Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Life or Death

Listen to the song on the sidebar. What does it talk about? Nothing but the positive contribution that death makes on life. We always view death to be something hurtful, painful, that which makes us nothing but a dead body from a once living being. Maybe, there is something that we can learn from death. Something that will make our lives worth living.

I am young, have never been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and have never had a close encounter with death. I believe that I have at least another 50-60 years to live in this world and yet, when I look at that number, it almost feels like time will fly by. I have already lived 1/3 of my life and I have no idea where they went!

People usually fear the end of their lives. What I fear is not living life completely before I die. What is living life completely to you? Buying your own house, earning a 6-figure salary, owning a Mercedes Benz, wearing only branded clothes, or mingling in a high-profile social circle? Is it being able to travel around the world, eating exotic foods from different countries, or going dancing, bungee jumping, skydiving? Or is it having a huge family, becoming a parent, and living a life full of love and kindness?

As I hear about the bomb blasts, violence, terror, around the world, I begin to realize more each day that life is uncertain. Though common sense and family history tells me that I will live to die very late, I might also live today to die tomorrow. I do not care if its a painful death. I do not care if its an early death. I do not care if its a lonely death. But I do care if its a death after having lived life the way I want to.

So today I hope and pray that I do not begin to take precious time for granted, do not leave things I can do today until tomorrow, begin appreciating life's little blessings more and more everyday, and live today like there is no tomorrow.

This was a class assignment, a journal I wrote that wanted us to talk about "death anxiety".
Sorry folks, been tied up with some stuff. Will come around to your blogs in a few days. Will also respond to my commentors in the previous post soon. Take care!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bad Women Drivers?

I recently saw SEX and the CITY..twice! Needless to say, I loved it. The first time I went with a few girlfriends. The second time I coaxed a guy friend to come with me. He agreed...reluctantly. On the D-day, he called me and said, "Will I be the only guy there?". I could almost feel him breaking out in a sweat. I laughed and said, "No. There will be many other guys there who may have come to look at the beautiful audience, if not the movie." I knew he was not assured but he decided to be nice and come anyway. Right before the movie began, his friend called and asked him what he was doing. Quite embarrassed, he told him where he was. His friend chuckled and said, "Tum ladkiyon wala kaam karo. Kal baat karte hai". (You do what's meant for women. We will talk tomorrow).

I was irritated at his friend. My friend was irritated at me. I decided to keep mum but the train of thoughts continued. Why? Why is there an assumption that men will not like the movie? When I told my friend about the several husbands who have stated that they enjoyed the movie, he managed to grunt, "They only said that to make their wives happy". I felt like he had already assumed that he would not like the movie and felt that he was not giving it a chance!

Why do we stereotype genders so much? Why do we assume that certain behaviors are appropriate only for one gender and not the other? Why do we expect certain behaviors from one gender and not the other? And if God forbid, the opposite gender acts in a way that they are not supposed to, they are teased, poked fun at, and ridiculed until they pray for the skies to fall on them. Why?

  • Why do people assume that all women are bad drivers?
  • Why do people assume that all men make good engineers?
  • Why are women expected to be good cooks?
  • Why are men expected to be more practical and less emotional?
  • Why are women expected to be less aggressive?
  • Why are men forgiven for infidelity just because they are "born that way"?

These are only a few of the stereotypes that we hold in our minds when thinking about a particular gender. I am sure there are a lot more "should"s and "must"s and "have to be"s in our minds. Whether we began thinking like that because that's what we observed in the world around us, or picked it up from adults during our childhood, or saw it on TV, is altogether another issue. But I do know that we were not born with these ideas and thoughts. I also know that we do see many examples of those who do not appear to fit these stereotypes. In an effort to comfort our confused minds, we end up saying, "Oh they must be an exception" to ourselves.

Look carefully. How many women do you know who are good cooks? How many men do you know who are cheats? Are you an exception or a stereotype? Or is the exception actually the norm? And the stereotype just a silly error, a quirk, a human tendency? Do we really have to stereotype? Do we really have to attribute people with certain traits just because they are men or women? Can we not just see them as UNIQUE INDIVIDUALS? Can we not accept them the way they are?

Maybe we can...if we try harder.

Oh, and those, who still believe that women are bad drivers, you might wanna read this.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

You are STUPID. I was FOOLED!

This is a repost for people who have missed knowing how they are stupid but I was only fooled. Do not understand? Let me ask you a few questions!

