Posted in Gelf News

I am not an NRI!

I am an Indian. By birth and spirit. For 26 years I’ve been  in India. So when I moved to Dubai, I hated it. I still do. But this post isnt about my tryst with DXB.  Being an NRI for a considerable amount of time, I have been paying attention to the kind of lifestyle’s that most of them lead. I have even been having forced conversations with a few of them just to gather some facts before I roll the dice on this one. So this is not to offend any NRI but I just had to pen this down. ALso, my readers shouldnt think that all my posts from now on would be about m0mmyhood n diaper changing.

To start with, the NRI’s are just a bunch of normal people who live abroad . If you ask me, they can be split broadly into two distinct categories: The No Return to India and The Now Return to India.

The No Return is a unique breed of people. A species! Their uniqueness lies in the fact that they think they are the most fortunate people in this world. For them India is a third world country which is confined to those once-in-a-few-years visits for the sake of completing the formality of seeing their loved ones. Actually they’d rather bring their loved ones over to where they live. For them India is  and will always be a chaotic, unhygienic and polluted place where they can’t live for a second without “Bisleri” and hand sanitizers. These are the same people who help to spread the word that India is still the land of urchins and snake charmers n an unhygenic place to survive. Having said this, they will never take the Indianness out of them because it will make them look out of sync with their identity.Anything to do with Indian “culture” needs to be imbibed. These people will encourage themselves and their offsprings to be more in sync with the country in which they RESIDE. More local friends than Indian friends, speak the local language with the “accent” etc.

The Now Return category constitutes a considerable proportion of people. They are actually in love with their homeland so much that they want to come back as soon as possible (or so they say!!) They enrol their kids in Indian international schools so that they are in line with the Indian schooling system. They make sure that the kids learn Carnatic music, dance, cricket, etc. For this bunch of guys, the Indianness factor imbibed within their families is not a formality but something that they yearn for immensely. They make sure that the children speak more in the native language and have more Indian friends. Stuck in the vicious cycle of money and social pressures, they are not able to break away from the social barriers to return back home. They go home at every bout of nostalgia and make sure to attend all social functions if possible!

So what is the big deal? The big deal is that despite their vast difference in approach to living.

The default thinking in most of the parents’ mindset is that since they have invested immensely in inculcating the “Indianness” in them, the children would in turn be the “goody goody” souls in the decisions they make in their adult life. While it is fair enough to argue that the Indianness inculcated would make the children more in sync with the Indian lifestyle, the fact of the matter is they are growing up in a completely different country. In today’s world, the social thinking of the younger generation is made up by the attitudes of their friends around them and not by the “default” tutorial classes of Indian culture. There is no point in the NRI parent living in a country for 20 years and then expecting the children to grow up the way “they want” and marry the person whom they think is good enough. Expectations such as marital affairs are a crucial part of the illusion that is confronting the NRIs. It is very crucial that they come to terms with the reality and set their priorities straight in life. If they feel their culture and their way of thinking needs to be followed, then they should pack off and head back home. In an era of blossoming growth back home in India, heading back home is an economically practical solution and if one throws away the obsession with the foreign social “status”, I do not see any hindrance in coming back. You cannot expect to have the cake and the cherry, can you? If one is interested in staying abroad, then one should be prepared and be ready for the consequences (irrespective of its merit) with regards to the choice made by their children. While it is a duty for the children to keep the family in confidence on such issues, the reality of life is that a majority of the younger generation rarely looks beyond the self while taking such decisions.

Essentially, the crux of the issue confronting all NRIs is the weight of expectation one thrusts on the younger generation and the illusion with which they subject themselves oblivious of the practical consequences of the choices that they have made in their lives.

Whether one is in the No Return or Now Return category, the NRIs need to confront issues head on rather than live in a illusion of their own!

Like I mentioned at the start, this is merely my view. I dont intend to hurt anybody nor their indianess. This post is an afterward of a conversation I struck with a family member here. So no hard feelings. And no matter how many eons I live abroad, my heart will always be Indian! They day I find out that the nation I live in is sucking out the  INDianness in my child, I will go back to where I belong. My home, My India.

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Posted in Interesting Reads

If men could menstruate-Gloria Steinem

Living in India made me understand that a white minority of the world has spent centuries conning us into thinking a white skin makes people superior, even though the only thing it really does is make them more subject to ultraviolet rays and wrinkles.

Reading Freud made me just as skeptical about penis envy. The power of giving birth makes “womb envy” more logical, and an organ as external and unprotected as the penis makes men very vulnerable indeed.

