Posted by: harty | July 7, 2009


I always thought of death as one of the most interesting things that happens in life(oxymoron?) Ofcourse, there’s no way that you can analyse your own. But its interesting to note the myriad emotions that the death of a close one invokes.

The foremost, the most obvious one, is that of loss. A personal loss. I believe that to be a totally selfish emotion. A feeling of someone dear, someone whom you could turn to in tough times, someone to comfort you, being snatched away. Being no longer able to have that person to lean on, to share the happy and sad moments with. Usually this is the feeling that drives almost all immediate reactions of a person whose close one passes away. It’s more about you, than about the person who’s gone.

The second, more subtle emotion, is that of flashback. You start thinking of all the good and bad times that you’ve shared with that person. You realize what you’re going to miss now. Then that sickening feeling kicks in, as you remember all the nasty things you’d have said/done to that person. You realize what a pain in the butt you were to that person at times. It gets worse as you realize how you were not there for that person when s/he could have done with some company and comfort. And then, when you feel like the worst piece of s*** to be born, you also remember the minor good things that you did for them, and how they’d made that person smile. You are reminded of that time when that person was grateful to receive your phone call in that moment of dispair/loneliness.

It’s only later, once the initial shock has passed, that you slowly start coming to your senses, and start thinking of practical things. Will you be able to visit that person before s/he turns to ashes? Should you go after a few days, when other relatives would have left, so that you can be with other family members when they are all by themselves? What if you can’t go?

I always feel amazed at how our mind is able to experience all these emotions within a span of a few minutes.

And am dazzled by life’s capacity to move on!

Posted by: harty | April 24, 2009

A decision point

I always felt, such a time would come upon me at some stage in my life. I just hadn’t realized, it would be so soon, and right after I had barely settled down. On one hand, is the lure for safety, stability, finances, big brand names and such stuff. And on the other, an option, a possibility. However distinct, however far-off, however unlikely. This is the time I need to decide, how important it is, for me to love what I do. Is it just a job for me, a 9-to-6, that pays my bills and brings food to the table? Or is it something that keeps me going day after day, makes me want to be at work every Monday morning? Do I want to be part of a machine, a small cog in the wheel, slowly then trying to pretend that it actually plays a bigger part? Or do I really have the guts to live out my desire, to be an important component of the engine, that drives a machine? Do I even have it in my DNA, to slowly climb the corporate ladder? Do I even want to do that?

And then, do I have the guts to carry through the challenge that I am preparing for myself? Is it fair for me, to put my family through this? How willing my family would be, to suffer the consequences of my bravado? How much will it affect my personal life? What are my options, at the end of this adventure, in case it fails?

Too many questions, too few answers. Welcome to life, boy!

Posted by: harty | April 3, 2009

I need to write

I’ve realized over a period of time, that I need to write. It doesn’t matter what. I am a very unorganized person – B would merrily vouch for that – and writing helps me organize my thoughts, even if what I right might be unrelated to what needs organizing. Sounds crazy, but it works.

After a long, long time, life seems to be settling down. Its almost been 2 years that I’ve felt so relaxed. In the meantime, have been through a lot of changes. P’s engagement and wedding, parents moving to a new house, me setting up a new house and moving in. Its amazing how time passes by.
And as it passes, it daily teaches you new things. It teaches you how painful it is for someone, who’s childless, to grow old and beyond, into the 80s and 90s. The body frail, the mind failing, dependant on people who, though close, are not their own. How does one even begin to contemplate the plight of someone for whom, every single day is a drag on their entire existence. Whoever says euthanasia is immoral, should first be made to live a life like this.

Recently, went on my second trip to Ooty. Many people find it to be over-crowded and no-so-cool. But I somehow like its old-world desi hill-station charm. The crowded markets, shopkeepers haggling you, the standard sunrise/sunset/suicide/valley-view points. Over the years, I’ve stayed in various types of accomodations, ranging from dharamshalas (dormitory) to budget hotels to good  ones to the ultra luxurious resorts. And I find that a stroll in the town’s main shopping area is many times as fullfilling as a walk on the lawns of a resort. But over time, you tend to prefer the cleanliness and quiet of the resorts vis-a-vis the noise and untidiness of a budget hotel. If only our hotel owners realize that cheap need not necessarily be dirty, our tourism would explode to an altogether different level.

