Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Marry a guy who loves his mother

I am at an age when most of my friends are getting married. Since everyone has their own parameters for choosing the 'right' partner, and most are extremely secretive about their alliances, I have never really tried to intervene or advise anyone. After all, it is the single most important decision that one makes, even more important than deciding a career I believe. To us Indians, this decision acquires utmost importance because we generally think that once married, there is no way out of that alliance, unless extreme circumstances force us to. And no matter what kind of marriage you have, love or arranged, it remains the biggest gamble of your life. No matter how carefully you choose a partner, you can never predict whether your marriage will be a happy one or not.

In all this, if someone were to ask me the one advice that I have to give, it will be this -

Marry a guy who loves his mother.

Controversial? Why would any independent, strong headed woman want to listen to advice like this? But trust me, I have good reason to say this. There is a cliched hindi saying 'Sab kuchh badal jaata hai, par insaan ki fitrat nahi badalti' (Everything can change, except human nature). And this is exactly why I give this advice.

A mother is a man's first exposure to womanhood and unconditional love. It is the purest form of love that exists. In time, most men will grow up with whatever life has to offer and develop complex personalities, which evolves as life changes. But, what doesn't change is his perception of motherly love and his response to it.

So, when you are courting or in a serious relationship, be aware of how he treats his mother, how he talks about her, and his own feelings towards her. Does he stand up for her when he feels she's being mistreated? Does it bother him when she is sick? Does he carry her bag if he feels it's too heavy? Does he talk to her with respect and love and expect you to do the same? Or is he full of complaints? Indifferent to her needs? Does he take her for granted and thinks it's his right to be loved and not love back in return?

For every man, his mother is his first love. He's the one woman he can go to the end of earth for if needed.  If he loves and cares for his mom, there's a great chance he has grown up respecting women and appreciating what they do for the family. Which in turn means, that there's a great chance that he will respect and appreciate you too. Care for you when you are sick, hold your bag when it's heavy. But, if he doesn't love his mom enough, there is no way any other woman is getting treated any better. You could come covered in diamonds, be the perfect woman God could create, but still will never get the affection, care or respect you wanted from him. You know why, because everything can change, except human nature. 

This same principle applies to various other aspects of our personalities. If you get married to someone expecting that 'you' can change that person, forget it. True, both the partners will have to make adjustments and compromises, they will mature with age, and make changes to their lifestyle, but nothing - not even true love - can change the fundamental personality of anyone. So, if there is something that bothers you grossly, or is in conflict with your principles and character, walk out while you have the chance. For example, if you get to know that your blue eyed boyfriend has been cheating on you, dump him. Right then. Unless you're OK with a philandering spouse (I'm made to believe there is a class of women who is OK with it. I obviously, don't belong to that category). You have absolutely no reason to believe that a person who has strayed once will not do it again. It's in his nature. And if you think getting married is a passport to faithfulness, you couldn't be more wrong. Marriage only makes men more complacent. If he couldn't keep your trust before, it will only get worse after marriage.

Of course, if you are blindly in love, or have already decided your partner, none of this matters to you. No matter how well intentioned advice you may get, you will ultimately do what you feel is right at that point of time.

Each one of us is destined to face our share of ups and downs. If something has to go wrong, it will. But it doesn't hurt to be aware. So, if you are looking for a partner, keep your eyes, ears and heart open. Not just to how you are being treated and made to feel, but also how those around your prospective partner are. If you are still in doubt, make sure you meet his friends. They will give you a fair idea of the kind of people he likes to be around. They are a window to his own personality, aspirations and expectations in life. They will give you an idea of what lies in store for you.

Because, like I said before, 'Sab kuchh badal jaata hai, par insaan ki fitrat nahi badalti' ...

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Life, God and Karma

Since the time a child is born, it is told that it must do good, and good will come back. Honesty is the best policy. Love all, never harm anyone, treat everyone equally, do some charity, live selflessly. All this and more of the benefits of ‘good karma’ are wired into our system by our parents, teachers and religious/spiritual leaders. God too is brought into the picture. The ever-forgiving, all-loving, omniscient and omnipresent God suddenly becomes angry and wrathful if we do something that our religion or elders don’t endorse. Whatever it is that our elders wish us to learn and do, they teach us by instilling in us the fear of God(s), the policeman and destiny. I’m sure that’s how superstition was born. Some parent told his gullible kid that it was inauspicious to walk under a ladder (lest the child get hurt), and the ladder has been bringing us bad luck ever since.

