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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Marriage a complex Institution!

Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a socially or ritually recognized union between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between those spouses, as well as between them and any resulting biological or adopted children and affinity.

The definition of marriage varies around the world not only between cultures and between religions but also throughout the history of any given culture and religion, evolving to both expand and constrict in who and what is encompassed, but typically it is principally an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually sexual, are acknowledged or sanctioned. In some cultures, marriage is recommended or considered to be compulsory before pursuing any sexual activity. When defined broadly, marriage is considered a cultural universal. A marriage ceremony is known as a wedding.

But I have been reading some stuff which indicates a different way of handling the pairing off. We say that birds sing and the bees dance, but in real life, these acts have nothing in common the way humans sing and dance. The reasons why we sing and dance, the way we sing and dance are totally different. The definition of marriage (as defined above) and the actual event in some communities are equally very different.

People do pair off world over, for just a few hours, days or years. They do it for pleasure, make babies, for making families happy! Or to seal a political alliance or a business deal or just because they like each other. We have a very recent example of Tej Pratap, Lalu Prasad Yadav’s son, who has applied for a divorce six months after his marriage. He has openly said that his marriage was a political alliance and he simply is too different from his city-bred wife!

I am no anthropologists so will just share a few examples of these pairings or unions. In this universal practice of marriage, many of the relationships are as different from sleeping in a hammock and sleeping on a Chatai or a Mat. The same words when translated get a different meaning. These meanings are pretty different once you go away from Modern cities to the interior or maybe reach out to people living in jungles. In certain areas of Paraguay, a man and a woman who start sleeping in the same hut are supposed to be married; no ceremony or marriage certificate is needed. To come out of the relationship, they simply move out the hut, all bag and baggage, simple! They are divorced with that one act. In the modern world, now live-in relationships have become common  and are similar to the act of shifting to the hut!

In Botswana, most girls marry several times before settling into a long-term relationship. Practical? In certain areas in Brazil, when a woman comes with her bag and baggage and starts cooking for her man, they are married! But their seniors feel that they are  married only after cooking, making babies and they are able to sustain and support each other! This to me appears to be the most practical way of getting married or being paired off!

In contemporary Saudi Arabia and Egypt, there is a marriage known as Nikah Misyar. It is for the people with less means (translation traveler’s marriage). In this type, it appears to be a marriage of convenience and the husband can just move on, and get married to next one without informing the previous wife. In addition, some rich Muslims have a permanent wife, and during travel, they marry the woman they want to spend time (Prostitutes). This is an escape from the religious laws, as that they don’t want to break the law! In Shia Muslims, there is Nikah Mut’ah (Marriage of Pleasure). This arrangement is like renting a car. Its period is fixed from a few minutes to many years. There can be any number of such marriages and is again a religious loophole. In Warao group from jungles of Brazil, the ordinary relations of pairing off are suspended during a period called Mamuse. It is free for all during these times.

The concept of marriage has probably started around ten thousand years back when humans started farming and had to become organized. The nomad became a settler as he had to stay at one place to farm. The daily chores started, with that work required to be done got slowly distributed among men and women. Till then the concept of ownership may have been there; the decision of ownership was based on who was powerful. But in the normal course, living together must have been random and flexible. I read a very interesting theory which said that a child was born by the collective semen of different males in the community. The thought process then was that, all those who “took part” in the birth of the child had an equal responsibility to take care of the child. With farming, ownership, these concepts started changing a bit. Both the father and the mother of the child could be defined. Before farming days, life and death were so uncertain that it was thought that the common arrangement of “collective semen theory” will provide the child with at least one father.

Like fashions, traditions also keep on changing, evolving to suit the requirement of that time. From the arrangement of simply deciding to live together or pairing off, the modern method is the live-in arrangement. The modern thinking also thinks in terms of not producing a progeny but pairs decide to adopt dogs, some animals including cats or some birds. Some pairs feel that the concept of family and children restricts their freedom, limits their career! To me, it is early days to discuss this aspect in modern times. The real effect of these decisions will be understood only when the live-in folks start retiring. In olden life was quite open and it was more public. I also have doubts if the pairs who had reached today’s retirement age were even alive. As against this, today’s life is nuclear, once your door is closed, you are completely shut off from the world. How the retired live-in pair that has crossed 70, will handle this, only time will tell!

