 40s............There are photographs to show them what I looked like and these blogs to help them take a peek into their Ma's mind.

Since we are temporarily stationed in the US where Mother's days is a big thing we did what the locals do.."Jaisa desh waisa bhesh". My 2 yr. old daughter attends a 45 mins. story time and craft session in the local library. No points for guessing that this week her craft was a Mothers Day card. I did most of the cutting,and pasting and she did the scribbling (cannot define it as coloring) on the card with crayons. After our combined efforts she turned around and handed me the card shouting happily "Happy Birthday"!!!The one event she most associates with cards and gifts.

My 4 year old son attends a pre-school and the Mother's day craft was a big thing there for the past several weeks. There was a lot of secrecy involved. He finally walked home on Friday with a little square package wrapped in purple paper, adorned with paper flowers and gay ribbons. With a stern look on his face, he told me I could not open it till Sunday. Early Sunday morning he excitedly and with some trepidation gave me permission to unwrap the precious package. He waited with baited breath and a little finger in his mouth as I opened my gift. His anxiety and the gift both took my breath away. It is a small square cardboard, with his hand print in blue, with little yellow and orange flowers stuck around the border. There is also a poem by Mia Pinson Roylco which brought me to tears. Read On:

A Child's Hands

Tiny fingerprints on the wall
A broken window from a bouncing ball
A bandage wrapped around a thumb
Fingers sticky from bubblegum

Flowers clutched in a tiny hand
Castles built from playground sand
A cup of milk spilled on the floor
A crayon masterpiece on the the door

A soft caress on Mommy's cheek
A baby's game of hide and seek
A hug in daddy's arms, "So tight!"
A story-time snuggle in bed each night

Although for now my hands are small
Someday soon, I'll grow quite tall
So hold me close another day
And cherish all I do and say!

Needless to say there followed a round of hugs and kisses after this. A heartfelt thanks to his teachers. Mothers day or no Mothers day I love this gift and will forever cherish it. I plan to frame it and put it up where I can look at it everyday, to remind me of the fact that my babies are growing up .....way too fast!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

IT Wife

Comic relief... written sometime back :

This blog is dedicated to all the IT wives. I speak herein for all the IT wives whose husbands are employed by Indian IT companies. All the other wives whose husbands are elsewhere employed but who share a similar predicament, my sympathies, but I speak here for what I surely know.
I am certain that an IT wife (hubby into programming or into the business side of IT) is such a phenomena that it will soon enjoy a definition for itself in the English dictionary.

I am no wordsmith but my guess is the definition would be something like this:"a woman who is married but enjoys? the life of a single woman, who is a mother who has perfected the art of single-handedly raising her children with the father making an appearance after sunset and usually leaving before sunrise, an excellent communicator who manages to work on and take a decision on critical family decisions in consultation with her husband ...amazingly these discussions will be over the phone while he is commuting or eating if he decided to eat that day and his side of the conversation will be restricted to "is it urgent, ok...what???..why??? ..the last startled whats and whys if money is involved. An IT wife - a married woman who keeps the institution of marriage going strong despite severe emotional and physical deprivation.(For all those naive people who think I mean lack of nutrition when I say "physical" please be rest assured I am well fed and in fact have to work hard to stay at my goal weight....physical as in hugs, proximity etc. etc. etc.)

I think the definition is a tad bit too long but I guess you get the not so pretty picture. Here I must say that before you condemn the husband, well,he is not to be blamed for trying to make an honest living. There are things that cannot be rested on his already over burdened shoulders like the changing economy, difference in the time zones, for e.g. he cannot avoid making those calls to Bangalore at 11:30 P.M US time, everyday for the last year and a half to be however seductive a picture you make lounging in bed in whatever...please don't even try ,you only succeed in increasing his frustration and deflating your ego...he cannot tell an entire 12 people team sitting in Bangalore to take a hike and come running to you. Lata ji crooning "Baahon mein chale aoo"........Does not work people !!! In fact is rendered completely useless if bahoon mein there is a kid or two.

He does love his wife and kids and when you complaint and make him feel guilty by reminding him of what he is missing there are chances you will witness either

1. A childishly funny (only in retrospect) outburst of "what can I do ""tell me what to do? "For which you have no answers obviously, so you equally childishly may go hunting for things way back in the past where he was clearly wrong and after endless arguing which is needless to say a total waste of time and energy in a crunch for time scenario. After endless tears on your part,he will apologise,... for what you ask? well by this time the reason as well as the cause for this fight will be lost in a labyrinth of unspoken words, and unsatiated feelings. My take on this scene is and my explanation for why I get into such scenes with such a predictable regularity is .....that at least for that time period I have his undivided attention... I have him for myself... Self destructive I know but aren't we all?

2. The second possible scenario will be him sighing loud enough to be heard by the neighbors and looking soulfully into your eyes and saying "I know.I know, I am frustrated too. Then he will get charged up and say "I have to change something".."I have to do something" ..this lasts only till the next call comes ...from Bangalore..where else? He goes to work with a heartbreaking resignation and you go back to your "Better Homes and Gardens" or whatever you were reading blaming yourself for adding on to his sorrows. This looks like a better alternative as compared to the first volatile scene I wrote above...but my dear ignorant friends this is an uneasy calm ...a lull before the impending storm.

I have to mention here an incident where one of the husband's seniors who is a female and obviously a working woman ,said after hearing me and another "IT Wife" crib about our respective husbands...:"good at least I do not have the time to complaint because of work and neither does my husband" Well I was not smart enough or rude enough to answer her back there and then but I later thought how good it could be for her, if the partners were not bothered about time less spent with each other, not upset about not being able to cuddle and chat into the wee hours, frustrated about not being able to do fun things a movie together, spending lazy weekends doing nothing but enjoying each other's company......Just Being....... Together....