As children, we tend to live in a world of idealism. We look at ourselves and everyone around us through these glasses of ‘goodness’ that we have been made to wear. We are quick to classify something or someone as good or bad based on how we have been brought up. What counts as being desirable and undesirable in our family, our culture and religion. We question the corrupt politician, the philandering neighbour, the cheating classmate, the uncle who paid a bribe, the cousin who likes to drink, the aunty who lies through her teeth – they are all bad people. We want to change the world and how it functions.

But then, we grow up and face the world ourselves. Away from the protection of our family and the matronly teachers at school. Life happens. We get hit by the reality. Idealism takes a beating. Confusion, denial, pain ensues. All those good things we were taught seem to fail. We get hurt and bitten. We face adversity. There is anger and cynicism. Some of us learn the conniving ways of the world and move on to the bad side. It is what we see as necessary to survive and win. Most of us though, still retain the goodness in us, but learn some skills to survive. We have moved from absolute idealism to relative idealism, and just enough meanness to survive the harsh reality. A very few of us remain untouched and carry our innocence wherever we go. Whatever we may become, eventually, the anger moves over to acceptance and we make peace with how the world functions. Some cynicism yeah, but it’s OK. That’s how it is. Whatever.

I have myself reached a stage when very few things surprise me. I still get awed or angry, but I hardly get surprised. Life is more of a grey area than black or white. We live on a spectrum. All of us have shades. This acceptance has led me to forgive, love, tolerate and accept most people the way they are. People once hated don’t seem that bad anymore, and those on a pedestal may have come down a notch. It is human to be imperfect. So why not rejoice in the imperfection than to be miserable looking for perfection?

When you reach this stage of acceptance, you also begin to have deeper revelations.  You understand that you are exactly where you need to be right now. You might be going through trials and tribulations, or you might be on top of the world, whatever stage you are at, it is exactly where you should be.

When we are suffering and in pain, we tend to ask God, ‘why me?’, but trust me, God knows what he is doing. He knows what is good for us. And it all fits with his great plan.

Whenever we are faced with adversity and survive it, we emerge stronger and wiser. We have learnt valuable life lessons that will help us succeed when faced with similar or more challenging situations. Some adversity will also instill in us humility, which will make us agreeable to those around us. The trick is to hold on and not break. Have faith. That God has it planned. That this too shall pass, and something better will emerge. When we embrace adversity with such attitude, we will be able to see opportunity where others see hopelessness, and use it to our advantage. We will emerge winners. Forge meaning and build identity.

Just. Have. Faith.

And, this is an atheist talking to you. Throughout my formative years, and adolescence, I had questioned the existence of God. I was loath to pray, or agree that there was someone else who controlled our destiny. (I still don’t endorse the concept of religion. More wars have been fought over religion than anything else. The only good thing it does is teach people to pray, and have an anchor in the tough times). But life does strange things. If it could make me a staunch believer, I’m sure that miracles too happen.

But then, if God has it planned, what does Karma do for us? That is a question I’m still trying to answer. Whatever you do comes back to you, life comes back full circle – or does it?

I have seen that the good, noble, kind-hearted souls feel every pain that the world inflicts on them. They may know that something is bad for them, but they will still do it if it helps someone else. Even the most intelligent of their lot gets taken for a ride because their goodness forces them to be nice. Their conscience stops them from letting their guard down and living it up. It is as if they were born to suffer.

The bad people on the other hand - those who deceive, plot and plan, exploit others, hurt them – they are so thick skinned that nothing affects them. They make money using unscrupulous means, flout all norms of society, womanize, drink it up and live it up. Even ill health seems to be scared of them. They don’t seem to have a conscience that would prick them. It is as if they were born to enjoy.

So, isn't it counter-intuitive - If you are good, you suffer, and if you are bad, you enjoy life??

Or is it that the bad people did something in their previous birth to be enjoying now (another debatable topic – rebirth)? If that is so, aren't they ruining it in this one? So the cycle of life continues – you do good and suffer – then you do bad and enjoy – then repeat – born, die, born, die…

And if it is the God’s will that one must do bad things, maybe that is the right thing for that person. He/she is maintaining the balance of good and evil on Earth. So, then, why would God punish anyone if everyone is doing everything as per God’s will? Whether good or bad. Why bother trying to be good if you were meant to be bad? Why all the schooling, teaching and preaching that exalts virtue?

I guess I have you as confused as I am about this issue. So let’s leave it at that. I would really appreciate your views on this though.

As my quest for the answers of life continues, you can expect me to write more about my confusions and insights. Someday, I hope to have found my answers, and evolved into a being of higher consciousness.

Until then, I hope I have managed to bore you thoroughly with my lecture, and confused you enough to spoil your midweek. If I have - well then – mischief managed :)

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