In olden days, communities were smaller, travel was difficult hence people did not travel much. Those in the same community would know everybody. Hence the marriage or pairing off of was easy. Now the things have changed drastically. People not only married someone in different caste but they marry someone from a different race, they marry someone from different continents, countries. I am using the word marry but it could be pairing off, live-in or whatever. There is a possibility that the two came together without  knowing  much about each other’s background and family. Their customs, religions may be different. Usually, during alliances, both sides check antecedents of each other. But if the countries are different and there is a language barrier, then it must be very tricky. So, judgement of the pair is the only “green signal”. But the judgement may be blinded by love! So, the situation is difficult.

So, to me there is no right or wrong way; every situation is different and decisions are based on the best possible way forward, at that juncture. Marriage as an institution is accepted by most of us, as known to us. In olden days, the society was not as organized as it is today! Group of people living together was small knowing each other. For want of legal frame work, humans had created a social framework of what was acceptable and what was not! Almost all relationships between a man and a woman were based on open culture and flexibility till the concept of ownership came up. Things became more formal and the male dominance increased changing the concept all together. Now, with anonymity of large cities and migration to different places within the country and to other countries, this concept is under duress. Added to this is the demand for more rights by women! How the institution of marriage will be, 100 years hence, is anybody’s guess! Happy hunting? 😊😊

Misogyny!

Misogyny

 

Misogyny is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or girls. Misogyny is manifest in numerous ways, including social exclusion, sex discrimination, hostility, androcentrism, patriarchy, male privilege, belittling of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification. Misogyny can be found within sacred texts of religions, mythologies. Why this thought process exists is very simple to judge. Nature has created humans as males and females; females have been given a very important job of giving birth to children. The science of childbearing and giving birth has made the male and female bodies differently, with women’s bodies between certain age are made ready to conceive. In the initial phase of history, the marriages took place even before the girl’s body was ready to conceive and both husband wife hardly knew anything about the birds and the bees.

Over a period, the so-called legal age for marriage went on increasing and now it is theoretically minimum 18 years for girls. The monthly cycles of women, created different thought process in the initial phase of history, but it seems not much has changed even today. The women are supposed to be impure in that phase of their monthly cycle. Many women have difficulty handling menstruation both physically and mentally. Handling this aspect on a practical basis was also very difficult, even 70 years back,  due to lack of knowledge and lack of proven clean methods to handle periods. This led to calling women impure, weak and what have you! Also, during pregnancy and childbirth, women needed to take it easy or sometimes rest, completely! This led to calling and looking at women as weak and inferior individuals. Probably if a male is made to give birth to a child, then he would know who is weak!

I read a news item in today’s Pune newspaper that in a crowded public place, a guy tried to misbehave with a woman. When he was caught and taken to the police station, he said, “Oh, I thought she was a whore!” This is purely a misogynist statement. This is our society’s behaviour with women! Reading the M J Akbar and Sabarimala stories, this is the type of reaction we are getting from men and some women too! These are so-called strong women who think women should have retaliated there and then instead of being crybabies and complaining years after the MeToo event took place.

Many are surprised with the way people from the advanced, highly educated  Kerala are behaving against the Supreme Court Verdict on Sabarimala, not allowing all ladies (including those of menstruating age between 10&50) to visit Ayyappa Mandir. Kerala is the most literate state in India with the literacy rate of 110% (it is jokingly said that 10% are monkeys from Kerala which are also literate!). Many including women have stopped the ladies from entering the Mandir. I am sure most of you are not aware of Kerala’s poor history in sticking to so-called traditions.