Anyways (sigh)... some of the funny side effects of being an IT Wife....

1. You develop an insane jealousy of all the innocent couples who walk hand in hand at 7 p.m while you push one crying kid in the stroller, at the same time trying to save the other who is cycling away at a breakneck speed, bent upon self annihilation.Admittedly he takes that from the mother.

2. You spend precious energy and the already depleting brain power wondering where do the guys work and what they do for a living who you see walking/driving home at 6 p.m.

3. You have difficulty recognizing your husband if he comes home before actually panic and wildly wonder whether he lost his job or the company went bust..

4. You spend many a days looking at the mirror finding reasons and blaming yourself for the waning chemistry...this changes immediately if any... even a sorry excuse for a man hits on you then you breathing a sigh of relief shift the blame once again on the husband, his job, kids etc etc etc.

5.The lack of romance makes you nostalgic for the long forgotten and defunct Mills and Boons novels.

6. You have trouble explaining to your Mother in Law that something you had to inform her about, after talking to her beloved son can happen only on the weekend...for that is when it is most likely that you will speak to him for half an hour at a stretch.

7. It is ironic that you refused the madly-in-love-with-you guy from your school because he was studying to become a doctor and because you believed that you could not cope with a Doctor's erratic working hours.

8. You know your husband is overworked when he wakes you up in the middle of the night with his sleep talking about some project escalation and while half asleep shushes your crying baby addressing her as Manoj??.....someone from the Bangalore team!!

9. The measure of how bad things really are, is when he tells his about-to pop-nine months pregnant wife if she could possibly go into labor after his really critical bid/presentation.

10. And finally you do not know whether to laugh or cry every time you see the monogrammed wall clock your husband brought home ..his reward for long and faultless service to the company.

Helpful Tip: Let some steam off at regular intervals.What works for me is pretending I am at a Jon Bon Jovi concert and hence follows an intense head banging, prancing around and your regular strumming the pretend guitar.

Warning: Please close the windows and pull the blind and put on the music and if possible avoid onlookers at all costs, before you decide to act upon my suggestion. Viewer discretion is strictly advised because witnessing this strange what shall I call it number/act/dance therapy/ancient wife stress buster ritual?... can be pretty traumatising.I have done this with the music playing only in my head ( I am really good at this but its a complete no, no since it makes everything scarier) and have risked being straitjacketed and sent off to a mental institution.

So I end with my empathy for all the IT Wives, are not alone girl...and my best wishes for the future IT Wives ...Be Strong Sister.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Challenge Lies Within

The God and the Devil, the Good and the Evil, all reside within. How easily we are shaken. How easily duped. How easily the ground beneath our feet shifts. I cannot speak for others but this holds true for me.

I am working on moving in the right direction. But it is not easy. In the two things to understand and fulfill one's purpose in life amongst a host of other things is self-evolution and doing something absolutely selflessly. Absolutely selflessly is important because we do not want to position ourselves on a high moral ground after the act. Self-evolution is a work in progress. It needs years of practice and maybe will take lifetimes for me to conquer.

Case A: This past one week I have swayed. I have had doubts. My faith has been shaken. I am guilty but not overly troubled because I think I need tests at regular intervals to make me stronger. I had family visiting last week. They were here for just 4 days. The y are loving and the best realatives one could possibly have but they are also the kind of people who love good things in life. Who doesn't? They believe that a person is defined by the things they own and the things they achieve. The appearance, lifestyle, material success as in position, pay package, awards, titles make a person. They spent hours trying to a buy a couple of jackets for themselves, sweating it out so as not to be outdone by anyone in their community. They bought thousand of dollars worth of electronics not because they really needed it but because a couple of people they knew posessed the same. Everything they did was not done for true personal pleasure. The pleasure was lost in the race of outshining, out competing everyone. Although they do not know that as of now.

By the end of their shopping spree and their advise of how we should own some 'really good/best' things in life. Best is such a relative term. I really don't know what that means. They egged us on to attain, achieve and acquire more. All in material terms. By the end of their shopping spree, I began thinking my black woollen jacket which is perfectly fine actually was lacking somehow. I was suddenly very aware of the things I own, what I wore etc etc etc. I mentioned this to my husband who immediately got peeved at my 'weak-heartedness'. Though later he sheepishly mentioned that all the gadget buying tempted him to think of buying some for himself too.

Case B: Thanks to the social networking sites I re-connected with a couple of college friends who I intend to meet sometime in the coming weeks. While talking to them, I was not sure how I felt when answering the question "what did you do or what have you been doing?" Because I guess today it does not matter if you loved and married and had children. I have a sneaking suspicion that amounts to nothing. And considering that I excelled academically makes it even more bewildering to others and sometimes to me too. Today I also found out through a social networking site yet again, that one of the classmates has been promoted and is re-locating to Geneva. Since I outperformed all of them in college, I cannot deny the seeds of self doubts sprouting within about all the decisions I have taken so far. I suddenly found myself lacking and inadequate.

So (sigh, a loud resounding sigh) both the case scenarios prove three things.

1. Regular 'Swadhyaya' is an absolute must to stay focused. Swadhyaya defined as study of true inner self and respect to others while remaining dedicated to the highest ideals and goals. Upanishads and Geeta all advise regular Swadhyaya.

2. One needs to keep the right company. Like minded individuals must be there to fall back upon when we might need to clear our heads after such incidents.

3. I have been practicing Swadhyaya for 3 plus years now. With some level of understanding only for the last one year and still I falter and am not completely sure-footed. So practice, practice, practice, I must.

The God and the Devil, the Good and the Evil reside within me. The power to choose between the two, also lies with me. So choose wisely I must. And endeavor for the right balance of knowledge, feelings and actions.