Author Archive

Transitions in Life!

Transition, change from the past, for the present
Transition, change from the past, for the present

Do we notice the imperceptible changes taking place around us?  Mostly not; unless compelled to do so.

The most common culprit of almost imperceptible change is age. “Why do you wheeze when you climb stairs for just two floor?” My daughter asked me last week. I passed it off as a toll taken by age; though the reality is that this weakness is an old one and remained unnoticed.

Most resist the external symptoms of time and related wear & tear. A thumb rule is that the older a person is, the more time taken for formal dressing. So there is a calculated effort to impress- bright colors, branded shirts/pants, hair waved back carefully. Sometimes I wonder, whether the person is comfortable in the role being enacted (for the sake of family). Why not let go and be what you actually are? But then, do many of us know ourselves well to decide to be as and what we are?

God, with His sense of irony, has made human beings attach undue importance to parts of body which have limited utility. Hairs on the head is a classic example of a decorative object. It does not serve any great purpose (unlike hands or legs). But the impact a great hair style has on the subject and his/her viewer cannot be measured. So we find youngsters staring hard at mirror for long periods, patting their hair, men keeping tufts (meant originally only for certain purposes) like women, old men and women dyeing their imperfectly to evade the toll of time and all sorts of odd behavior if examined in the light of reason.

When I was a young boy (several decades back) only school boys and  domestic men servants (who washed clothes, vessels, cars etc.) wore half pants in Mumbai.  Now of course, it is a fashion statement to wear half pants and odd sized pants on all occasions (except job interview) and thereby attempt to belong to another age group. So, when I wear a shorts (called half pant in the past) to the gym, I have an uneasy feeling that someone would  call me to wash their car.

The real changes take place in our sub-conscious and then trickle down to external visibility.  This is noticed only if we meet the person after a reasonable gap. Mentally we slow down- that is reduce the pace at which we want to live hereafter. We see this around us but do not observe. We want less surprises- less changes – expected or unexpected. Life has to be same from yesterday to today. But God and the world around us have a gleeful pleasure in altering our well laid down plans.  So we find sedentary grandparents rushing off to USA/Gulf countries for a new career in babysitting (most probably no one sits, the baby runs around and we run after it continuously till our legs pain).

Did our parents sit back and ponder over their errors of omissions and commission? Did they even admit it to themselves? My son reminded me recently in non-judgmental manner of the instances when I beat him during his childhood. Did I beat him? Yes, I did. For what reasons?  I do not remember. Do I regret it now? Yes. But when I look at my daughter trying to tame my grandson (unsuccessfully at times) by oral requests and then resorting some small corporal punishments, I realize that these are inevitable and cannot be examined by hindsight.

Do we lose our ambitions, zest and enthusiasm with age? I would say they become more tempered. The  goal posts change. Survival up to the goal post  becomes more important than running past it. Some unexpected past time or interest catches serious attention.  So it could a social or a religious organization in which there is some lurking desire to play a more prominent role. I have seen several large institutions run  by persons most of whom had retired from gainful occupations long  back justifying to this logic.

But what is most important in all this is identifying what our heart really seeks- what is it that would give us great happiness. This is the most difficult part of life at any juncture. Long but aimless life serves little or no purpose. At each juncture of life, knowing what we want to achieve in our career, what we enjoy doing in our spare time, what relationships to invest in to make our life more beautiful is vital. This is more easily said than done.

I envy today’s youth some of whom are clear eyed to give up easy choices and seek for what they really want. India has given choices which did not exist some decades back.  But whether they are able to achieve a balance between their material success and mental happiness is a moot point. This perhaps applies to youth and younger generation in any point of time- yesterday , today or tomorrow.

So next time I visit the nearby shopping mall, I will take the plunge and buy the black shirt with stripes displayed at Zodiac shop. My family’s puritanical views on wearing such garments can take a back seat.

I will look handsome in that shirt- rather as handsome as I looked some decades back.

 

Anjeneyan.

