Weekends.

Couple dynamics in contemporary families is a complex, almost incomprehensible affair. Our roles should not be defined by gender we promulgate, yet within the confines of our individual homes, away from prying eyes of family, friends and society;  we are often left wondering what it means to be The Wife or The Husband. We battle stereotypes and prejudicious beliefs that are deeply entrenched within our conscience and despite our elaborate education, extensive travel and exposure to varied cultures and experiences, we are left confused and conflicted.

Stay-at-home- dads and “helpful” husbands are sometimes demeaned. Women and mothers who work are often arraigned.

The only smart way to deal with all the internal conflict is to often just let things slide, and treat each day on it’s own merit. To not assign strict domestic roles and treat each task and chore as a separate entity. Easier said than done, I know. And what works for us, may not work for you and your family.

Weekends are ironically, the hardest days. A day(s) that should ideally be spent with emphasis on rest and recuperation, more often than not ends up being one of chaos and haste. The woman goes to sleep on the eve of the day in question, her mind full of plans and an almost a minute by minute blueprint for the next day. Of course, it is an entirely different matter how much of it actually transpires in reality. The man, despite his earnest intentions to help is mostly looking forward to a quiet day of eating and seating. Eating delicious (preferably home cooked) meals and ‘seating’ in front of the television, on the couch with his best friend aka ‘portal to the internet’ (not his wife in this case) on his lap.

At the end of the day, you are left harried and irritated, both of you; thanks to your different approaches and agendas. And instead of looking forward to or being prepared for another hectic work week ahead, you start the week jaded and fatigued. The cycle if not interrupted, rolls on viciously until it all reaches tipping point one day.

Therefore, for the sake of healthy experimentation and change, I have decided to not have even an iota of a plan this weekend. I have no clue when I might put the laundry in or if and when I might prep some meals for the week. Would I study for a bit? Would I actually check my blog or reply to my emails? Will I take Lil Z to the park or the beach? Will there be time to pick up some new toys and books for The Little One? Can I finally get to completing my weekly log?

Who the hell knows! All I know is that it’s almost time for lunch, and the sum total of what I have managed to do this morning is lounge on the couch and flick the laptop open, type random rubbish to you folks as I watch Morgan Freeman give the performance of a lifetime as Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding while Mr H and Lil Z snore the morning away.

Have a good one folks.

Till next time..

Dr J.

P.S. By the time I hit the “publish” key it’s past sunset (1730 hours). I sit at Corniche, sipping some tepid tea, alongside the weekend crowd; with the oddly shaped pyramidal Sheraton on my left, the quiet sea in front of me and the maddening Doha traffic to my right. So if anyone is around here, pop in and say hello. Or marhaba!

An entire generation of confused women.

Each passing day, makes me realize how hard it must have been for my Mum. To be a homemaker. Day in, day out. Every single day. Without a break.

On Sundays, when the kids wanted their favorite fried treats, and Pappaa wanted to lie in and watch cricket and read the news.

On Eid and holidays when we’d entertain guests and she’d cook up elaborate, lavish spreads of authentic albeit incredibly time and energy sapping Malabari delicacies. At the end of it, we’d be almost thankless, and would instead nit- pick over dessert choices or the table-ware.

She’s always up at the crack of dawn. Cleaning, organizing, clearing away our mess, cooking, washing, ironing; she was perennially busy. And I wondered why she was always occupied. How utterly foolish of me, I now realize!

Eating out was an uncommon affair, one reserved for special occasions and for times when out of town relatives were visiting. I never once wondered how incredibly hard it must have been to put together three (or four!) ‘full- on’ meals a day, and have it piping hot for people who strolled into the home at different times of the day. Somebody comes in after hockey practice, someone comes in even later because they had their debate club meet; and another person walks in close to midnight because it’s audit season. All want hot, comforting food, on clean, dry, homey plates. And yes, most Indian dishes involve a lot of soaking, kneading, mixing, blending, grinding, cutting; in short they can be complicated and arduous. And this was a time, when mixes and pre- packed, frozen or “short- cut” (e.g.store- bought batter) foods were just coming into the market and were generally looked- down or frowned upon.

She did it all, with hardly a sour face. With no aspirations of a high- flying career (which she laments about now) or wishes for freedom from the chores and mores of domestic life; she lived out her young adult life dedicated to her family.

And here I am. Every time I do the dishes at night, I’m squeamish to admit, I feel a twinge of resentment. A smidgen of self- importance creeps in, and I feel “above” doing dishes. That I’m too qualified, too refined; that doing measly domestic chores is beneath my high and mighty self!  I quickly clamp the feeling down and seal them shut. After all, I do it out of love, and not force or coercion I tell myself.

