Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Men, marriage, and mortality

A friend says she loves the way I write. She complains that she checks my blog and finds that I have not been writing of late. I promise her that I shall write soon, but 'forget' that too soon.

What are the significant things that keep me busy? My job as a journalist, my reading up on the Internet, attending to the children's needs when at home and outside and also helping husband dearest keep his life organised. He may disagree of course, but it's a democracy and he is entitled to his beliefs.

Husbands like making fun of their married status, talking with other men about how wives are a boon and bane (more the latter, their expression says) and how lucky their wives are to have them as spouses. Democracy! Menfolk, you are entitled to joke about it. The same democracy also allows me to present the case of the womenfolk.

My husband and a friend's husband (my friend — a woman) were talking over a few drinks ... "My wife makes me was vessels after dinner. I am so harrassed," said the husband of my friend — a white lie! My husband — the kind soul that he is, said, "Oh no, my wife is a lot kinder. When she asks me to do the dishes every night, she also provides hot water for the rinsing. Winter, you know!" And the two men burst into laughter.

Really? My husband, who was a lot more mindful of sharing the workload while we had set up house in Mumbai, changed completely on settling down in Delhi. Till some time ago, he would wait to be handed even a glass of water. The man who loved to wake me to a breakfast on Sundays over Rangoli on TV in Mumbai, now forgets that I too am a working person, multitasking and almost killing myself.

Another friend of my husband also keeps flooding his Facebook page with jokes about wives and how they bully husbands. Recently, he put up a post about how women live longer and men live shorter lives. I promptly put up a universal truth before him: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mens_Health_Watch/2010/July/marriage-and-mens-health

"A major survey of 127,545 American adults found that married men are healthier than men who were never married or whose marriages ended in divorce or widowhood. Men who have marital partners also live longer than men without spouses; men who marry after age 25 get more protection than those who tie the knot at a younger age, and the longer a man stays married, the greater his survival advantage over his unmarried peers. But is marriage itself responsible for better health and longer life?

Although it's hard to be sure, marriage seems to deserve at least part of the credit. Some have argued that self-selection would skew the results if healthy men are more likely to marry than men with health problems. But research shows the reverse is true: unhealthy men actually marry earlier, are less likely to divorce, and are more likely to remarry following divorce or bereavement than healthy men....."

Apart from this, Indian men should also consider more data that research has been throwing at humanity: 

"Indian women most stressed in the world: Nielsen survey

Malini Goyal, ET Bureau Jun 29, 2011, 01.07am IST
NEW DELHI: In the most buoyant, confident and optimistic part of the world, life isn't exactly happy and stress-free for half its citizens.
The latest study done by Nielsen reveals that Indian women are the most stressed in the world today. An overwhelming 87% of Indian women said they felt stressed most of the time, and 82% had no time to relax.
The survey, conducted early this year, covered 6,500 women from 21 developed and developing countries like Sweden, the US, the UK, France, the BRICS economies. It was conducted online among women (over 18 years of age) and cut across social and income class.
What's causing such a high level of stress in India? At a very broad level, Indian companies and workplaces have become so 21st century with all the challenges and opportunities it offers.
Unfortunately, Indian society hasn't kept pace with social expectations at homes changing little. "It is this contrast, this conflict that is causing the stress," says the sociologist Shiv Vishwanathan.
The missing social support and the physical infrastructure (think crèches, reliable househelp, etc) are building a lot of stress, especially for the working women."
Readers Digest says: Traditionally, most Indian men never did any housework and the women didn’t work in an office. But all that’s changed, and it’s good for the family’s health and happiness if men shared the housework - See more at: http://www.readersdigest.co.in/how-to-get-your-husband-to-help-at-home#sthash.eC4ubxy2.dpuf

The same article says: “When women are the ones shouldering the entire workload, they feel uncared for,” explains marriage counsellor Gitanjali Sharma. - See more at: http://www.readersdigest.co.in/how-to-get-your-husband-to-help-at-home#sthash.eC4ubxy2.dpuf