The Channar Lahala or Channar revolt, also called Maru Marakkal Samaram, refers to the fight from 1813 to 1859 of Nadar climber women in Travancore kingdom for the right to wear upper-body clothes to cover their breasts. I will not go into too many details but it was a tradition in those days of baring of the chest and shoulders in front of people of higher status and was considered a sign of respect, by both males and females. Only Nair community ladies were allowed to wear blouses but Nadar community, from so-called lower caste, were not allowed to wear them. Uneasy with social status, many Nadars embraced Christianity and started wearing long clothes. Nadar women later started wearing blouses, similar to Nair community. This led to Channar revolt which went on for 40 plus years though British rulers and Royalty from Travancore tried to force this issue.

We are all aware that the humans started with wearing loin cloth made from tree leaves. But the concepts of civil behaviour started evolving too. Wearing clothes was part of this evolution. The Kerala region has been way ahead of other parts of India in literacy and education, from the beginning. But religion and castes superseded the normal thought process in the brain of Keralites too, and the result was Channar Revolt! It was logical that Nadar women should have been allowed to wear blouses.

With this type of thought process, it is not surprising that in the whole of India Misogyny has been the common trait. The basic difference in Me Too and Sabarimala is that at the heart of the matter, is the question of the body. In Sabarimala Case, the celibate body of the lord counterpointed against the “impure” body of the menstruating woman. In Me Too, the sexually entitled body of the male (any male) over the sexually vulnerable and dis-empowered body of the female (any female).

Underlying both conditions is a deep-rooted misogyny, casual in Me Too and customary on the part of Sabarimala. Yet both are two sides of the same patriarchal coin, and both betray such a profound contempt for — or fear of — the female body that they have to either punish it by casting it out or control it by subjugating it.

What these two phenomena have done? Sabarimala has openly said, let us continue with a different kind of untouchability, to hell with the constitution. What MeToo has done is that it has brought out in open, what has been happening for a very long time and one of the dirtiest open secret; some people are already saying that it is an elitist movement but in India the elite and the maid servants are so close on a day to day basis, that this movement will also spread in non-elite strata, thanks to the elite ladies who are leading this revolution.

What MeToo in M J Akbar and other’s case, and the Supreme Court verdict on Sabarimala have done is to unshackle the troublesome business of female sexuality from patriarchal control. MeToo has called male sexual predators to account not simply by naming and shaming, but by refusing to succumb. By not ceding control over their bodies. By rejecting them and registering their revulsion. The Supreme Court verdict, similarly, has called out a discriminatory practice based on a sexual taboo — an unspoken endorsement of different untouchability — and simultaneously challenged male primacy in the matter of worship.

Friends, this sudden loss of power at the hands of women in one instance, and via a judgment on the other, has hit patriarchal privilege bandwagon in an unexpected — and unwelcome — ways. What causes resentment is that it is female sexuality, under patriarchal control all these years, that has upset the apple-cart. The fact that it cannot be used to justify discrimination/untouchability under a different garb, even in a place of worship. In future, it cannot be abused at will and with impunity. The fact that women will no longer fall in line, and or remain silent.

Misogynists of the world, be careful and warned in the future! The ladies brigade and the Indian constitution are now slowly waking up! As far as Kerala is concerned, Sabarimala is only one month and it is early days, compared 40 year plus war of Channar Lahala!

Marriages are made in heaven!

Marriages are made in heaven but we live our life in this world, on the terra firma! To me, this sentence is created by some smart cookie who is an expert in the blame game. Marriage does not work, blame the heaven’s administration! Simple is it not. But on a serious note, marriages are a union between two people of different sex; this definition has now undergone recently in India as now marriages between two people of the same sex are also legal. Another term used is they are blissfully married. By the time we find dictionary meaning of blissfully, the marriage becomes a routine relationship, a pleasant one if both spouses are sensible, practical people.

Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a socially or ritually recognized union between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between those spouses. It establishes rights and obligations, between them and any resulting biological or adopted children, and  creates affinity. The definition of marriage varies around the world not only between cultures and between religions but also throughout the history of any given culture and religion. It evolves to both expand and constrict in who and what is encompassed, but typically it is principally an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually sexual, are acknowledged or sanctioned. In some cultures, marriage is recommended or considered to be compulsory before pursuing any sexual activity. I know this is 2018, but please don’t laugh!