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August 13, 2009 at 8:11 am Leave a comment

Career Obsession

Do we need to be obsessed about our career or do we just need to ensure that we have a job and do it well? Isn’t a good job synonymous with a successful career?

When we started out in the employment field in India thirty years back, job was a luxury and career a word in dictionary. Better qualifications got you a better job- a more secure job. The first thing that was mentioned on getting a job was that xxx has got a secure job. Today’s generation would be puzzled by this obsession, as job insecurity ( for a skilled and young individual in India ) is not on the horizon.

When does job translate into career? I believe that gaining expertise and higher responsibilities in one’s chosen area or allied area of expertise on a continuous basis would translate a job into career. Doing a function mechanically needing limited application of mind would perhaps indicate that stagnation has begun. Another indication would be when your immediate Superior’s job seems attractive, easy to do and more importantly having self confidence to do it well.

Do we need to be obsessed with career? In other words, is career different from our employment with the present organisation? In today’s circumstances career obsession seems to be a pre requisite for success. In today’s changing times, every organisation demands skills and talents relevant to today and not yesterday or day before. We are as good as our last victory (like our cricket team). If we do not measure up to the tomorrow’s need, then in comes a rank outsider who is seen to have those skills. Yesterday’s heroes or heroines are now to follow the new leader or well …. look elsewhere.

In such a situation what does an individual do? I believe that he or she has to continually upgrade their skills so as to be relevant to today and tomorrow. Age has nothing to do with it. It would be incorrect to say that “I am too old to learn new tricks. In my time we used to………”. These kind or dialogues would draw embarrassed silence only.

Is not the organisation responsible too? Does it have to be obsessed with its own success and survival and not care for the people who were responsible for this? Yes, it also has its responsibilities. It has to nurture and grow people who lack the obvious skills, but with some assistance could be re-deployed suitably and prove to be assets in changed circumstances also. This requires visionary skills at upper and middle levels of management and listening ability. Also the appraisal system should be have a core of honesty which has creditability within the organisation and which would inform the correct situation so far as the individual is concerned.

Well, what would you say to your young cousin who has started to examine new openings within a month of taking up a new assignment? I would say focus on career, upgrading of skills, higher levels of responsibilities, exposure to new areas and opportunities for a larger contribution to the organisation would be the key to the decision.

What do you feel? I would love to get responses to the above views- especially from the younger generation.

June 30, 2009 at 10:46 pm Leave a comment

Working Women and Parenting

2Sides of Life

2Sides of Life

My mother was a homemaker (to use a modern terminology). I do not recall a time in my childhood when Ireturned to an empty home and made my own snacks or lunch/dinner. I grew up taking for granted that mothers are always at home to receive their children. The outside reality slowly sunk in and I realized that women who went to work also were mothers whose children bid them good bye each morning and waited for them to come back to relate the days adventures.

I recall one blog written by a TV Newsreader which is particularly fascinating. This is two years old blog, but timeless in terms of contents and I am giving below a link to it.

Working Mothers: On IBN

The comments in response mostly from women are equally interesting. They are worth reading.

In today’s context when female education is emphasized and they are equal or should be equal to male in terms of opportunities and abilities , it is not fair or correct to tell a woman that her main job is to be a “homemaker” rather than fulfill her personal and professional aspirations. At the same time, children in the early and formative years require close attention from at least one of the parent. This need not be on a 24/7 basis, but ideally should cover a significant portion of the children’s waking hours and their time spent in the house. As the children grow up, the degree and span of attention could vary and reduce.

I am seeing in some cases grand parents being substitute parents. Some grand parents are frequent flyers to gulf and USA to care the grand children. I always wonder whether the parents bond well with children brought up by others? Do grand parents have the same energy they had as parents? Is’nt it a a bit tiresome for grandparents to do once more what they had done over three decades back? Would they not be looking thru the prism of values and mores which may not be relevant three decades later when the children become adults?

