Posted in Food For Soul

The Dharmic Money

Okay there are so many many inspirational, motivational quotes flooding our social media timelines. Here is something on what I may term ‘the Dharmic money.’

What is Dharmic money. Are you a believer in Sattva, Rajas, Tamas and Rakshasa gunas that have something to do with the food we eat. If so, you gotto believe in Dharmic earnings and spendings as well. Dharmic earnings are hard earned money for which we work. Which means nothing comes free to us. Suppose we hold title to movable and immovable assets passed on to us by our ancestors who had had earned dharmic incomes building their wealth, then what they bequeathed to us is also dharmic that we can enjoy without a guilt. This kind of income benefits everyone, the benefactor (our forefathers), the beneficiary (ourselves) by way of good Karma. In turn those who we spend our money on, such as teachers, physicians, artisans, tradesmen, bankers, performers, servants etc share the dharmic quality of our white money. What we pay them for their goods and services will be wholly absorbed by the community with full benefits. This is the power of EARNED INCOME OR DHARMIC EARNINGS/MONEY. DHARMIC MONEY IS THE PRIDE OF THE INDIVIDUAL, PRIDE OF A NATION. A sense of satisfaction prevails with all concerned parties. The recipients of dharmic money register a gradual growth in their economic status and start/keep flourishing. Mostly the middle class families have dharmic incomes with nothing to hide by way of tax evasion or ill gotten wealth. The booming middle classes lower, middle and upper support a whole range of services and professions and arts and crafts with their hard earned money. Industries are sustained by this honest income, taxed and transparent. India’s economic engines run on this CLEAN WHITE DHARMIC EARNINGS AND SPENDINGS. Trades and businesses prosper with the infusion of this dharmic money. From fruit and flower seller to sole proprietors, dharmic money reaches many levels. Even showrooms and hotel chains and cinemas and auto manufacturers do well when dharmic earnings are expended on entertainment sector. This is because the dharmic money has the nature of the sattva guna. It is generally harmless and productive.

On the other hand may be the UNEARNED INCOMES, ILL GOTTEN WEALTH that are also spent lavishly on vanity but never on philanthropy generously. Taxes evaded, accounts and figures fudged, there is nothing dharmic about this other kind of money that can buy anyone fake friends and relationships. Wherever this money is spent, adharma rears its ugly head. The adharmic money is like the rakshasa guna. The character of the unearned corrupt incomes manifests in its every spending. This is why for instance, pictures financed by mafias bomb at the box office. Big businesses floated with pomp run aground. Most adharmic funds expended as investment projects do not bring about a big positive changes. Typically the adharmic money is not only unaccounted black money, but it also goes into shady businesses such as breweries, drugs, weapons etc., for instance. The adharmic money helps in buying out law enforcement, justice system everything. Money power also translates into muscle power. The adharmic incomes never stick to us. This is why when we lose something valuable and gain it back we say, hard earned money can never go waste but will get back to us.

Typical loss of Adharmic money/earnings can be witnessed even today in fallen kingdoms such as the Afghan, etc. Like individuals, nations have Karma.

The adharmic money we earn or the adharmic money we are paid with for our goods and services may be meeting our hospital bills who knows. Or take the form of stock market crash depleting our holdings. In short losses we suffer in life are those gains we make with adharmic incomes with or without our knowledge.

The dharmic-adharmic money is never discussed in public forums. It is not the subject matter for speakers on podiums. It is not for those who sell their soul for a share in the unearned income pie. Only the middle class with their hard earned money have the conscience to openly claim their sources of incomes and list their honest spendings.

Dharmic money is sattva. Adharmic money is rakshasa. The sattva money recipients prosper in the long run with the goodwill that is associated with the dharmic money. The rakshasa guna of the adharmic money will seed greed and sin in their recipients and precipitate adharma. The adharmic money is spent mostly on tax evasive channels. The routing of the unearned incomes also remains mystery. Unexplained incomes, unaccountable incomes always give this moneyed circle a wrong sense of entitlement. The adharmic moneyed classes run a parallel black economy harming the nation. Unearned incomes easily take the form of bribes. The adharmic money earned is exactly the plundered or looted share of public wealth from the masses without a shame. The adharmic money spenders/inheritors are none but freeloaders. Unlawfully amassed real estate bank to unearned commissions and agencies and licences, the adharmic money deprives the general janata a decent and comfortable living and just and equitable opportunities. Adharmic money inheritors/spenders prosper parasitically at the cost of public welfare. To sum up, adharmic money is bad Karma.

So, like the food we eat, the incomes we earn also have a quality about them. Finally they come to define who we are and our lives.

Posted in Food For Soul

Mano Dharma.

A lot of debate on this lately. My flight pic this time was ‘Marry me’ with Jennifer Lopez. I am a huge fan of hers. Loved ‘Shall we dance’ and ‘Maid in Manhattan’ in both of which she played her romantic roles to the hilt. In the second one, she is not a glam queen crooning to hysteric crowds, so that’s kind of departure from her expected portrayals. ‘Marry me’ was typical though. A rockstar set to wed her equal, Cat instead marries someone from audience out of sheer impulse in front of hundred thousand super-excited fans. She says, one must embrace the spontaneity of the moment and that’s what she does. And this is what Mano Dharma is all about. Embracing something on intuition, with no contemplation. But is it really manodharma we have in ‘love aajkal.’ Every single move is deliberate is it not. Each and every step is considered, weighed, analysed, planned, executed to perfection. Masterminds chalk out back-to-back strategies plotting approaches, means and ends. Hacking and stacking followed by emotional abuse is the norm. And we do have the nerve to pin it all on ‘manodharma.’ Thank you, JLo, I wasn’t really looking for a glaring example to disprove facts but you helped, even if its from Hollywood studios. Some of the guys here need a lecture. Manodharma is not materialistic. Manodharma is NON MANIPULATIVE. NOT CALCULATIVE. Manodharma is freewill, Manodharma is dharmic, fair, unbiased. Manodharma is truly embracing the spontaneity of the moment, intuitive, impulsive and most of off without a logic or MOTIVE.

Posted in Food For Soul

தமிழ் தமிழ்ன்னு சொல்றாங்களே…

தமிழர் பண்பாடு சரசரக்கும் பட்டு புடவைலையோ, நெத்தியில வெச்சுக்கற குங்குமத்துலயோ,தலைல சூடுற ஜாதி மல்லி பூச்சரத்திலேயோ, போட்டு மினுக்கர வைர அட்டிகைலையோ வைர கம்மல்லையோ இல்ல. இட்லி தோசை பொங்கல் வடைல இல்ல. சத்தியமா பில்டர் காபில இல்ல. படிக்கற சங்க இலக்கியத்துலயும் இல்ல. மேடை நாடகத்தில இல்ல. பாக்கற சினிமா படத்தில இல்ல. சுஜாதா பாலகுமாரன்லையும் இல்ல. வைரமுத்துவுலயும் இல்ல தாமரைலயும் இல்ல எப்படி கண்ணதாசன்ல இல்லையோ வாலில இல்லையோ அப்படி . பட்டி மன்றத்திலே இல்ல. விவாத மேடைல இல்ல. திராவிடத்திலேயே இல்ல அப்போ சீர்திருத்த கல்யாணத்துல இருக்குமா என்ன. பட்டபடிப்புல இல்ல. எந்த புத்தகத்திலயும் இல்ல. கீழடில அகழ்வாராய்ச்சில இல்ல. பொங்கல் பானைலயும் காணோம். பனை தென்னை உச்சிக்கும் போகல. திருவள்ளுவர்கிட்டையும் இல்ல, ஒளவையார் கிட்டயும் இல்ல. சேர சோழ பல்லவ பாண்டியன் கிட்ட இல்ல. நக்கீரன் கிட்டையும் இல்ல அப்போ தருமி கிட்ட எப்டி இருக்கும். கண்ணகி எரிச்ச மதுரைலேயும் இல்ல. தஞ்சாவூர் பெரிய கோவில்லயும் இல்ல. கரை புரண்டு ஓடற காவிரியில் இல்ல, காணாமல் போன குமாரி கண்டத்தலையும் இருந்தது இல்ல. அப்போ தமிழ் எங்க தான் இருக்கு.