Recognizing each other’s efforts is a key factor in forging happy working relationships. In the final analysis, the division of labour doesn’t have to be exactly equal. What matters is that neither side feels taken advantage of or unappreciated. - See more at: http://www.readersdigest.co.in/how-to-get-your-husband-to-help-at-home?page=3#sthash.kJyS4kKx.dpuf

The wrticle wraps up with an advice we can all use: 

Recognizing each other’s efforts is a key factor in forging happy working relationships. In the final analysis, the division of labour doesn’t have to be exactly equal. What matters is that neither side feels taken advantage of or unappreciated. - See more at: http://www.readersdigest.co.in/how-to-get-your-husband-to-help-at-home?page=3#sthash.kJyS4kKx.dpuf

Think this over, folks. :)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


One soul's wound may be another's coveted jewel!


In the realms of my inner mind lie dreams sheared
Of betrayals, of desertion and the power wrangle
Tests that friends have failed and strangers cleared
Where ties that bound turned ties that strangle

Every smile hurts, every step is a marathon effort
But I greet every dawn with a brighter smile
A pale shadow of all I ever stood for, I hurt
But I soldier on pushing myself yet another mile

The Force said the Oyster can teach us of Life
Its grace when it counters a grain of sand
Builds a pearl around the jabbing knife
And the Teacher’s word is my command

So thank your stars that I jump not the ship
As tempests loom I hold to the helm with a sigh
For a promise is a promise and I won’t ditch
So in death at least shall I hold my head high!

Friday, May 9, 2008

The birds in Nasik and Nainital

The sun does not set on my memories.

I must have been a child when I discovered that nature’s beauty was a great refuge. It began with chasing the house owner’s hen and her chicks in the court yard.

I would imagine myself so small, just like the delicately sized and shaped chicks.

Then I would imagine that it was me under the wings of the mother hen, clucking away to glory on sighting a dog or a cat.

I often wondered what it must be like to fit into the wire-mesh cage they called ‘khurawada’ in Marathi.

I thought that I was plain unlucky to be born as a human. It was such a waste…you cannot fly, you cannot prance around in gay abandon and then there was that evil that one suffered with a daily routine…THE SCHOOL!

I wanted to fly, I wanted to soar like the eagle…peck at grains from fields and courtyards of people.

I wanted to live in a nest that was preferably built by my mother, also a bird.

Once, I found a dry and abandoned nest on an autumn tree. I took it to Mum, who was very sensitive to my flights of fancy and longings.

“The bird cannot come and inhabit this nest, child,” she had tried to tell me when she caught me placing the nest on a ‘parijat’ tree. “They build their own nests and it is their concern for their own safety, tells their instinct.”

She would say these very practical things that were not learnt from school but from mere compassionate and mute observation.

I would often tell the birds that I will not capture you, I will not harm you….wait up, let me play with you….but they never obliged.

I was reminded of this when my two kids stood in the main Bada Bazar of Nainital and insisted that I buy them the small chicks from the roadside.

The bearded old gentleman with his typically Muslim goatee (beard) dyed in henna was a feisty seller.

He had realised that the kids were in awe of the birds and he began playing with the little creatures in an intriguing way.

There were three lots. One basket had about thirty to forty very small chicks; painted in various hues of orange, pink, blue, green, yellow and what have you. The little beings were almost a day or two old, and could barely stand, let alone fly. Therefore, without a fear, the seller had left them in the open basket.

The other lot was of a few days old chicks. These were left unpainted and wore a muddy coat of feathers. They were quick and the seller had kept them in a woven basket with a dome shaped basket covering them. The third one had chicks older yet.

By now the kids were jumping with joy.

“Mummy, please let us take them home.”
I refused to relent as I knew my mother-in-law would disallow any pets and the poor chicks would have to be left in the open.

“We will convince Dadiji (grand-mother)," offered one of them.

“And we will keep them clean, well fed and safe,” tried the other.

But as I left them admiring the chicks and moved a shop ahead to buy the famous sweetmeat- the ‘Bal Mithai’ of Nainital, the shop-keeper advised me about the deal.