Oh, and in the meanwhile, turned 32. Suddenly, that number feels so un-young, if that could be a word. B fulfilled her years-old desire to gift me everything – from head to toe, literally. It resulted in a 5 digit hole in the wallet, but was worth it. She knows how I’d not spend on some things, and that’s what she picked out for me. Thanks. But dont you touch the red beauty!

Posted by: harty | December 9, 2008

Should young adults be responsible for their parents?

One of my friends posted an article on this. I wanted to comment there, but the comment became too long, and thought I’d post it as a separate entry.
So the big question, one which most of the sub-continent’s young adults grapple with as they settle down into their own life.

Should they be responsible for caring for their parents in their old age?

There cannot be a simple yes or no answer for it. And here’s why.  Let’s consider our protagonist A, a young Indian male, married for 7 years, has a child, 2 year old. Lets call him A.

– Should A be taking care of its parents, if his earnings are not sufficient to take care of his child’s need? How does he decide who gets the food, the child or the parent?
– What if the parent is ailing from an incurable disease, the treatment of which would bankrupt A, wipe out all his savings and threaten even basic education for his child? Does he still keep spending on the parents’ treatment which will just keep them going, not cure, or does he keep that amount for his child to study? How does he even decide between the two?
– What if parent nags A’s wife, treats her badly, etc? What if A’s wife doesnt treat the parent well? Is it still good for the parents to stay with A and his wife?
– What if A’s parents are staying in a different country? Does A take risks with their established career so that they can move close to his parents, or do they force their parents to move with them/close to them, so that they can be taken care of, but lose their social interactions?

These are very nuanced issues involved, which only A and his wife can decide upon. No one else can even begin to comprehend the answer to our main question, for A.

Personally, I believe if the parents and children are reasonably well-behaved, with no quirks in their nature, they should stay together, and if not possible, atleast close by. The reasons are manifold, but not necessarily the same as what my friend mentioned.
1) Parents get the company they so desperately need in old age.
2) A gets an experienced helping hand, not only in minor daily chores, but also in the form of guidance in difficult periods.
3) Dont need to hire a nanny/babysitter for his children. Parents would be more than happy to have 4-5 hours to do nothing but play with the child. And A can be assured they would take better care of his children than probably he would.
4) Expenses for both go down dramatically, if they share a house. This might seem like a trivial reason, but think of all the money that the parent saves to survive the post retirement period. If the parents knew A would take care of their basic expenses, the parents would have struggled lesser during their own working life, to save up for the retirement. This leads to a less stressful life over a longer period of time.
5) Individual families make merry when economy is booming, but struggle badly when the times are rough. At such times, if parents/children can have some help from each other, it makes the difficult economic times less daunting.
6) Most important of all, if most chidren are taking care of their parents, you dont need the govt to provide retirement benefits. Its that much lesser burden on the govt, and hence on the tax payer, which ultimately benefits the children.  UItimately the children do take care of their parents (especially in western countries), if not directly, through the social security which is paid for by the tax payers. So why not do it directly, and also provide the social warmth reqd for aging parents.

Ofcourse there are issues involved, like what happens to privacy, space and time for yourself, etc. But then these are issues you face with your child as well. Its a matter of perception. We divide our responsibilities into two: ones which we have to bear – cannot escape from – which mainly includes spouse & children and our future, and ones which we do not “have to” bear – can escape from – which includes parents, unmarried siblings, etc.  We have to make adjustments with our spouse/child. Often these are huge adjustments that we make. But we make them, as we think we dont have any other option. But when it comes to parents, we tend to resist from making even minor adjustments, as we take them as a secondary responsibility, which we dont absolutely have to bear. Hence, even minor differences with them get exaggerated, and we take the easier option of not staying together, instead of going through the couple of years of adjustments, that we go through with our spouse.