தமிழ் எங்க இருக்குன்னா அது நம்ம வாழற, மனசாட்ச்சிக்கு உறுத்தாத கௌரவமான வாழ்க்கைல இருக்கு . ஒழுக்கமே தமிழர் பண்பாடு. காலத்துக்கு ஏத்த மாதிரி கொஞ்சம் மாறலாம் தப்பு இல்ல. நம்ம கலாச்சாரத்தையே தல கீழ புரட்டி போடும் எந்த விதமான பழக்க வழக்கமும் தமிழ் பண்பாடு ஆகாது. குடியும் குடுத்தனமா இருன்னு சொல்றதுக்கு அர்த்தம் பார வீட்ல வெச்சுக்கோ என்பது இல்ல. ‘பெருசுகள் இல்லாத வீடுகள் கடவுள்கள் வாழாத கோவில்கள்’ ன்னு ஒரு சினிமா பாட்டு வரி ஞாபகம் வருது. மேல துப்பட்டா போட்டுட்டு வெளில போன்னு சொல்ற மாமியார் அருமையை இப்போ உணரறேன். படிக்கட்டுல பாத்து ஹலோ சொன்னாகூட பக்கத்து பிளாட் மாமாவை மொறச்சுட்டு பதில் சொல்லாம போக வெக்கறது எவ்வளவு பெரிய சேவைன்னு இப்போ தெரியுது. வெட்டி பேச்சு என்னத்துக்குன்னு முணுமுணுக்கறதுலயே வந்தவங்க விலாசம் இல்லாம ஓடி போய்டுவாங்க. எந்த புது டிரஸ் வாங்கினாலும் எத்தனை டிரஸ் வாங்குவ நிறுத்து போதும், இருக்கறத போடுன்னு சொல்ற சித்தி அருமை விளங்கறது. கொஞ்சமே வீட்ல இருந்தாலும் ஸ்விக்கி இல்லாத நாட்கள்ல கூட இருந்தத விருந்தாளியோட பகிர்ந்து சாப்பிடறது இல்லயா தமிழ் பண்பாடு. பாக்கறவங்க எல்லாம் அண்ணா தம்பி தான். அக்கா தங்கை தான். பக்கத்துவீட்டு பசங்க நம்ம பசங்க. அடுத்தவீட்டு பாட்டி நம்ம பாட்டி. ஒண்ணுன்னா ஓடி வருவாங்க. நல்லதை தான் சொல்லி குடுப்பாங்க வீட்டு பெரியவங்களும் சரி, பிரெண்ட்ஸ் அம்மா அப்பாவும் சரி. தவறான என்கரேஜ்மெண்ட் எப்பவும் எந்த விஷத்திலயும் கிடையாது. தப்பு பண்ணினா பக்கத்துக்கு வீட்டு மாமி தான் மொதல்ல டோஸ் விடுவாங்க. மூடி மறைக்கற விஷயமே கிடையாது. சிவன் கோவில் சொத்து குல நாசம்னு சொல்லி தான் வளத்தாங்க. வில்வ இலையை கூட நாங்க வீட்டுக்கு கொண்டு வந்தது கிடையாது. இந்த மாதிரி அன்பான பொறுப்பான சத்தியமான குடும்ப சூழ்நிலை, சுற்றார் கூட வளர, வாழ குடுத்து வெக்கணும். என்னை பொறுத்தவரைக்கும் இதுவே தமிழ் கலாச்சாரம், பண்பாடு. நாங்களும் இருபத்தி அஞ்சு வருஷம் முன்னவே வேலைக்கு போனவங்க தான். ஜீன்ஸ் போடறவங்க தான். சைட் அடிக்கறவங்க தான். ஸ்கூட்டர் கார் ஓட்டினவங்க தான். அம்பத்தஞ்சு வருஷம் முன்னாடி வேலைக்கு போனவ தான் என் தாய். சுய சம்பாத்தியத்தில் காலூன்றி நின்னவ. இல்லாமையே அவ என்ன வளர்த்தது தான் அபாரம்.

எனக்கு ஒரு சந்தேகம். தமிழ் தமிழ்னு அலப்பறை செய்யறவங்க ஏன் தமிழர்க்கே உரித்தான கற்பு நெறியை பத்தி பேச மாட்டேங்கறாங்க. ரு வில் ஒரு சொல் ஒரு இல்னு சொன்ன கம்ப ராமாயணத்தை எப்படி மறந்தாங்க. மயிர் நீத்தால் உயிர் நீங்கும் கவரி மான் போல மானம் வளர்த்தது தமிழ் இல்லையா. முல்லைக்கு தேர் கொடுத்த பாரியா இருக்க வேணாம். முல்லையா வேரோட புடுங்காம இருந்த போறதா

திரைகடல் ஓடியும் திரவியம் தேடுன்னு சொல்வாங்க தமிழ்ல. அப்டி வெளி நாடு தேடி போய் பொருள் ஈட்டறவங்க கூட பலரும் நம்ம கலாச்சாரத்திலேந்து மாறாம இருக்கறத பாக்கலாம். வீக் எண்டு பார்ட்டி இங்கயும் எப்போவாவது உண்டு தான். காக்டெய்ல் கூட. லேடீஸ் உட்பட. எதுக்கு பொய் சொல்லணும். ஆனா முறை தவறி, அளவு மீறி எல்லை தாண்டி நான் எதையும் என் இருபத்தி அஞ்சு வருஷ ஃபாரின் வாழ்கைல பாத்ததும் இல்ல கேள்வி பட்டதும் இல்ல. மாறாக கோவில் இல்லாத ஊர்ல பூஜையை பாக்கறேன். பாட்டும் பரதமும் பாக்கறேன். கொலு வெச்சு பாக்கறேன். உண்மையான அடக்கத்தை பாக்கறேன். கண்டிப்பா அது உடைல இல்ல. ஆடம்பரத்தில இல்ல. முக்கியமா விளம்பரத்துல இல்லவே இல்ல.தமிழ் நம்ம வாழ்க்கை நெறியில் இருக்கு. குடும்ப நேர்த்தில இருக்கு. கண்ணியத்தில இருக்கு. கட்டுப்பாட்டுல இருக்கு. அமைதில இருக்கு. எளிமைல இருக்கு. இறக்கத்துல இருக்கு. தமிழ்நாட்டுக்கு வெளியில தமிழ் இப்டி நல்லாவே வாழறது. மாட மாளிகைல இருக்கோ இல்லையோ ஏர் ஒட்டி களைத்து போன குடியானவனோட குடிசைலயும் அவன் வேர்வையிலும் இருக்கு. உழைத்து வாழறது. கஷ்டப்பட்டு வாழறது. நாணயமா தலை நிமிர்ந்து வாழறது. பெருமையா வாழறது. கௌரவமா வாழறது. சீரழிஞ்சு போகல. யாரையும் கெடுக்கல. யாரோடதையும் பிடுங்கல. பொய் பித்தலாட்டம் இல்ல. அலட்டல் இல்ல. பொறாமை இல்ல. நாட்ல, தமிழ்நாட்ல, எவன் ஒருவன் இப்டி யோக்கியமா வாழறானோ, அவன் வீட்ல தமிழ் வாழத்தான் செய்யறது. குடும்ப குத்துவிளக்குன்னு ஒன்று கிடையவே கிடையாதுன்னு என் தோழி சொன்னபோது என் மனசு அந்த பாடு பட்டது. காலத்து ஏற்ப கொஞ்சம் வளைஞ்சு கொடுக்கறவ தான் நானும். நான் ரொம்ப யோக்கியம், நான் தான் யோக்கியம்னு சொல்ல வரல. ஆனா இன்னிக்கும் நம்ம முன்னோர் காட்டிய பாதைலேந்து விலகி போற தைர்யம் எனக்கு கிடையாது. அப்டி பட்ட முன்னேற்றம், நவ நாகரீகம் எனக்கு தேவையே இல்ல. எனக்கு தெரிஞ்ச தமிழ் இது தான். நல்லது, ஆயிரம் காலத்து பயிர். கெட்டாலும் மேன்மக்கள் மேன்மக்களே சங்கு சுட்டாலும் வெண்மை தரும். இதுவே தமிழுக்கான அர்த்தம். தமிழ் குடிகொண்டு வாழற இடம் சுயமரியாதை.