“Quality time” seems to cover the nature of attention needed, but at the same time indicates cliché or an overused word. I tried to imagine myself to be a parent with two children of varying ages between 5 and 10, tending to them after a full day at office and traveling for nearly 3 hours a day. Besides this there would be domestic chores to attend. How much energy would a person have – whether the parent is a mother or father- is hard to estimate? Would they tell stories from Ramayana or Mahabharata or read Tintin comics before the children go to sleep? How much of their day at school would interest them? I realized that I would do much less than what a working parent does today.

Perhaps the issue is not working vs non working mothers. The real issue could be how much of a bonding exists between the children and parents. I have seen fathers substituting for mothers who are sometimes more busy due to the nature of their jobs.

Children need and demand attention. Some times the attention they seek disturb others who see some distortion in relationship without identifying what could be the cause. Whenever I see such distortion, I wonder what would they grow up to be as adults. Do children of working parents demand more attention and carry some level of unfulfilled emotional needs? I don’t know. But I have certainly seen some children seeking more than needed attention.

The bottom line could be that when we bring another human being into this world, as parents we have a responsibility and duty to ensure that the child grows up to be a good human being and be able to contribute to the society in a positive manner. So when our children become adults, we should be perhaps be able meet this standard, at least in our own hearts.

Anjeneyan

 

Image Source: ANVClicks

June 28, 2009 at 8:24 pm 2 comments

Influences in life.

 

Ananth’s blogon influences set me thinking on how the persons around us impact our thinking and behaviour. His blog was on the conscious impact of few persons around him. I felt that the impact on the sub conscious mind by our environment is worth thinking of.

Last year I attended a marriage in Chennai. My aunt (father’s younger sister) exclaimed that “you look like my brother in your present attire” or something to that effect. Instinctively, I felt flattered. Why should I feel so? My father, from the time I remember, looked his age and some more. He was severely short sighted, though tall, was stooping, had very less teeth, dark complexioned, with a furious temper and highly rigid opinion on several aspects of life. His was a hard act to follow.  But still, some of his achievements and decisions make us still look up to him and any resemblance-genetic or otherwise- gives us a sense of inner glow. This however comes with some of the turns and twists life takes and compels us look into the mirror and admit reality at least to ourselves.

In Indian context, the first influence is our parents. The first English alphabets and nursery rhyme was taught to me by my mother whose formal education stopped at primary school. Forty six years back, we had come to Mumbai from a small village in Kerala. We had to adjust to a metro life in a hurry. Learning a foreign language and rhyme (twinkle twinkle little star…) was the first step. I have a sentimental belief that since this was the only subject my mother taught me, I was always good at it.

How did our parents express their love to us or to each other? How many of us remember our parents smiling with a shy love or laughing wickedly over an adult joke said privately to each other? Did they hold each other in their arms and dance the way we saw in the movies of 60s? May be so. Did they do it in our presence? Never.  How did this lack of physical or public expression of love (an Indian trait) impact us? Well, most of us – at least in South India- are uncomfortable with a physical expression of love- even of the platonic variety- in public and may be even in private.

What is the situation today? Very difficult to say.  My belief is that today’s youth are caught between the example set by their parents and the peer pressure. What is the right thing to do? I feel that some amount of display of positive emotions strengthens relationships and establishes some bonding.

Peer pressure or friends or lack of it is the next strongest influence in any life. How would lack of peer pressure or friends influence a person? Like many shy persons, I found it difficult to create an easy going friendship with the group in which I was studying or working (hai-bye relationship). I did exactly what I felt like doing. Some of it succeeded due to several factors- some within and some beyond my control.  But the difficulty in creating an easy going “life of the party” kind of relationship remains.

Peer pressure come most obviously in the “science or commerce” kind of decisions post schooling. Most of such decisions are based not on what the boy or girl wants to do in life post education and how attractive that avenue is. Some years back I had asked my cousin (who is a medical doctor (MBBS)) why is there a craze for medical admission when the returns are not commensurate with the efforts- at least in India. He said that it was due to lack of real understanding of the profession and its pressures. Last week’s news article said that the application for medical admission has fallen significantly while demand for engineering admission has surged.  One classic example is the number of engineers who joined for IT related courses even when it was apparent that many of the industry leaders are from different streams of engineering and such streams offered good long term prospects.

