I belong!

It had been a while, so I asked to go to the temple. It is very uncharacteristically characteristic of me. My husband thinks my motivation continues to be the wonderful South Indian food of the temple canteen. Ever so often it is good to be in the company of the almighty. For me it is a place of quiet conversation.

I haven’t always felt at ease in this setting. Today, I move about freely. I know the spot I stop to bow my head, I circle about the Shiva lingum, not once but 7 times. I try to verbalize my list of wants; not exactly what comes to me naturally. I always pray for wisdom to know and do the right thing.

We walk towards the room of Raashis. I have never understood the point of this room. I follow my husband without any reservation. As we await our turn to enter, I hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet. I see a little girl dressed to the nines in traditional Indian attire. She is absolutely adorable. She catches me looking at her with a huge smile. She smiles back. I look up to see her father holding her tiny hand. I think, they are raising her kindly.  She knows to smile at strangers that are smiling at her. It is something I don’t see that often in this part of the world.

We go round this room and leave when the husband is done. My husband makes a few more stops as I wait to end this temple tour on my favorite spot. I don’t feel so out of place anymore. I have my own rituals that feel right to me. I have found my path to communicate with god. Sometimes I just communicate with myself and that suffices.

I am amused to see two very young women amongst the devotees today. They could be Indian, but then maybe not. I cannot tell. I am amused and happy and puzzled. I take myself to my favorite spot. I sit down slowly, painfully aware of my weak knees. I am sitting on the floor in front of the large, center stage Ganesh. I cannot recall the number of times I have sat here in quiet conversation, praying, fighting with god, crying. I have come here at every joyous occasion and wept in full submission to god at my lowest. I have questioned my faith and what I have got for that faith on more than one occasion.

Today I am just happy to be here. I notice the two girls again. I wonder if they are lovers. Are they here for blessings? One of them comes and sits close to me. The other one approaches the priest. I can hear a conversation in English. The priest has asked her to wait as he takes the flowers from her offering. I can tell she is very unsure of the next steps. The girl next to me emanates some tension. I am intrigued. I look back at the girl with the priest. I catch her wiping a tear and my heart feels suddenly broken. I find my own tears well up to the brim.

I wonder what sorrow brings the two girls here. I know I have sat at that very spot vulnerable and miserable wishing no one the pain I have endured. I wonder what is making this girl cry. I wish I can tell her, the pain will become manageable. The girl sitting next to me is now deep in thought, perhaps prayer. I decide I will respect the privacy of these girls and continue my own conversations with god.

Not even a moment later, I see the girl next to me has joined the weeping girl. They are deep in conversation. I wonder if they are just friends, and not lovers after all. I could be that friend  to my own childhood friend. My mind wanders to her. I just spoke to her the previous night. I think of all the times I had wished I was with my  best friend. I sense my bile rising when I think of all the wrongs she has faced and I wasn’t there to give her a hug, say a prayer with her, let her know that things will be okay over a cup of tea.

I am now crying with audible sniffles. I miss my friend. Perhaps I miss knowing someone has got my own back like the two I see here. I miss close proximity. Whoever said technology has brought us closer is wrong.  I would have liked some hugs or a hand on my back as I curled away from the world in my own misery. I would have liked to make endless teas for my friend when she had to do it all alone.

I know my sobbing is pure catharsis. If I can only get another moment of this outburst, I will be much better the rest of the day.  I can feel the husband has finally caught the wind. He is worried, but lets me be.

I have finally made that connection with god. I have had my quiet conversation even though it is through tears. I also know that I finally belong.

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I have a problem..

Social Media addiction.

Washington Post published an article on Social Media Addiction . I don’t necessarily answer yes to all the 6 questions, but I know that social media is one of the reasons I am behind on a lot of projects. It is affecting my productivity.

This needs to stop and hence I decided to do some research on the condition and share what I find. This isn’t a Meta-analysis for all you nerd/geek friends of mine. It is my first google search and see what I came across.

Oh man, so International Journal of Environmental Research And Public Health has written a comprehensive review of Online Social Networking and Addiction.

Great my work is done here!

Ha, who am I kidding.

So how do I stop with reaching to my cell phone? I have written three posts in one week. Something I haven’t done in over a year. Am I trying to find something else to do in lieu of the phone? I don’t know. All I do know is that I don’t need to be on social media. I don’t need the social validation. I don’t need to follow the lives of absolute strangers. I don’t need to make new friends.

