I'll Be Back!

An unfulfilled promise, a ditched dream -- that's what this space seems. It is disheartening to abandon friends midway. This blog space has been a patient friend, a good listener. Much has happened since my last post here. Apart from other absolutely fantastic things, I started my travel blog: http://goodholiday.wordpress.com. Do visit to read reviews of restaurants, hotels, destinations in Delhi, around and beyond.

If my personal ramblings and observations interest you, come back to this blog. I promise there will be some food for thought when you return!

The 90 years young man

Whenever life throws you on to a roller coaster, something amazing happens. The ride seems thoroughly bumpy but then that brings the excitement. And in the middle of everything there is a moment of ecstasy. A moment of fulfillment that makes the ride worthwhile. I found my moment a few months ago when I got an opportunity to turn into a biography writer. It brought with several inspiring thoughts.

A son had this beautiful idea of documenting his father's life (who was turning 90) in a book. He got in touch with me through a friend and there I was interviewing 'Darji' for the book. After innumerable sessions with him and his family in three months, I gained wonderful insights not just about Darji's life but about life in general. Spirited, witty, sharp, Darji is mighty young at heart. While the entire book shares his witty and wise thoughts, I wanted to share a glimpse of it through this blog. Take a moment, read these carefully and ponder over these motivating and inspiring thoughts:

  • Motivate and appreciate others: if you like something in a person, do not hesitate to tell him/her. He recalls a bus ride he took some years ago on a mountainous terrain. It was a very difficult route. He saw a note written on the back of a seat in the bus: If you like the driving skills, praise the driver. “Before getting down the bus I told the driver ‘beta you drive quite well’. I believe whenever you appreciate something and get a chance you must praise people.” 
  • Avoid taking loans. Never buy a shop on credit. Quotes a Punjabi saying: Pehle saal chatti, duje saal hatti, teeje saal khatti. (A rough translation: you spend during the first year; set up shop in the second, and earn profit only in the third year.) 
  • Don’t be harsh with others. Think how you would feel if the other person behaved like that with you.
  • Stop blaming your luck for anything you did not achieve. Remember, God helps those who help themselves. Himmat-e-marda toh maddad-e-khuda.
  • Do not break anyone’s heart. Live fully. God is there to help and guide you.
  • Pray
  • Glass half full: People who always dwell on the bad things in life have very little chance of being young at heart. You have to learn to look at the positive side, and that starts with being aware that pessimism isn’t going to help you. 
  • Troubles will come whether you laugh at them or cry; might as well laugh. 
  • Don’t be jealous of others. Wish others well. These days, people get jealous if their neighbours or people around them succeed. “That is a wrong attitude. Find joy in other’s happiness and you too will prosper.” 
  • Exercise: You just need to move your body. It could be walking, gardening or yoga.
  • Travel. Anyone who has ever gone anywhere will tell you that travelling is one of the most exciting and life-changing activities that you can do. Observing a different culture will expand your mind while making you further appreciate the life you already live. “Be curious.”
  • (My favourite): Don’t be shy of showing your enthusiasm when something excites you.
  • “Go to a good doctor even if it means spending more.”
  • As age catches up, teeth are the first thing to bear the damage. His original teeth are all intact. “Brush your teeth every morning and in the night. Even at the slightest pain go and see your dentist.”
  • Live in the present. There is no point harping over how good old times were and how difficult life is today. “I feel life is much more convenient today with so many facilities available.”

Found any of the advice/thoughts inspiring or motivating? Write to me and let me know!

Winter Rains

There is discomfort yet some peace,
Seeing the grey sky but dancing trees.
Cozy indoors and wet, wet roads...
Gloomy evenings, colourful clothes
Misty mornings, lazy days
Wicked & wise, winter rains....

"How to be happy"

"I will be happy when......"
"My life will be sorted when....."