There is a big board I see on the way to office every day. It says “To the world you might be one person; to one person you might be the entire world. So drive carefully.” I feel this poignantly states our relationship with those we love very much- spouse, children, parents, siblings etc. Whenever we wear a new dress, after examining the image on the mirror, we go to our spouse and ask hesitantly ‘do I look handsome?’ A small smile of appreciation, a tart comment makes our day. I say to myself- I certainly look handsome in this shirt. I sometimes think that even Manmohan Singh or Sonia Gandhi must be asking their family members about their appearance before stepping into public gaze. This is only a small example how our spouse and/or family members appreciation matters to each person.  Family support is a great strength of Indian way of life and gives an anchor for our life.

Do parents listen to their children?  Yes, they do; especially when children start growing up and express their opinions.  The external environment has changed and is changing so rapidly that only highly self opinionated parents will disregard the views emanating from their children. If we have to keep communication lines open with them, we have to listen, but not necessarily agree with them and provide an adult feedback. Does this influence us? Yes it does. How does it influence us? Not easy to say. But their love and appreciation of our achievements and forgiveness of our failings matters a lot to us- at least to me.

Lastly religion, religious beliefs, practices, rituals and the whole baggage that comes with it. These are so intensely personal that they are hard to pin down or express in a logical or coherent manner. It matters to us hugely. Even lack of belief in all these things matters hugely.  Here again the dominating influence is our parents. We observe them and then decide consciously or unconsciously as to what we should do.

I have not touched up on the influence of our life in service as that deserves another blog.

So who influenced you? Why don’t you look at your parent and start wondering how they have influenced you?

June 15, 2009 at 12:03 pm 1 comment

TV Serials, Balika Vadhu & all of us

Balika.....

Balika.....

Sita (name changed) walked in yesterday when my house was full of guests. She swayed in with confidence and  disappeared into the kitchen. My guests turned to me and asked “who is that lady?” They were astonished when I said she was our maid servant. She carries a cell phone (with different caller tunes each week), dresses unlike a service providers of her ilk, oozes confidence externally. Her children go to a private school, attends tuition classes, study reasonably well. She moved to a larger hutment two years back. She has a bank account and some savings in post office.  She also has an insurance policy.

She is also a “Balika Vadhu”- that is married much before she saw her 18th year. This is in Mumbai and not Rajasthan Surely, these kind of things happen in backward States (BIMARU States), with under educated males lording over more uneducated population. No. I found to my dismay and that of my wife, that even in Mumbai arranged marriages at teenage is not uncommon.  Another instance I saw was of reasonably good looking school going girl, who was suddenly married off  even before reaching matriculation. The change post marriage was  saddening. A confident girl had become cowed down, frightened  and bewildered woman- post a last minute miscarriage.

I am not sure what I state above is the exception or rule as in both the cases the persons were related to each other. But what is clear is that what is shown in a very beautifully bedecked manner in the TV Serial Balika Vadhu telecast in Channel “Colors”, is not some remote event fictionalised for the entertainment of  city folks. It is a reality whose impact is seen and felt- latently or otherwise by all of us.

Why do such things happen? Don’t we all witness growing opportunity around us due to continuous economic growth- simultaneously with grinding poverty.  I believe that at least some portion of the poverty is due to missed opportunities. Let us take some examples.

First is literacy and education. Most states have some minimal schooling facility to give basic literacy. To reach beyond that, the economically and socially backward segment of the population needs initiative and efforts. This initiative is often missing. Female education is the backbone of any society. This is often missing. The difference in several human index parameters  between Kerala and Uttar Pradesh could be due to this factor.

I divide skills into physical and mental skills. It needs more efforts to earn living using physical skills. Moreover, to scale up the ladder, constant improvement of skills is required. My favourite example is carpenter. The skill needed in this profession is apparent. The wages paid for a skilled ‘karigar’ is known to all. But many of us would prefer to be unemployed rather than do such a work. This brings home the point that vocational education is important as education emphasising numerical and literary skills are not meant for all.