I need to find time for myself, for my work, for the actual living people around me. I need to reign in on the virtual and celebrate the real.

If you have any tips on how to do that, please leave me a comment below.

 

 

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Should I tell them?

More than a decade ago my cousin sister introduced me to her boyfriend. A few months later she told me she was planning to marry the guy. I didn’t like him the first time I met him. I continued to dislike him as I got to know him better. I was in medical school very young myself and never been in love. I felt unqualified to let her know that something wasn’t quite right and that she may want to wait a little.

I am not surprised she had an unhappy marriage and is now divorced. My cousin, once confided in me that I was the only one who couldn’t hide my dislike for the guy all those years ago. Like I said, I was young and inexperienced.

I don’t believe that people are necessarily bad. But put them together, things can be quite out of sync. Many times it is very easy to tell. After having rebelled the Indian-arranged-marriage system, I now see some merit in it. I don’t condone, being forced into alliances, but the Indian system has a very strong matching system. Families, backgrounds, education, economic status, location, and so many more variables are fit into the model of an arranged marriage.

If only we continued that tradition of matching variables, we may continue to have harmonious marriages. Let me explain:

Case 1: White suburban male from middle America. Lets’ call him Comic Boy.  Modest upbringing with strong family ties, military service- more than 2 deployments, Harvard Business school, big city banking, entrepreneur.

He them meets a much younger girl. Let’s call her Latina queen. She comes from a broken family from Peurto Rico, settled in a big city. College degree with job changes every two years. Being from Peurto Rico she has never cast a vote, but has a lot of political opinions.

We (the husband and I) have known them for over 3 years now and we don’t see why they are together. They don’t agree on anything. They have very different values, come from different backgrounds, hold different understanding of what family means to them and identify with struggles differently. While no one has publicly discussed politics, it isn’t hard to see that they probably affiliate with different political parties as well.

We have been witness to fights, showdowns, walkouts, instagram denunciations – you name any Woody Allen movie drama- we have been party to it.

I would like to tell them to reconsider this alliance. Should I tell them?

Case 2:  Young immigrant girl who comes from a large city of her home country. Let’s call her Ms Vanity. She comes from a upper middle class, well to do family, strong family ties, very prominent maternal influence in her life. She has two graduate degrees to her credit. Her ambition comes from her mother. She has been treated like a flower. In my own very biased opinion she is worthy of all the love and affection.

She met a young man, from the suburbs of the same city. Let’s call him Mr. Wannabe. I don’t really know much about him. From everything I have heard, I don’t think he has the same upbringing, family values, ambitions, class as Ms. Vanity. The one time I did meet him, he did very little to excite me about this new alliance. In stead, I was sad and very disappointed. My biggest fear is that Ms. Vanity will be bullied into being plain, her ambitions will be squashed and she won’t get to live the life she has been nurtured in. I already see a change in her attitude, language, and thinking.

At some point this is going to catch up to her true being and she will struggle with what she actually wanted with what she now has. I know it is a bit too late, but I wish she had waited a bit. I want to tell her to stay true to herself and never lose sight of who she is meant to be.

I don’t like the man she wants to marry. Should I tell her?

My cousin went on to tell me, that she had hoped more people would have said something. She felt that she wasn’t receptive to critique but worse she didn’t think she would find better. Weddings are for a day, but marriages should have better life expectancy. Then why settle? Why not work hard to find the truly compatible?

What do you think?

 

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Who wears the pants in your relationship?

I first came across this phrase in the context of talking about my brother’s rather unusual relationship with his wife. The idea that my sister-in-law could be the decision maker in her family seemed unpalatable to the audience. It didn’t take me very long to realize that wearing the pants as a woman is still frowned upon.

What does this mean to you? I don’t consider it a power shift, instead I consider it power shared.  For any alliance to work be it personal or professional, the responsibilities tend to shift. One needs to bring the A game to the table ever so often. That shared sense of responsibility in my opinion is healthy.

So yes, my sister-in-law wears the pants in her family. What you don’t see is that the belt holding it around that damn waste is my brother’s love and respect he has for his partner.

 

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Crossroads

What is it that we chose to align our identities with? Just ourselves- is that ever enough? Our marital status- Is that right? Our work- Does that define us? What do you think of yourself when you shut your eyes at night and who do you want to be when you open your eyes in the morning.

