Thursday, January 29, 2009

The easily offended types!

Have you been in situations where you have been confronted (badgered) by people for not telling them certain noteworthy news when they deemed it appropriate? It could have been news about a new job, an accomplishment (personal or professional), a new car or an apartment or a vacation or just about anything. These people expect you to NOT waste even a nanosecond and turn into an open book. If you don’t, they get offended. I mean not telling family and close friends is unacceptable (in my world), but not every acquaintance needs to be privy to the details of your life.

Where are these fumes coming from? So, one of my closest friends recently found that she is expecting twins. How cute is that, right? When she and her husband shared the magnificent news with us, all my husband and I felt was jubilation to the power of infinity. Believe me, if you saw the sonograms, you’d break into a dance sequence too. We celebrated with champagne at one of our favorite bars (She drank alka setzer while the rest of us indulged in champagne hydration):-) It never occurred to us, not even once, whether we should have found out about her pregnancy sooner or later or in a different way. It’s her news and her choices, and we, as friends, are just there for her and her husband.

My friend told me that one of her associates got upset because she wanted my friend to tell her news right away-- even before she had informed her family. What? Again, what? Firstly, that outlook qualifies under the “unfathomable and insane” category and secondly, how does the nuance of time and place matter? Why couldn’t this person just soak in the information and rejoice over it instead of attempting to make the imbecilic “I have to be the first to know list.”

Most humans lack the compassion to comprehend the “whys” behind any action, and of course, put their self-centered selves foremost. Such people think that they are the center of your universe and should be the first to know everything. I call them “delusional! Reality check: If your acquaintances don’t reveal their life history to you, get it; you aren’t that close. Maybe the “emotional proximity” is a “make-believe” relationship in your head.

Last year when my book, Pabulum, came out, a predictable, selected few people got affronted because I hadn’t kept them in the “loop” all these years---the conception of the idea to the maturity of the final product. I didn’t think it was incumbent upon me to announce my trepidations, vulnerability, journey, pleasure, or struggles to the entire world. The making of my book was so dearly a part of me that I could reveal the process only to people I trusted implicitly. People who would cry with me if it were a failure and drink to it if it became a success AND not the ones who waited with abated breath to use my experience as a dinner party conversation.

We all prefer to share our lives with people who can be there for us—emotionally, mentally, or physically. Most humans are lucky to have those few individuals in their lives that stand by them regardless of anything. The ones who don't, maybe it's time for self-scrutiny. I count my blessings for the ones I have because most people don’t care about anyone but themselves. They hang around like opportunists, hoping you fall because they see your success as a reflection on their failures.

More until next time.

Copyright © 01.29.2009

“Anybody can sympathise with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathise with a friend's success.” – Oscar Wilde

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why do we judge?

It’s human nature to judge others and by doing so, feel good about the self-fulfilling prophecy of “I know best.” Sometimes we human beings become critical of others to justify our own existence and defend our personal choices; other times, it’s because of the polar opposite mindsets and attitudes. I have to give us mere mortals the benefit of the doubt. Often times, given the paucity of time in most (you’ll be surprised to know how many people have nothing much to do with their life) of our lives, we judge people who (intentionally or unintentionally) coerce a validation for our every living moment. For example, my husband and I know this guy who constantly justifies his inhuman, unfathomable frugal (read as “contemptible”) living (Not because he can’t afford the simple things in life; he’s too cheap to spend his own money) and 1800s attitude by eliminating the filter between his brain and mouth. When he found out that my husband and I got accepted at New York’s Ivy-League, Columbia University, his first response was, I have enough money in my bank account to pay for a part-time MBA at NYU, but I don’t think I need school.” Okay. Good for you, but why the venomous, verbal discharge? OF COURSE we aren’t friends because meeting him is emotionally draining. His constant urge to defend his way of life, by reviewing ours, is lame and pathetic. Because I sense judgment from him, I get livid and reciprocate the same emotions, mostly mentally. Sometimes you might think you aren’t looking down upon people but internalizing every thought and not verbalizing it doesn’t make you any less of a culprit.

