Heer Ranza or Romeo Juliet!

This is a love song from a movie Jab Kisise Pyar Hota Hai (1961). The lovers say,  “I have loved you since last hundred years and will keep on doing so for ever!”  A typical fantasy!

Marriage or union of two persons for life brings stories of Romeo and Juliet or Heer and Ranza, in front of our eyes. (Life has become trickier with same-sex marriages and all!) Our literature romanticizes the union and we all think that life is full of roses. But after some time, these beautiful roses start to wither and petals are what we are left with. I am not a pessimist but these are the facts of life! A relationship between husband and wife are never as romantic or rosy as they seem from distance. I had mentioned this in a blog I had written a month back where I wrote about friendship.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/10/21/human-nature-a-mystery/

To me, marriages are of two types. Historically, we married for logical reasons but lately, some marriages are based on feelings. Marriage based on romance and love are the imaginations of writers and poets! Romeo and Juliet or Heer and Ranza never had to discuss, EMI’s, promotions, illnesses, and yes, children, that are the result of the initial passion, remnants of the times when petals had not started falling down.

Current descriptions, love marriage and arranged marriage are also ways to describe of how people get married. In olden days, love marriages were a rarity but in modern times with males and females living independently, before marriage, in large cities and getting opportunities to meet each other in a no family settings, leads to love marriages and of course, sometimes to live-in relationships.

For most of the recorded history, people married for logical sorts of reasons because you were neighbours and were equals in the society, his family had a flourishing business, her father was the General Manager in a factory, there was a farmhouse close to city to keep up, or both sets of parents were from the of same caste and creed (politically correct word for this is Biradari), or were members of the same club. But once you reached the petals stage, from such reasonable marriages, there flowed loneliness, infidelity, abuse, a hardness of heart and screams heard through the nursery doors. The marriage of reason was not reasonable at all; it was often expedient, narrow-minded, snobbish and exploitative. That is why what has replaced it — the marriage of feelings — are taking its place.

Why do the famous roses start withering? Perhaps we have a latent tendency to get furious when someone disagrees with us or can relax only when the person agrees with you. (By that time the other person is furious, is another story) Nobody’s perfect. The problem is that before marriage, we rarely delve into our complexities. Whenever casual relationships threaten to reveal our flaws, we blame our partners and call it a day. As for our friends, they don’t care enough to do the hard work of informing us. One of the privileges of before marriage is, the sincere impression that we are really quite easy to live with.

Before getting married, couples should ask a question to each other, “How crazy are you”? Because each individual has some quirks and without getting married and intimate, most of these will remain hidden. A very smart hubby might turn out “momma’s boy” or may love to burp after each meal; or smart wife of yours, of bouncy and fluffy hair might be applying tons of pungent oil to her hair before sleeping!

Before getting married, the couple and their family generally check a few things. We try to understand the person and the family. We visit their homes. We look at their photos, we meet their college friends. All this contributes to a sense that we’ve done our homework. But we haven’t. Marriage ends up as a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be! We never make an attempt to find out the so-called “hidden” stuff! Most people don’t hide things purposely but they remain hidden because they were not checked. For example, a family may be very stingy or overly flamboyant!

We need to swap the Romantic view for an awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will  do the same to them, too. There can be no end to our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for.

This pessimistic thinking  offers a solution to a lot of distress and agitation around marriage. It might sound odd, but pessimism relieves the excessive imaginative pressure that our romantic culture places upon marriage. The failure of our partner to save us from our grief and melancholy is not an argument against that person and no sign that a union deserves to fail or be upgraded. These are the brass tacks of life!

What matters in the marriage of feeling is that two people are drawn to each other by an overwhelming instinct and know in their hearts that it is right. Indeed, the more imprudent a marriage appears (perhaps it’s been only six months since the two met; one of them has no job or both are barely out of their teens), the safer it can feel. Recklessness is taken as a counterweight to all the errors of reason. To me, instinct is better than centuries old thoughts of unreasonable reasoning.