If you had time bound answers to complete the above mentioned sentences, chances are you shall never be "happy". "When I get a job", "When I get a promotion", "When I get iPhone", "When I buy a house" are the common ones we've heard. Ridiculous is "When my daughter/son gets married". And one that wins hands down in the competition of most ridiculous ideas ever is "when we have a baby" (mostly in cases where couples aren't too happy with each other and think a child will fill the void. Ha. Ha.)

Happiness is not a destination you are aiming to reach. (I know, we have heard the sentences so many times that our state of mind has now become immune to the statement.)

how to be happyGoogle search suggests "happy" when you type "how to be...". It amazed me. There are 1,980,000,000 results for it including pages like "11 step guide on how to be happy", "tips to find contentment", "be happier" and so on. How I wish happiness could be "found" by looking for it on the Internet. Clearly, a lot of people hope so.

So some of us seek help in removing cobwebs, we have built in our lives, on the web; others look for it in liquor bottles. Some of us search malls and shops (and call it retail therapy). Some binge. Some meditate. They try. Some give up and cry. Some give up and die.

The larger issue, I think, is that we have made ourselves believe that 'happiness' is an antonym to 'problems' in our life. It is not! Opposite of problem is solution. Problems 'make us feel' sad or unhappy. How much unhappy we allow them to 'make us feel' is or should be upon us. Shouldn't it? Chocolates, beer, new dresses or iPad help, I admit. But only in temporarily clearing your head, perhaps. Real happiness, strangely, is already in our heads. May be we shall find it when we complete the sentence "I will be happy...." with "when I decide." Preached Leo Tolstoy: "If you want to be happy, be."

And I shall be happy if you comment on this blog with your thoughts on happiness :)

Disenchanted lives

Our phone buzzes with texts and whats app messages all day
Catching-up and how-are-you-calls far and few in between
When did we start getting lazy about relationships?

We pay huge bills at restaurants knowing we are overpaying
But do not donate not believing if "it will reach the right place"
When did we start misplacing our principles?

We dream of exploring places and seeing people far off
Having no clue of who lives next door...
When did we become more pretentious and less curious?

We were fascinated when one told us they travelled abroad
We now envy the updates and photographs on social networks
When did other's joy start making us feel bad about ourselves?

'Fights' were only in parks playing those fun games
Kins now threaten each other and go to the courts
Why did the fights grow even as issues got pettier?

Life is busier now and times have really changed
We are aware and life goes on, we say...
But how did we let ourselves be indifferent to this change?

Magic of Monsoon

Monsoon is best enjoyed with a cup of coffee in hand in a quiet corner near a window. I am sitting near this huge window in my house which allows me to be a spectator to the whole drama nature puts up before it starts to rain. It's like foreplay or a precursor to a grand theatre...a build up to something magnificent. First grey clouds cover up the lazy monsoon sun. Then there is an invisible choreographer who guides the plants, leaves and tress to dance and rhythmically move to music we all can't hear. Or it just dies down in the noises of city life. The noises increase as people rush to reach 'somewhere' before it starts raining. Cars speed up. Motorcyclists are in a rush. People can be seen running. But nature doesn't care. Like a focused actor performing on stage, it goes on. It can only hear the secret music. Clouds cast a shadow. It gets dark, darker, darker.... Trees sway in celebration. The sound of the breeze is pleasant. And then - pitter, patter, pitter, patter drops fall....sometimes slowly and sometimes like they are on a mission. You are left wanting for more, sometimes. You are dreading the potholes, blocked sewer, puddles, et al.

Nature, of course, doesn't care. Birds are chirping. There must a peacock dancing somewhere in the jungles. Fresh flowers must have bloomed. Mountains that were barren when I visited them in March must be lush green now. What can be more beautiful time than this to please your senses. This is one of the very few times when I don't feel like packing my bags and going somewhere. I'm simply happy being here and admiring nature as a mere spectator. 

What's the plan?

It was all perfect. As per my plans. Ideal profile, job description to my liking, convenient job location, and all the other details. It hardly felt like work and I did not have any Monday blues. It's true. Yes, may be it was too good to be true. But it was. 