“Do not buy these chicks, behenji (sister), they will die…they survive only in the cool hills here. And as you say, you come from Delhi, I am sure you will travel out of here soon. Travel will certainly kill them.”

That had me decided. The temporary return of my own childhood awe for the winged creatures vanished in a moment. I could envision a cat lunging at them in our courtyard, or them asphyxiating in the bus we would take to return to the hot, sultry summer of Delhi.

The children arrived at the sweetshop.

“Mummy, they cost just Rupees Five (about a tenth of an US dollar) each. Please let us have them. Puhleeeez?” begged one of my kids.

They were very angry when the sweetmeat seller tried to sell them the wisdom of otherwise.

“Mummy, you have been manipulated and you are ready to buy whatever opinion this Uncleji has, and we can see. “accused the girl.

“Now I am not talking to you, ever,” threatened the boy.

But Mummy had become deaf, dumb and was not about to relent.

A ride in a boat on the Naini Lake and a visit to the Naini Devi temple calmed them. I do not know if it was the cool breeze of the mountains, the chill water from the lake or the calming effect of having bowed before the Naini Goddess.

Finally, the two very decided people did come around. But even today, when they see the holiday snaps and the picture of those birds opens on the digital camera, my son goes, “You did not buy me those chicks, did you? So now I have nothing to do with you. That’s it!”

Cluck….cluck…..cluck! Ha ha ha!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hollywood actor Owen Wilson attempted suicide? Depression…sign of the times!

There is a story in there, about people having it all and yet going over the edge.

Now that the official reports show that Police were called to Wedding Crashers ’ star Owen Wilson's home because of an attempted suicide report, it is talked about that the star was depressed and actually calling for help.

Depression is so commonplace and yet so unrecognized, few realized that it can happen to anyone, anywhere.

You do not need the Santa Monica Police Department’s log of weekend calls to show that there are more Wilson around. Anyone depressed is giving out subtle signals that he or she is depressed.

Wilson was found bloody and dazed after trying to commit suicide by overdosing on pills and slitting his wrist in the wake of a blow-up with a close friend, a source told the New York Post.

Fox news also quotes a source close to the "Wedding Crashers" actor, 38, telling "Extra" that the actor did indeed attempt suicide over the weekend, saying Wilson has been depressed for the last few months, but not over a broken relationship.

The source also told “Extra” that Wilson’s famous younger brother, Luke Wilson, found him and that Wilson’s family and friends are shocked.

"It's hard. He's such a wonderful person," a source told the New York Post. "He's such a great guy and so smart and just ... nice. We're just hoping he gets better."

One neighbor told the Post that when she heard the ambulance, she was surprised because Wilson never causes any trouble.

"All the neighbors like him, he's a friendly guy. He never has any crazy parties or does anything wrong," Betty Miller said. But Wilson has a history of depression.

"It's very upsetting. People are complicated. It's not just one thing," a friend of the actor told the Post.

On Monday, Wilson was receiving care Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and was in "good condition," a publicist for the hospital said.

Meanwhile, Wilson asked for privacy in a statement released through publicist Ina Treciokas.

"I respectfully ask that the media allow me to receive care and heal in private during this difficult time," he said.

So this only proves that the new age mantra of ‘Having it all’ is taking its toll. Helen Gurley Browns of the world not with standing, the rage to achieve too much too soon is killing people in the process.

It makes little difference here that Wilson was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on the screenplay The Royal Tenenbaums. He starred opposite the likes of Jackie Chan, Ben Stiller, Gene Hackman, Will Ferrell and Eddie Murphy.

If you are cracking under the pressure, fact is you need help. And if you are so sick with depression that you do not realize you need help, then you better have a brother like Wilson’s who arrived in time to play savior.

Unlike Britney Spears’ family who have been unable to get the ‘Ooops’ Pop tart back on even keel.

People, depression is treatable, just like other (physical) maladies. And like ‘if Mohammad cannot go to the Mountain, the mountain must come to Mohammad’, the family must rally around before wrists are slit…irreparably.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

India: Partition of a soul

Millions were displaced and killed in the chaos after partition of India in 1947.