  • Why is that when you are not able to respond to someone's calls or emails, its because you are "BUSY" but when they do the same to you, they have an "ATTITUDE"?
  • Why is it that when you are being noisy when you have a party, you are being HEP and FUN but when your neighbors do the same, they are being "INCONSIDERATE"?
  • Why is it that when you are late, its because you were "CAUGHT UP IN TRAFFIC" but when they are late, they are labeled as "ALWAYS LATE"?
  • Why is it that when you do not like what someone said, its because its "TRULY RUBBISH" but when they do the same, they are "JEALOUS"?
  • Why is that when someone tells you some good news and all did not end well, its because of "BAD LUCK" but when you tell them something and it fails, its because they cast "THE EVIL EYE"?
  • Why is it that when you hang out with people who speak your native language, you are only being friends with people you are "COMFORTABLE" with, but when they do the same, they are being "CLIQUISH"?
  • Why is that when you forget to share some information with someone, you assumed "THEY ALREADY KNEW" but when someone else does the same, they are being "SECRETIVE"?
  • Why is it that when you don't invite someone to a party, its because its for a "SELECTIVE GROUP" but when someone else does the same its because they "DO NOT LIKE YOU"?
  • Why is it that when you write a post on your blog, its "GENERAL" but when someone else does it, its keeping "YOU IN MIND"?

Now you know why when someone cheats you, you are STUPID but when someone cheats me, its because I WAS FOOLED!

We all commit the Fundamental Attribution Error more times than not, until we become aware that we are doing so. Don't get too bogged down by the term. All it means is that when something bad happens, we attribute it to outside causes for ourselves and internal causes for others. Likewise, when something good happens, we attribute it to internal causes for ourselves and external for others.

If I do well in an exam, its because I studied hard. If I do badly in an exam, its because the paper was difficult!!

Get it?? Now reflect back and think of the times when you did that. And if you cannot think of any, make sure you are aware of that in the future?

Go forth!

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Words help us communicate. Words help us feel. Words help us think. Words help us live. Words are those groups of letters without which our life is very hard. Words act like magic. You think of something, you form a sentence, you express them and voila...there is a reaction to them.

The words in a great book can move us to tears. The words in a melodious song can create a wave of emotions. The words in a well-scripted movie can remain etched in our minds.

Unfortunately, harsh words created in an agitated mind can pierce our hearts like daggers. Even more unfortunate is that many of us live with bleeding hearts waiting for someone to come lick our wounds and nurse us. We rant, we cry, we crib, we bitch, we yell, we shout, we scream, we cuss, we mock, we accuse, we judge, all in a desperate plea for help.

Why? Because we are hurt. Because we relied on others for OUR self-worth. Because we gave them the right to control our emotions. Because we are insecure with ourselves. Because we think someone else is better than us. Because we think we do not have it in us. Because we believe them.

The truth is...YOU, I, Him, and Her. we all are unique. I have my own set of fingerprints that you don't. I have a face that you don't. You have a fashion style that I don't. You have a writing style that I don't. He has a thought process that I don't. She has a talent that I don't. That is the ultimate truth. I am special. You are exception. You are you. I am me. And so are they, they. Together, we add diversity, beauty, and variety to this world. That is the ultimate truth.

So when they try and put you down, realize that you are worthy of much more and beyond. When someone says, "I hate you", realize that you love yourself. When someone says, "You are mean!", realize that you are different from what they want you to be. When someone says, "You suck!", realize that that does not necessarily make them a better person. When someone lies about you, it does not necessarily become the eternal truth. You know it. And last of all, realize that these are words that were created in someone else's mind. You do not have to believe these words and bring your self-respect down.

"Don't let those prickers bother you", says A mother of two....

You are special and you know it. If you did not, now you do. All that you need to do now is remember it. ALWAYS.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Those Married Folks!

Most of us have been placed in a stage where matters of the heart are taking priority over all else. If its not you, then its perhaps a friend who is looking for his or her soul-mate, or a parent perplexed over your nonchalant attitude. Or maybe it IS you wandering helter-skelter, month after month, keeping your eyes and ears open for the ONE. And then there are some of us, who have found our mates, and are basking in the glory of being a part of a couple.

In interacting with many of my counterparts raised in India, I often get the impression that marriage is put on a pedestal and is portrayed either by our family, friends, or media to be the ultimate goal in life. So come our 20's and that's all that everyone talks about!

At a cousin's wedding, you may hear, "You are next!" or "When are you giving us the good news?". The usual yawns.

At home, you may hear, "Beta. If you start looking now, you will find someone in a couple years". The usual trap.

From committed friends, you may hear, "Come now. Its high time you too joined the bandwagon". The usual camaraderie talk.

And then some of us succumb to the pressure, either out of frustration or perhaps boredom. The rest exert free will and do what their heart tells them, whatever it may be.

What do observers do? The ones who are not ready for marriage make derogatory comments about the institution. The famous shaadi ke laddoo phrase. Calling married couples (no matter how young they are), uncle and aunty. Emphasizing over and over again about how excited they are about their freedom. The ones who are ready but are not yet in the institution put them on the pedestal. The "Wow you are married?!" phrase with an expression of awe. "Oh my God, please don't change!" phrase with an expression of helplessness. The "Oh when will my turn come?" phrase with an expression of longing.