It was all playing well.. until recently when as though someone just hit the pause button. Abruptly as it happened, it just caught me unaware. Anxious, I pass my day talking to people on phone, meeting some and sending emails. Despite all the efforts there isn't much I can do than just wait. 

Meanwhile, a restless and thirsty earth and an anticipating, humid air have been awaiting rains. The clouds look promising just like some voices I hear around. I plan to go for a evening walk. Talking to a friend and telling her about my situation I am just saying that all my plans have just gone awry, when my mom gestures to take a look outside. 

courtesy: http://fwallpapers.com
It has started raining. Drop by drop the entire veranda is now wet. The leaves and flowers in our little garden are almost dancing to the tunes of the falling water. It's raining. Heavily. I hang up, abruptly and stand under the open sky to allow it to drench me. Soaked completely, I feel real joy. It's a carefree moment, which suddenly makes me feel ... free. 

Don't get me wrong; I of course experience joy when I get my salary or when an assignment is well done but that moment was something else. It's a reminder of the importance of living the moment; of being there with the experience. I, of course, couldn't go for the planned walk and had hot pakore instead. 

As I sip some hot tea along with, I'm smiling at the moment that just reaffirmed the thought that "when you're busy making plans, there's someone sitting above simply laughing at those".... 

The other side of mom

The other day a colleague asked me to name the most interesting person I have interviewed so far. It's difficult to name one, I said. Being a journalist, it's always exciting to meet new people, hear their stories and then write them down in my own words. Some people are interesting, some stories are boring. Some people are warm and welcoming, for others it requires tact and patience to uncover details that shape up their personality. All offer different experiences. The challenge is to present an unprejudiced view of the personalities you meet especially if it's someone you deeply admire or someone who manages to irk you during the interview.

(Left): Ranju Bhatia;
(Right) : Alexshendra
Interviewing someone close to you is an experience on its own. I realised that last month when I interviewed my mom for a story. Mom is a Hindi writer. For a story on 'Is Hindi literature dying amongst the youth', my editor suggested we arrange a dialogue between her and a young author Alexshendra Venus Bakshi to discuss how Hindi literature can be made relevant for young audience. Bakshi recently launched her book Aarambh ki Gyarah Kahaniya. Although a bilingual, the young writer chose to write in Hindi. Mom, Ranju Bhatia, released her second book Kuch Meri Kalam Se, a collection of short poems.  
I don't know anyone more closely than I know her. Yet the interview surprised me. It brought forth a distinct side of her personality. Confident, articulate...she was different from how I know her as my mother. Contrary to what I thought, I was able to look at her objectively. I can't yet put a finger on the most interesting interview but this one is certainly most special! 

(You can read the interview in the June issue of Atelier Diva magazine available on stands across major cities in India.)

Mystic Voice

A fan of her songs and voice, an interview with her has made me admire her as a person as well. Haven't met a famous artists as humble as her...

