Letters to my Berry#8

IMG_8460 3I can’t believe how fast you are growing up, I almost had to think twice before I wrote #8 above. You’ll grow up in a jiffy and before I know it, you’ll be a teenager, you’ll hate me and argue with me and what not. Boy am I not looking forward to that. For now, I am glad you are this cute little dumb thing. Look at you munching on an oreo in the pictures above. Eating happens to be one of your favourite things to do at the moment.

We play this game with you when we try to call you and get your attention, but you don’t respond at all. If we hold up a packet of snacks, you immediately make a dash towards us. We absolutely adore that you enjoy eating and don’t fuss about it as it makes our lives easy in raising you. You eat the same stuff that we eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner minus the spice. You also love nibbling on chakli and you don’t mind the spice at all. You’ve even enjoyed a nice plate of idli at Saravana Bhavan. Ok, I just sound like a terrible parent now. But basically, we are glad you tag along in everything we do and make it easier for us to show you new experiences.

You don’t speak any language yet except babbles. You are more interested in moving around. You crawl super fast from one end of the house to another. You love the tiled floor in the kitchen because it makes more noise when you bang your toys on it unlike the carpeted floors in the rest of the house. You love to follow me around in our little kitchen until I am too afraid to step on you and decide to pick you up. I feel like you trick me into picking you this way. You are sooo curious to know everything in the kitchen from opening all the cupboards on the floor to picking up random bits of food particles on the floor and licking them.

You usually spot a tiny speck from miles away and come crawling super fast to pick it up. This way I am guessing you’ve taken after me in terms of vision (hopefully!). Your ears are pretty sharp too. You always know when I come home and make sure you are crying juts in time so that I feed you as soon as I get home. You follow me around like a crazy person all over the house till you are well fed. Even as I leave home in the mornings, you keep trying to jump out of Appa’s arms on days I leave you with him. I know I am just the cow of your life.

Most days when I take you on the tube to the nursery, you sleep off but occasionally you act mental and those are times when I pretend its my stop and get off at the next station just to calm you down and hop back on. This is only after standing for quite some time and you are not happy swinging in the carrier. Sometimes I use a trick to calm you down – either play lullaby in your ears or sing classical music. Both work great but the effect doesn’t last very long. That reminds me, you love it when people single or dance. I get the same feedback from your nursery as well. So, who knows, you might become a musician someday.

We are trying our best to expose you to music. We have a keyboard placed on the floor in the living room which we allow you to play freestyle. You love pressing all the keys but you are yet to identify patterns in sounds (although you should be able to do this at the present age but there’s no way for us to know that). You love showing this off to Ajji thatha when they call you on FaceTime. FaceTime has been fairly instrumental in your development. Can you believe thatha taught you how to do Ramramsitaram on FaceTime?!

You love the sound of thatha’s rhymes so much that the moment you hear the phone ring, you get into position and start clapping. This sometimes upsets Ajji and Barbie chikki because you don’t associate any sounds with them or look at them with awe unlike you do with thatha. He surely has a way with kids. He behaves just like them when he is with kids. Ajji on the other hand has a new lovey dove name overtime she speaks to you. She loves you lots, maybe a little more than she loves me.

Overall, you have become suddenly much more intelligent, quite mobile (really hard to keep up with you) and very demanding (you randomly cry sometimes). As you hold me, pinch my cheeks and smile at me, I wish time would stay still and I could hold you forever as this little baby. Sigh.

Don’t grow up so fast no Berry!!!

 

Fifty shades of Grey

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So, finally, after a billion years, I managed to watch 50 shades of Grey, only because it was available on Netflix. I had heard a lot about this movie and how it had managed to sell BDSM even to the Radha Bais of Rajajinagar, so you can imagine my expectations from the movie. The movie starts with a naive looking girl walking into some young and dashing businessman’s office to interview him for a school paper on behalf of her roommate, which ends in the guy lusting over her within the first 5 minutes. They lost me right there but my opportunity cost was fairly low on a Friday evening and I watched on anyway.