Why does an otherwise family- oriented, well- rounded (hopefully!) family girl/ woman have such feelings of resentment toward homely duties and obligations? When did washing one’s own bathroom, or doing the family dishes become lowly. When does one become too lofty to fold their own underwear?

The fault, probably lies in our upbringing. Equal opportunities and equal treatment of male and female children, in a society where gender stereotypes are rife and real creates a whole generation of well- meaning but confused young adults. The woman wonders if it’s demeaning to be so educated and yet lead the the life of a stay-at- home homemaker. The man wonders if he will be judged by his family, relatives and peers if he decides to take a year off and be a hands on daddy at home.

In our current generation, we like to believe that there are no clear- cut gender definitions or gender- determined roles. We’d like to believe that there are perfectly content and happy families out there with stay- at-home dads and mothers who despise the stove. My generation of Indian women, not all, but at least my friends, acquaintances and peers, growing up, hardly ever spent a moment in the kitchen. We were never really taught to cook, sew, or fold laundry. I never washed a single item of clothing until I moved out of the home to pursue my residency in another city. I never cooked a meal, until I married, and moved to another country.

We’d like to believe that we have truly evolved into a gender- neutral family system and have left our “woman equals gatherer/ nurturer and men equals hunter/ provider” days behind.  Yet, ask any man and he will tell you that he feels obliged to bring in the dough every month, to be the primary bread- winner/ provider. And most women I speak to (including myself) admit to feeling the pressure to put some food on the table everyday.

No matter how much I try, every time we eat out or order take away, I feel a sense of failure. Failure to nurture my little family with lovely, home- cooked meals; meals that provide a warmth and homey comfort that no pricey, gourmet meal or cheap, tasty take- away can provide.

And there is this other aspect of gender stereotypes that we cannot seem to be rid off. Even if the woman slogs outside the home and brings in a big, fat paycheck, she is still obligated almost to make sure the home is tidy and organized. That the laundry is sorted, washed, folded and put away. That the sheets are fresh. The surfaces and kitchen counters are clean. That the fridge is stocked. The toys put away. A man doing these chores is a requested exception; most likely a one- off, emergency- dictated occurrence. At best they would make the effort but still leave enough for the woman to re-do or undo and at worst it would lead to a silly tiff!

Maybe the men are not to blame. Mostly likely, they are not inherently programmed to do all of the above. Maybe they do not perceive the mess and chaos as women do. Maybe perceived gender- roles are more ingrained in our psyche than we realize or care to admit.

Even with all the juggling and multi- tasking we do, we are not the superstars. The true superstars are the women before us. Who sacrificed their dreams, aspirations, desires and lives. Who devoted their lives to our upbringing and well being. Who were selfless and giving. Who have worked tirelessly for us to be where we are. We can never be them, sadly, but we can learn great lessons from them. Of patience. Of kindness. Of contentment. Of life.

I have no idea, where we women are heading to. We are not sure what we want from life. We are humans who were no different from our male- peers and competed with them in all aspects, and had similar aspirations; all until the day we got married of course. Thrown blind into the deep end of the new- age family structure, we are unsure of our role and place in this society and its family systems. Our dreams often collide with the future of our families’ and we almost always have to scale back the proportions of the vision our own selfish- future, to accommodate all the new entrants into our life. No matter how differently we think and behave as opposed to the women before us, we still have to do many of the same things they did. Most important of those- bear and nurture progeny. It is a fate we can neither fight nor change, for the continuation of the human race dictates we perform that role. And therefore, we are lost and confused.

Marital roles and motherly feelings are not often conducive to worldly conquests and scientific pursuit. The harsh truth is that, women will always have to work harder, faster, better, smarter; mainly because we just have more to do. And we almost certainly will have to step back a few times, slow down and then rejoin the race and run harder than ever before. We just have to. Or we could opt out and hope to flourish in roles that have been traditionally set out for us. It is a choice, one no more better than the other. Both hard. Both fulfilling.

Amidst all the inner- conflicts, mood- swings, decision swaps and womanly chaos, we must also thank our long- suffering, ever- supportive, eternally understanding partners. After all they are the other wheel of the proverbial bicycle of life, whether we like to admit it or not!

Till next time.

Dr J.

Ideal husbands.

Marriage is incredibly hard. We were told to look for tall, dark, rich, intelligent and handsome. Now fast approaching my thirties, and seven years into marriage, I know for sure that I was told wrong. The media is wrong, the fairy tales are full of bull-crap, the movies are absurd, the perfect man/ husband/wife/ woman is a big old urban myth. So when my 13 year old cousin wishes for a six foot two, clear- faced, Maserati  owning golden boy, I’m torn between letting her be in la la land for a wee bit longer or dragging her back to harsh but essential reality.