தமிழர் என்றொரு இனம் உண்டு… தனியே அவற்கொரு குணம் உண்டு…!

Posted in Food For Soul

Thambadhyam

We in our family always feed the crows before touching our meals (on parents side). My aunt is a septuagenarian. And sick and ailing. She is unable to climb the staircase and go to the terrace to give food to the crows. So my cousin devised an ingenuous idea for her to give food to her crows right from their kitchen. He screwed in a iron handle to a stainless steel plate that can be hooked to the grill for hanging. Crows had a perch now on the sill and also on the very plate edge. The crows looked forward to the food everyday at exact time. The plate can be later unhooked for a rinse.

After years or decades perhaps, I went for sleepover to my aunt’s. Frail from ill health and probably terminally ill, she still never forgot the crows. Daily she would give one small meal of dal, kozhambu, rice, curd with til (ellu), veggies etc., to the crows after offering the plate to my uncle (within photo frames) It is only after giving my chithappa his food, she is able to eat even a morsel of food. This touched me totally. I know for a fact that my chithi and chithappa were such an ‘anyonya thambadhi’ – the kind we cannot see in future. I felt honestly ashamed (!) by the kind of love and respect my aunt still had for my uncle who passed away three years back.

The crow plate is easy to hang on the grill. I was blessed to offer the crows the food when I was with my aunt. One day food was not ready but it was getting late. So I just had to offer curd rice and ellu (til) salted to my chithappa and then the crows as my aunt would not miss the timing! Chithappa would be hungry!

This really brought tears to my eyes. May sound weird to many But i clicked these pictures to show how easy it is to feed the crows right from your balcony or service verandah.

Posted in Food For Soul

Dubious Karma.

By default I am Hindu Indian and therefore I have to be a believer in Karma. There can be no other way. But Karma also can double up as a good excuse when it comes to explaining injustices and inadequacies among us. In middle-east, locals prefix every utterance of theirs with a phrase, ‘god willing.’ When I arrived here for the first time, I developed respect for this unwavering trust folks placed in their maker that I believed I somehow lacked! Faith was one thing but to give my one hundred percent without batting an eyelid to anything even if it was god, was just not me! There is always an iota of persisting doubt in me of whatever it may be. After all where I come from we say, ‘netrikkan thirappinum kutram kutrame! to Lord Shiva who we believe is the father of this universe. Over time, therefore that ‘god willing’ greeting started getting on my nerves. I had misgivings that failings and mismanagement and inefficiencies were easy to shrug off this way without us having to inflict ourselves with the troubling pain of guilt. People moved on. Any promise or assurance you may want from parties could be sworn under a solemn oath in the name of god, ‘god willing!’ There is no point in laying the blame at the doors of those who do not live up to their words, should things go wrong. Here we have a clear case of god’s will. Or in other words our Karma. This is exact replica of how we operate in India! How easy to not take responsibility, not be answerable, not to be even questionable. Everything has a past connection or god’s hand on it conveniently! Which is why I am a bit skeptical of ‘Karma’ even though I am raised with cultural ethos that place a huge premium on our past, present and future karmas. I guess, there are those among us who would like to use karma like a crutch to lean on when we have no other supporting evidence to keep logic going. This third leg of karma steadies us from faltering. We are saved. Our sanity is in tact. Complacency and supplication and insolence and ingratitude become our mental make-up. Wrong sense of entitlement can be righted. Weaknesses are miserable and sufferable. All balances square up nicely and tally. We can now cleanse our souls and transfer residual karma, if any, to our next janam where we can deal with the mess ‘aaraamse’ – god willing.

Posted in Food For Soul

The Dharmic : Quality Vs. Quantity

stay unique, render yourself rare,

never the sheep, but the one herder

-Viji lol

A friend has been recommending to me ‘Sapiens’ for a long time now and I finally got to download it for reading. (A review will follow). In this context, this is what is playing in my mind regarding the future of Hindu Dharma right this moment.

Quality or Quantity, which is your picking. I am someone who has always been of the view that our parents generation enjoyed a superior standard of living than ours even though today we find ourselves in the digital age that we can credit with simplifying our lives like never before. Neanderthals and other humans no doubt exactly enjoyed a better quality of life in a very similar fashion as foragers and hunters over the agrarian Sapiens who then heavily industrialized. We the modern day homo sapiens found the safety in numbers but are we getting increasingly miserable or do we live life as contented as our uncivilized brutish ancestors.

Who made it most successful in evolution? Homo Sapiens of course, over other humans. And the staple cereal crops such as wheat and maize and paddy when it comes to vegetation. The domesticated cattle and sheep and donkeys and horses and dogs and poultry probably stood better chances at the outset outliving the species gone extinct like the megafauna that included mammoth, marsupial lion etc. But to what end? Is there a more heartwrenching story than that of the drought animals or the milch cattle or the broiler chicken?

This may have relevance to the future of Hindu Dharma in my opinion. So do we Hindus still have to bother about the Abrahamization of the entire world. Let others go on and multiply in exponential like rats and rabbits, if they have to. The Hindu population that has survived to 21st century always has had a quality to it incomparable to others. If we have to perish as a community, let us without losing our values. This is already happening to the Parsis in India and elsewhere as we know. This community will go down history as one of the finest to have ever graced earth with their presence. Without diluting their standards, the community is disappearing right in front of our eyes. Nonnegotiable value system. Highly innovative, enterprising and in service of mankind in their own way. Parsis leave their dead to the vultures as meal.

We Hindus in India, even if majority as of today, are aware, it is only a matter of a couple or more of general elections for our country to go to the dogs. This can happen when the Hindu population of the country may dip anytime under fifty percentage and we cease to be officially the overwhelming majority community. Mercifully this may not happen in my own lifetime or who knows it may happen towards the fag end of mine. In any case, Hindu Dharma could be doomed irrespective of the relentless efforts put in by the present BJP govt and the new age self-styled Hindu gurus. Yeah, kind of makes me sad. But at the same time, reading this book (of which i have not over 20% so far), I feel an overwhelming relief to know that, when we have to go, we have to go with a bang, having lived well. I don’t believe in numbers either. I would rather opt for quality over quantity.

The author of the book Yuval Noah Harari, Israeli, avers the rhinoceros in the wild, about to go extinct shortly, living it up in the bushes on freewill is still well placed than the lonely and miserable oxen emasculated and yoked to the plough for a lifetime. Is this how we must count success in our life? Is this how we have to define evolution? Should it even matter who outlives who. What matters is, who lives it out the best. Short and sweet.

Adaptability comes with its own set of flaws. Flexibility is not possible without sacrifice. Do we Hindus simply have to do the number calculation and see to that we survive at any cost. Or should we go down with the vessel honorably like the Parsis. I choose the Parsi way. Is it rather too early to talk on this? Nope. I guess, it is time we Hindus resign to the reality. What the turks and the moguls and the british could not do to us through eight to ten long centuries, our own converted brown Indians may be capable of doing in near future: drive us to extinction naturally or unnaturally.