But listening recently to a woman describe the unexpected arrival of her menstrual period (a red stain had spread on her dress as she argued heatedly on the public stage) still made me cringe with embarrassment. That is, until she explained that, when finally informed in whispers of the obvious event, she said to the all-male audience, “and you should be proud to have a menstruating woman on your stage. It’s probably the first real thing that’s happened to this group in years.”

Laughter. Relief. She had turned a negative into a positive. Somehow her story merged with India and Freud to make me finally understand the power of positive thinking. Whatever a “superior” group has will be used to justify its superiority, and whatever and “inferior” group has will be used to justify its plight. Black me were given poorly paid jobs because they were said to be “stronger” than white men, while all women were relegated to poorly paid jobs because they were said to be “weaker.” As the little boy said when asked if he wanted to be a lawyer like his mother, “Oh no, that’s women’s work.” Logic has nothing to do with oppression.

So what would happen if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not?

Clearly, menstruation would become an enviable, worthy, masculine event:

Men would brag about how long and how much.

Young boys would talk about it as the envied beginning of manhood. Gifts, religious ceremonies, family dinners, and stag parties would mark the day.

To prevent monthly work loss among the powerful, Congress would fund a National Institute of Dysmenorrhea. Doctors would research little about heart attacks, from which men would be hormonally protected, but everything about cramps.

Sanitary supplies would be federally funded and free. Of course, some men would still pay for the prestige of such commercial brands as Paul Newman Tampons, Muhammad Ali’s Rope-a-Dope Pads, John Wayne Maxi Pads, and Joe Namath Jock Shields- “For Those Light Bachelor Days.”

Statistical surveys would show that men did better in sports and won more Olympic medals during their periods.

Generals, right-wing politicians, and religious fundamentalists would cite menstruation (“men-struation”) as proof that only men could serve God and country in combat (“You have to give blood to take blood”), occupy high political office (“Can women be properly fierce without a monthly cycle governed by the planet Mars?”), be priests, ministers, God Himself (“He gave this blood for our sins”), or rabbis (“Without a monthly purge of impurities, women are unclean”).

Male liberals and radicals, however, would insist that women are equal, just different; and that any woman could join their ranks if only she were willing to recognize the primacy of menstrual rights (“Everything else is a single issue”) or self-inflict a major wound every month (“You must give blood for the revolution”).

Street guys would invent slang (“He’s a three-pad man”) and “give fives” on the corner with some exchenge like, “Man you lookin’ good!

“Yeah, man, I’m on the rag!”

TV shows would treat the subject openly. (Happy Days: Richie and Potsie try to convince Fonzie that he is still “The Fonz,” though he has missed two periods in a row. Hill Street Blues: The whole precinct hits the same cycle.) So would newspapers. (Summer Shark Scare Threatens Menstruating Men. Judge Cites Monthlies In Pardoning Rapist.) And so would movies. (Newman and Redford in Blood Brothers!)

Men would convince women that sex was more pleasurable at “that time of the month.” Lesbians would be said to fear blood and therefore life itself, though all they needed was a good menstruating man.

Medical schools would limit women’s entry (“they might faint at the sight of blood”).

Of course, intellectuals would offer the most moral and logical arguements. Without the biological gift for measuring the cycles of the moon and planets, how could a woman master any discipline that demanded a sense of time, space, mathematics– or the ability to measure anything at all? In philosophy and religion, how could women compensate for being disconnected from the rhythm of the universe? Or for their lack of symbolic death and resurrection every month?

Menopause would be celebrated as a positive event, the symbol that men had accumulated enough years of cyclical wisdom to need no more.

Liberal males in every field would try to be kind. The fact that “these people” have no gift for measuring life, the liberals would explain, should be punishment enough.

And how would women be trained to react? One can imagine right-wing women agreeing to all these arguements with a staunch and smiling masochism. (“The ERA would force housewives to wound themselves every month”: Phyllis Schlafly)

In short, we would discover, as we should already, that logic is in the eye of the logician. (For instance, here’s an idea for theorists and logicians: if women are supposed to be less rational and more emotional at the beginning of our menstrual cycle when the female hormone is at its lowest level, then why isn’t it logical to say that, in those few days, women behave the most like the way men behave all month long? I leave further improvisation up to you.)

The truth is that, if men could menstruate, the power justifications would go on and on.

If we let them.

Posted in Uncategorized

A better generation

Recently, I was out with my cousins to a restaurant when something caught my attention. A mother was engrossed in a conversation with a group of people. Her daughter kept pulling at her shawl, asking her something. The mother would keep brushing her off, too caught up in the conversation. Ultimately, the child lost her energy and went to a corner of the room and sat quietly. The mother may not have realized it but the child was so obviously craving for her attention. And how disappointed she was when she didn’t get it.

