Does it matter in the long run?

Love marriage or arranged marriage? This age old, beaten to death, debate is making fresh rounds around the blog world with renewed vigour for this contest here at Indiblogger along with Sony Entertainement Televsion. Do read more about it here

My opinion here is based on average Indian families and for the sake of argument, am assuming a normal arranged marriage scenario which does not mean forced marriage and where there is a good chance of getting to know a person.

Love or arranged, the real test of a marriage begins only after the wedding. The love or arranged factors are just two different routes to the same point from where the real journey begins. It is not to say that one route is better than the other.  Contrary to what is shown in movies, love marriages are rarely all hunky-dory and arranged marriages need not spell doom too. The basic and probably an important difference in two could be the lead time that the couples get to know one another.

Of course, the way things pan out in a arranged marriage route can prove quite frustrating and demotivating for the parties until the match is found. Also, the Indian society is still not open enough to let the concerned two socialize enough before a formal engagement of sorts and there is still a stigma attached to a broken engagement. This makes a love marriage more appealing for young men and women who know the importance of getting to know a person well before entering into a matrimonial alliance. However, if arranged marriage is a pitfall for some in the Indian society, it is also a saviour for whom love does not happen naturally. Since, it does give you a chance to meet prospects, even if it is constrained by some superficial boundaries.

The important factor, however, is the thought that goes behind selecting a life-partner for yourself. Whether love or arranged, one needs to define a criteria for the person who will be sharing one's space and life in future. Just because someone professed deep love to you in college and you are more in love with the idea of falling love than the person itself, is certainly not a good reason to get involved in a relationship. Such love marriages can spell more doom than the typical arranged ones. Only, when there is enough commitment from an individual towards finding a partner, and only when there is enough honest introspection about what is important to oneself in a marriage, will there be enough ownership in the relationship- a tool that will hold one steadfast when the ground gets shaky.

A couple intending to spend their lives together, be it through a love or arranged set-up, need to talk about important issues like career, money, religion, caste, children, family (not necessarily in that order) to see if they are on the same page. Many love marriages do fall apart because the couple overlooked these factors during their courtship period or never even discussed these, to be taken unawares when real-life situations challenges them. Even if  you are destined to meet your spouse through parental intervention, there is enough time given to discuss these, provided you have yourself formed an opinion about these and know roughly what you are looking at in your spouse.

Marriages fail due to various reasons, inspite of best efforts. But, at least, one will not rue the fact that the failure was due to the route taken. The route-love or arranged- is just a means to the end (wedding, which is actually the beginning, here). We hold the trump cards in any kind of route. It is just that we get to play our cards at different stages in both the routes. It is up to us, how well we use the cards. The actual game, anyhow, begins only at the end. 

Entangled in pronouns

Have you ever been enmeshed in the linguistic quagmire of "tum" and "aap"/ "nee" and "neenga"? Have you faced the confusion of whether to address a person as "tum" or "aap"? The question is relevant to the Indian language speaking audience which distinguishes the elderly and the young/peer-group with distinct second person pronouns. English speaking souls are saved from having such confusions, thereby. Remember the lines from the famous Dharmender starrer movie, Chupke Chupke? "Angrezi badi hi asabhya bhasha hai. Tum ke liye bhi you aur aap ke liye bhi you. Chote bade mein koi antar hi nahi.." Of course, if you don't know whether to address the person as aap or tum, English comes in handy :-) So, I'd say thank God for the Queen's language!

But, you may ask, if it is just the age of a person that determines the nature of the pronoun bestowed upon him/her, then why should it be such a rocket science to address someone? Well, you see, it is a little complicated. Apart from the age factor, there is the factor of acquaintance level, i.e. how well you know the person and also how in the first place you came about to know the person and the social/personal equation with the person.

When my husband's friends addressed me as "neenga", in the beginning, I found it very odd. Odd, because, firstly I was not used to being addressed so, and secondly, it felt odd coming from people who are around the same age as I am. Perhaps, the role of second level acquaintance played a part here. Getting to know a person first hand is different from being introduced to as the so and so's wife, I reasoned. However, when I reflect upon the recent friendships (my contemporaries) that I have developed in my apartment complex, I find to my surprise that  many of them address me as "neenga" or "aap". It makes me wonder if perhaps, the city-culture places a part too??