Posted by: harty | March 16, 2006

Blank Noise Project

Over the last couple of days, I was going through various posts in the Blank Noise Project. There were a few things that struck me after going through a fair number of posts.
– Almost every woman in India has faced Eve Teasing at some point or another in her life.
– Most women are angry about it. Very few have given it back.
– Very few women, even after all the eve teasing, actually consider all men as perverts.
– Very few posts actually provide the possible reasons behind eve-teasing, and even fewer posts provide ideas about how it could be reduced and gradually eradicated.

So, here’s my humble take on it all. I will not call it eve teasing, it sounds too simplistic. Lets call it Sexual Harassment.

Sexual harassment is present in almost every country of the world, in almost every society of this world. The one in India is of a peculiar kind, and quite different from the type found in say a US, a Europe of a Brazil.
In India, harassment is more about leering at women, mouthing lewd phrases/words/songs at women, groping them when no one is watching, accidental brushes while walking or in public transport, and so on. There is also another kind, slightly rarer than the one I just described, and found mostly in northern parts of India, particularly Delhi and surrounding regions. Here, the harassers are not afraid, they almost take it as their right to harass women. They do it in full view, in crowded areas, in broad daylight.

There could be varied reasons for such behaviour of a substantial portion of men in Indian society. One could be the conservative social ambience that most Indian men grow up in. Most boys, while growing up, never get a chance to date. Its considered bad, and hence they never think of asking a girl out. The only way most men can have sexual encounter is after marriage. So even a casual brush with a woman in a crowded bus is a significant titillation for them. Second is, the lack of education, specifically sex education. Because of this, they dont understand their own body and a female body. They dont know what happens to them in puberty, and how to handle those situations. Third is the skewed sex ratio in most parts of India. Women in general in India, have a better chance to find the preferred man (if given the liberty), than the other way round. In many north Indian villages, you have to pay to get a bride.

I believe the two types of people have to be dealt differently. Here’s what I think could be done to tackle the situations of sexual harrassment.

As for the former type, they are mostly cowards. Uneducated(not necessarily illiterate), sexually frustrated/deprived, conservatively bred men, who see women as just objects of sexual gratification, and hence try to get whatever they can. A mere brush with a woman, or whistling at her, singing latest item numbers or groping her in crowded places titillates such people, and gives them a sort of sexual release. I believe the best way to deal with them is to confront them then and there. Usually such people run away at the first sign of resistence. Even better, to attack them physically, shouting out loud. If you are the shy kind, and dont want others to know that you have just suffered from sexual harassment, just start screaming that that person was trying to snatch your purse, or bag, or something. Mostly they will get a good pasting from the crowd. (However, do try to make sure that it was not just an accidental brush, otherwise a poor innocent chap could get beaten up).

The second type, one needs to guard against. They wont be thrown off by a stare or a kick. In some cases, they would go as far as abduction, assault or even rape. For such people, you need to be prepared in self-defense. You need to know karate/taekwondo/kungfu or any other self defense art. Carry a pepper spray, pocket knife with you. If can afford, carry a cellphone with emergency numbers handy. And most important of all, prepare yourself for encoutering such people. Visualize that you are going through a empty lane at midnight and there is a guy sitting at a corner. Think about those scenarios, and how you should attack him, if he were to try anything crazy. This would help you not get paralyzed when you actually face such a scenario (I learnt this from one of the fire-drills in my previous organization. The instructor told us how so many people who are aware of extinguishers, dont actually know how to use them in case of a fire. He asked us to try it out atleast once every six months.) I guess same applies for sexual harrassment too. You need to prepare yourself mentally to face such situations, before you can successfully handle them in real life.

And as far as eradicating this menace from Indian society is concerned, I guess the only solution lies in education. The more and more educated people become, the more open they will become in terms of their thinking (take the case of most big cities). This would open them up to free interactions between boys and girls, which would reduce the ‘taboo’ factor associated with sex. The more sexually aware the next gen Indian boys are, the lesser the chance of them groping at a woman in a bus/metro for a momentary titillation. Also, I guess some sort of law is needed to bring down an abrupt change in the attitude of Indian society towards sexual harassment.

Posted by: harty | March 14, 2006

A new beginning

Finally, moving away from Rediffblogs. Been a long time there. And just getting used to WP. So far, looks pretty easy to use. And as I am not one into extensive HTML stuff, I guess this is just fine for me.