Next, the spreading urban lifestyle dictates the need for new types of service providers. Working couple do not have time to cook food. In urban locations it is common for a service provider to come two times a day and cook basic food needed for the family. The rate is based on number of Chapatis and corresponding vegetables and dal to be prepared.

Am I pointing out isolated instances which can at best help only a small portion of the Below Poverty Line population? Perhaps it may be so. But I still believe that there are enough opportunities in India (as compared to a developed country) if mental inhibitions existing at various levels are removed.

Then why do people take a comparative level of poverty for granted. My theory is that India has always been a poor country. The politicians and others have created a myth that India was a land of milk and honey plundered by invaders and lastly by the British.  The poverty of a farmer is glorified. The loss of dignity and suffering a subsistence farmer or a person with similar economic status is rarely mentioned correspondingly.

Next, Indians are lazy and easily contented. What are our working hours as compared to USA ? The offices in USA start at dawn. Most persons are in office there  by 8 am or 8.30 am. The courts in USA start at 9 am. Most routine tasks get done in the expected way. Everything works as per a pre-determined plan. Our life is like the sporadic victories of our cricket team. One victory is enough to quench our thirst for a long time and forgive consecutive defeats.

How many reports have we seen about corruption in private sector? Are people aware that corruption exists in private sector in the same manner as in Government? So it is not that Government employees are corrupt, it is that corruption is in Indian blood- some are corruption positive and some negative.

So why do we see so much poverty? Why does  at least some portion of the economically weaker segment of the society spent money on alcoholic drinks (Sita’s husband is, in my view, an alcoholic  and earns less than Sita due to this additiction) and put in those efforts in improving skills? Why do we still read reports of oppression of Dalits in newspapers? I saw a report today which states that health workers do not touch Dalits. School children belonging to non Dalits have separate marked plates for food. If these are the issues which some portion of our population is concerned, then we deserve to see this poverty and misery.

Will it change? Hard to say…  Today’s world allows only survival of fittest. So would India grow or Pakistan grow? Obviously India as Pakistan is mired in issues irrelevant to their well being. Would India grow faster than China? Well, that deserves another blog.

Image Source: Ananthv

May 9, 2009 at 3:23 pm 1 comment

Bringing up children

Bringing up children: Part 1: The Journey Begins:
 

Bringing Up Children

Bringing Up Children

 

 

Every union should produce results. Progeny is one of the results of marriage- at least an expected result. Every newly married couple face overt or covert questions about their “plans”. Any delay beyond 3 years causes great consternation to the families of the couple first and then finally to the couple. All this creates a psychological need to have a child or children.

 

The initial clarity during the mating period of waiting for few years, settling in respective careers, purchase of dwelling etc. may have been achieved or could be in process. But now the need for a child becomes supreme. The conception takes place. I have a vague impression that women do have hesitation or some apprehensions about the entire pregnancy and delivery process. Most males disregard these apprehensions and the emotional and psychological coercion is enough for the women to cross this hurdle. The child arrives. Respective in laws troop in with broad smiles and a realisation of being grand parents.

 

Those who become grand parents before reaching the age of 60, mentally tell themselves that “we are like students who pass CA or IIT Entrance in first attempt while others who still troop to school with their children or run around for admissions to colleges are slow starters. But we are young grandparents. Old age associated with the status of being grandparents is not applicable to us”. Mothers are conferred an almost divine status in India.

 

One story I heard in justification of this status is something like this. One young student questioned placing mother first in the statement “Mata, pita, guru, deivam.”

 

The guru who was smart delayed the reply. After a few days, the guru asked the student to take a brick, tie it around his waist and go to the well and fetch water several times. The well was obviously at some distance. After the student got exhausted, the guru informed the student that a pregnant mother carries the child similarly for nine months and hence they get this status.