The hero goes on to pursue this girl with his bossy/ pushy nature and the girl, being a virgin has no qualms about being pushed around. Agreed that I am getting old and hence, I can be super cynical about all this dreamy mushy stuff, but when a scene builds up into this super powerful guy taking a virgin on his own private helicopter for their first date and Adele’s Love me like you do bursts off in the background, it really kills your buzz. If I were 15 and lame, maybe I would buy into the limitless possibility of meeting a man who’d do the same for me, but now that I’m almost double that age, I can assure you that this is purely fictitious.

Anyway, the movie is about this guy being a closet sadist (in bed) and a control freak. I think this is supposed to be a commercial attempt to feed the fantasies of thousands of women who desire to be with a man in control and test them to see if that’s truly what they desire and if its really what they’d enjoy if handed to them. Personally, I thought the portrayal was fairly literal, leaving very little to the imagination and hence, quite tasteless from a storytelling perspective. On the subject itself, I as a lay person, can’t claim to have understood anything at all about BDSM from the movie.

I constantly kept thinking, why did Grey have to be this super rich guy. Why couldn’t he just be an ordinary guy with control issues and weird sexual fantasies? Wouldn’t that still qualify as BDSM? Do you necessarily need to have a dedicated “play room” with fancy equipment? Does it have to be so obvious? or was the question just, would you put up with any amount of shit just because the guy is rich?

Anyway, moral of the story is the chances of you being swooped away by some super rich dude in his helicopter is close to zero (sorry to kill your dreams really, but thats the true) and you walking away from that is even lower, so they’d rather have named the movie fifty shades of fantasy.

Living for social approval

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Growing up, I was forbidden from doing several things (being “too” fashionable, drinking, dating, etc.) and the number one reason presented to me had something to do with how the society would perceive it. As you can imagine, being a teenager, that never seemed like a good enough reason for me to care about. Why were these elders so obsessed with social approval that I didn’t necessarily care about? As far as my logical mind is concerned, I think you should do something if you want or not do it, if you don’t.

One of the things I do as Marriage Broker Auntie is to help people identify new channels to find potential spouse. Recently when I suggested to a client that she get on a few dating apps, it didn’t go down quite well with her as her family was concerned about what people would think about finding her on “Tinder” for instance. Now, first of all, I don’t think your pakkad mane aunty would be on Tinder to find you, and even if she did, hey what was she doing on Tinder now?! More importantly, why should you care given that she is not sweating to get you married.

If you haven’t already learnt from the internet, there will always be people who like what you do and some others who don’t. This is inevitable, but why should this change what you do with your life? Pakkad mane aunty thinks you are a slut, then thank god you saved yourself from being recommended to her narrow-minded bhatru nephew. It’s not only important for you to maintain a safe distance from your society, it’s also important for you to keep your distance from people who are obsessed with societal approval because they keep their word only as long as the world is watching.

Why is suffering a much glorified idea?

Growing up in India, every kid has probably heard Gandhi ji’s famous quote about non-violence – “If someone slaps you on one cheek, show them your other cheek as well”. But my philosophy in life is modelled after actor Malasree in the Dynamic star-Devraj starrer Kannada movie, Gruhapravesha, where she champions self defence by stopping her mother-in-law Satyabhama from slapping her, in turn letting  everyone know she is not to be messed with. I don’t like to actively cause any harm to others, however, I also don’t like to cause any harm to myself in the name of propagating Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence.

Suffering is a highly glorified trait in India and I realised that this is much more commonplace among womenfolk. As women, we are designed to endure more physical pain (menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth and so on) and yet, we try so hard to prove that we can take on more. We want to be great wives, great mothers, great professionals, we want to have it all even if it means killing ourselves over making it all work. In pain, we seek happiness and validation because our lives are pretty thankless otherwise.