When Jaya and I got married at an early age, she had a teaching job and I was in the final term of graduate study. Instinct told us that “the stars” would match. Young age helped us overcoming the petal phase very easily because of lack of maturity. We had almost no professional experience hence whenever we discussed any differences of opinion, these were just that, discussion about differences of opinion! They never turned out into minutes of meeting kind of thing! During our last meeting…. blah, blah, blah! During these discussions, we learned to accommodate each other’s thoughts, ways of expressing things. (This is what maturity is all about!) No strong argument is good or bad; couples come to understand, over a period, the acceptable standards of nasty levels! We started understanding what other did not like! In courtship and honeymoon phase, the couples are literally on the moon! So, when the aircraft lands on the earth, quirks and warts become visible! Each human being has different moods through the day, like our blood pressure or sugar level keeps on going up and down! You can’t be in love 24/7!

Finally, we marry to make a nice feeling permanent. We imagine that marriage will help us to bottle the joy we felt when the thought of proposing first came to us. Perhaps we were in an office picnic, a new year party, we were together during a hike, with the evening sun setting behind the hills, chatting about aspects of our souls no one ever seemed to have grasped before, with the promise of dinner in the Chinese restaurant a little later. We married to make such sensations permanent but failed to see that there was no solid connection between these feelings and the institution of marriage. So next best is that we learnt to say after a particularly strong disagreement, “Honey, how about dinner at that Chinese place?”

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What is the mind?

This is a song from Hindi movie Chitralekha from 1964, sung by Mohmmad Rafi and Music by Roshan, written by my favourite lyricist Sahir. The song explains beautifully about the Mind which in Indian language is मन !

Can you arrest the Sunlight?

From rising and receding!

Can you imprison the colours?

Who has shackled the beauty?

All dictionaries define MIND in 2/3 ways.

  • The element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought.
  • A person’s ability to think and reason; the intellect.
  • A person’s attention.

Obviously, it is not a physical thing, it not an attribute but it is something which exists but cannot be seen. It is supposedly having a great depth, sometimes it is said to be deeper than the ocean. The way we cannot see things deep down the ocean, we don’t know what is happening in someone’s mind. It is unpredictable. People jokingly say that it is very difficult to predict how a lady will react to a situation but (jokes apart) same is true about men too, in fact, it is predictable about the human race that unpredictable nature of human facet is predictable!  This is one of the pictorial depiction of the Mind!

mind

The mind is a data bank within the humans, with unlimited gigabytes or terabytes of ever expanding memory. Human mind always compares new things, new events with old data in mind! When we talk of mind, we point our finger towards our head but in the head, we have a brain and not mind! So where is the mind? Mind to me is the human intellect which during “thinking” accesses the data bank, compares and gives out the result by way of actions; these actions may be verbal, in writing or by physical action. To give an example, someone is being interviewed for a job. After various stages, the person is offered that the company will pay 20% less salary than demanded. That person recalculates in his mind and says Ok, I am good. What did his mind calculate? First, it calculated how much was the final expected figure in his mind? What was it based on? Expenses, EMI’s emergency expenses and savings! Based on such variables the mind recalculated the new situation.

How can we develop a mind which is very passionate and always questioning? Probably when we constantly inquire anything and everything, our mind becomes a free mind, which has a lot of data and a lot of flexibility. When the flexibility is gone, the questioning is reduced or stopped, our mind starts accepting everything at face value. Such a thought process then starts calling many things as traditions, which are to be just accepted. Our mind may be gets covered with some kind of rust; this rust coating does not allow our mind to remain active and ensures that we accept everything as beliefs and traditions.

I told my granddaughter the other day that it is not a good idea to watch YouTube or TV while eating food. She has a very sharp mind and mind which does not have cover of rust. She said please tell me what happens if she watched YouTube or TV while eating food. I could have given two answers. One, it is a tradition, which is really true; till 50 years back there was no TV and till 10 years back there was no YouTube. Hence the tradition was not to distract your mind while eating. But for a five-year-old girl both these things have been around from the day she was born. So, telling her that it is a tradition is incorrect! I explained to her scientifically and she was happy with the answer. So many times, beliefs and traditions are something which we use to hide behind instead of facing the truth, challenge an event or a thought process. Because thought is the way we respond to something with old data and current data,  then mixing the two to bring out an appropriate response.