A typical Indian story which justifies the age old statement. Western civilisation has not placed such exalted status on parents. Probably they are seen as the medium thru which the life is created on the earth and the medium is like a vessel we use for cooking. The food is more important than the vessel. The mother now gets to see the life which was floating around in her belly. She is initially wonder struck. Then the awareness sinks in about her primary responsibility. Feeding a child at 12.30 am or 4 am is not something any human being can get excited about for weeks and months. The excitement of working as an executive in an air conditioned office is more palpable than cleaning a baby who will learn sanitary habits after some years. She wonders “God, why does any one say all this is exciting?”. The situation of Indians who have emigrated to middle east or USA etc. is even more difficult. These countries have strict laws for child care. Some countries insist on full time attendant till one year of age (this is what I understand).

The role of father at this stage is crucial. Few have any prior experience. They are forced to learn by trial and error. Many families erroneously do not educate their sons to be aware of basic domestic chores. So they land up in family life without any knowledge of the drudgery involved in maintaining a house in a nuclear family. I believe that it is at this stage the next foundation of family life is laid. Couple who work together (whether both are employed or only one is employed) and share responsibilities build a stronger edifice of their marriage.

The children watch and instinctively understand how their family lives and adapt accordingly. If the responsibilities get shifted to outside family members like in-laws or servants, then the pattern changes. We see distorted behaviour from the children.  Excessive tantrums, need to seek attention of one or both the parents whenever they are present, inability to mix or be comfortable in a large group are some of the visible external symptoms. I cannot claim any memory of my two children’s early years. It all seems to be a blur now. When I watch my grandson grow, I feel a twinge of regret at not noticing and storing these memories at least in the brain. Cameras were expensive then and so there are few photos of those times.

Now Picasa contains a few hundred or thousand photos of various antics of my grand son. Most mothers would tell you that the first three years of the child are difficult but rewarding. Creation of life and its growth is still one of the greatest wonder in this world. The efforts we put in these early years yield visible results.

The exuberance of the child, its curiosity in exploring the world around it, lack of any fear or knowledge of danger gives the greatest pleasure. One of the memorable photos of my grandson (when he was less than a year) is his smile when he turns around to look at me before trying to pluck the AC plug from the socket. Today’s world does not give any educated person the time or privilege to think on such things.

Success brings its own material rewards and satisfaction. It requires great courage to step aside from such a path to enjoy such pleasures. Children demand lot of emotional attention. Our city life drains out our quota of Emotional Quotient leaving little for our family. This is where the distance with children/family starts building up.

 

                                          

Bringing up Children – Part 2: When do children grow up?

Perhaps when they start asking questions about the life we lead. Children consciously or unconsciously imitate parents in the early stages. At some point they question us- do we have to pray everyday? Do we have to write homework at 7.30 every day?

Cant’ we have the toy or something else his or her friend has? Slowly we have to set the boundaries within which we have to live. How does a parent explain that they cannot afford a particular expense as it is beyond them? I remember such a situation when my daughter asked for legitimate expense and I could not afford it at that time. I do not think I gave a correct answer. There is always a debate between quality time and quantity time devoted to children. In a traditional family, the father went to office to make a living and mother looked after the hearth. So father’s time was quality time. Children’s bondage with father was perhaps limited due to the then prevailing environment. This is evident from some of the movies we see of the 60s and 70s in any Indian language.

Today, with both parents employed in many cases, the distance or closeness could be the same. My belief is that children react well to a relationship where the parents are capable of receiving the confidences of their children. They should trust their parents sufficiently enough to exchange their innermost fears and receive emotional and physical support.

This is more easily said than done. This requires a long period of communication at a seemingly equal level without losing the basic authority as parents. Today’s parents do assist in homework, projects, exams and other burdens of today’s schooling process. Do they gain their children’s confidence in this process is a moot point. I saw one TV Debate program on parent’s involvement in their children post school education- Science or commerce, engineering or medicine and so on.