Helps me to come to peace now thinking of this. I am ignorant, not at all the learned, but in my ignorance, I still choose the Elephant over Shiva if it comes to that. My love for nature and wildlife supersedes anything that I cannot physically access or assess. It is more important to me to live as a true Sanathana Dharmi, not snuffing out wildlife and championing over the helpless. There is not an urge to prove anything to anyone or substantiate this or that. Neither is there the arrogance of ‘knowing better’ for we know not a single human who has returned here from the yonder to spell it all out for us in all clarity and honesty.

When I toured the Turkish museum in Istanbul, I saw an array of spears and other arms and ammunition including weapons of torture used on capture of enemy kingdoms. The jewelry were plundered. So were the French museums filled with loot from invasions. The American museums related the slave history and that of the Indians ethnically cleansed in entirety. In contrast in the rudimentary Shivaji museum at Tanjore, Tamil Nadu, India, I saw pots from granaries, agricultural and art tools, rewards for peasants and poets, etc. Mysore palace museum showcased exquisite jewelry and finest oil paintings, all desi Indian. It is painful to see artefacts from India as exhibits in world museums, acquired illegally or taken forcibly as done by the British. In India, every single museum piece is self-made, local. I attribute Hindu ethos for this one distinguishing feature that sets us apart from the Abrahamic world.

A rich life is what I would say the Hindus have lived. India is Yoga Bhumi not Bhoga Bhumi like the US who choose material way of life over higher consciousness. We are still living among great Dravidian architecture temples in the south many of which are easily two millennia old. We practise the traditional arts and crafts cherished and passed on to us over centuries. Hindu culture is the only continuous native civilization surviving to this day since at least 10000 BC. A soft power gifting the world with Yoga and Meditation and Ahimsa, the principle of non-violence, propagating vegetarianism and having for our ambassadors our physicians and scientists and techies and teachers, India is Hindu by soul. Dharma is our breath. Buddhism and Jainism and Sikhism, the branching folds from Hinduism are all equally thought provoking and non aggressive by nature. We Hindus proudly strut in our native clothes, speak the native tongue, and why our Gods are native as well! What a profusion of local talent: from classical music and dance forms to visual arts. Our cuisine! Even Bollywood has carved a niche for itself in the entertainment industry. So much original, authentic. It would be a shame if Hindus perish off the face of earth, but then all good things will have to come to an end someday.

Or would we the Hindus:

  • have a dozen kids just to boost our headcount
  • invade or plunder as every abrahamic nation under the sky has historically done with insolent pride
  • sell god door to door like carefree or harpic
  • sow poison weeds of hatred in the hearts of our sons and daughters so they turn out terrorists
  • live a low life sans art and culture
  • ape west anglicizing ourselves
  • surrender to materialistic aspirations, our souls
  • embrace the abrahamic way of life

I would rather if Hinduism becomes a yearned memory some day rather than linger behind with a ruptured soul. The world then would have lost something too very profound and precious.

Posted in Food For Soul

Khandhan

It pains my heart to write this.

We are all parents. We know the ways of our kids. I am the ’80s teen. I know even how way back in those days, we girls still cheated on our parents and got away with it. In an era where even short skirts were taboo, i have had among my friends circles girls who ‘crossed the line’ – if i may put it so. Who violated every single unwritten code in the morals and ethics book of their conservative, orthodox Hindu families. Today they are all happily married with grown up kids in twenties. Boys for their share smoked and boozed, as expected of them, behind their parents’ back. I have heard from my husband how boys from his engineering hostel even went to call girls. We are not here all saints from our turbulent teens. Many of us have erred, keeping with times. However that did not stop us from becoming what we are today. Every single one of us including the bold ones has made it, and that’s the most cheering news of all. What would have happened if the guilty had had to be punished.

In today’s world, our children are merely taking the next step in rebellion which is part of growing-up. Or coming of age. One of my regular cabbies told me once how a particularly addictive leafy stuff has spread like wildfire to each and every corner of Chennai, mainly sold in front of school gates and college entrances. Nobody made it to sports these days without a high from the campus. Or even to the examination hall. IT industry precipitated the matter. The acute stress levels chasing deadline after deadline cast the young men and women towards seeking a quick release. Parental and peer pressure nonetheless. My friends too aver how everything is freely available in the city and you don’t have to look far. Practically no locality is free of the net. Any government that is keen on securing the future of our youngsters must know where to look first.

I was discussing exactly this problem that I don’t even want to name with my son’s friends both in America and in India. They think this particular dried leaf one is no big deal and that they’re all canvassing to make it legal in India as it was until the 1970s when it was overnight declared illegal which pushed up its procurement costs and consumption rates. Now some vested interests even cultivate it for exclusive clientele. Some anti-social rackets naturally make a neat sum out of this as they get the younger gen hooked. Said the boys, it is tobacco which is worst but sadly or perhaps very cleverly its consumption is legal. I did not agree with the boys, but the same view is also held by my generation guys who are doing well in IT field.

I went for a single session counselling with a leading psychiatrist. One thing he told me was, the youngsters of today have to know if possible everything on planet. It is age-related. Or what you say in Tamil, ‘vayasu kolaru.’ They will eventually come out of this on their own by the time they hit their thirties. Only a negligible percentage become addicts. So he asked me to ignore if I might discover my son smoking or boozing with friends. He said, it was I who had to change not the kids. My generation has to wake up said the doc with enormous experience in the field who is also running a de-addiction center. I wanted advice on parenting with him. How to deal with a son in his twenties. Of course now my son is a father himself. I don’t have to keep an eye on him. Destiny has made him responsible. Some lessons, life can teach our children and it is better we remain mere observers. Sometimes it is okay to see our kids fail or fall. With a great restraint, we have to hold back ourselves from lending them a helping hand. The only comfort for our children must be that, whatever, we parents would love them unconditionally and accept them for what they are. And that we’d accept their choices wholeheartedly.

It is not easy parenting in this century although I am now finally heaving a sigh of relief. But I have an open mind compared to even my hubby who is a lot more conservative with rigid outlook. I got to mix with my son’s friends and came to know both the girls and boys of the 90s better. Believe me, even our girls seem to love the brown leafy or root powder! The first time I got wind of the youngsters’ habits, like any average Indian parent I was shocked to the core. Or you can say my heart almost stopped. My other thought was like, ‘omg what’s happening to my good old Madras!’ But I roused myself to reality. I think I am better in dealing with crisis when it comes to family than my husband who can solve complex industrial issues but not matters of domesticity. I have had hours of discussion with the boys on delicate subjects. I think our Indian govt also has to be practical. Now why are we updating on every front. Windows 10 to 11. How many Android updates. You check even our Cowin website. How fast they are updating with facts and figures gathered from stats from all around the country. I am asking this simple question: why cannot our government do an analysis on the emerging lifestyle of our youngsters. We simply cannot have all at the same time. If you want more and more money, you have to take more and more stress. And to beat stress you need a potent stress reliever. As simple as that.

I felt a pain when one of the kids told me, how we the parents still could be luckier generation while their grandparents (our parents) could have been the luckiest of Indians in last 2000 years, for they not only lived in a peaceful era sans wars, but also were surrounded by green unpolluted environs; there was no reason to chase money; life was simple and sweet. Many of the boys and girls of 90s still aren’t yet married. And they already say, they do not want biological kids, and that they would like to go for adoption. S*x life of the kids also has hit an abysmal low compared to our generation. Stress is playing a spoilsport in every front. Such a listless generation is what we have in our hands. So disillusioned when I see some kids. Of course, not everyone is in such a deep despair. I hope the Khan kid is not targeted. A wrong is a wrong whoever does it. But then when you have a kid of the same age, you think twice before judging. As a parent, my heart goes out to SRK. This must not happen to any parent. I have caught kids redhanded in compromising circumstances. I ignored them but reported on them to their parents behind their backs. My friends are mature and know how to handle things. They never stir the hornets’ nests. How to untangle situations and get the kids without least damage is the knack of parenting, with not even the kids knowing. This kind of wisdom is god’s gift.