What follows is the categorization of married couples. Yes, we singles categorize them as if they have their own clan! I was once introduced to a guy through another friend at my university. My friend said, "Hey Rajeev, this is Solitaire. Hey Solitaire, this is Rajeev. He is married." Is marriage the only thing that makes Rajeev's identity? Was that sort of an introduction necessary? Was it a subtle warning to me from my friend as if to say, "Stay away..not our type!"

Why? Why do we make such a big deal about someone being married? Why is it not ok to call a married friend at 3 am but ok to call a single friend at 3 am? 3 am is an unearthly hour for a phone call, married or not married. Why is it assumed that married people have a real life and single people really do not (now this altogether is worthy of another post)?


Monday, July 14, 2008

You OR Them?

  • You open a birthday present with great eagerness. It is a small box, (apparently jewellery), and think its a diamond ring from your better half. Turns out to be a coral pendant. You are very disappointed and say, "wow!" and put it aside, forgetting about it the next day.

  • Your friends invite you home and you plan on going there at noon. At about 2 pm, they ask you if you are hungry and offer you some cookies. Obviously, they did not cook lunch. You are shocked, suppress your hunger somehow, and walk out bitterly and drive into McDees for a quick sandwich.

  • You have a very important interview for a job that you have coveted all your life. You have been studying for it for a month. On the D-day, your best friend does not call you to wish you good luck. You get the job. You call him to tell him the good news. He says, "Congratulations. Guess what movie I saw is called blah blah.............." You are irked by his behavior.

  • Its Saturday night. You have made no major plans for the day and intend on spending a quiet evening with your partner/spouse. He announces that he is going out with his friends for dinner. You tell him about what you wanted to do. He apologizes and says he did not know and has already given his word. You are very angry, throw a tantrum, and refuse to talk to him the rest of the day.

  • You have a flight to catch tomorrow. You call your brother who lives on the other side of the town to drop you off. He says he cannot make it because he has a party to go to. You are furious with his attitude and vow never to call him again for help.

Can you identify with any of these situations? Have you ever felt disappointment when you EXPECTED someone to do something for you but did not live up to YOUR expectations? Whose fault is it? Yours or theirs?

They never made promises, they never gave you false hopes, but they DISAPPOINTED you when they were unable to read your minds.

Sometimes, we assume that people will do certain things for us, just like we think we would for them. But that is not always true. People have their own priorities, their own values, their own set of thoughts, and their own way of doing things.

Just because we like chocolate cake, we cannot expect them to like it, can we?
Let's stop expecting from others. Maybe, that will lead to lesser disappointments and more contentment in our relationships.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Over the last few months, many of you have sent me comments, messages, offliners, emails asking me about when Psychobabble would be up. Its up on the day Solitaire babbled her way through her dissertation. And today, I am promised.

I remember the day a friend sent me an I-pod in the mail as a surprise gift. It was something that I had been yearning for for months together. When it arrived, my joy knew no bounds, as would be the normal reaction, one would assume. A few hours later, I was shopping for skins on e-bay, checking the manual out, and begging savvy friends to give me songs. From then on, I was actively hunting for those who had I-tunes and would be willing to allow me to steal a few numbers off of their computers. For days, and even months, I regularly recharged my precious I-pod, now decorated in a pastel blue skin, and even slept with the earphones stuck in my ears until the wee hours of morning. Today, exactly 21 months later, I do not even know where my I-pod is. I mean I do have a remote memory of it being in my laptop bag somewhere but its novelty has worn off. No more is it the precious little gadget that I cannot live without. I have moved on to the Blackberry Pearl now.

I wonder then, is that how we react to all the new things in our life?

The excitement over finding a new friend who has the exact same interests as you. The excitement of getting a saree of the latest fashion from India. The excitement of the first roses that your new boyfriend sent you. The excitement of the first time you shook hands with a celebrity. The excitement of the first time. The excitement over getting admitted into a competitive doctoral program. The excitement about having your first blog post.

Do we all move on eventually from one state to another, some quickly, some at a slow pace? Is this what we call "change"? Is this evolution? Growth? Maturity? Ficklemindedness? Aging? What is it called?

A friend recently had a message on his profile which read, "Change is the law of life". If it indeed is, and if excitement does wear off so quickly, and if what excited us ten days ago, does not anymore, is it not the same for negative emotions as well? Think about it. If you have changed in ways described above, then maybe you have the capacity to change and overcome the sorrows that face you.

Remember that sad breakup? Remember that death of a family member? Remember that job that you did not get? Remember that precious thing that was stolen? Remember how you bawled your eyes out, or probably felt miserable for days, skipping meals, not sleeping well, and wondering how you would do after the tragedy. If you reading this, you are doing fine. You have survived. And you will continue to survive.

I am back! How does it feel?

*Thank you for all those who patiently waited. Your support and encouragement means much to me!