In Mumbai, the city I grew up in, people do not bother to get enmeshed in the nitty gritties of the lingo with atleast the contemporaries . The "aap" quickly comes down to "tum" or even "tu" (which may sound harsh or crude to the ears of someone who is used to speaking and hearing the purer form of the language) depending on the level of interaction and comfort factor. So, a friend is always "tum" or "tu" and never "aap". This is ,of course, my observation and I could be wrong. And, this is perhaps the reason for my ignorance or naivety in this matter.

The second factor-the social/personal equation with the person- is particularly applicable to the husband-wife relationship. I am not sure how relevant or true it is in today's world because I can only speak for myself and the small circle of friends and acquaintances I am familiar with. As far as I know, there are still many women who address their husbands as "aap" or "neenga". Note that here the seniority of the husband in terms of age is not (just) the factor that warrants the conferment of the "respectful pronoun" but the social status viz-a-viz the wife. The "aap" or "neenga" contains the respect quotient too, you see.

In the olden times, the husband used to actually be years older to the wife and also the couple never got the chance to interact freely with one another to reach the same wave-length as the other, emotionally and intellectually. Also, they were bound by social constraints that automatically bestowed the husband with a higher status. Things have changed quite a bit from then. There are a number of marriages that happen without the need for parental intervention in seeking the partner. Even in case of alliances that fructify with the help of the elders in the family, the couple in most average families are given a chance to get to know one another or they stay in a nuclear set-up after marriage to enable the intimacy to develop. The age-gap between the couple has also come down drastically, in some cases, the wife also being the older person. So, I see no reason for the wife to address the husband as "aap" :-) In my opinion, respect for a person cannot be packaged into something so frivolous; it cannot be judged by the way one addresses another. Also, in any relationship, especially marriage, the respect has to be mutual for it to thrive. So, how is that, a husband has the leeway to not address his wife as "aap" or "neenga"?

I faced this problem of tum and aap in my early days of marriage. I had always addressed the husband as "nee" (tum) from the very first meeting. I never understood the need to change the pronoun to "neenga" (aap) after marriage, hence, never did (the disapproving looks from some of the elderly community notwithstanding).  So, it was always tum as far as the husband was concerned. And, as far as in-laws were concerned, I spent the first few months in the painful endeavour of constructing sentences that avoided the direct alluding of the husband as "tum" in front of them. Soon, and naturally so, the mind got tired of the game and couldn't keep up the levels. I then chucked the hypocrisy out of the window and found to my relief that the in-laws were quite cool about the fact.

So, where does all this leave me? Now, am quite used to the way of functioning of the pronouns in this part of the world and I resort to "aap" mostly all the time, even when it sounds ridiculous to be addressing a friend who I see day after day in the park, so. The only hitch is of the old habit which comes in the way and I fumble and flounder at times alternating between "tum" and "aap" in a breadth of conversation. And, what better way to end the confusion and discomfort than to switch to the Queen's language? At these times, I sing a silent "Jai Ho" to English in my mind.

Showing off...

...the prize trophy won for the Women's Web I stood up blogathon contest. This article won the second prize. And, the pretty mug (below) arrived this morning to brighten up my day!
Thank you once again, Women's Web. This mug sits proudly on my desk, now :-)

Loved the quote: What would men be without women? Scarce, sir, mighty scarce.- Mark Twain

As we celebrate our Independence day, I ponder..

I had written this post last year. It still feels relevant today in the wake of our 66th Independence day. Re-posting the same with some changes.

We are celebrating yet another independence day tomorrow. But, 65 years after we freed ourselves from the oppressive colonial rule, can we call ourselves a free nation? We are a democratic and independent country, sure, but sadly only on paper. We are worse off today than we were during the colonial rule. At least they were not one of us. Today, although, we are governed (deceived) by our own people, we really cannot truly call ourselves a progressed or progressing nation. Sure enough we have progressed in some spheres but in the light of corroded values in the form of corruption, red-tapeism and nepotism, we still have a long long way to go.

Each day a new scam exposes a shameful state of affairs in almost every sphere of occupation. Black-money is stashed away in the tax havens of Swiss banks by leaders, corporate and influential individuals who have been squandering away hard-earned money of common public in broad daylight. The aam admi is struggling hard to meet ends even as he is battling inflation, bad civic management, poor economic policies, heavy and multiple taxes.