The road leading to Humayun’s Tomb is jam packed. There’s a long queue of people; many couldn’t manage passes but are here hoping for a chance. There are arguments and even fights to get inside. It’s the third day of the 11th edition of Jahan-e-Khusrau. All the rush is to see the legendary Sufi singer Abida Parveen perform.
Pic Courtesy: Gagan Sharma
What is it in her voice and music that enthralls people all across the world? What is it that makes hundreds willing to wait for hours to hear her sing for a few minutes? The answers unfold in a freewheeling conversation with the doyen of Sufi music.
Parveen ranks among the world’s best-known Sufi performers, a female amongst many males – a distinction she says she doesn’t understand. My question evokes in her a child-like, infectious laughter. “Since childhood I never saw myself as a woman. Jab ishq hota hai toh yeh sab cheezein mayane nahi rakhti (These things do not matter when you are in love with Him). What we are seeking ... despair of separation from Him is same in all of us – whether a man or woman. Moreover, He doesn’t see us differently,” says Parveen, whose name incidentally means one who worships.
The singer has been coming to Delhi to participate in the annual three-day Sufi festival for over a decade now. Has the audience’s interest changed in all these years? “Yes, certainly. It has grown tremendously from the time we started coming here mainly because Bollywood movies now increasingly have music with Sufi touch,” says the 59-year-old singer. No puritan, she rather believes that there are no boundaries in music and has experimented with fusion music as well.
Parveen sings in Urdu, Sindhi, Persian and Punjabi. Most of her audience do not completely understand the meaning of the words used. Yet they are captivated. “Whatever be the language, the heart can comprehend it. Music, after all, has no religion or language. The idea is to spread Allah’s message,” she reasons.
Her association with Sufi poetry and music goes back to when she was just three years old. Born in Sindh, Pakistan, she remembers sitting with the harmonium learning lessons from her father Ustad Ghulam Haider, a prominent Pakistani vocalist, who defied convention and encouraged her to sing. That he has been the biggest inspiration in her life is obvious from the fond tone she uses while talking about him. “I was very attached to him since the very beginning and all this is a gift from him. He never forced me but I found myself inclined to music as well as Sufi poetry. I was also attracted to shrines. It all came so naturally as if it is all decided even before one is born.” Parveen has two brothers and two sisters; none of them, she says, is interested in singing. Besides her father, she credits her husband (the late Ghulam Hussain Sheikh) for always motivating and encouraging her. In fact, it was he who nurtured her development as a singer when she began her career at Radio Pakistan where he was a senior producer.
What are the thoughts in her head before a performance, I ask. “There’s always tension and nervousness. It’s as if it is my first performance and my last,” she smiles. What keeps her going? “The inspiration comes from my murshid (guide and teacher). It’s His will that keeps one inspired,” she says. “God has blessed us all with a spark. Every soul has a connection with Him. Some of us have a greater connection; some are yet to develop,” she speaks mystically.
She clearly exists in a higher spiritual realm. I wonder if there is any regret or any unfulfilled desire she has. It’s the desire for perfection, she says. “Mukammal toh khuda ki zaat hai. Only Allah is perfect. We just try to better our rehearsals and music so that we can reach as many people as possible,” asserts Parveen.
During the entire interview she rarely uses ‘I’ and talks of herself as one of the many entrusted with the responsibility of spreading the message of unity, love and peace. How does she manage to remain so humble and grounded even after all the fame? That ingenuous laughter returns as if she’s embarrassed to hear that. “Mujh me mera kuch nahi, jo kuch hai so tera; Tera tujh ko sonp dein, kya laagey mera (Nothing is mine, whatever is all belongs to thee; I shall return what’s yours for nothing belongs to me),” she answers, quoting Saint Kabir’s famous couplet.
That’s the hallmark of a true Sufi, they say. Humble, they do not make a show of their spirituality. Wise and worldly yet unfeigned, their music mesmerises people the world over (even if they don’t understand words completely) and makes hundreds wait for hours to hear them sing for a few minutes… 

This article was published in Atelier Diva April Issue

A Jumbo Passion

Enthusiastic, inspiring and adventurous, Prajna Chowta is one of the very few women mahouts in the world. 

Fighting resistant stereotypes with steely determination is not easy for anyone, least of all for a young
London-educated woman who is sure she wants to spend the rest of her life in forests, with elephants.
In the beginning, the incredulous forest officers at Nagarahole National Park took their time replying to Prajna’s application for a research project with mahouts. Wasting no time on doubters, she moved on to a training camp in Kerala. Equipped with some basic skills upon her return, Prajna was given an opportunity to work at the Sakrebailu Elephant Camp near Shimoga. She then carried on her research at camps in Bihar,
Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar, to find out the diff erent practices used by
mahouts. Today, she successfully runs the Aane Mane Foundation, which works for the study
and conservation of the Asian Elephant and its habitat, and preservation of the knowledge and
traditions connected to the animal.

Going further back in time, Prajna talks of her days as a student of anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. It was there that the description of cultures that were foreign to the Europeans unsettled Prajna. “The analysis of our culture by Western anthropologists always
appeared to be an insidious attempt to capture the subject intellectually, without authentic
groundwork,” she shares. This sparked an urge to reconnect with her roots. “I was fascinated
by the complex and intuitive relationship that binds mahouts and elephants. In India, this relationship that binds mahouts and elephants. This is what I looked at first, and slowly learned the skills,” she recalls.