Above and beyond our society,  most religions also preach that suffering is the route to heaven. If you don’t eat meat or drink alcohol on certain days of the week and endure the pain of controlling your craving, you are somehow better off than people who’d rather take pleasure for a place in heaven. If you fast in the name of god and kill yourself from hunger, you’ve earned yourself a spot in heaven. Its almost as if suffering has been glorified over the years just to induce some sense of fear so people don’t enjoy pleasure guilt free.

Pleasure/ happiness is desirable. When we see others have it while we can’t, it makes us jealous. We need a way to believe either that we shall have a shot at pleasure too or that the ones who are currently enjoying will soon join us in misery too because this is the only way for us to feel at peace. And so, our society devised this great trick for us to believe that giving up short-term pleasures and enduring suffering gives us long-lasting benefits at some unforeseeable point in the future. We obviously believe this because humans are greedy and we’d rather enjoy a little extra happiness tomorrow versus limited happiness today.

Emotional dependence and why we remain unmarried

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Marriage is a (wo)man-made institution to legalise two people choosing to live together as romantic partners, engaging in procreation and so on. But at a very carnal level, there is no need for it and we can very well do away with it. So, if any one of you believes that you “have” to get married for your parents’ sake, we have a problem because you’ve probably surrendered to the society much more than you should have (Okay, that’s a judgement alright).

While we know our parents would love to see us married and “settled” (an unattainable state of stability that parents dream of for their children), it’s okay if we don’t settle. A lot of parents’ hopes/ dreams for us, get shattered at various points in their lives and so one more won’t make so much of a difference unless they are convinced we don’t have much else going on in our lives. So trying to get us married is their desperate attempt to find us a “purpose (read distraction)” in life, so we don’t die of loneliness/depression as we age. So, if your parents are breathing down your neck constantly, either you need to convince them that you have a bigger purpose in life or go find that purpose asap before their concerns can break you to pieces.

Some one or two generations ago, parents bulldozed their choices on children in terms of when, whom and how they must marry, but that was usually quite premature and you couldn’t quite blame the kids for not having picked their own partners by then because the kids were usually busy focussing on their careers (mid-late 20s). Off late, I’ve been meeting more and more fully grown adults (in 30s) with mostly sorted professional lives still waiting for their parents to find them partners or play the primary role in deciding who they should marry, which makes me wonder if our parents were too focussed on keeping the family close-knit and in the process missed raising independent decision makers.

Now, I don’t blame our parents because their generation was fighting the transition from joint families to nuclear families and hence, resorted to emotional blackmail (not consciously of course) to retain family bonding. Naturally our generation values emotional independence having got very little of it growing up and so, we might be headed towards raising more nuclear lives. And as we raise more independent thinkers, our children might get very little of the warmth and closeness of a huge close knit family resulting in them making up for it in their own ways as they raise their following generation and so on. But that’s not for me to worry about.

As far as my generation is concerned, we might probably focus on raising strong independent decision makers because it is scary to see the number of people who remain unmarried because they haven’t found a partner, their parents approve of. It scares me to see that lack of parental concurrence is an acceptable excuse for someone even in their 30s. If you had found your life’s greatest passion, would you let someone else (even if its your own parents) tell you what to do with it?

Karthik often said he wanted to marry someone who has lived in a hostel (I’d spent 22years of my life living with my parents at the point when I met him), but I never really understood what he meant until recently. Living in a hostel away from home allows us to “grow up” in so many ways that staying home with parents doesn’t. We learn to take control of our day-to-day lives, make independent decisions and uproot a few roots that have grown deep into our families over the years.

While this might recalibrate our bond with our families, it is an especially important trait for us to be truly marriage-ready since the recalibration facilitates welcoming a new bond in our lives. Some of us get confused by this recalibration as having to choose between the family and a partner. It is not one or the other, instead it is making way for both in the long-term while giving the partner short-term benefit of being new in our lives. And there is no way you can strike this balance gracefully if you haven’t learnt to make your own choices.

P.S – Don’t be like Wilbur Saragunaraj and go in an auto with your mummy!