Housing prices are on a perpetual high making the basic necessity a mirage for many. Most residential areas are reeling under water shortage and poor sanitation conditions. Women call themselves empowered and liberated today. Are they truly so? Every day, some woman is stalked, threatened, raped, brutally murdered, molested, or just subjected to some other kinds of sexual harassment that may be equally humiliating and disturbing. Girl child is still not welcome in many so-called educated families too. We need not even mention the rural areas here. People obtain fake certificates and degrees without any difficulty, even in case where public life is at stake. We even have fake doctors performing life-threatening operations. Education is a rare commodity for under-privileged children. The government, sure, boasts of having announced a reform granting right to education. Only that, the amount of school-drop-outs far exceeds the enrollments. Teachers are under-paid and not motivated enough to uphold the nobility of this profession. Corruption has seeped into every quarter making it so common that it is almost being brushed off as something that is a given and needs to be put up with.

Problems exist in all countries, however the approach to deal with loop-holes in the system is what distinguishes a good and progressing nation from a stagnating and sick country. Sadly our ruling leaders seem to be vying to lead the nation in the latter category. While, we lack solid systems in place, even the existing policies are not being adhered to. The government seems to be reeling under the "Andher nagari chaupat raja" syndrome with its knee-jerk responses to counter the prevailing imbalance.

Such mediocrity and apathy by governing bodies notwithstanding, we cheer the rising (grossly misinterpreted, I think) economic rate and build it to the levels of it being enough to take us on the road to be a super power. Cricket matches become a platform to promote patriotism. People become dumb enough to cheer up on a superficial feel-good factor created by the over-active media from time to time. The media itself is a biased body which is affiliated to respective political parties. The news is largely filtered, with the facts twisted to suit the larger interests of the party it (the channel) serves. The truth however can be tracked if one follows the internet carefully (thanks to private and not-so-private blogs maintained by politically aware citizens).

On a positive note, some states like Gujarat are doing truly and enviously well. The Modi government, contrary to what the media might like us to believe, has done amazing work. Sadly not one news channel features a programme on this front.

When the civilians in Egypt and Libya went against the military governance of 30 odd years, we lauded and cheered them for their fearless and persistent struggle for their rights. We spoke at lengths about how each country should be a democratic one and how people should wage a war against unjust and extreme rulers. Closer home, do we really spend so much thought as to- are we free?
True, we are having spurts of civilian movement spear-headed by the likes of Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev but the cynic in me wonders if these will indeed bring about the revolution we need. Will these be enough to awaken us from the slumber we are in? Are we, as a nation, ready to swallow the bitter pill necessary to cleanse our country and start afresh? Are we even willing to exercise our voting rights and vote for the right person? Are we as citizens truly motivated and involved to shed our comfort zone and participate in an internal freedom movement?

A quick review

So, we are fast approaching the mid of August. Three-quarters of the year have flown by. The days are passing by so fast that I wonder if the earth is rotating in double its speed. I'd worry earlier about the end of a weekend with the Monday blues catching up with me on Sunday morning itself, but am no longer mopping at the end of a weekend. I've begun to realize that the week is also passing by in a super-sonic speed just as the weekends do. Before I realize it is Monday, it is Wednesday and then Friday!!! Part of the reason could be that now R goes to school and I look forward to the time I get in the mornings, so weekdays are good too :-)

I had planned a half-yearly review for myself this year, for this was the first time in my life that I had formally announced and drafted a to-do-list for this year. But June and July disappeared before I realized and so here I am at almost mid-August to take a look at how I scored. I am extremely thrilled to note that I haven't done bad at all. I have managed to cross out all but one of the five major tasks that I had planned to complete.

I had been ruminating over sending R to a playschool ever since he crossed 1 year and 8 months of age. It was around this time that his hyper-active nature was at its peak, with him climbing every space and pulling out things from every reachable shelf. I was going nuts and thought that some time away at a playschool would be the best option. However, somehow, the time just went by in just contemplation and we never got around to walk the talk.
I was always fascinated with the Montessori kind of schooling and wanted one for R too. Since R was past the age of 2 at the beginning of this year, to find the right playschool was our top priority. The first three months went in scouring the neighbourhood for a good playschool for R and resulted in a chance discovery of a Montessori near our home. We were delighted to see that it had all the qualities that I was looking for and quickly took the decision of enrolling R there.