I will someday tell her, to not bring down her standards but to modify them. I guess it applies to all the young boys too. Beauty might be the overriding criteria for them now, but a life- partner needs to be so much more.

So, when do you know you have snared a “good one”? What the requisites that make an ideal husband (I might be entering dodgy territory here 🙂 )?

1. He is a good handyman. He can fix a leaky tap, a dysfunctional flush and a clogged sink, no sweat. He can tweak around the circuit box without electrocuting or killing himself. A burnt fuse should not take him more than a couple of minutes to fix, even in the pitch dark. Even a jammed washing motor should not be too intimidating a task. Because good plumbers and electricians are an incredibly rare species. They are also never available when you really need them, it’s best to have one at home.

2. Be tech savvy. I am not a tech- cripple, but I lack the requisite patience and perseverance to solve all the minor techie- hassles that rear their ugly heads everyday. So yeah, find one that is a tech- god. Will save you tons of money, time, energy and retyping and reworking several papers/ presentations/ designs.

3. Should not be queasy around bodily fluids and regurgitations. Or should at least be able to look away and stop breathing but still stay on the scene, hold your hair away and rub your back while you purge into the toilet bowl or bring a human into the world. This trait also is paramount to sharing childcare duties. Poo explosions and curdled spit up is not every man’s cup of tea. Of course, you could always marry a doctor, because they have most likely performed a rectal exam on a stranger or had atleast one OB posting/ rotation, so they can mostly stand anything.

4. Be a good pretend listener when needed and switch to actual listening when required. And most importantly, know when to do what.

5. Should be aware and cool with the fact that women and men have different shopping styles, habits and methods.

6. Naturally have, or learn the art of discerning when advice is “actually” being sought, and when to just look commiserate and nod while mouthing “Honey you are doing the right thing, you are just an incredible, super, fantastic woman”.

7. Be forever willing to drive you anywhere, at any time- day or night. And to never bother you while you park, even if you do when he does.

8. Be willing to learn how to color match and co- ordinate baby clothes. And yes, very important- know how to plait, braid, and know the difference between a pony tail and pig tails (and not associate then with the animals).

9. Be willing to answer all questions pertaining to their bank accounts, knowing fully that they will never be privy to the details of the comings and goings of your bank contents.

10. Be a good bed/ blanket sharer.

11. Use up the least possible space in closets. Duh! We need “some” space in every closet/ cupboard/ drawer/ wardrobe in the house.

12. Make an effort to look dashing, intellectual, James Bond-esquely poised but Brad Pitt-esquely causally- chic at every wedding/ party/ work- do that you drag him to. He is arm candy after all.

13. Give in to the truth that all that is his is yours, even if the vice-versa may not be true always.

14. Never count how many bags, shoes, scarves, watches, lipsticks or coats you own. Ever.

15. Never question or keep track of how many times in the week he put the kids to bed. Chances are, you have done that more times that him every week though.

16. Be forever willing to turn into a swing, rocker, elephant, horse, camel or whatever else your wailing little one wants him to turn into while you type/ cook/ read or do whatever else you have to finish.

17. Should remember to put the toilet seat down (I really thought this was one of those untrue, hyped media- creations) every time, without a post- it note being stuck on the flush.

Aah! I could go on…..and on…. Shall halt for now.

Hopefully will have The Mister present the man’s perspective.

Till next time..

Dr J.

TO read how women and men shop 

Nerdy Sunday! Gone Girl- Gillian Flynn

gone girl

“For several years, I had been bored. Not a whining, restless child’s boredom (although I was not above that) but a dense, blanketing malaise. It seemed to me that there was nothing new to be discovered ever again. Our society was utterly, ruinously derivative (although the word derivative as a criticism is itself derivative). We were the first human beings who would never see anything for the first time. We stare at the wonders of the world, dull-eyed, underwhelmed. Mona Lisa, the Pyramids, the Empire State Building. Jungle animals on attack, ancient icebergs collapsing, volcanoes erupting. I can’t recall a single amazing thing I have seen firsthand that I didn’t immediately reference to a movie or TV show. A fucking commercial. You know the awful singsong of the blasé: Seeeen it. I’ve literally seen it all, and the worst thing, the thing that makes me want to blow my brains out, is: The secondhand experience is always better. The image is crisper, the view is keener, the camera angle and the soundtrack manipulate my emotions in a way reality can’t anymore. I don’t know that we are actually human at this point, those of us who are like most of us, who grew up with TV and movies and now the Internet. If we are betrayed, we know the words to say; when a loved one dies, we know the words to say. If we want to play the stud or the smart-ass or the fool, we know the words to say. We are all working from the same dog-eared script.