Enough of theoretical things and definitions. What really is a marriage? I will not delve into complications about marriage between people of same sex for obvious reasons, anyway, “normal” marriages are also complicated. In practical terms it is an event where two people start living together, (I know about live in relationships 🙂🙂) use the same bed, use the same bathroom, once they are comfortable with each other, they are not shy to tell each other that they need to use the bathroom. On a different level, they follow their careers but at the end of the day come to the same home, share the same dining table, though not necessarily the same food, go for movies, go and meet friends some old and many new! Both generally acquire an additional set of parents through marriage, hopefully. They also acquire new sets of aunts, uncles and cousins. With all these changes they are expected to get more joy. In one of my blogs, I had written about the inner circle theory. Husband and wife are in the innermost circle along with parents, to start with, after marriage. When children are born, they come in the inner circle and parents move in the outer circle. This defines the direction in which marriages are expected to move. Oh, yes! I forgot, they openly have sex. If you keep log of all the events in any marriage, sex is almost a footnote, though glorified, not untruly!

What is expected out of a marriage? Love, closeness, close friendship, support, intimacy and many more things that come to mind. The intimacy of couples is the most important aspect but its frequency starts waning as time passes. By intimacy, I don’t mean sex. This aspect gives maximum satisfaction to mind but from what we read, it has the least shelf life in most marriages. Reasons are different but “Honeymoon” period of intimacy is quite limited, pun intended.

What are the reasons for people to marry especially when it is an arranged marriage? Because the girls land is adjoining to yours, his family has a flourishing business, her father was the big farmer in town, or both families are from the same cast or sub-caste. These are reasonable sets of reasons to start with but then comes loneliness, infidelity, abuse, the hardness of heart and shouts due to reason “who should attend to the baby at 3 AM”! The reasonable marriage is not reasonable to start with!  It is based on thought processes prevalent in the society. Hence though we think in terms of bliss due to initial euphoria, on a practical level marriage is a different animal.

The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. As the time passes, thoughts come in mind that one has married a wrong person! Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true definition of the “not overly wrong” person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition. There is never a right person but at best there can the best or the least wrong person!

We need to exchange the romantic view for awareness, that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will in return do the same to them. This can end up in 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. Is his smoking more acceptable to you than drinking? Is her sense of bold dressing acceptable to you or is her not mixing with your family more acceptable to you? Every single person has his or her quirks. It is how each one handles them in a marriage, maturely, decides the success of the marriage.

In my blog “Tit for Tat” I have suggested “out of box” interpretation of the saying. During any difference of opinion, which happen in plenty in “matured” marriages, taking a step back, saying sorry sincerely or any re-conciliatory measure should be openly accepted, with “tat” doubling the efforts to diffuse the situation. That to me is a blissful marriage. Once the honeymoon phase in the relationship is over, what we have is brass-tacks. Does the husband share some routine chores in the home? Does wife take up some of the “Man type” of work? If both are professionals do both take an equal load in basic things like routine purchases, taking children to doctors, changing diapers, with a smiling face, as the wife has to go for an urgent meeting.

We marry, to make a nice feeling permanent. We think that the joy of proposing someone on the beach with the Sun setting, later going for a lovely wine and dinner, will continue in our lives all the time. At that time, we tend to feel that we are the only couple who has achieved such level of happiness, such a bliss. Based on this lovely thinking we marry and expect the sensation to remain permanent in our lives. In that frame of mind, we tend to forget that there is no real connection between that lovely feeling and the institution of marriage!