This year proved lucky as it heralded the end of the woe most mothers face en-route to getting their little ones on the road to independence. My horror experience in getting R toilet trained culminated into a part success soon after year began. He achieved the milestone of getting potty trained sooner than I expected. The su-su part took longer to reach and while the lapses occur even now, especially at school, I'd say that R is almost trained for at least the time spent indoors, not considering the night time of course. The diapers are still used for outdoor and night time.  But that is not worrying me as of now. These will also be dealt with in time.

My long standing wish to travel abroad also came to be fulfilled this year when we planned our trip to Sri Lanka to celebrate five years of married life. I had great time planning the trip and travelling to our beautiful neighbourhood. If you missed reading the travelogue, you can catch up with it here.

Starting work part-time has been on my agenda for quite some time now and regretfully not yet crossed out. I do get a lot more "me" time after R began school, so, in my defense, I'd say, I did use it to scrape off the rust that had accumulated on the skills I hope to put to use now, to be monetarily productive. But, I need to reach out to more people and widen the network. Here's where I seemed to have slowed down. Hope to pull up the socks and buckle up before the year ends, so that I can boast of a full-marks score card.

All in all, I am pretty happy with my progress. This year has been good so far in terms of my blogging experience too. I enjoy putting down my thoughts and makes me even happier when my writings are well-received. The icing on the cake is meeting people who you connect with in the blogging world in the real world. I met my two of my blogger friends a few months ago and we had a great time. Looking forward to such meets in future.

So, how has this year been so far for all you guys?

Son, you might want to know...

..that though I am not be recording this space about you very often, it doesn't mean a thing.

Your growth, development and milestones have become so much a part of our lives that I need to really sit down and think of how far you've come and what are the new feathers that don your cap. My frenzy ritual of checking with Babycentre updates every month slowed down soon after your first birthday and is gradually coming to a slow halt as I am no longer worried about how ahead or behind you are of your peers. Every new thing you learn, say or do is noticed and enveloped in our lives as a matter-of-fact but nevertheless consciously noted and cherished.

You love going to school everyday. Since we know this for a fact, we take the liberty to tease and test you often by saying, "oh! lets not send you to school today" only to hear the unfailing retort, "don't say that. I want to go to school". You probably do not realize the silly wave of pride that swells up in our heart. I hope and pray that the love to learn newer stuff never diminishes and the institutions you might attend at every stage of education continue to fuel the desire and provide sufficient and healthy nourishment to the mind and body.

While you still drive me nuts with your hyper-active nature, you are by far a reasonable and understanding child. You are easy with any change in the routine or schedule and adapt quite well to situations. I have realized that a time-out works as a power mantra to counter any tantrum or wrong behaviour (at least for now). Although you are getting smarter by the day, it is still relatively easy to distract or fool you into doing what I want you to do. Well, am going to enjoy this for as long as it lasts for I also know that it won't last very long. The question phase that was limited to hows and whats has (to my discomfort) extended to whys. Anything and everything is punctuated with a why. Only I know how ridiculous they sound!

You are learning the art of manipulation. Rather quite fast. When you are upset with either me or your father, you instinctively know how to deflate our respective egos and run to the other adult to garner support/empathy. That, your father and I are almost always on the same side when it comes to parenting rules quite simply defeats your strategy. But, you will learn that later. For now, this is cute.

A piece of conversation your father and I love to carry out with you:
Us: "R, do you love Amma more or Appa more?" or "R, do you want Appa or Amma?"
You: Amma, Appa, Ishabh! :-)
A true diplomat in the making???

Cars and other vehicles still remain your favourites. Your knowledge repository of car models is growing, with the newest addition being Dissan. No, that's not a typo. You pronounce it so..:-)

Eyes that see, mind that perceives

One pair of eyes speaks of innocence
the other gleams of pretense

One seems to ask, what's in store
the other seems to sing a different lore

One pair of hands shows a bonding
undoubting of who is leading

Are they father and son
on a walk that is not unknown?

Or are they strangers to other
in a journey that fate built together ?

The mind conjures many a story
in a bid to unravel the mystery

of perhaps some unknown spectre
hidden behind a lonely picture

Each is a story that fits the frame
giving a sense of false acclaim

Isn't this how we also
perceive life in the worldly game?

This post is part of the contest A picture can say a thousand words.. on