Granted most of us become friends with people who fall under our own realm of belief system, at least on a macro level, but despite the commonality, the judging and questioning might start with the discrepancy in the thought process on a micro level even within your circle of friends and acquaintances. Be honest to yourself. Haven’t you felt baffled, at least once, by some of the choices few of your friends or acquaintances made? It could be for trivial items (brand of home theatre system or grocery purchased) or life-changing decisions (career/marriage choices etc.).

Believing in your own path is one thing but condemning someone else’s choices just because you don’t get them, is kinda immature. For example, the constant battle between working women and homemakers is heart wrenching and appalling. Each party considers itself superior than the others. I have personally heard insipid words like ”An ambitious woman is detrimental for her family life,” OR “What does he know? She stays at home!” It gets worse when children come into play. By process of selection and elimination, most working women with kids make friends with women who are driven and do something with their lives besides cook and clean and mentally incapacitate themselves with obsessive bitching/cribbing--It doesn’t have to be a full-day commitment; it could be a mom actively involved in her kids’ school or socially involved in causes or pursuing a passion. Something where the brain doesn’t turn into a vestigial organ. Similarly, most stay-at-home moms like to be friends with other homemakers with children because their schedules, perspectives, and attitudes match. They feel discomforted in inflicting day care hell on their little ones or letting a stranger bring up their child. Basically, both groups prefer being surrounded by people who understand their choices and agree with it. That seems understandable, but it doesn’t stop there now, does it? Next step is the judgment factor where both parties, with opposing views, make deliberate attempts to prove their point.

As adults, we like to believe that we don’t need public approval for our actions, but I think humans can never fully give up the “charm and harm” of public opinion. I believe this tendency gets exacerbated with age and time as you become solely responsible for your choices and decisions. You can’t blame your idiosyncrasies on your parents anymore. How do you respond to a situation of the sort---you attack everything unfamiliar and then some.

More until next time.

Copyright © 01.22.2009

“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It's one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it's another to think that yours is the only path.” Paulo Coelho

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Trash or Stud? - Disturbing Double Standards

Growing up, I remember hearing certain words buzz around my good, Indian girl existence—“Girls should be shy.” Shyness was thought of as an Indian woman’s jewel. It won a woman kind words and got her maximum points in the eyes of the pretentious and judgmental society. The more you draped and covered, the more dignified you were considered which brings me to another point -- about saris. You might wrap them up, but you aren’t in the true sense not “exposed,” so people, get off your high horse. Saris might look elegant; perfect for shielding from the naughty look, I think not!

Anyways, when femme fatale Zeenat Aman (Bollywood actress from the seventies) decided to wear a bikini in the hit movie Qurbani, there was brouhaha. She was chastised like no other and frowned upon by the Indian society for showing “too much” skin. You know what I think? Women were jealous of her guts and the ability to carry off a two-piece bathing suit without looking vulgar; men ogled at her in exasperation.

Decades have passed since Zeenat Aman made her tabooed appearance and left a legendary dynasty only to be filled by Kimi katkar, Sonam, Rakhi Sawant, Malika Sherawat etc. In these thirty years, India has undergone a lot of change—clothes, people, mindsets, spending capacities but what’s not changed is the sexist attitude. When a woman wears skimpy clothes, people denounce her with tacky allegations; when a man decides to show off his chiseled body by going topless, folks embrace his Greek God persona and aspire to be like him.

No, I am not making this up. After Om Shanti Om and Ghajini, women have awed and men have tried to emulate Shahrukh Khan’s six-pack and Aamir Khan’s bulked up bodies respectively. So, it was okay for these forty-year old men to go the topless route and not be judged for it? In fact, in one of the “Koffee with Karan,” episodes, both John Abraham and Abhishek Bachan complimented and admired Aamir for his new look in Ghajini. Really? I am shocked because Aamir looks creepy with the Incredible Hulk body in that movie. It’s okay for Salman Khan to show up bare bodied at a wake, but when Madhuri Dixit wore a chiffon salwar kameez in Dil To Pagal hai, the media and the billion Indians derided her for wearing a “see-through” outfit.

Forget the older actors. How about people swooning over Hrithik Roshan’s Dhoom 2 guise and John Abraham’s gratuitous, skimpy sportswear in Dostana? All I heard was “wow!” One of my unnaturally conservative acquaintances salivated over Hrithik and chastised Priyanka Chopra, for her fusion dress sense, in the same breadth. Do I smell envy from the chubby-tubbies of the world?