Marriage is the most universal relationship but it is one of the toughest one. Marriage is the only relationship where all the details, which are unknown to others, about the spouse, are known to the other spouse. It includes bodily functions, fears, habits, insecurities, fear of the unknown. As the real intimacy, other than sex, comes into  picture, one may get a feeling, in most cases, that we have married a wrong person. But friends, that is not true. It is how you accommodate each other’s unknown quirks, let me assure you both spouses have them, it is how you start taking things in stride, you may become a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian to accommodate your spouse. As the saying goes, with the intimacy, closeness is automatically created. But in most cases there are ups and owns, mostly downs! Someone may feel that the grass is greener on the side. But when you go to the other side, you may find that the grass was the greenest on your side. You never marry a wrong person, you simply are not able to take things in stride. From a little distance, every person seems fine, but post marriage and intimacy, you know the real person warts and all! Happy blissful married life!

शुभास्ते पंथानः संतु! May the tough road of marriage be auspicious to you!

Marriages are made in heaven!

I have been hoping to write about this for some time but during my morning walk today, I saw some couples. I felt that I must take photos of two of them. Of course, I took the photos discretely. When we look at couples, when we meet couples, we hardly know anything about the details about relationships between the couples. Their secrets, good or bad, their likes and dislikes, their compatibility is only known to them. My judgement is that if a couple is really close to you and your spouse, you may not know more than 30% about them, about their thoughts, their demons, their love. Everyone else is hidden far, far away from others, like the closeness or lack of it between them. What we see are shallow things about them. In some cases, everything looks hunky dory but in reality? Honestly, I don’t know. 

Now about the two couples I saw today. They had come out of their homes for their morning walk or outing! In one case, I saw that husband was walking in front of his wife. I thought this was because there was some water and muck due to overnight rain. I was far behind them, initially. Later on, too, they continued to walk in the same fashion. Another couple was sitting on a bench, husband was talking on the cell phone and the wife was sitting there nonchalantly observing life passing by. I waited, at a distance, to see the spectacle but there was no change. What must have been the relationships between these pairs? What must have been their relationships when they were young? While going for morning walk why would husband walk a couple of meters ahead of wife? Why would a husband be talking away on phone in such a beautiful weather? Only they would know. 

Years back, Jaya used to go to office, in their office bus. A couple, who were her colleagues, would also join her at the same bus stop. They would walk from their home every day. Husband in front, wife in tow about ten feet behind. Wife would carry his office bag and food container along with her own things. Jaya was curious. Once she asked her colleague why did they not walk together? Why did they not carry their own stuff? The colleague said, ” I will let you know later.” Later during the day, the colleague came and met Jaya. Jaya asked her why they did not walk together and why was her husband not carrying his own things? The colleague said, ” How can male carry these things? It is to give him respect that I walk behind him.” Jaya could feel that it’s a veiled statement!  Both husband and wife had same technical qualifications and were holding the same post. Later, only the lady got promoted but the charade at the bus stop continued!  

Recently, I heard a story of doctor couple. They would invite outside expert surgeons  for performing surgeries. One consultant faced an embarrassing problem. He treated the husband’s patient but during surgery he used a new equipment at the clinic. Since the patient “belonged” to the husband, the bill was raised by the husband. The wife called this consultant and asked him why the bill was raised by the husband? She said that the investment for new costly equipment was done by her so the bill should have been raised in her name! Now, now! This was an internal issue of husband and wife, but the issue was raised with the consultant. This indicated the relationship between the couple!  

What is marriage? Marriage is the process by which two people make their relationship public, official, and permanent. It is the joining of two people in a bond that putatively lasts until death, but in practice is increasingly cut short by divorce. Over the course of a relationship that can last as many as six or seven decades, a lot happens. Personalities change, bodies age, and romantic love waxes and wanes. And no marriage is free of conflict. What enables a couple to endure is how they handle that conflict. So how do you manage the problems that inevitably arise? And how can you keep the spark alive? 

In patriarchal society in which we live, narcissism is prevalent big time. Since time immemorial, male species has been given a lot of undue importance. They have been encouraged to behave the way they want and the way they could. The obvious “drawback” in the mind of female species has been of getting pregnant, only female kids were always trained to behave in a docile way, always listening to male species and agreeing to their opinions, allowing them to behave any which way they wanted.    