The program had parents and children on opposite sides of the debate. The vehemence of the children on the negative influence of parents on compelling choice of the education stream was quite an eye opener. The education expert – a college principal- said that we should trust over children with the choice they make and not second guess them. They generally know what they want and we should guide them only when they start expressing their doubts or seek help.

My wife has an interesting view on how teenagers and young adults fall in love. She says that when the children lack emotional support or live in an emotional vacuum in the house, they seek an alternative outside the house. This is how love develops. In many cases, this seems to be true. I have seen children whose parents live in a different era and perhaps are not able to relate to their children’s emotional demands. Parents live in an orthodox yesterday era- where passbooks are reconciled on monthly basis, eating out should be out sheer necessity, new dresses are purchased for birthday,  Deepavali and school re-opening.

Marriage anniversary means visit to the nearby temple and then going to office. For children, Mcdonald is a fashion statement to be made, Coffee Day is THE PLACE to be seen wearing a jeans and latest tops with members of opposite sex. Spending a few hundred rupees on such an outing is normal. Would we have spent the equivalent of Rs 450 for our birthday party (what is party by the way?) say 35 years or 25 years back? I am told this is quite normal today. Cafe Coffee Day is the place for a small birth day party- the Cappucino costs not less than Rs. 30 or Rs. 35 per cup.

It is in such environment that love blossoms. If not love, at least rebellion against the ESTABLISHMENT. Long hair, awful looking half pants or three quarter pants, odd upper garments, skin hugging dresses which give quite the opposite message of the person’s character ( an otherwise timid person may look like today’s starlet in some youth oriented movie).  Is falling in love wrong ? (QSQT with Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla or Jane tu with Imran Khan to quote a more modern example).

No, love is a beautiful emotion without which life is not worth living. But falling in love at the age of 18 or 21 seems premature- especially in Indian context. Everything is a struggle here- unlike abroad. Choice of educational stream, admissions, quality of teaching, post graduate education, employment, choice of city or town or metro for employment, accommodation, transport- basic things in life which are taken for granted abroad, pose insurmountable problems for most young adults. Love seems to be a needless distraction in such an environment.

Take admission for engineering, Medicine or any other such professional courses as an example. Each State has got its own peculiarity. Every year there is some litigation to arrest or mar the admission process at the penultimate stage. There is some Government subsidy for such education, but there is something called private college also. In such an environment, the parent struggles to meet their children’s expectations, their own economic strength or lack of it and matching their children’s marks with that of the demands of the educational institution. In such a situation, when a parent hears about a love affair (of anyone else) then there is genuine astonishment on how does anyone get time or energy to get involved in such activities at such an young age.

Lastly, do children who have become full fledged adults (crossed the age of 25 in my belief) need or expect our influence or emotional help. I think yes. But this line is thin. We cannot aggressively intrude into their emotional territory (“don’t be pakao”), nor can we be in an indifferent stranger’s domain. We need to understand the turmoil going through their brain and heart and respond sensitively. We have ourselves passed thru this stage -perhaps without much parental support. So it is easier to assess their needs and probe gently –like a doctor examining an open or an internal wound. It is not easy as now they are a closed book written in a foreign language (or like prayers we recite in Sanskrit- we understand the meaning in a limited manner).

For eg. what do we tell a married son or daughter about the difficulties we face in a marriage? What do we tell about the screaming babies (see my earlier blog) and feeding them at 2 am in night and the support they can expect from their spouse? I often wonder about this. My feeling is that mothers are more forthright in these things and put the matter in a manner which would put their backs up. There would be grudging acceptance later.

I think it is a lifelong relationship. Children remain children for parents whatever be the age. When I used to come home late from office, my father, who was well into his 80s, would remain awake and pester my wife about when I would come. When I reached home, he would confirm that I have reached and then go to sleep. I could not then understand his anxiety. Today I understand it and want to tell him that I understand the deep love and affection that lay behind his non expressive demeanour. But for that I have to go to another world. Do you agree or disagree? Either way, do respond.

 

Image Courtesy: AnanthV

May 3, 2009 at 8:21 pm 3 comments


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