It’s a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless Automat of characters.

And if all of us are play-acting, there can be no such thing as a soul mate, because we don’t have genuine souls.

It had gotten to the point where it seemed like nothing matters, because I’m not a real person and neither is anyone else.

I would have done anything to feel real again.”
Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl

I finally get down to reviewing this book. The queen of procrastination I am!

1.How/Why/Where did you buy the book?

The book was published in 2012, but I hadn’t heard of it until the movie came out. Once the movie publicity and PR promos began, the book seemed to be everywhere. I wanted to see the movie, and so it was a given that I had to read the book!

I intended to order it over Amazon (the actual “book”) but the  Flipkart eBook app teased and taunted me with insane discounts. So I ended up buying the digital version at about one-fourth the price of the paper version.

2. What is the book about?

About Nick Dunne and his missing wife Amy Dunne. Both are out of work writers stuck in a floundering marriage. Amy wants to revive old flames, and give their marriage another shot. But on their fifth wedding anniversary, a day when Amy uncharacteristically prepares breakfast for Nick and actually talks to him like the wife she once was; she goes missing.

It looks like there was an intruder. Was she kidnapped? Murdered perhaps?

Nick seemed perturbed and confused initially. But some things don’t add up. And soon, he becomes a prime suspect in the the whole “Amy Dunne Disappearance Drama”.

3. First impressions?

It was number 1 on the New York Times Hardcover Fiction Bestseller list for eight weeks apparently. It was widely praised by the critics and general public alike. And so, I was expecting something extra- ordinary.

I was disappointed though. Especially at the start. I was not sure where the story was heading. But then I hoped the abrupt, random, inconsistent narrative maybe be purposeful. I was hoping it might all coalesce into one fantastic story.

4. Final evaluation?

I wish I hadn’t got into the book with such high expectations. I would have definitely appreciated and enjoyed it more without all the hoopla and PR baggage that it came with.

Notwithstanding the hype, it was still enjoyable. A slightly different take on long- term relationships, marriage and man- woman dynamics. And the “greyness” of all the characters, especially the protagonist is refreshing. Women are usually not portrayed in the manner Flynn has, in this book. And so, if you can get past the inconsistent first- half, it will be a pleasurable read. Not boring. Not jaw- clenching either.

Some of inner- monologues of the two primary characters are interesting and associable.

5. How long did it take to finish?

An over- night train journey and the morning after. (Please do keep in mind, that “reading with baby” times are very different from the usual reading times!)

6. Critique?

The author claims the book is a psychological thriller which also explores the psychology and dynamics of a marriage.

In all honesty though it is not as deep and probing as it is made out to be.

I will not share too much of the story here, as I do not wish to spoil it for those who have not read it yet. But yes, it does belong to the suspense/ thriller genre. Not to the crime- solving/ detective genre mind you.

It has a sort of “he- said, she- said” narration. I enjoyed that, where we get to hear both the man’s and woman’s point of view.

The story begins well. But somewhere in the middle, things get predictable. The ending wasn’t as nail- biting as I wished it were.

The book does have it’s moments thought. There are twists and surprises, yes; but nothing that will make you lay the book down for a second, sit back, sigh and ponder. No. Nothing of that sort.

The language is inconsistent, very contemporary and “new- age-ish” at times and suddenly all deep and recondite. Wish it were more consistent.

As far as the ending goes…. well… read it to find out! I only wish Ms Flynn was more adventurous with it.

7. Who would you recommend the book to?

Everyone actually. Don’t be fooled by all the fancy words and descriptions that the critics use. It’s a relatively easy read. Even those into simple, generic whodunits will enjoy this. And all the married folks will find a line or two that they can relate to, even if they are not morbid and twisted as the characters in the book. (Or maybe we are all secretly morbid and twisted!)

8.  Would you read it again?

I think I may have to. In a while maybe. Just to make sure, I haven’t missed something spectacular. Who knows?

Books always need their own time, place and situations; for optimum enjoyment and comprehension. Some books are not meant to read when you have a million other things running in your head. I might have missed some subtle nuances, or some underlying subtexts/ plots in my exhausted, sleep- ridden state and in that cramped coach seat.

9.  Do you regret purchasing it?

No. Moreover, I bought it for such a paltry sum that Ms Flynn would be aghast if she ever found out!

10. Favourite part/ quote from the book?

“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.

Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men – friends, coworkers, strangers – giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them. I’d want to grab the poor guy by his lapels or messenger bag and say: The bitch doesn’t really love chili dogs that much – no one loves chili dogs that much! And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be. Oh, and if you’re not a Cool Girl, I beg you not to believe that your man doesn’t want the Cool Girl. It may be a slightly different version – maybe he’s a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics. There are variations to the window dressing, but believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain. (How do you know you’re not Cool Girl? Because he says things like: “I like strong women.” If he says that to you, he will at some point fuck someone else. Because “I like strong women” is code for “I hate strong women.”)”
Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl

OOps…I hope there are no kids reading this!

🙂

I told you the married folks would be able to relate!

Gone Girl- New York Times best seller!
Gone Girl- New York Times best seller! Ahem…addictive?

 

Till next time…

Dr J.

 

Friday Flutters! A wise man’s words….

As I sit in nigh darkness, I contemplate the state of my life. And my love.

Of chasing dreams. And of the sacrifices that such pursuits entail.

 

Of passion and perseverance.

Or rather the surplus of passion and equivalent sparseness of the requisite perseverance.

Can passion alone sustain one’s dreams?

Without the luxury of foresight, how does one decide the path to tread on?

 

Is love invincible?

Can it sustain the throes of individual dreams?

Does love need proximity to thrive and flourish?

Or does it wither and die in the miles that separate it?

 

Does society and past stories dictate my life story?

Or do we make our own unique and true happy ending?

Are stereotypes stereotypes for a reason?

Or are we meant to shatter them and make them invalid and baseless?

 

Should I wait for the next big wave, and then get on my surf- board?

Or make do and enjoy the smaller, less- dangerous undulations.

Should I make hay while the sun shines?

Or save for a rainy day?

 

As the thoughts run amok.

And as eerie restiveness settles in, I reach for distractions.

Aah, yes. Like ever. It shall be a another man’s words. Another man’s thoughts.

A book.

 

As the heart’s aflutter and the mind tempestuous, I seek solace in the written word.

If Whuthering Heights is the food for my romantic soul, then The Prophet is grub for my philosophical psyche.

 

I leave you folks with some wise words. The words of Kahlil Gibran.

 

On Reason and Passion.

Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against your passion and your appetite.
Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody.
But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements?

Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul. If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas.
For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.
Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing;
And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.

I would have you consider your judgment and your appetite even as you would two loved guests in your house.
Surely you would not honour one guest above the other; for he who is more mindful of one loses the love and the faith of both.

 

On Marriage.

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

 

 

Aah! So few words. But so much implied.

Inner peace is a far off island at the moment, but at least the sea is calm now!

I hope you folks too derived your own meanings and poignancies from the words above.

 

Till next time..

Dr J.

 

Of unostentatious love and unremembered anniversaries!

Dearest Mr H,

You’ve probably reached office. Or are stuck in traffic.

You are one to keep your word. So you read the blog daily.

These verses are for you to mull over. Let the words linger in your head. As the tiresome workday wears on, let them spread their warmth and comfort.

Let them wane away gently…

Let their sweet perfume gradually fill your soul….

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden. 

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth. 

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast. 

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart. 

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love. 

When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.”
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course. 

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

-Kahlil Gibran

Six years, Love!

And we have not once remembered.

Not once have we wished each other. Or celebrated.

Suffice to say our love is pretty self- reliant!

Self- sufficient.

Stripped of all artificiality, chicanery and pretence.

Devoid of ostentation.

Pure. Simple.

Probably because it is built on a foundation of hardship and struggle rather than celebration and exuberance….

Happy Anniversary (belated like always) Love!

Let’s keep trudging on…

Till the next forgotten anniversary….

Dr J.

A letter to my bride-to-be bestie.

A dear friend of mine is getting married. And as she recounts tales of her last minute wedding shopping woes, I reminisce back to my own  pre- wedding topsy- turvydom.

An Indian wedding is invariably an elaborate, extravagant, rackety, drawn- out affair. It can protract from as little as a week to a month or more. Guests usually number in the thousands. The trousseau needs at least half a dozen people to lug around. The menu may run into a few pages, at the very least. The groom’s party makes a grand entrance, quite often in a cavalcade of luxury cars. Of course, it is all subject to the amount of moolah at your disposal. The more you have, the more you burn.

Nowadays, the brides and grooms have taken it all upon themselves. From what they want to wear on “D” day to whom they want to invite. They want to plan everything to the T. All adding to the anxiety that is already building, thanks to the expectant life changes that are in store.

Not so long ago, weddings were planned and executed by the “elders” of the family. The parents did important things like the in- person invites and “gold- shopping”. The immediate uncles may help in venue bookings, caterer quests and bargains, haggling with the decorator or the “flower- guy”, booking air and train tickets for out-of-town relatives, printing invitation cards…..