Okay, I am not a big fan of Raakhi Sawant. She, in a lot of ways, is India’s Sarah Palin—dumbly hot. I always think of the famous Oscar Wilde quote when I see her—“She wore far too much rouge last night and not quite enough clothes. That is always a sign of despair in a woman.” Having said that, I do admire Saawant’s guts. She is ordinary in an extraordinary way and chooses to dress in her trademark style. What’s wrong with that? Every single talk show out there has made a buffoonery out of her wardrobe choices, her peer, Uday Chopra, who has an appalling existence, has won accolades for his body. Something is amiss.

Maybe I sound cynical due to the inhumane temperatures in NYC (read as “clad in three layers and still cold”) while my hubby gets to enjoy (okay-work) in gorgeously warm San Francisco. Whatever be the case, here is something that never ceases to amaze me: It’s mostly women condemning other women for showing skin and condoning men for the same deed. It makes me think if a woman is a woman’s worst enemy?

More until next time.

Copyright © 01.15.2009

"Women are made to be loved, not understood." Oscar Wilde

Monday, January 12, 2009

Demise is the word!

A very Happy New Year to all! Let me start by apologizing for missing in action the past few weeks. I took a short writing hiatus to enjoy the holiday season Oscar Wilde style – “Moderation is a fatal thing, Lady Hunstanton. Nothing succeeds like excess.” I treated myself to decadence and opulence after all the craziness of the year. Well, every action has a food-related reaction in my life. To cut the long story short, I ate, drank, and made merry to an extensive extent (by my standards) this past month, so I decided to take charge (remember, I live to plan and stay organized) in the New Year.

I felt I needed to detox myself--revitalize my system and give my body some respite. I edited and re-edited my mental checklist innumerable times. Finally, aside from one of my friend's and I committing to a workout schedule together, I decided to make amends to my diet—no non-vegetarian, no wine, no dessert for a month, which is January 31st, 2009. Ironically, I am an embarrassment for serious drinkers; I indulge in dessert very occasionally, and I savor good vegetarian food. I guess, “Excessive” is such a relative word.

My temporary food-nirvana decision evoked interesting responses—especially from my own self. On numerous occasions, I was corrected by my friends and husband for saying, “I might as well eat this stuff tonight. It’s my last meal.” Seriously, I made it sound like I was on death penalty eating my last meal. I wonder why my brain created the brouhaha in the first place.

I figured along with my body, my mind and soul should be cleansed too. The yogic in me wanted a more rhythmic balance between my mind and body. Aside from yoga and a synchronized workout schedule with a friend, the detox diet, I decided to foray into one of the most ancient healing methods—acupuncture. What can I say; alternative healing and better living have a certain je ne sais quoi that I find appealing. There were moments when I felt cleansed just thinking about one of my most important goals of the New Year. I think I felt my aura too.

I am one of those people who enjoys any foodstuff if it comes with a promise or a tag of “healthy.” I have a naturally built palate for fruits, vegetables, dairy, non-fried, and super-healthy foods and am addicted to aerobic activities. Giving up the fare mentioned above wasn’t a problem at all, but little did I know that acupuncture came with dietary guidelines too—no to minimal dairy, avoid raw fruits/vegetables/spicy/fried/soy products/ white foods (flour, noodles, rice etc.). So, between my self-imposed diet and my acupuncturist’s dietary suggestions, pretty much all I can eat is oat meal and soups. I turned pale towards the beginning of last week, which scared the hell out of my bathroom mirror and my husband. I didn’t give up. I screamed internally for divine intervention.

Of all the times, Dear God decided to hear me out just this time and reach out to me via History Channel. I saw a program about the apocalypse predicted by the Mayan Civilization and Nostradamus. According to them, the world will come to an end on December 21st, 2012. I had heard and read a lot about the Galactic alignment but watching it on television was a whole another game.

Am I safe to assume that the program aired on History Channel was a sign from God that he wants me to lay off my detox diet so I don’t demise before the demise of the world? After all, what’s the point in all this effort for a healthy, long life and mind/body healing when there might be no life in four years?

More until next time.

Copyright © 01.12.2009

"I hate people who are not serious about their meals." Oscar Wilde