Though in last 50 years things are changing a bit and getting improved in treatment meted out to female species, some things may take a real long time to change. Walking behind one’s husband is part of that docile behavior. Allowing husbands to do what they want continues. There are noted changes especially in western world and major cities in India, giving more freedom to females, giving respect to women as humans, considering them as equals professionally. Even with these changes, a lady professional still is required to work hard, maybe 10 times more than men, to achieve the same professional success.  

Marriages are now, at least in many cases that I know of, are showing improvement in male female interaction. Both partners, now share big dreams and work hard to achieve the same. They work hard to achieve it, they sacrifice for each other, even career wise, which in olden times was unheard of. In, many marriages I have seen the marriage as coming together of two families and not marrying a girl only for dowry and procreation! Women power is really seen in many areas and in a good sense. Of course, there are a few ladies who go to the other extreme! But over a period ladies have learnt that they are made different physically, bra burning becomes only symbolic! It is matter of wearing a convenient inner ware to suit the shape of their body. That women have menstrual cycle is an accepted fact and they are supported by colleagues, male and female when required, silently. People accept that it’s no big deal and take it in stride. Their pregnancies are respected and supported in professional life.  

Has utopia arrived in this bad, bad world? No, not all but proverbial silver lining is seen on the dark clouds. In fact, sometimes we see Silver Clouds instead of dark clouds. Will there be no dark clouds in the year 2118? No way, there will be dark clouds but they will be much less; in many families I see male and female births are received with equal joy. I know you must have smiled about Pramod, the optimist! But I have seen this happening in many families and Yes, this trend will hopefully continue! Now when a husband says today, ” Let me ask my wife, before I confirm to you”, people ever so pragmatic don’t laugh but accept it as a practical requirement. While writing this piece, I had taken Jaya’s permission to do so! But I am not called Hen Pecked! Do I dream that one day, a husband will walk behind the wife, carrying her office bag and tiffin? No, never! I want them to proudly and lovingly walk together! After all both are humans only made physically different by Him! Without this difference how could human race have continued to multiply? Only a male child born cannot be Lighthouse showing light beacon to families, you need females in equal numbers, is it not? 

 

  

I don’t care!

A news item in Pune’s newspaper said that a 14-year-old kid was stopped by the police as he was driving a two-wheeler on public roads. Obviously, he had no license and on top of it, when the police asked for the vehicle documents, he and his family did not have them. The number plate on the scooter was bogus. Questions arose if the vehicle was stolen? How did the family allow the kid to take the scooter on public roads? When asked, they did not have answers; the police arrested two people, the father and the uncle of the kid. The uncle supposedly owned the scooter. Was this family in some kind of funny business about stealing of vehicles?  

The sheer arrogance, impunity with which people allow kids to use motorized vehicles cannot be believed. ” My kid drives beautifully though he is only 13″, kind of stuff! This reflects poorly on the society and irrespective of income levels, family backgrounds, such incidents keep on happening. The result of such actions is that kids at an early age learn to do illegal things. They have no fear of law as they are falsely protected by the parents. Similar “training” is given to kids when their mothers take them on scooters and jump the red signal. At the young age, for kids, mother is everything. If she jumps red signal then it is their green signal! Another thing, is that it leads to is accidents. There is always a reason when society makes rules. Age allowed to drive motorized vehicles, age for getting married, age for consuming alcoholic drinks, these are all decided after observing human behavior vis a vis their age, over a period of time. Maturity required for performing these activities is lacking at younger age. This lack of maturity gives false sense of confidence to kids! In India, certain low powered scooters are allowed to be driven legally, when the child becomes 16! At the same age, in the US, they allow cars to be driven by kids but an adult with license needs to be sitting next to the kid in the car. We forget or we don’t care that these rules are made for the safety of individuals and in general safety of the people in society.  