The ladies in the family help with the shopping- clothes, jewellery, shoes, make-up, post- wedding wardrobe….the list is virtually endless. Then there are the parlour appointments, the beauty treatments, the henna undertaking…

You as a bride or groom can soon lose sight of the whole point of this exercise. The marriage gets lost in the “wedding”….

So, here I am….writing to my friend, who is due to be “hitched for life”. To the love of her life.

Dearest Ash,

The days leading up to the wedding are like a LSD laden  haze…(not that I would know what LSD feels like!)…..

You seem to be the center of the universe. Everything and everyone seems to revolve around thy holy- self!

Your appearance and well- being is paramount. Nothing else matters. Parents and grandparents get emotional and weepy-eyed at odd moments and embarrass you at jewellery stores and boutiques. You can shop till you drop and yet nobody seems to mind.  Mum packs sandwiches and juice for your shopping trips when previously she constantly nagged you about buying “unnecessary” items.

Girlfriends constantly call you to enjoy all the excitement and attention vicariously. Guy friends tease you constantly, but also suddenly become extra- nice and chivalrous. In short, you are bestowed with so much attention that your ego inflates to gargantuan proportions and you start inhabiting a fanciful world in which you are the queen of all that you behold.

Well, my soon- to- be- bride friend; enjoy the care and tending for as long as it lasts. It will all come to an abrupt reversal as soon as the nikah is done/ thaali is tied/ rings are exchanged- whichever is your drill!

The minute the rituals and ceremonies are complete and the guests vacate ….. you are transported to an alternate universe; WHERE NOTHING IS THE SAME! You are no longer the centre of anything. Far from it. Even the so called “honeymoon” can be a surreal experience that whizzes by in the blink of an eye.

Married life, no matter how you imagined it to be- is nothing like you imagined it to be! It is exactly like every  marriage inspired joke/ pun/  meme that you come across, yet it’s anything but. Confused much?

At this point in my ramble, the unmarried folks will think I’ve gone bananas, but all the married folks will be nodding vigorously and in all earnestness.

It does not matter whether you’ve married the love of your life, a complete stranger or even your worst enemy; some things change and the changes are not always welcome.

Here are some that come to mind immediately (spoken with more than half a decade of experience)…..

With great marriage, comes great responsibility

You are suddenly responsible for another human being. And it’s a binding contract! The man is responsible for the “safety” and well- being of the woman. And the woman is responsible for the man’s laundry, sustenance, health, well- being…..

Well…..She is responsible for everything his Mum was once was 🙂

The coffee/ tea situation- the morning after

The morning coffee can be a first and perennial sore issue….

The woman is used to her Mum serving her. Morning beverage of choice is hot and piping as she saunters into the kitchen all groggy and tussled. She is the undisputed queen of her pre-marital household, with people at her beck and call.

If she lives away, she is used to making only one- that too whenever and however she pleases.

The man also always had his mum make it…

So …Now…who does?

The first conundrum, the morning after…

Family finances and their nuances

My money. Your money. Our money. Whose money?

If both spouses bring in an income… whose money are they going to be spending??

One account? Two accounts?

Who saves?

If the husband complains, the wife goes all feminist on him. If the wife complains the husband calls her a nag….

If the woman, chooses to not work outside the home; then there is only “our money”. That brings a whole new set of problems. A husband can never be as accommodating and lenient as a father. (He shall understand once his daughter arrives…). The wife has never “explained” her shopping jaunts….

Aaah, the poor souls….

“We” time and “me” time..

The newly weds are inseperable. Loving. Conjoined.

But then you miss you solitary jogs.

The lonesome reading time.

The isolated thinking time.

TV time. Internet and facebook and watsapp time…..

Meeting friends for coffee, or heading for a dinner with colleagues…. Maybe…

Late nights with old buddies….. ? Dare you….

Overnight camps and stay-overs………..? But why?

Non- business, pleasure trips abroad…without spouse? Forget it buddy!

You are bound, for life! Just get used it.

Sharing is not necessarily caring!

If you are accustomed to having a room of your own, the marriage situation can raise new challenges. The concept of sharing maybe novel to you, but it is at the very core of a marriage.

Sharing a room, bed, bathroom, dresser, closet space …. Concepts alien to you need to be promptly mastered, in order to achieve a smooth transition from singledom to marriage-hood.

Even if you previously shared a room with a sibling or friend, living with a spouse is an entirely different cup of tea.……

From the dimness/ intensity of the bed-lamp, to the temperature setting of the air- conditioner…..there are compromises to be made and battles to be fought,,,, Every day….

Are you a bed- drifter? A pillow- hoarder? Or maybe a blanket puller…. Lord help your poor spouse at night….And may He save you the morning after!

Going to bed with the enemy…

A tiff with a friend?

An argument with your parents?

Disagreement with a co- worker?