Children are so innocent. We’ve all been told this but have we really realized the implications of their innocence? They’re like a clean blackboard. What they grow up into is a result of what we, as adults, write on those blackboards.

I have friends who are parents and I have seen the difference between children of working parents and  children who have atleast one parent at home. I have observed that children who have been bought up by aayas or maids or just grandparents have this strange insecurity and attention seeking issues.  These children do just about anything to get a little attention from parents and these children grow up into adults who are insecure about people, relationships and begin to do really weird things just to get attention. The slightest dent on their emotional side could make them lose their confidence and so on. On the other hand, children who have been bought up basking in attention by parents grow up to be confident, secure and bold individuals. They know to get what they want and does not need any motivation or boost of confidence.

Now let’s come to our education system. It’s based on rote learning and not on analysis. As a student, I was weak in Mathematics. Before I could wrap my mind around a concept the teacher would move on to the next point and I was lost. After a while I would give up trying to understand. I’d think to myself that I’d go home and work it out myself. But of course, this was too difficult for me. And I never had the courage to raise my hand or go to the teacher after class and ask her to explain it to me.

Are children of today also facing this difficulty?

As a society, our education system encourages rote learning. I remember mugging chapters of History for my 10th boards – the independence movement, the partition of the country, the constitution of India. But did I really think about all those events? Did I wonder why Gandhi’s strategy of non-violence worked so well in India? Did I empathise with Lord Mountbatten’s herculean task of smoothly transitioning power from Britain to India?

We need to teach the children of today how to think and behave. We need to spend time with them, play with them, listen to them and make them understand how to treat one another with respect. Parents need to imbibe the qualities of honesty, respect and patience in children at a young age. Boys need to be taught to treat girls with respect, they need to be told to protect themselves as well as the girls, they need to be taught the value of money, the sense of equality, the importance of education etc. At the same time, girls need to be taught to protect themselves, react to anything that they dont feel comfotable about, value of money,patience and most importantly education.

I think its time we took a stand to make our next generation a little more armed in terms of personal security and lets tell them to react and say no when you have to and to treat each other as equals and with respect. Lets teach them qualities that would nurture them as good human beings. Lets listen to them and spend time with them for a change.I think that would make the whole difference.

Posted in m@dness

I, Me, Myself

Good Afternoon people! It is a Wednesday afternoon and I think most people I can see from where I sit are in a cranky mood! Soo I was away with family for some family bonding giving  each other solace n all that and I am going to be on and off in writing till the new year. Not that I have lots of things to do but I need to get some time to myself and do some me time before the new year begins and so I will be on a wavy mood(high and low) !

It irks me. The being pulled out of the comfy zone I mean.It’s like being pulled out of a cocoon. It always feels terrible to get out of one’s comfort zone. But as everyone knows, you can’t achieve anything unless you get out of it. Change of phases always bring me a great discomfort. Eventually, I do end up liking them though.

When I was in school, I was damn sure I will never like college. First of all, I had to go to Tamil Nadu and talk to my classmates in Tamil. It’s not that I don’t know the language at all n all that but if you speak to me in “Senthamil” I would look as if I was just given a time bomb. I would never get to lead that super cool life like in school were  I was just so carefree, enthusiastic and in love with life. I would never get to travel in my school bus, hang around the local shop with my friends etc. And on top of that, I  knew I would get a culture shock at CBE. If I sound like a rude mallu, I must admit that I was one! The me taking a liking to CBE was a gradual process. I slowly started liking the place. I started liking the “chilli parotta” which was the only reason I didnt die of hunger in my first year. But then like I said I would have found some reason or the other to like the phase anyway. I met Div and Deeps there and formed a bond for lifetime. By the end of my third year, I was completely in love with the new phase.

By the time I reached my final semester, I knew I had to figure out what to do so I decided to study further. I came back to my hometown to do my masters. I wasnt too glad and all that but yes the fact that it was my hometown kinda gave me a high. By the third semester, I was damn sure I wouldn’t like going to work. Too much responsibilities. Too much headache. And you can’t sleep during work hours. When I started to work… it didn’t turn out so bad. The money earning part I just loveeeee 😀 The financial independence is just awesome. I have been working for about 3.6 years now and have loved it till now( though I still crib about the lack of sleep and not being to sit at home and idle n all tht)

Now its almost time for my next transition(the nost major one by far) and I feel the same discomfort. Maybe all this uneasiness is for the good, as proved in the past. Though I think this transition phase is a lil harder than the other ones I went through because there is a lot more pressure, a lot more of disappointments.. and you are just looking desperately for that little iota of hope and happiness.