When did you start thinking about the path your life? Was it is just one thing after the other, things fell in place, when the time was right? Did you have a plan at 10, before or after? And then things worked? Right?

Most likely wrong. I don’t know one person whose life has gone exactly how they had planned it. I have met a few who planned their lives and knew what they wanted at the end of the day. But for most part, aren’t people just winging it?

What do you do when you find yourself at the crossroads? How do you re-invent yourselves? Can we ever be on auto-pilot? Would that life be worth living? What do you think?

Sometimes all one has questions, and no answers. 🙂

 

 

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What Valentines’ day?

Most of my school life I grew up in the era where Hallmark hadn’t taken over our lives. I grew up in a family where spending money on a card was a waste of money. There was no dearth of love and affection, hugs or cheers. As children we were celebrated, as parents my folks were the perfect people and as a couple they left much to be learned from.

Then the teens hit and no one was in love with me. Not enough to buy me cards or flowers anyway. At least that is what I went through my teens believing. Years later I was told by a few brave men that I was very intimidating and boisterous as a young woman, which kept them at my arms length. Well intimidating– not really focused on men.. Ah one can decipher for themselves. When the heart should have fluttered and hormones  raged, I was busy trying to get into medical school.

Medical school was a hot mess in so many ways. Love blurred into lust and back. Men who were spoken for somehow felt more desirable which left me loveless. My every move was justified by the physiological pathways that were “normal”. At least that is how I intellectualized my poor life choices.

I didn’t want flowers, cards or mushy feelings while I was working so hard to make it in the real world. I adopted a country I knew no one in. I worked in a system that was designed for me to fail in and I had a point to prove to everyone. This was my decision and I have yet to peel the layers of what went into making that decision, but I had no time for love! So no love was found in the third country I lived in.

If you are at all curious, yes I was closer to my 30’s when I finally made the move to the United States. I had already been on a long arduous journey in life and I had so many places more to go to. I was hot headed, determined, definitely boisterous and very mission driven. I was also very content living by myself, never having experienced love. Never mind the Valentine’s kind.

Then there he was, willing to love me just as I was. No flowers and cakes and mush this one. He was my straight up rock. He brought out the best, kindest and goofiest side of me. He indulged me in every way possible. He has put up with my big and rather demanding family. He has stood tall when I fell my hardest. He held himself back when I need to march forward. He has held my hand through pain and let me go when I needed to fly.

After more than a decade of being together, through our own ups and downs, I am making up for lost time. I often wish I had met him sooner. But then I know things happen how and when they are meant to happen. Perhaps I was never meant for flowers, cake and mush. So tell me again what is all this fuss about Valentines’ day?

 

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Happy New Year!

Humor me! I wished someone last night and he said the year is already old, so no place for good wishes. Really are we already that jaded already that in the month of January, I cannot wish you a Happy New Year? I don’t think so.. So here is my wish to the universe I hope you have a fantastic 2019.

Raise your hands if you agree with me, 2018 flew by. I hear myself echoing this sentiment every year, but truly 2018 just flew by. The professional and personal turmoils helped start off the year with mayhem, failed fertility attempts added some anxiety to the mix which was all forgotten by the many people who visited us bringing love, shared meals and creating memories. Then work picked up, birthdays and anniversaries cropped up leaving me 10 days to make a quick trip to my motherland.

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Somewhere between the United States and India

That had to be the cherry on the cake of 2018. It had been three years since I had gone back home. My relationship with the city I grew up in and the people that I have left behind has been pretty strained to put it mildly. Not because something happened, but because nothing had. If you leave anything alone and not engage or put in the effort, things will go bad. My hope for the trip was to meet people, give lots of hugs, make amends, grieve for the departed, celebrate the joys I have missed out on and of course spend time talking to my mother to my heart’s content.

Those ten days were quite the refresher I needed. I didn’t get to meet everyone I would have liked to, do everything that was on my list, eat everything this girl’s heart desired but I got to get lots of hugs and love. My trip was a wonderful reminder of my roots, of the people that have held my foundations strong so I could fly high, and the wrinkles of life that are slowly spreading over everything and everyone I have left behind. I got to remind myself of the good and acquaint myself of the bad.

I have come back wiser and stronger with the energy and will to take on 2019. How are you doing so far? What is your plan for the new year? It is still new isn’t it?

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