I do not deny that some mischievous elements are flushing toxic substances into India. Neither am I justifying abuse of any kind. I am vociferously against both. But we need to take care that we don’t hurt our children. They are still our kids. I felt bad for SRK and wife Gauri. Stars and billionaires also have families and more than all emotion and heart. We cannot keep bleeding them so cruelly like this. What kind of sadists have we become to rejoice when a celebrity suffers, only because he made it big. Well, let us allow law to do its duty. This social media trial of the starkid is unwarranted and heartless.

The cleanup of Indian Gennext has to start right from the capital Delhi. Let every school and college campus be combed which is a Herculean task I know. Reforming the youngsters must be our priority, not penalizing them. We gain nothing out of turning them into anti-establishment. Engaging the younger lot productively is the greatest challenge of our times as their attention span is shrinking. With more of economic comfort, they lack the drive to excel or prove a point. Boredom is one good reason for kids going astray. This is really nobody’s fault. It has to happen. It is natural for lethargy to set in given that we have cushioned them from rude jolts of life like our parents never did for us. In Tamil again we say, ‘muppadhu varusham vaazhndhavanum kidayadhu, muppadhu varusham thaazhndhavanum kidaiyadhu.’ This is merely a cycle. For my generation and my parents, growth was fueled by desire for better standard of living. None of us even owned a telephone or car. What do our sons and daughters dream of? We tae them on exotic holidays, we shop for the best brands for them. They have had everything in life without working for anything. They lack nothing and that is exactly the problem. The low they feel is perfectly understandable. How many of them are on the verge of bottomless abyss called ‘depression’ – just ask parents like me. There is not much to fight for, we have taken it all making things easy for them. This i am saying after having hearty talks with 90s kids.

Let us forgive our children and move on. Time is the best healer. I have handled personal crisis with my patience. How many secrets a woman’s heart can hold. Right from my teens to now, i have known secret gays to hasty abortions. Sometimes just keeping quiet will do. Things will work out for better by themselves. As for the kids of 20s, they are still our children. If they err, we have to embrace them and let them know, it is ok. We can chastise them politely but convincingly as we have the right. But to bring them about without damaging them must be our mission. I do not believe in harsh punishments. Neither am I for political agendas or selective targeting. ‘Kalavum katru mara’ one more Tamil adage to quote here. This too shall pass. I can only close with the unflinching trust and belief in our kids that they will be over the bend with time. All we need to do is to be there for them when they make it on their own terms.

PS: Hopefully our media covers equally Adani port as well. Again from Tamil, ‘aanai poradhu theriyalai, poona thaan paavam panni maattiyadhu.’

Posted in Food For Soul

Retirement Homes: Boon Or Bane?

This post of mine is from July 15, 2015. I am not editing it to see how my mind worked in 2015 😀

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Who wants to have her Mother-In-Law home today. I would like a break myself perhaps had I not lost my mother in an young age. May be that tempered me into hosting her – which I consider is a privilege. I am human, at times I long for privacy and she does wear me out, but at the end of the day I guess this is one cherished treasure I could be leaving behind for my son… a precious something… I remind myself, my MIL is not my MIL but my husband’s mother. I was thinking whether we parents would be happy if our son might be sending us some greenbacks from wherever he will be working/living in future. Is that what parents seek? In modern world where mostly the elderly are either pensioners or somewhat financially sound, what shall they want from their children?

The first question anyone who comes home asks me is: YOUR MOTHER-IN-LAW IS WITH YOU?!

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A friend’s widowed mother recently got for herself a condominium (retirement home) at a cost of 75 lacs bucks plus annual maintenance charges running into thousands of rupees per year very much to the chagrin and disappointment of her 2 married and well-settled daughters. Whats more, the lady who is a retired govt teacher, kept her family in the dark about her intentions. That really set me thinking.

My views on old age homes are coloured by what I saw in Malaysia. Malaysia was a real learning period in my life in many ways. Upto 60 years or so the chinese there worked hard. Bought themselves a home (as primary investment) and also a condo in highlands (hill-stations) (for a second loan/secondary investment) to settle down on retirement .

One such a posh retirement village comprising some 100 luxurious condos in Camaroon highlands or somewhere got swept under landslides common in these regions. So that is when I came to know what a lifestyle the retired enjoy in peace in the sunset of their lives, in better-off circles. Later I learned this is a universal phenomenon in ‘mature’ societies like we have in the first & second worlds.

Not every elderly settlement is expensive though. There is a range of retirement homes to suit your budget you can comfortably choose from. And you may opt to live in the heart of the city or pack your bags to quiet nests under mother earth’s shadow.

A mature society boasts of a happy contented senior citizen population

The retired folks happily make the condos their home. A lesson for aging parents in India: the retirees do not leave with their children the burden of guilt. Its a wise decision taken in one’s prime years that works fine with everyone The grandparents graciously leave the centerstage and enrich the evening of their lives in the company of peers playing shuttle, going for swimming and long walks, reading in libraries and attending concerts – in harmony with nature. There is 24 hour in-house doctor on call. No wonder Malaysian chinese live upto 100 years.

Many of our chinese friends were scrupulously saving for their second home – a condo. It also helps that Malaysian cost of living is cheaper than Indian and real estate in Malaysia is not as steep as in India either. Homes are affordable – and yes, even a week-end getaway or a luxury condo. Everyone is able to pay off their first housing loans/car loans by 35-36 years, eligible for an add-on or a second loan by their 40th year.

THE GENE FACTOR – FAMILY VALUES

Whereas we Indians are Indians anywhere & everywhere. Malaysian tamils, most of them, have no connection whatsoever with mainland India. Their ancestors migrated over 150-200 years back. Some do fly down to the south (mostly to Tamil Nadu) (or whichever part of India they are from – a small percentage this is, like Punjabis & Mallus for instance) but by and large they see India only in tv and pictures and books and media.

Yet its a surprise our temples and cuisines (although murdered beyond recognition) and traditions and some typically ‘Indian’ ways of life/culture are preserved until this generation in Malaysia.

First and foremost 0ne that was most striking to me about Malaysian Indian families was their joint-family set-up. Even the MIL-SIL issue was there (to my satisfaction hahaha)! Like in India, the joint families were beginning to give up as nuclear families were already happening, yet the joint family remained intact in many homes.

Next, Indians were in the habit of hoarding real estate properties – houses typically. Indians owned maximum houses in KL, Penang, etc because when others like Malays & Chinese stopped buying with their second wanting to enjoy life, our tamil/Indian bros and sisters went on acquiring their 3rd, 4th and 5th homes & even landed estates. Rentals added to Indian homes’ pooled income naturally! (Seeing us I am told even chinese/malays are now buying more homes!) (The same is true of my Indian American friends who continue buying a string of homes in the US). Looks like this property hoarding/acquisition spree & rentals/leasing is in Indian genes  Holiday or Investment: Investment ofcourse!! Why should I blame others, I am preaching onething but practising something else for sure!

Our Indian friends were cutting back on expenses and saving diligently just like we keep doing in India for our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, etc etc. We never enjoy our lives quite, do we – atleast compared to our western counterparts. Among Indians, north Indians even there seem to spend better than us south Indians. South Indians prefer the charpoy over 4 poster kingsize mattress anyday looks like 

The idea of aged parents being sent to old age homes sounded preposterous (atleast until we were around) in the south east asian country (in Indian community).