A squabble with your fiancé?

No issues…. Just slam the phone, the door, or just walk away fuming….

Go home, or to your room …. Relax…. Air the fumes out….

Let the steam off….

Meet and greet another day.

A bit of space and time is all you need.

But, what if you have to share a bed with your present “villain/ enemy” …

Aah, an awkward quandary, tis shall be….

You need to learn new sets of skills to tackle this one.

Either learn to resolve things by talking them out. Or learn to spend the night on the sofa…

This list is by no means exhaustive! I’m just too sleepy to go on….

So, my dear bride – to- be. You are in for one hell of a ride. Insanely exciting, excruciatingly frustrating, incredibly fulfilling and unimaginably unlike anything you have experienced before.

All I have to say is, hang on. Hang on to dear life, my dear. I promise you it shall get easier. It will initially be overwhelming. But things will soon settle into their own rhythm. You, as a couple shall find your own method to the madness.

Comprehend and compromise.

Relax and reassess.

Adjust and apologize.

Yell, and be yelled at.

Stay strong, and support when you have to.

Wilt, and be held when you need to.

And please try to NOT go to bed with the enemy!

Communicate and make him your best- friend again before you do!

You shall make a lovely bride my dear. And an even lovelier wife!

Till forever….

Dr J.

Who cooks? The Wife? The Husband?

In the era of ever- blurring gender based marital- role demarcations, it does sometimes get difficult to adjudicate who does the cooking. Who is the master of the kitchen? Who dons the mantle of the chief bread- maker? Who puts grub on the table; day after day after day. And nights too!   

There are three likely scenarios:

1. Stereotypically, irrespective of the woman’s work/ financial/ academic status and achievements, she does the majority of the cooking. This is the mostly likely scenario.

MakingDinner2. The couple decides to get into it together. The scenario can be sub- categorised into two :-

a) SHARING. Where both spouses are in the kitchen at the same time, with their hand’s in the same pie i.e. helping each other in the same task.

b) SPLITTING. Here again there are two further sub- classes. One where, both are in the kitchen at the same time but do clearly demarcated tasks, with no interference/ suggestions/ input/ help/ opinion from the other. The other is when only one spouse is in the kitchen at any particular time.

19377056-young-couple-cooking-spaghetti-together-in-kitchen-smiling3. The man bucks all traditional mores and decides to take over the mantle. Happens rarely but increasingly so these days.

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Now, most would say that Scenario no. 2 is the best in terms of equality and team work. Especially if both partners work outside the home. True. But, there are inherent problems to this assumption.

The basic premise that man and woman can EVER be equal itself is wrong. The statement is akin to claiming that potatoes and tomatoes are equal. Man and woman are fundamentally, physically, physiologically, mentally, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually different. Branding them equal therefore leads to several problems.

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Though the woman tries to vehemently convey to the man/ husband that cooking should not be considered a cardinal marital obligation just because she is of the female gender; deep down, primal rooted instincts draws her to defend and secretly claim her turf- THE KITCHEN. She might want things to be her way- spice- jars arranged in a certain manner, dishes and pans of a certain color, décor of a particular type. It is very hard for her to supress the urge to take over and make the space hers. Once she claims the space, the husband can conveniently use it as an excuse and back off. Or, even if he is well- meaning, he is intimidated by the crazy, territorial woman.

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Then there is the man, who publicly preaches equality and fairness in a marriage. Who voices the desire to help out in the kitchen or even take over the entire responsibility. But a secret part of him is deeply disturbed by the situation. That secret part still believes the kitchen is a woman’s business. This man growing up, most probably had a lovely stay-at- home Mum who served him super-tasty, hot, fresh from the oven,  straight from the stove delicacies three times a day. Poor wife. She stands no chance. Cooking is her singular fate!

'How hard would it be to put your dirty glass in the dishwasher, instead of leaving it on the counter?'

Another problem with both the husband and wife being in the kitchen together is the “Honey! I know best” syndrome. Usually occurs when both spouses are equally competent (or incompetent!) cooks or have similarly matched egos.  Each spouse believes they are right, or that they know better- and the constant meddling in the other’s business lead to arguments and rifts. For e.g. a man may measure ingredients to the nano- litres while the woman may do things by the eye…. See how problems can arise?

Will the problem not be solved if they do different tasks with no inter-personal involvement? For e.g., what if the wife cooks and the man does the dishes? Or vice- versa…. This may work for a short period of time. But ultimately one or both may start to wonder if they are getting the short end of the stick. Why do I have to do the dishes everyday while she just fiddles over the stove for ten minutes and then walks away? Or, why should I labour over the hot stove while he washes a couple of pans and plates and leaves to lounge on the couch?