But those early days were not easy as working with elephants was considered a mans job. “Over time, they witnessed my passion for the animal and realised I could do the job,” she says. “The conditions in forests are very basic. Sometimes, all you have is a sheet for cover; at best, a tent. I was with the mahouts and elephants all the time, eating together, living together,” she adds. Her family never really understood the fascination. They did not like what she was doing, but Prajna never let that interfere with her choices. 

Aane Mane, which literally means elephant’s home, has land near the Mudumalai, Bandipur and Nagarahole reserves. This is where the couple now live with their daughter, and two elephants Kalpana and Kunti. “The decision to start a family was also not easy. When you take chances as we did, you dont want to risk bringing a little one into that. It’s only when I thought of settling down in a specific area that we thought it would be possible to have a child,” she adds. Their five- year-old daughter speaks five languages and adores elephants. It is but natural to wonder that given the difficult decisions she has had to make in her life, what a typical day for Prajna is as of now. Surprisingly, it is rather simple: Caring for the elephants and her family, shopping, and following up on ongoing projects of the foundation. There’s even time for hobbies like reading and cooking. “Italian and French in the jungle, why not? And I bake my own country bread myself, every other day,” she quips. 

In the end, Prajna’s story reminds one of the story of the elephant and the blind men, and the question they are symbolically wrestling with: After all, what does an elephant stand for? Her answer is this: “It is better not to define and say anything but just look and touch. Working as a mahout is something of  an initiation. Mahouts are not intellectuals but some manage to understand what an elephant is, although they do not speak about it. They know it cannot be explained.

Published in Atelier Diva in December Issue. Read full article here

Metro Musings

The second best thing that Delhi Metro authorities did, after creating the superb lifeline for all Dilliwallahs, was to reserve the first coach of every metro for ladies (they should ideally make this two or three). It’s a safe, secure space – the men-deprived coach – that offers happy entertainment with all the idiosyncrasies of a ‘ladies only’ bunch in, say, a girls’ locker room… you know, like someone’s doing her makeup, one is feeding her baby, one is lost in a world of her own, you get the drift. There are others who stand out and catch your attention:

“I need space”
The size of their butt is inversely proportional to the surface area of the very little empty space you can see on the seat. “Thoda side hona (shift a little),” they’ll say, and attempt to sit – practically on your lap. They’ll go on ‘adjusting’ till someone on the bench leaves or gets up in surrender.

The Observers
These are the ones sitting or standing quietly with their gazes fixed on you every time you look their way. Inside their heads, they are thinking: “Iski dress meri dress se white kaise (not translatable unless you have seen certain detergent ads)”. Or they may be judging whether you’ll make a good bahu (daughter-in-law). Or they are mentally seeking the true meaning of life. What else explains the pensive face staring at you?

Kitty Party Queens 
They come in groups of at least five, carry big bags, and laugh and talk loud enough for everyone to know how much fun they had eating paranthas and chaat at Chandni Chowk, or at Mrs Khanna’s place or wherever it is that they had their grand ‘kitty party’. Gossip about Renu or Chumki, plans for next Tuesday afternoon and updates of TV soaps are other highlights of their insightful conversations.

The Self-Absorbed
Always found lost to a book or a newspaper, you often hear them go, “Oh shit,” when they realise they forgot to get down at their station. Very occasionally, these are university students, finishing last-minute ‘studies’ during exams. Equally engrossed are the ones with portable music, seen tapping their feet or fingers, and sometimes even shaking their bodies. They can be generous when they turn the volume high so you can also enjoy strains of the Beatles or AR Rehman. (The nastier ones subject you to Himesh Reshammiya and Justin Bieber.)