Today morning, I was going out for a walk. In our building parking area, a kid 12 or 13-year-old, came on a scooter with his older brother, sitting behind him. I stopped them, gave them a bit of sermon. The older brother was a sensible guy. When I threatened that, I will report this to the police, he immediately agreed that he will never allow the kid to drive the scooter again, illegally. His argument, “Oh I just allowed him to drive in the society premises”! Same thing happened years back when I lived in a large society with good roads. The kid was similar age and he was driving a car. His father was sitting next to him. I stopped the car and asked the kid to get down. His father started an argument, I removed the car key and kept it in my pocket. His father’s argument; “Oh he drives beautifully blah, blah, blah”! When I asked the father about the risks and legality he had no answer.    

Now in India, a law has been promulgated to prevent such use of vehicles. The parents of such defaulting kids cannot hide behind the argument that their kid took the vehicle without their knowledge. But let me assure you that this has been happening from the time cars came into existence. I had a friend Ashok, when we were in engineering college. We used to “steal” his father’s car late at night when everyone was asleep. We would push it to a certain distance, away from home, without starting it, for obvious reasons. Not only Ashok, but all of us had driving licenses.  

We at younger age feel that we are infallible, immortal. Today a major fatal accident happened in Pune. A 20-year-old man had a different idea in his mind. At 4 am in the morning, he took his uncles car and went for a drive on an empty carriageway. He had a brilliant idea that he should send a live video feed to Instagram. He did the set-up on his cell phone, informed his friends and started driving at a very high speed. Can you imagine where his camera was focused? It was focused on the speedometer. The only way he could have done this was by holding the camera in one hand while driving. Great recipe! Empty road, high speed, one hand away from steering wheel! Add to this the exhilaration of sending live feed on Instagram. The inevitable happened, the car crashed against a barrier, the guy died instantaneously. The car was total loss; when I saw the picture in the newspaper, even without reading the news item, I knew that there would be no survivors! 

When such inevitable is known why some elements in the society, do not follow basic discipline? We sing paeans about western society, their discipline, their cleanliness, their organized way of life. But what do we do from our side to ensure that we will follow the same in India? In every phase of life, we break rules, we break laws, we are afraid to confront our kids who want to try something illegal; we never tell our kids that this is the law of land, you are just not allowed to drive a vehicle at this age. Kids just follow what their parents do at home or in the society. I remember an incident that I had seen years back. Two families were having dinner at a restaurant, enjoying their liquor too! No harm! But one of the mothers, drank way beyond her capacity! Her husband told their ten-year-old son, “Beta, take your Mumma to the wash room!” The Mumma could not take two steps in a straight line! 15 years later the same boy who must have turned into a dashing man, must have said when totally drunk, “Mumma was always right”!  

Disciplined, clean, advanced society? Start at home, confront your kids when required, follow the same path again and again. But looks like we definitely have something in our DNA. Leading actor Priyanka Chopda, was asked in an interview recently, what she misses from India as she is in the US most of the time! Prompt came her reply, ” Oh, reaching on time on film sets in the US is a big bore, in India I could reach as late as I wanted”! It might be her sense of humour but it is a bit weird!  

Dil Puakre aa re aa re!

These are the tag lines of a lovely romantic song from a Devnand movie “Jewel Thief!” He was the Romantic hero of Bollywood. This is a song about two young lovers opening their hearts out to each other. The romantic pairs in films change from movie to movie! But in real life, it does not happen that way. In life, one gets married, produces progeny and life goes on. How many of these pairs continue through their life with same affection and love? It may not be love of the youth but in some couples, it can be compared with a doubles team in badminton or tennis! They are just there for each other as and when needed!  

Life in movies and in real life are totally different; one is scripted by a story writer and other by Him! The cliché goes that “Marriages are made in Heaven” but to maintain relationships is totally left to you. If you look at the life’s journey after marriage, it is Honeymoon to routine to more routine. This many time turns into individual routine where partners are not involved. The life of Jodi, who have vowed ” Till death Parts us” live in the same home but become individuals who have their own ways, their own circles, their own system of living life. In most cases there are no visible differences, at least to the outsiders, everything appears to be hunky dory! But if you just scratch on the surface, you will notice the differences. Why this stage is reached? Why can’t the couples who married, many times in a love marriage or most times into arranged marriage, as called in India, “remain a couple”? They become two individuals living legally together. Why does this happen?  