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So, what is the solution to this conundrum?

I honestly do not know!

As a couple battling scenario no. 2, we still are in the process of figuring out a way to make things work in a manner that befits everyone’s agenda. Will we find a solution soon? Maybe….

Or, maybe the problem is too new. Maybe our generation will battle it our entire lives. And maybe the next generation will resolve the issue and be happier for it….

And hope, they go from this….

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To this….

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Who knows!

Do share your thoughts.

Till next time…

Dr J.

9 reasons why women and men shouldn’t shop together….

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Reason no.1-Its’ bad for the economy

No impressive statistics to quote here, but every woman reading this knows that she spends less when she is out with her man (the men may think otherwise….).

A shopping trip with the man is just a scouting mission. They look. They like. They probably try as well. But they don’t buy. Okay , they do buy- but not all that they want to buy. Some they come back for, later.

The next day, the next week…. They tell their man something vague like “meeting up with the girls” or “girls’ day out” ….head to the store…buy the stuff they mentally marked on the other day, and some new ones as well.

Imagine they went out shopping with “the guy” every time…. Good heavens! Women would hardly buy anything…. The poor retailer suffers, the corporation suffers, the profit margins go down, the share- holders are disheartened, the economy suffers….

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Reason no.2 -Relationships go sour, marriages frost

Ever noticed how most couples argue about money, spending, incomes, your money….my money….

Do you really need another black shirt?

You don’t love me like before, you hardly get me gifts anymore……

Hmmmm…. Women can’t stop buying ….. men can’t stop complaining….

Resolution – Don’t shop together. Ladies- what he doesn’t know can’t really hurt him (or piss him off!)

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Reason no.3- Women end up with stuff they don’t like- Wastage!

Scenario:- Woman wanders around looking for a particular, very specific garment. Picks up 10 random ones to try. Meanders to the trial room at a snail’s pace.

Man- I thought you wanted a grey, crew neck, three-fourth sleeved, long, tight- weave light knit top…..?

Woman- Yeah! But remember last month I was looking for a short, cotton, v-neck, short sleeved kurta…see…this is what I was talking about…and these straight cut jeans are soooo difficult to find…and that too in this shade of teal- purplish dark blue…and this skirt……..

Man- Okay, go on….please make it fast. I look like a doofus standing outside the dressing room with your humongous bag in hand…..What do you put in this bag of your’s anyway?

Woman tries each garment, asks man for opinion. Man hops from one foot to another, hastily and with not an iota of interest says “Ok good” to every single of item.

Woman buys stuff even if she is not sure of them thanks to man who is in a hurry and says everything looks good on her.

Woman goes home…never wears the stuff again!

Man holding clothes by a changing room

Reason no.4- Men also end up with stuff they don’t like- More Wastage!!

Woman and man shopping together leads to woman choosing items for the man.

Scenario:– Woman- Honey this lemon yellow will look fabulous on you, try it please!

Man- Umm, yeah…okay

Woman- Wow! It looks better than I thought it would, you really must buy it…and the fabric is so soft, pricey looking…. You know what ….why don’t you buy the white one as well…white is soo chic, sooo classic…never goes out of style….

Man- Umm, yeah….okay

Man buys both, wears neither….

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Reason no.5- Men get to check out other women twirling in their dresses, for free!

Ladies- ever wondered how your man spends his time while waiting for you to step out the trial room….?

Every lady who enters the trial rooms comes out to model the clothes for their man……and to the half a dozen other waiting boyfriends/fiances/husbands…..

And dear men, do unto others as you would have them do unto you… all the men check out your woman as well!

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Reason no. 6- Leads to road accidents and rash driving

Shopping trips can inevitably lead to arguments among couples. Leads to fighting in the car while driving home, hence the accidents.

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Reason no. 7- Children get lost, hurt….

Man and woman shopping together means the children have to tag along. Woman is zoned out as soon as she enters the mall, hence the man is left to fend for the children. Poor man tries hard for a while. Ultimately get mind- numbingly bored and incessantly harassed- gives up.

And unattended children are impending disasters…..

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Reason no. 8- Hefty mobile bills…

Shopping with their woman is the best time for the man to chat with old buddies, catch up on the office gossip, check out Kim K’s latest pictures online…. All adding to the mobile company’s coffers.

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Reason no. 9- Kills the romance.

All the walking, spending, arguing- the woman is tired, the man is pissed. Poor guy Romance just dies!

no romance

 

So ladies, leave your men at home and shop in peace. To your heart’s delight.

And men; stay home, chill, watch the game and let your woman run amok at the mall- it’s better for your peace of mind, sanity, marriage and love life!

Happy Shopping!

Till next time…

J.