The Antsy Aunty
It’s her first metro ride or else auntyji is generally anxious. She wrestles for something to hold on to as soon as she enters. She’ll push you, will keep fidgeting with her purse, and be restless all along. She’ll  prod everyone, and ask to make space for her to exit: “Esscuse! Aapko utarna hai (are you getting off)?” at least two stations in advance – as if the Metro authorities have announced a prize on a first-come-first-go basis. Chill and enjoy the ride, auntyji!  •

(This was published in Atelier Diva Feb issue 2013.....>>>)

The Picture of You

The young sapling is now almost a tree;
White pages of the book are now yellow. 
The restaurant is no longer there and 
They've stopped playing the song on radio.

Time touched and changed everything, 
but never his picture in my imagination. 
What if...... I always wonder.

I drive back into the past quite often,
To meet him & look at his sparkling eyes. 
I admire that loving ever-smiling face,
the brimming confidence and an achiever's pace.

He left me but his memories stayed 
And I made peace with it 
Until this day...

Blankness rules his blue eyes now, 
Smile appears like a guest on his face. 
Stress has perhaps aged him sooner, 
and has slowed down his walking pace. 

True time touches and changes everything 
and finally his picture in my imagination. 
What if....... I now wonder.

No Country for Women

The year comes to an end and after scores of speculations finally the world did not come to an end. But for India, a part of humanity certainly did.

There is angst, grief, disgust, despair that amongst us live monsters like those six accused in the horrendous gang rape case. There's shame that we are a part of this society and there's shock that humanity can stoop so low. And between all the unrest in the country, 'the girl' breathed her last this morning and is perhaps now resting in peace in some better world.

'Amanat', 'Damani', 'Nirbhaya'...she has been given several names. It would perhaps have been best to call her 'Anonymous' or may be 'Common Woman' for she represents every girl who is teased, raped, beaten and dies several deaths every day. And because it happens everyday, why has this case become such an highlight, some asked. Because what she faced was an ultimate case of brutality. Because we as a society needed a wake up call. Because sadly we all have learnt to 'live with it'. As I write this, the domestic help, who happens to be a 24-year-old married girl just reiterates this. She's telling me how her husband often beats her up and her in-laws accuse of her having extra-marital affairs. I tell her not to tolerate this and take some action against it. She's reluctant and says she has accepted it as her fate.

And haven't we all? We have trained ourselves to turn a deaf ear to the group of three-four guys who pass lewd comments while we are walking on road. We ignore the push and touch on bus, metro or even road. We now don't frown when we read about at least two rape cases in the morning newspapers. It is all around us...an everyday occurrence and so a part of our lives. The incident has shaken us all and it is important that the agitation doesn't go waste.

"We will ensure that her death doesn't go in vain," says our dear PM. We really hope so sir. We hope not just Delhi but the entire country becomes free democratic for women.

It is also important that we all resolve to speak up and raise our voices. Why turn coward and tell girls around us to "be home by 7", "not step out without male company", "leave office by 6" et cetera. It is obviously important to be alert and safe but let's not get intimidated. And that will be the true tribute to "the girl", a true brave-heart who reportedly fought not just when the monsters attacked her but also life till she could.

It's time we act. Make noise, be alert, learn self defense, gather crowd, call cops...of course, we need better laws and policies for our aid. Moreover rather more importantly, we need a change in mindset.

Hope this is the last straw...the final call to wake up as a society to make it a better place.

(I wrote this post for the website Glad2bawoman. It was published here: http://www.glad2bawoman.com/category/rights/awakening)

Guest Post: Let them Bloom

This happened at a PTA meeting at a well known girl’s school in Kolkata.

The principal gave her opening speech, and then she took out a piece of white paper, held it in her hand and told the parents that similar pieces of paper will be distributed amongst them. They were a bit confused and curious too as to what was the need of this piece of paper.

Anyhow, once they had the paper in their hands, the Sister told them to think about each time when their child fared badly in her exams, and each time they said “Oh, you are a failure”. They were asked to tear a piece out of the paper for each time and let it drop. Tear a piece every time they told their child that she was good-for-nothing. The times when they rebuked her for not achieving the result 'They' wanted. Every time they compared her to a friend, or a cousin, who they thought were shining examples of excellence, and their child wasn’t.