A couple of years back, Jaya and I were planning to take Alaska cruise. We checked up with friends and acquaintances who had taken the cruise which is 7 to 11 days duration. Most asked us which group of friends are you going with? When we said that we are not going with friends, only two of us plan to take the cruise, they were surprised and some were dumb struck. In fact, one friend said, “What will you do with your wife for such a long duration? I jokingly told him, ” Someone else’s wife is not ready to come with me hence I am going with Jaya”. They were not sure, what we were going to do in the confines of the cruise for such a long period?  For them only two of us going on a tour was a surprise but for us the question was a surprise? 

This made me think why this change happens with such a large percentage of couples; for any relationship to prosper or remain at a good level of interchange, efforts are needed from both sides. These could be sharing of daily tidbits, asking for suggestion in one’s work. Your partner may not be from the same field but then do not ask for technical solution from the other but one can always touch base to find opinion on things. Remain involved with each other; it can so happen that wife has not taken up any profession but has taken decision to remain a house wife. Does it mean that she may not be able to give opinion or suggestion? Of course not. About 20 years back I had bought a bunch of flowers and while going towards my car, I met a friend of mine. He asked me looking at the flowers, “Are you attending some marriage reception?” He expected that flowers were for that purpose, when I told me I had bought the flowers to take home. The expressions on his face told me what he felt! He must have thought that Pramod is stupid guy, buying flowers for his wife!  

When we start getting busier in life, we need to take efforts to find time for each other. We get busier, we have children, our parents get older, some additional family responsibilities are on you, as you grow older. It is very easy for husband and wife to say, “Oh, we just don’t get time, we are so busy!” In some cases one of the spouses or both are required to travel for work. It is very easy to get bogged down, this is where real skills of both individuals need to come out. 

How about a surprise date with the spouse? How about a surprise gift? Why not a surprise hug or a peck? Do you need a reason for that? Why not encourage each other to have independent programs with their groups? Join them once in a while with their group of friends, if it is practical. If you are lucky enough to be in the similar field of work, discuss small anecdotes from work with each other! Why not decide to just go and have coffee at a Barista? Why not buy a special package of teas for the other? All these are so called “small things”. But mind you they are not small! Our life’s journey is a pleasure; and it is sum of “small things”! All of us have friends but make sure that spouse is your closest friend! I have seen couples where a spouse does not discuss or inform the other of major things in life! This too with a person with whom you have shared minutest and innermost things in your life and your family.  

We ensure that we do anything for a friend why not do something more for a friend who happens to be your spouse? We remember friend’s birthdays and anniversaries but forget our own. You may think I am just cooking up something but I have seen this happen with a statement, “So what if I forget?” Respect is another thing we forget. As we become close to each we start taking things for granted, and in some cases, we disrespect the other. That is the last thing expected! Respect your spouse’s opinions, thoughts and persona. They may be different from you. This is accepted once we accept that the spouse is also an individual!  

Gajara

Come on folks buy her a Gajara next time on your way home! By a packet of cookies, he likes, of course Sugar free! Don’t forget he has diabetes! Suggest to him a dinner at a restaurant which is his favourite for chicken, though you eat chicken only to give him company! Suggest to her an outing for window shopping in her favourite market. It’s not eating or window shopping that is important, it’s what other likes is important. After all you are the best Jodi He has made but we tend to forget this in life’s complexities!  Don’t miss on life’s most important gift!

I take this opportunity to wish all of you a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year for 2018 with a wish that your Jodi reaches great heights; but you have to make efforts! Don’t forget this! 

Last evening, I was waiting in my window to attempt taking photos of birds who fly back home! They deceived and took a different path! But the Sun God was as true as ever. I have made a small video of the photos I took, watching Him go down in 2017 for the last time. Hope you folks enjoy it!  

 https://1drv.ms/v/s!Aq4ckSwupy2SmZ1YBAwIuK-FmuIVMA