Sometimes, I just wish I could go back to my childhood days and start things all over again…

But then…this is what life is all about.

Posted in close to heart

An affair to remember

Everyone has affairs. Every one! If you meet someone who tells you they havent, slap them coz they are lying! I have been having this one for about 3 years now and it still feels like the first day. I have had flings before but this one has been the longest.I am still in love, just as much as i was when I was first introduced to it, 9 years ago.

Bengaluru Bangalore.

Hosur…Electronic City….Silk board..Madiwala…Forum…Bannerghatta Road…Koramangala…Commercial Street..Brigade Road…Indira Nagar…Bangalore Central…Blossoms…..Garuda Mall…Nalli…Nandi Hills…Cheap Chinese…KFC and McD…..Corner house…Chaai in 4 cm tall cups…smell of cigarattes..Eva mall…men that smell of alcohol and expensive perfume…Lal Bagh…Cubbon Park..Trinity Circle…..MG Road…. Utility Building…Stones…..Bunkers… UB City…Phoenix Mall…..Autowalas with attitude…..the many many palyas and hallis and puras n more

I came to Bengaluru first when it was Bangalore. And just because people want to change the name and already have, I am not going to call it by any other name.Its weird that there is something about this place that I am not able to define. Like, Coimbatore- I usually get a feeling of  nostalgia and  its always been about soaking in the culture or the lack of it ,Bombay gives me that mad rush feeling, it makes me want to run and catch up to something or the other at that moment . With Kottayam its always that at home feeling. Pondichery is another town I have a long history with and thats a post for another day. With all the other cities and towns I have traveled to, the relation I have maintained with them have always been similar to that of a One Night Stand. But with Bengaluru Bangalore, I am not able to pin point what it is that I love about it. The city has an aura of being nice and sweet and kind of small towned with the new city atmosphere jostling in space with an old town feeling. For every morning that I wake up in Bengaluru  Bangalore, the city gives me one more reason to fall in love with it.

There is the yellow and purple spring in Bengaluru Bangalore with a mild chill in the morning; The hot summer which starts off with the pleasant smell of summer holidays and the chirping birds by mid to late March; The pre-monsoon bursts of May to cool off the summer, the monsoons heralded by the heavy winds of June; the wet months of July, August and September, the gloomy months of October and November; followed by the cold nights and chilly but sunny days of December and January. And to add to all of that, a weather that is cool all around the year. Bengaluru  Bangalore, you are not just green n brown like Cochin, you are colourful. The riot of colours that you have has always made me feel as if I was in some exotic land, The bright reds, the lovely oranges, the delightful pinks, the lemony yellows, you sure are colourful!

The multitudes of people that swarm its streets every day aren’t in that mad rush like in Mumbai or snail paced like in Cochin. Its a healthy pace. Its called the garden city but not once have I sat down in any of those and my affair has nothing to do with roses and lilies!  The malls and shopping areas have been the most expensive stress busters  I have come across but they are really good. A must recommend! The streets of Commercial, Brigade and Koramangala that I have mindlessly wandered innumerable times. The canopy at select residential locations in Koramangala that offers you a beautiful walk to get your creativity bubbling.The infinte number of restaurants that has a meal for everyone. From 20 Rs biriyani to the high end ones. A meal for all budgets. Isn’t that a gastronomical delight or what!

Most importantly, no matter how crowded n polluted the city might look to people, it gives me a sense of calm. Probably because unlike the place I come from, here, people aren’t bothered about what you do, how you look and they just stick to their own business. Even friends in this city do not probe into the nitty grittys of your life and leave you by yourself. The city offers you a strange peace, atleast to me it does. It has given me strength whenever I thought I couldnt go on, it has protected me many a time from realities if life, it has given me much needed warmth on cold nights and it has given me love just when I needed it. People call it the garden city and they do that for a reason. However, if I was to give it a tag, it would be Soul City.

So…as for my affair with this lovely land..it shall continue for eons to come. After all, it is the city I was reborn in and the city that made me understand life, holistically.

Until next time, Ill miss you.

 

Posted in m@dness

Off I go

Like I said yesterday, or tried to say, I need a break. I convinced myself that I deserve a break. SO I am taking one. 3 days of no access to internet and very very very limited access to phone calls(not that i have limited access but i am going to make it less accessible). No, its not a cheap publicity stunt 😉

Traffic Jams.. Software engineers….IT Parks…Metro….Mallus….Malls….Flyovers….Dogs….and beyond all this there is a strange calmness that this city offers…and I realise that my heart is racing as though I am going back to my long lost love.