Complicating our lives

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As I walked out of my office this evening, I started thinking about how I want to organise my evening once I reach home in order to make the most of my time. I wanted to clearly segregate the time I spent cooking, cleaning up, etc. from the time I spent with Berry. The context switch was so instantaneous, as if I exited one stage and got onto another. Until today, I was never conscious of the many roles I play everyday – mother, wife, employee, daughter, sister, daughter-in-law, blogger, marriage broker auntie, friend, etc. I think it’s so easy to lose oneself while you are too busy playing all these roles that it’s important to be able to distinguish between them very clearly.

For the last two weeks, I have been unable to spend quality time blogging and having left that part of me incredibly dissatisfied, I can feel the pressure trickling down onto other parts of me. So, I try to set little goals for every part of me so each of them try to do their best to inspire the other parts. Okay, I know you think I’m insane now and I don’t blame you because sometimes, I think so myself. I think we are all constantly finding ways to make our lives more meaningful in ways that we feel like we are headed somewhere or are striving to get “better” even though, deep down, we know all of this is quite insignificant in the grander scheme of things (at a multiverse level).

As a child of 8 or 9, I remember lying down on my terrace and looking up at the stars and thinking how insignificant my problems (not studying for the test next day level) in life were. I remember thinking how silly we were to take our stupid little lives so seriously (of course not the fact that we actually had lives), trading happiness and simplicity for drama in the name of “meaning”. It gave me solace to let go, I enjoyed letting myself feel insignificant, yet today, I try to make my life a bit more complicated than it actually is because I want to feel like it’s worth living.

I’ve gone a full cycle in exploring if I’ve aged exponentially or I’m plain depressed to entertain such morbid thoughts ever so often, but I haven’t found any answers yet. The fact is we all eventually die and until then, we want to justify why we haven’t died yet.

Closures

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Have you had an ugly break up, left feeling stranded with a billion unanswered question and wanting just one cordial meeting with your ex to get some sort of a closure so you can move on? Have you drifted apart from a best friend without knowing why and wish you could talk just once to know what ever happened? While it seems naive to think that one meeting would set right everything that went wrong over time, it atleast acts as an alibi for us to let go and move on. It’s our way of having checked these people off our lists so we never think about them again.

Performing last rights at a funeral is also some sort of a closure, so you can move on with life without the person who just died. I’ve always tried my best to attend funerals of people I’ve even briefly known because it helps imprint a last memory of them in my mind. It allows me a chance to quietly reminisce all the good times with them and selectively preserve only the best memories with them. On a less morbid note, I wish we had funerals for the death of romantic relationships too, just so we could think fondly of even the ugly times in our lives.

I remember it took me so long to make peace with a broken relationship in the past since these things don’t actually have summary meetings or final presentations before they end where everyone can ask each other clarifying questions that leave you feeling satisfied. I had so many questions that I wanted answers for, or maybe I knew the answers but I was seeking validation? It took me years to realise that it didn’t matter if I had actually got that validation I was seeking because what I was struggling with was coming to terms with the fact that the relationship was over. I was tightly gripping my fists around something that was long gone.

If love stories with abrupt endings leave us with that lingering feeling of wanting more , leading us to believe that we want something that we actually don’t, then having a closure definitely helps end relationships. I remember going back ever so often to question my feelings and decisions just because it hand’t been validated by the other person and so, it was entirely up to me to believe any side I wanted, irrespective of what the truth really was.

Over time, however, my memory started failing me and I couldn’t recollect enough evidence to side with the part of me that believed that I was still in love with my past. Along the way, there had been a lot of collateral damage and now sometimes wish I had found my closure before moving on with life. So my advice is, if you can’t find that closure with someone else, you better find it on your own. But remember, just because you or someone else didn’t write an ending, doesn’t mean your love story is still alive. But the truth is that your story has been abandoned, you won’t accept it and that’s why you continue to long for someone else to force an ending  on you.