I feel that the brain and mind are synonyms. But the  brain physically exists and in the case of mind, there is no physical existence. As the brain is made up of several materials, it can be studied. On the other hand, it is hard to conduct studies on the mind as it is not made up of any material. The brain is an important organ in the human body whereas the mind is equally important. It is in the brain that all the functions and activities take place. The brain, which is the center of the nervous system, coordinates the movements, thoughts and feelings. But these are put forth or felt through the mind. We all use the mind to think, feel and respond. The Mind refers to a person’s understanding of things and also his conscience. Mind also refers to a person’s thought process. The brain has a definite place in the head. But with regard to mind, it is only supposed to be in the brain. The brain may be affected with diseases and can be diagnosed whereas mind does not have such complications. But yes! If your mind becomes corrupt about something then it is very difficult to eradicate such a thought process.

The mind never sleeps. It is always preoccupied with something; it is preoccupied with thoughts and these thoughts keep on changing all the time. Now the beauty of the mind. This non-physical entity controls many actions and reactions of humans, some good, some bad and some are really ugly. These actions and reactions can result in some fascinating outcomes and some horrible outcomes. The preoccupied mind wears out humans to a great extent, even when they are asleep. A person is worried about something and the mind goes in overdrive. Mind keeps on churning out thoughts to arrive at a correct solution. Till this solution is reached, the non-physical entity tires human body! The result can be that the humans are  not able to go to sleep, or are tossing and turning even when they finally fall asleep. As described in the song above the mind or मन cannot be controlled, cannot be arrested; it will follow its own path at its own will! In the famous song from Sound of Music, “How do you solve the problem like Maria”, there is a line “How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?” That’s mind for you!

There is a phrase a “Mind Over Matter”! This phrase is one of the most important statements in our lives. What does it mean? Mind over matter is —used to describe a situation, in which someone is able to control a physical condition, problem, etc., by using the mind, the ability to keep going, even when he is tired, it is a simple question of mind over matter.

We have seen and heard of many examples of Mind Over Matter. Lance Armstrong is one best-known athlete who overcame his cancer to win many cycle races. (Unfortunately, he was later caught in doping scandals and stripped off all his medals!) Oscar Pistorius had both his legs amputated in while he was a baby but he overcame these issues by having prosthetic limbs. After becoming Paralympic champion, he took part in normal races too, representing South Africa! (He is currently in jail for murdering his fiance!) We had a co-passenger when we took Alaska cruise. He needed 100% Oxygen support because of his medical condition. But he not only was on the cruise but also took all the land excursions!  I know a couple of people with this condition, who simply died after a few months!

I am still amazed by this human “organ” which is invisible! It controls human reactions, it decides important things in life, it gives great support to humans along with Adrenalin, during excitable situations! There is a lot of discussion going on these days, about Artificial Intelligence becoming very powerful and may do most of the things better than us humans. But I don’t agree. How can an algorithm or any code decipher human mind? Humans themselves cannot fathom the depth of the mind, they don’t have real knowledge about how the mind behaves; so, don’t worry we are safe in the hands of the mind!

 

What really is Romance?

This is the old nursery rhyme about the life of Solomon Grundy. It was taught to teach the children about days in the week. But to me, it is also philosophical about the life of humans. On Wednesday Solomon marries and dies on Saturday. The real romance in life is the story about the days from Wednesday to Saturday. Let me explain. The bliss, the glory, the charm of marriage, honeymoon and romance is generally discussed and described like  like you are watching a movie. Everything is slick and glorious, beautiful people and lovely couples, fantastic locations and oh, the bliss! But it is like only talking about Wednesday from Solomon Grundy’s life when he got married, he had Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in his life too. Real life is vastly different from the film version. It is not a bed of roses but it is a bed roses, after a storm, when the petals are withered and thorns are there, ready to pierce your delicate skin!

Come on, I am not cynical. But I am practical and pragmatic. The romance depicted in films is during courtship, marriage, honeymoon and initial phase of marriage. It is only about Wednesday! Arrive the children or thoughts about children, and things become different. At this stage, two distinct things happen. Either children arrive, or the couples are unsuccessful in conceiving; 10% of the couples remain childless, so some adopt and some don’t. Minuscule % decide not to have children as an option. This phase increases complexities of life, ten folds.