But I truly liked the condos concept. Senior citizens in developed countries, unlike our Indian seniors, looked forward to spending their twilight years in peace in condominiums, away from the clutters of routine work/family life. With 24 hour security and doctor on duty, to me the condos seemed the ultimate you cannot miss out on. Sounded fun. Even the government fixed age of retirement in India is 58 years, stretched to 60 in the private sector.

Elderly couples opting for condo was such a cute thing. In 60s, mostly we have our children well-settled. They need us no more. May be we can extend our busy years until ’70 if we are lucky. And then what to do.

A retired life sans commitment…

The happy pictures of grannies & grandpas melted my heart. Because I know, we married people hardly have time to ourselves in our younger years. The kids come along, worklife gets demanding, socializing and partying and holidaying all have a fixed time schedule/limit whereas in retirement couples may find themselves truly relishing each other’s company having fulfilled their joint responsibilities together. It is like back-to-square-1 I thought.

Many of our friends in middle east have done the Bali, the New Zealand, the Kenya, the Eurorail and others. Without kids I mean. Somehow I could never bring myself to do that. May be in future I would in the safe knowledge that my son has better company to go see places with …

Most of my local friends share my sentiment. We have similar views on sending our children to dorms/hostel in UG etc. We are reluctant to let go of our children easily …

Now that all of us girls are in the same boat, we find that our grown-up children are adults who we no longer have to wait on. Neither do our kids need us anymore except for moral/economic support. Our young and eager fledglings are flexing their wings waiting to fly out of the nests someday. To those of us with a single kid, this is like a weight placed upon our hearts. Coming to terms with reality is difficult.

Attachment & Detachment

They say in Thamizh: Petha Manam Pithu, Pillai Manam Kallu.

Better we maintain the distance with our kids right from the start keeping in mind, they are not ours forever. Just like we stopped belonging to our parents long back (and in my case from too very long back). Those of my friends with a second kid are relieved they will have a few more ‘years’ to look forward to.

I know we Indian parents are a lot more sentimental than those from other parts of the world and our emotion is our children’s greatest spoiler. One of my friends is too very attached to her only son/child studying to become a professional and it really makes me think of cautioning her. Too much of attachment, somehow I feel, is not good. Either for the boy or for the mother. All hell may break lose in the heavens with a most trivial thing like the arrival of a daughter-in-law in the scene. I have known or rather learned to keep minimum attachments with those I love most because otherwise it hurts too much.

I liked the way of life in Malaysia/other developed nations where elders gave space to the younger  generation. Personally I wouldn’t want to suffocate anyone with too much of emotion. The affection is there in the heart and it will stay for this lifetime and beyond… I do cry at the drop of a hat but when it comes to my family, I try to steel myself and be prepared.

One of my friends who became a citizen of the USA took her in-laws to live with her. Her FIL passed away quietly in a nursing home in a distant state from her place after remaining a vegetable for over 2 years. Electric cremation to the 80 year old man without a sound who lived most of his life in India. I wonder about the purpose. The imposition on children, the anonymity of dying in a cold place hooked to the machines, everything.

Why not a home for the aged in India. There are many now. In last 20 years, Chennai, Coimbatore, Tanjore everywhere even within Tamil Nad we have excellent care centers and/or retirement homes for seniors. Why couldn’t my friend’s in-laws choose to live in one of them.

On one hand I agree, my friend’s husband was firm about wanting his parents to live with him in their old age. He felt it was his responsibility as a son to take care of his parents till they breathed last which is great. Yet as working professionals, the couple could not attend to the sick old man when his health deteriorated  so he finally had to be admitted to a nursing home for professional care and medical attention.

My friend carries a bit of guilt burden about this when there is indeed nothing bad to feel about. The couple did their duties to the fullest. But I think this thing about our parents stays stubborn in our conscience. Despite all that they could do to the old father, the husband-wife pair blame themselves for having had to send away their papa to the care center. Through this period, my friend had to put up with her sulking angry and unreasonable mother-in-law.

In India, yes, we always have 2 extremes or perhaps more.

Where relationships bondage you…

I have always felt that developed societies treated this retirement/nursing home issue with a refinement that comes with better education and emotional maturity. Relationships are not bondages in their circles. Rather they are relaxed and enjoyable without constricting anyone.

Or may be we Indian parents expect too much from our children because we give our children our lives like none other. Ours is one supreme sacrifice. From the moment a child is born he/she becomes the epicenter of the parents world.  There is no such a thing as twosome in Indian families. Its always 3some or 4some (in case of 2 kids) (rare to see over 2 kids in India except in muslim families where 3 is minimum). Where is the privacy between husband and wife. Children become our life. Children become our obsession. And then finally no wonder it gets all the more difficult for us to share our kids with their life partners. Parents start to look like the villains over a stage. Why cannot Indian parents ever learn to quit the scene quietly. I am also a parent – I am willing to give but expect to receive nothing in return. Where there is no expectation, how can there be any disappointment.

Interestingly I learned this lesson from my own MIL. At 77, she is a grand mother and mother of 5 successful kids. All her male children are working professionals good in their fields and the only daughter is married to a professional as well. All her grand kids are budding professionals as well and show promise of a great future. Yet I see her simplicity and broad mindedness in not taking anything for granted. And something much more none of us can resist: not taking credit for her children’s success. You have to be real generous to do that. Born with silver spoon, she travels by auto (rickshaw) just like me without a murmur, never claims any personal victory and has never boasted to any of us how successful she is in her life. Her sons and daughter have come to respect her and love her not fear her. Sometimes I think this is a reason even for her good health (touchwood).

Not getting too very involved in the children’s life is something only level-headed Indian parents can manage I guess. My MIL has such a maturity – to live with us in a joint family yet retain individuality without trampling on our privacy and independence at the same time. I really appreciate that and wish I could emulate her example in future. Any may be this is why I am having her with me.

Irony is, it is those who do not want their in-laws/parents with them today are the ones who cannot let go off their kids ever. Those who live in joint families on the other hand are mentally better prepared. In my observation.

PRIVACY, What? Excuse me, we are Indians!

But even with my MIL I remember when my FIL was around, they hardly spent any time together. Their lives went around their grandchildren in the second innings of their lives. When my FIL was there, I have asked them why they could not go on all-India tour or pilgrimage or just on a simple holiday as a couple. Not even beach or kutchery (music concerts)? But to my amazement, they lacked that kind of interest to step out anywhere as an elderly pair who had accomplished their domestic responsibilities to satisfaction. It always made me wonder whether aged couple wanting a moment of privacy is indecent or selfish or whatever. Is it unnatural?

Today when I see my MIL watching alone the tv soaps, I urge her to go to temples/kutcheries again but she is very disinterested. She gives me space but still is the queen bee of the family. While I respect it I also have this to say: the COMPLETE detachment I saw in Malaysian elderly is absent in not only my MIL but in all septuagenarians or octogenarians of India. Despite the space they allow us that is. Wanting to stay in-charge, never to be side-lined is a privilege that no Indian Mother-in-law seems to relinquish willingly. Or may be I am hoping for too much!

It is good for us in a way. We want her in a condo neither. We like her with us. But my MIL is lucky to have 4 sons/families staying in the city. (Its never the daughter’s responsibility believe me). How many of us could prove to be fortunate like her?

Old-age home is not a bad or cruel idea at all. For some its a dire necessity like for those whose kids are NRIs. For the destitute, there are homes supported by charity. One such is ‘Vishranthi’ – first of its kind to be founded in Chennai.

There are 2 sides to any coin: abusive in-laws/parents versus cruel daughters-in-law/sons-daughters. This underlying fact could be the governing principle when it comes to many choosing between joint and nuclear families.

What is an Old Age Home like? Atleast one run on charity?