Every time they let her weep into her pillow at night, because she didn’t manage to get an A.
After she had finished her speech, there weren’t any bits of paper left in anyone’s hands. She was silent for some time, and then she asked the parents if they knew what that piece of paper actually represented.  The parents knew; they were just too stunned to react.

There was silence in the hall. She said then....that piece of paper was the soul of their children, which lay tattered and torn around them. Every time parents try to make their children into what they want them to be, and not accept them the way they are; those tender souls are maimed and injured. Some of these gentle souls never heal.

A powerful message indeed.

It breaks my heart every morning the newspaper carries the stories of all those little souls whose hearts were broken as they didn’t know how to face the world because their parents couldn’t give them that confidence. So they take the easiest way out, by ending their short tender life.

Let children bloom in all their glory - some vibrant in colour, some not. Some with heady fragrances, some subtle. They all have one thing in common – they are all precious, and we should spend every moment of our lives telling them this.

This is a guest article from www.glad2bawoman.com. Glad2bawoman is an online media company for women with over 73,000 members. The articles on their site encompass various topics around Health, Empowerment, Relationships and Fashion.

The article has been exclusively written for this blog and has been published here because I agree and strongly feel about the subject. Please write in your feedback about the subject. 

...Let the reason be love

And here's another post on marriage. No fascination for this topic but can't help it - this is the wedding season. There are invites, lots of them -- from neighbours, friends, relatives etc etc for ring ceremony, wedding ceremony, after wedding ceremony etc etc.

Weddings are good fun. You get to dress up nicely and eat your heart out at the host's expenses (which by the way is a lot these days given everyone's obsession with wasting money...a separate post on that later)...and then criticise the feast too!
Pic: http://www.123rf.com

Anyway, I was talking about the wedding invites. Almost all of them say the host would like your blessings "as the couple enters the bond of marriage continuing their journey of love and companionship". Now that sounds very sweet and all but how many of such couples you know actually share that companionship? With every invite I get very curious about knowing the story behind "Will you marry me?".

I am not seeing all of them with the same glass but something about most of them saddens me. I am not against marriage per se. But I am pro it only for the right reasons. I accord great significance to reason. I have met very few couples who say they want to be with each other and marriage is only incidental. Half the pairs I know decided to marry because they were 'ready-to-be-married' years old and there was pressure from both families. Or because of the pressure they chose the person since it's known risks are better than stepping in unknown waters! After a relationship of 6-7 years, given a choice, they'd rather not be together but being together is better than going for an arranged marriage. In certain cases, one of them doesn't want to hurt the other and gets into the marriage for the sake of so many years spent together. His/her heart may belong elsewhere but this 'seems the right thing to do'. Marriage for the sake of it, in short. What happened to love? When and why did people stop caring about the love and companionship the wedding invites glitteringly talk of?

The marriages happen anyway. There's a honeymoon period. And then what follows is the most predictable part of the story. Boredom. No prizes for guessing the solution the not-at-all-in-love-but-what-can-we-do couple thinks of....and is advised so by everyone around. A baby, of course. I almost burnt my tongue and my eyes almost popped out when, while having coffee, a friend of mine (about 26 years old) said this: "In arranged marriage it's still okay since the couple needs time to understand each other, but in love marriage the couple should definitely have kids within a couple of years since boredom starts setting in."
Reproduce life just because you are bored of each other? Very amusing! That about explains the size of population in our country. The ability to reproduce life is a miracle in its own right. It's unfortunate it is belittled as an excuse to kill boredom. Poor child comes into the world with such a huge burden of entertaining his/her parents. And s/he grows up to see them and their relationship completely out of love, together only for his/her sake.

Does it sound too quixotic to say that people should marry for right reasons: true companionship and love (whatever the word means)? And bring a new life into the world only to let him/her grow in that peace. Sure, boredom could rather would still set in. But how about putting efforts in reproducing/recreating that bond instead?
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