From this phase, romance does not go for a toss, but the definition of romance changes and keeps on evolving. The film variety of romance slowly goes for a toss. Career graph goes up, responsibilities go up, children are around, (or couples go into a vicious circle of conceiving) finances become tighter. Thanks to EMI’s. You have a beautiful home, expensive car; chances are that cash remaining, at the end of the month, is not much more than beginning of the career. You go to a mall on Sunday, your older child throws tantrums for some toy. You are trying to manage the child, and the younger one pukes on the mother’s new dress. You cut short your outing, it’s raining outside, somehow you manage to reach the car! Put on the music that the older child loves, not your favourite song, naturally! Younger one finally goes to sleep, while driving, you caress your spouse’s hand! That is the new definition of romance!

After a decade of marriage, if things go well, you don’t need any more proof about the wellness of the situation. What you have instead, is the most deeply romantic thing of all reassurance, that it’s okay to be a human being. Because until you feel absolutely sure that you won’t be abandoned by your partner, you may not be sure that your partner can tolerate you. The smells. The sounds. Continuous need to keep everything neat and proper at home, to keep your life on track! Till you start accepting that some things are going go out of control, you will feel unnerved by your own terrible mortal humanness. Well, we all go through situations that we may not like but become part of our life. But at the end of the day when the war zone has quietened down, you tell your spouse, “Hey how about some coffee with Geeta Dutt songs?” This is the newer romance, though you know what romance you had in mind has just evaporated for that night!

Wife returns back home looking tense. Their favourite doggy runs to her, she hugs the doggy, “Oh! You missed mamma, my love!” Picks him up. After a few minutes, she looks at the children and smiles.” How was your day kids? I am sure, everything was alright?” Children hug her, and she goes to the washroom. Children also missed their mamma! Drinks her glass of water then turns to the husband and without saying anything goes to their bedroom. Husband follows her, kisses her on the forehead and holds her hand. She just says, “I have such back pain, and that idiot boss is giving me a headache.” “I will make you some green tea, love.” Husband goes to the kitchen, smiling. Look at the sequence. All the love was given to the doggy who cannot say anything in return. Children could have thrown tantrums but didn’t, and had tough exams that day. Husband, of course, is at the bottom of the pecking order. He just had been ditched about his promotion at the office. He had the right to make the biggest noise. He had also missed the mamma! But he went into the kitchen to make tea! That my friends are romance!

When couples learn to cope with tough times, survive major crises, you are learning the art of living. As you grow older, you are together less often, and when you are, you have probably forgotten the “filmy” romance. Maybe you use this time to discuss and resolve other issues which have gone on a back burner. Through all these tough calls you learn to care for each other, support each other, help each other. That my friends is romance.

It is time to go to bed and like two old people you crawl into it. You tell each other about the weird things that your kids said that day and laugh and tell stupid jokes and giggle. Then maybe you feel like making out, but you don’t, or perhaps you feel like solving your crossword puzzle or read a couple of pages of a romantic novel. You say “Hey, your feet are cold why don’t you wear socks?” and “My back hurts,” that’s romantic.  You really hope this romance will last forever. You savour the repetitive, mundane rhythms of survival, and you want to keep surviving. You want to muddle through the messiness of life together as long as you possibly can. That is the peak point of your life. Savour it. That is the very definition of romance.

I am talking of latter stage romance. Someone is dying in the bed, and the spouse is sitting at the bedside, holding the dying person’s hand, and also handling all kinds mundane things that need to be done on a daily basis in our lives, for example, putting away trash and doing the laundry. Just because someone may die in the very near future, these things cannot stop. To me, that’s romance. Romance is surviving, romance is letting life go on in most onerous of the situations. Romance is cooking food in those circumstances and hoping to give the dying person the food loved by that person.

Caring for your partner, supporting each other in tough times, coming out of tough situations in life, knowing that many more such circumstances await in future and showing keenness to achieve normalcy, is romance. With such understanding, your romance will start on Wednesday and last till Sunday from the Solomon Grundy rhyme, the day he was buried!