A good friend of mine put in a strange request to me last week.   She lives in a neighbouring state.  Hers is a ‘rags to riches’ story.  She has this habit of calling her high school teacher every Teachers’ Day, i.e., on September 5th.  (My friend joined our school for the higher secondary course after completing high school in a different institution).   Born in a very poor and large family, today she has achieved a remarkable and enviable status in her personal and professional life. Says she, the hope instilled in her by her teacher in high school days  is the reason for what she is today.

My friend had called her teacher as usual this Teachers’ Day but found that the phone line was cut.  The old fashioned teacher hardly used a cell phone or gave her numbers to others.  My distraught friend therefore called me in great anxiety wanting to know what happened to the old teacher who was in her ’80s and lived by herself.

I made some enquiries in her old dwelling place and learned that the senior teacher had moved to an old age home run by the school she served for over 30 years zealously.  She had been taken ill and therefore decided to take up the offer by the institution.

Blessed with well-to-do brothers & sisters and happy families, the lady had refused offer of shelter from everyone of her kith & kin to make her old school old age home for women her final residence. The school is unique in that it supports destitute women in a wing from a charity trust.

For my friend’s sake I stepped into the home for the aged for the first time in my life. It smelled of antiseptic right from the reception giving me a sick feeling. I met the grand old teacher in a first floor compact suite with a small built-in kitchenette she hardly used. Bathrooms were shared or attached in bigger rooms. A small tv plugged into the wall was running noiseless pictures.

The lady told me she felt comfortable in the home that she had been living in for over 6 months. She opted for common kitchen food served in the dining. Or sometimes she ordered food to her room. Almost all residents were 75 plus she said and a majority were retired teachers like her without family support.  Some among them were infirm. The teacher herself had been a child bride in those days widowed in her teens without issue. She got her education on her widowhood and was allowed to work as a teacher by her family. She taught high school kids.

Talking to her for over 1 hour I was disarmed by her sense of peace and acceptance of her last days (she is fine now). She said she wanted to pass away in her school grounds – in familiar surroundings – that gave a meaning to her otherwise barren life. Her relatives came to see her on fortnightly visits.

She ate sparsely, she spent her time reading scriptures rather than watching tv but said her eyes were beginning to get weak. I told her about my mom and my aunt and the connection was instantaneous. Here was one woman who had also devoted her life to teaching.

I had gotten her some wholewheat crackers that she accepted. I called my friend from her room and both had a hearty talk. My friend was delighted and grateful that I tracked down her ageing miss. For me it was an utmost satisfying day. The visit to the old age home, the meeting with a senior citizen- a retired teacher who devoted her life to selfless service, seemed to subdue me with a kind of strange emotions. I felt I was at rare peace with myself. At that moment I knew I did good having my MIL. Today my deep anxiety is about what shall happen to her if I have to move with my husband in his workplace?

Finally saying good bye and walking through the school grounds, I looked back at the home for the aged, tucked behind the trees, almost invisible from the rest of the buildings. There wasn’t a clue there were about 2 dozen aged and sick awaiting their turn in those gray blocks. Some got visitors but not all.

Retirement/Old Age Home –  A conscious choice?

I never thought visiting an aged home would depress me that much. It did. I wondered whether all my previous ‘learned’ thinking on retirement homes/condos was like a mirage – unrealistic. Cold. Heartless. Could a home for the aged be so much lonely, miserable and bleak. But I got the distinct feeling with the teacher’s although she never admitted to me she found it depressing.

Or may be it is a figment of my imagination. One more reason I thought could be that, the home was managed by a charitable trust with limited funds. May be the wealthier ones like my friend’s mother got herself were better?

They were for a fact so far as I knew. Because once in OMR, the IT highway, we were looking for some real estate. We chanced upon a property that was already developed into a retirement home. It wasn’t quite the luxurious condo but adapted to Indian lifestyle conditions. There was a temple inside, bhajan halls, tennis court, walking tracks, gardens, dining halls and individual apartments & security and a medical clinic. Guess it was some 15 years back. Now the place is sold out and the brand name has earned a high respect among senior citizens.

I thought the cluster of retirement homes was far better than the gated-community/enclave. In old age, the homes gave privacy not seclusion to its occupants. Safety and medical help were at arm’s reach.

Now I come to learn there are over a dozen in and around the city serving the grand old at various budgets. You may choose the facilities and opt for one as per your finance status.

Age with Dignity

One gracious deed of the MMS/Congress govt was facilitating REVERSE MORTGAGE for senior citizens of the nation that helps preserve their sense of independence.

http://profit.ndtv.com/news/your-money/article-how-senior-citizens-can-benefit-from-reverse-mortgage-373027

This is a good reason for the elderly not to nurture misgivings about imposing on their ‘reluctant’ children and/or for their adult-children in the event of weighing supporting their ageing parents (under trying financial conditions). I wonder what makes some of us think we are doing our parents/in-laws any favour. Rather are we not duty-bound the way they were when they raised us. The retirees can make a choice as to how to live the rest of their days in dignity. The fate of economically unsound/dependent retired lot is awfully miserable to imagine.

Despite my reasoning & logic, I would still like to dispense my responsibilities to the elderly within the comforts of our own home (thankless as they could be) – which alone can save me from a terrible guilty conscience.  May be its a personal decision for each & every one of us. I discovered I did not care whether the ageing Indian parents preferred spending rest of their lives in condos or not. Unless the circumstances are compelling, I hope no senior citizen in this country feels neglected or ignored and thereby needs to exercise the option – even if that could amount to taking our elderly for granted. Retirement/Old Age home is conceptually good, undeniable. Still let us allow our grandchildren the luxury of basking in grandparental love & spoiling pampering which is something we can never hope to substitute with.

Finally son(s), a mother is not after your cheque. A mother wants to see your face first.

Posted in Food For Soul

Retail Therapy

Must have returned from the US emptyhanded (without shopping that is) but the kids drove me the last moment to a mall making sure I shopped at least a little that they thought was necessary to make our trip complete.

Otherwise the last time i shopped for clothes was in Coimbatore in mid April. A good six months back almost, a record for me. A token sweater from Mango sale here in Doha as winter approaches is the only exception apart from personal care products from Body Shop. I missed the pre-US tour shopping deliberately and did not go for a facial in a salon that I normally do before a foreign trip. Was about to complete the tour without a serious buy but then ended up spending up around 100$ – not bad still. Even then the urge to shop was absent. A severe aversion has set in, but then the kids prevailed. More than them my hubby wanted to ensure that I got something otherwise he said I would be taunting him for a 100 years that he did not allow me to shop in the US!

The point is, the first time I went to the US (in 2017-18), every other day we went shopping. I got myself lots of clothes and bags i hardly needed. From 2015 I guess i have been on a splurge – a spending spree, literally a freefall. That was when my only son left for abroad for higher studies. As I alternated between India and Doha, my guess is that psychologically I was filling a vacuum with more clothes, bags, shoes and jewelry : material possessions as substitutes for physical presence of my beloved that I presumed could make me happy.

I opted for a designer for my clothes, went for branded bags like i never did in the past. I do go for brands now for personal care products. For clothes too these days I have come to look for brands. All this development has been there only since 2015. With despair I thought I was getting into a pattern I normally detested. My shopping sprees meanwhile were also going online at the same time.

The shopping peaked surprisingly in the pandemic time for me as a friend mocked that I was the only one shopping left and right even in critical times. I laughed it off but realized that it was very easy for me to take the bait if someone interested me in shopping for clothes. I fell without resistance over half a dozen times spending too much than the occasion warranted. A celebration at home and festive season gave me more reasons to shop than necessary. Afterwards, I would be plagued by the familiar guilty feeling ending up hating myself for succumbing to temptations and spending lavishly the hardearned money of my hubby that I did not earn for myself. Of course I was still spending within limits, but I was shopping nonstop for more and more clothes and accessories that my wardrobes seemed to be splitting at seams. I had to in fact make new ones to store more clothes and bags for this reason last year. I seemed to want every new blockprint on the forefront of fashion, i wanted the matching bag. I wanted the right jean and I wanted the perfect jewelry. What was I trying to prove to the world?