So…off to bangalore(it still is bangalore for me and not n never will be bengaluru) to bug the Big M and D. Lets see how much of peace they can bring. Oh and am tagging dad along too just so that we dont get too hyper or carried away!  I have always, always looked forward to going to Bangalore because I left there with a longing to return  but this time I am not looking forward to shopping or eating or anything of that sort.. Just peace and i know that, that city can offer lots of it.

So its ciao from me till next Monday. Enjoy your weekend……and am singing…”Leaving on a jet plane” to no one in particular…

P.S- Miss me…okay?

Posted in Interesting Reads

Enter(de)tained!

On April 13.2012, Shah Rukh Khan was detained at an Airport in New York for over two hours. He was there at New York to give a speech at Yale. The conversation given below is purely fictional, though it is related to living people. Hence resemblance to people mentioned here are but natural. Enjoy!

“Name?”
“SRK”
“Passport?”
Passenger hands the immigration officer his passport. Officer opens the cover page, reacts with alarm.
“Hold on a second. Says here your name is ‘Khan’. You just told me your name is ‘Essar Kay’. Which is it,
‘Kay’ or ‘Khan’?”
My name is Khan. But you can call me SRK. Everyone does.”
“I’ll call you what it is says in your passport, Mr Khan. When was your last trip to Iran?”
“Iran? Not much of a film industry-…never been there.”
“You look Iranian to me. And you got an Iranian name – Shah.”
“I’m Indian, not Iranian.”
“Whatever. Purpose of your visit?”
“I’m going to Yale.”
“Where’s your student visa?”
“No, not as a student. But an understandable mistake… I do look half my age. I’m going there to lecture.”
“Then if you’re a real Indian you should have an H-1B. Let’s see it.”
“It’s just one lecture. I’m not even getting paid!”
“Letter of invitation?”
“Sure, that I can show you!”

Passenger pulls out a piece of paper, hands it to the officer.

From: Mukesh

To: SRK

Date: April 2, 2012

Subject: FW: Uncle 2 Yale?

Dear SRK,
Please see the email below. Hope you can make it. You can take my plane. My people advise to land at a small airport. We don’t want a repeat of what happened to you last time at Newark!
Best,
Mukesh

—-Begin forwarded message—-

From: Isha

To: Daddy

Date: April 1, 2012

Subject: Uncle 2 Yale?

Dear Daddy,

Wud b gr8 if uncle can come here to give a talk. Can you ask him? Plz?

Officer looks up at the passenger, and says with growing exasperation.

“First of all, Mr Khan, this is an email, not a letter. Second, it doesn’t even have your real name on it. Third, it’s from your niece, not from an official at Yale.”

“She is most certainly an official at Yale – president of the highly influential South Asian Society. But she’s not my niece, I’m just her uncle and my wife is her aunty.”

“What do you do for a living, Mr Khan?”

“I’m an actor. And a game show host. And I own a cricket team – like your baseball teams.”

“Cricket? Those guys should wear gloves – it would be a lot easier to catch the ball.”

“I shall take that fine suggestion up with the IPL rules committee. But cricket is just an investment for me. I’m really an actor.”

“I only ever seen one Indian movie and you weren’t in it.”

“Let me guess, Slumdog Millionaire?” “Yeah. Good flick.”

“That’s one of the game shows I hosted!”

“Really? Then why should I let you into my country? The way you treated that poor kid was terrible.”

“No, you don’t understand – that was just the movie! I was the host in real life.”

Officer opens the passenger’s passport again and types something into his computer. The screen begins flashing. He looks up at the passenger and grasps the handle of his sidearm.

“Come with me, Mr Khan.”

The scene shifts to a large waiting room. At one end of the room the passenger is seated alone at a row of plastic chairs. At the other end the immigration officer confers in hushed tones with his supervisor.

“Hey boss, I got this Iranian guy here with an Indian passport, claiming to be a movie star. He’s a quadruple hit on the terrorist watch database!”

“Why the hell is he at our little airport?”

“He flew here in a private jet, boss. From India, or so he says. Allegedly on his way to give a lecture at Yale – showed me some BS email invite from his niece!”

“He ain’t going nowhere on my watch. Did you check his shoes?”

Phone rings. He answers.

Hello..yes, good afternoon, sir! [Pause] Right away, we’ll take care of it. [Pause] OK, just doing our jobs, sir. Goodbye, sir.”

“That was the big man in Washington. Apparently your Iranian is legit. The president of Yale called homeland security to vouch for him.”

“OK, boss. I’ll let him through right away. But there’s still something I don’t like about that guy.”

Read the full article on: Economic Times