All this changed with a simple little bundle of joy that arrived in our family in June. With the arrival of my granddaughter, I have totally lost my interest for shopping anything for myself as a feeling of completeness swells within me that I cannot put into words. Precisely about this time, I started reading on decluttering and minimalism. Although I was initially angered by the preaching, I decided that I needed the daily dose of reminder. I don’t think anyone needs sermons on anything in life, but reading repeatedly on the importance of decluttering and minimalism is having a gradual effect in my psyche. I can’t say that i am immune to these articles anymore that over a period can have a life changing effect in us. The combined effect of the sense of fulfillment in life along with well timed reading on decluttering and minimalism may be reason for the way I am changing, probably for the better.

The few months my son and my daughter-in-law spent in Chennai along with me also could be a reason for my changed heart. They lived in a leased apartment where they used my saved crockeries, cutleries etc., breaking some (!) that gave me an indescribable satisfaction that things were finally used and not merely were stashed for guests. That utility value of things somehow had a catalytic effect on me as I realized, things rusting without usage are of no use collecting or saving (for a future date).

Now I am more into using the things I have accumulated over years. Even in Doha, the clothes in my supposed secondary wardrobe (primary being the one in Chennai) can last me easily over five years to say the least. My fridge too is overflowing. I still ended up going for three tee shirts and a bag in the US but it is ok. Nobody in my family seems to be happy if I don’t get anything for myself. So got them mostly to make my folks happy. They can’t believe the new me 😀

Meanwhile, I shall keep using the clothes and things i have saved here (the list of what I have given up both in Doha and Chennai itself can be very impressive) (periodically also gave up so, many, many clothes and accessories to charities in good condition only). I think i don’t need all this stuff now: just my darling granddaughter will do. She has replaced everything else in my life i thought was valuable and worth collecting. How such a little life thousands of miles away from me across the oceans can have this effect on me is surprising.

For the family i got coffee-mates as we are great coffee lovers, and I thought we could do with nondairy creamer that is not good quality in dairy-fixated India. For friends some fridge magnets. For colleagues, my hubby got chocolates. Surprisingly even my hubby didn’t shop, I think he is going through the same emotions as me. He is very brand conscious. Last visit, he bet me or probably matched me in shopping! This year he has not shopped at all for himself but did for his darling granddaughter. Now getting that rattles and baby clothes seem more precious and important to both of us. Gone is the craze for branded stuff. We both were basically like this, but the intermittent years somehow changed us from our natural ways.

I now have this to say about Retail Therapy: most of us seek this as kind of fulfillment for something that we may be lacking. The temporary spike in our adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine thanks to shopping enthuses us that we feel revitalized and a sense of purpose. I can’t see any other reason for normal men and women to shop (within limits) more than necessary. Any excesses over limits must have a far damaging reason psychological mostly that may have to be clinically treated.

Finally over the peak, that is how I see myself. At the same time, i would not want to deny myself anything good. Abstinence by itself can sometimes trigger a craving. In future I will shop but my shopping shall be entirely need-based. I would not want to forego best things in life. I will first utilize optimally whatever I own already. Such a usage is self-satisfying seeing that you are putting to good use the money you invested in something.

I guess we all will have to reach this point of satiation by ourselves. There is no particular defining moment. Each much peak as per his/her own sense of fulfillment. Retail Therapy can be harmless if we are bound by limits. But I have known how addictive this can get and how guilty we can feel after every shopping bout.

With pleasure I have to record here that all my clothes that I used in my tour recently are old and used already, nothing being new. Feeling complete in every way. Not grooming specially for the trip is another new for me that I intend to follow up with.

How I managed this six month period of de-addiction from shopping:

  • i unfollowed business pages mostly especially those of clothing, jewelry, bag etc. their updates and posts are most tempting
  • hardly one or two art/business pages i follow these days online that do not require me to shop for anything
  • online shopping thus finally almost came to an end for me. there were years when i would book stuff online from Qatar and get them delivered to my sister’s place in India for collection later!
  • i do have a credit card here in Doha but i hardly use it.
  • i don’t save anymore my clothes for occasions. here for even grocery shopping in Doha nowadays, i go in my best. i decided to live it up.
  • i am also now not in company of friends who will worsen my condition 😀 some of my friends happen to be worst shopping addicts than me and that used to compound my shopping problem 😀 we spoilt each other lol
  • i have a friend now who continuously discourages me from shopping, like she says when i try to pick up a tee shirt, ‘no dear, it looks lousy on you!!!’ and that’s all i need to hear! i love going out with this friend now because she is like a party pooper, neither will she shop nor will she let me spend!!!
  • i guess i have the responsibility to set an example to the kids. by restraining, i can show them that it is important to live with what we have and find satisfaction from that.
  • my husband and I constantly discourage each other from shopping these days. i can say, now frugal spending is one of our couple-goals!
  • its not about saving pennies really. its more about living with a principle.
  • the joy of giving is not unknown to me. basically i derive more happiness from giving. even through my spending sprees i haven’t forgotten that.
  • i took cue from a few friends who are doing great but who tend to live it down, not leading flashy lives. their hugely successful yet down-to-earth stories opened my eyes as to what is really important in life. i can still hire an auto and live in a small two or three bedroom flat and that will just NOT define me in any way. take me the way i am or leave it.

Posted in Food For Soul

Ageing With Dignity

Often it is possible to mistakenly assess dignity with one’s clothes. Or limit the definition of dignity to mere superficiality that is skin deep. Can there be a more dignified picture than that of our Bapu in his loin clothes walking his way to a meeting with Churchill.

Dignity must have lot more to do with than the mere external sheathe we climb out of when within four walls? Dignity has got to do with what we are when we can go invisible. In a way, our original self has a knack of manifesting itself in the image we present to the outer world, even if we try not to give up much. Dignity lies in how we conduct ourselves with every group, in all stages and phases. How about dignity that is derived out of solid character. Dignity from having built an unmistakable reputation. Dignity from spinning something worthwhile out of our life. In Thamizh we have a proverb that goes as ‘கெட்டாலும் மேன்மக்கள் மேன்மக்களே, சங்கு சுட்டாலும் வெண்மை தரும்’. To me, that sums up dignity in entirety. So dignity is how malleable you are under duress, under pressing stress. How flexible you are. How catalytic you are under trying circumstances. How much you can facilitate a smooth maneuver in rough tidings.

In other words, dignity is embracing your life for what it throws at you. When life gives you lemon, how many choose to make a lemonade.

Often we have armchair intellectuals who have not stepped out of their comfort zones delivering sermons from their high pedestals on abstract human qualities that can be explained only in relative terms. Unless we are on all our fours at least at any one point of time in life, at the mercy of third parties, with our dignity at stake, with doors closing on us from every side, there is no way we can come to decipher what dignity is all about.

A pole dancer can live her life with dignity. Is dignity only about understated elegance bought off at an astronomical price.

Perceptions differ. I wonder when those in their supposed high moral grounds would stop judging.

Ageing with dignity can have totally a different perspective having nothing to do with our attire bordering on nostalgy. How about mellowing with experience, exposure, travel, scars, tolerance, forbearance, forgiving and broadmindedness greying us a shade darker. Or is it silver. A life lived well collecting memories is far more dignified than a life collecting material possessions. How can a sedan or designer jewelry come to define someone? Let us not allow a hairdye undermine the life we lived out. Our attitude towards life, how we carry ourselves past extraordinary circumstances define our dignity. A life battled for and won over has a lot more dignity than a smooth sailing not far from safe harbour.