I can never forgive the colonist British for their final blow to the jewel in their crown. They proved a simple policy: If we cannot keep it, we will hand it to you in tatters.

People tell of millions of scared Hindus fleeing the suddenly declared ‘Islamic Pakistan’ side of Punjab. Someone said that the train loads of dead bodies kept on arriving till the Hindu leaders on the Indian side of Amritsar border sent a trainload of Muslims dead or near dead.

An article on www.bbc.co.uk provides glimpses into the mayhem during the partition.

The entire act was wrong, say papers unearthed by the son of the now deceased Mr. Beaumont who was private secretary to the then senior British judge, Sir Cyril Radcliffe (the chairman of the Indo-Pakistan Boundary Commission) in 1947.

Radcliffe was responsible for dividing the vast territories of British India into India and Pakistan, separating 400 million people along religious lines.

"The Punjab partition was a disaster," he writes.

"Geography, canals, railways and roads all argued against dismemberment.

"The trouble was that Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs were an integrated population so that it was impossible to make a frontier without widespread dislocation.

"Thousands of people died or were uprooted from their homes in what was in effect a civil war.

As an Indian who has never experienced the pain of partition but has seen it in the eyes of hundreds of survivors, I feel even if the Queen were to apologize, it is not enough. Sindhis lost their entire motherland. The Sindhu river civilization is the oldest and most developed one in archaeological terms, mind you.

Mohenjodaro- The excavations pertaining to ancient India (Sindh) that once thrilled the archaeologists, now in an unconnected surrounding and hold- that of Pakistan.

Today’s Kandhahar, which was the erstwhile Gandhar province of Prince Shakuni of Mahabharatha, is in Afghanistan now. Manasarovar, the Hindu pilgrimage spot is in China held Tibet.

India was a religion, a brotherhood and a way of life…untill the mayhem of Mughal and Arabic invasions destroyed it and the British served the final blow.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Racial bias and business sense

A friend who works in the US of A said once to me that there may be no overt racial bias seen in the country of Uncle Sam, but it exists!

You do not see it, it is not talked about but lies in subtle happenings. You feel it but cannot say a thing. I wondered how that can be. "The native (read White) Americans work with you by day, but when they can chose who to socialise with in the evenings, you are clearly out! We do not get invited for family outings together or mixing, generally!" That is why, long ago, in India- one often heard- It is better to be an equal citizen in your own (not so developed) country than be a second-rated citizen in another (developed) nation. But with India's 300+ million middle class consumers that even President Bush eyed and mentioned in his visit, the business sense is beginning to prevail, one sees. Like the introduction of the Indian origin American character - Raj Patel- in the Archies comics. Please read the link below to understand the business sense that played a big role in the creation of a very likeable character as Archie's friend.

"...The Archie comic series has undergone a change and Archie now has a brand new Indian friend. There's a new kid on the block in Riverdale. The latest addition to Archie Andrew's gang of friends is an Indian-American- Raj Patel. The creation of Raj Patel comes at a time when the advent of computers and video games like WII and X box is affecting readership for the comic series across America...

Meanwhile, over a million Archie comics are sold in India every year..." I read on the net.

''The fact that there will be an Indian character in our comics on a regular basis will bring more attention to the comic and hopefully more readers in India will vie to read Archie and we will sell more Archie comics in India,'' said Michael Silberkleit, Publisher, Archie Comics (Quoted from NDTV's story http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN20070022253)

For a change, the (Riverdale) boys hobnob with eachother, share agendas and do not fall into racial bias traps.

The creators say a lot of research went into conceiving the Patel family. While they insist it was not intentional, the Patel family is the stereotypical Indian-American success story. Raj's father is a doctor. His mother, who sports a bindi, is a research scientist. .. Says the same NDTV story! Aha!!! I must say, as my heart leaps at the sudden equality!!! As an Indian, I feel that the stereotype of an educated family from India, trying to fit in the American scenario, is a hard earned on.

For generations, Indians have toiled in research laboratories, hospitals and industries as the brains that helped the rise of America.

Now, the children may face less bias, maybe that's the 'pay-back' religion often talks about.
But does this also mean that if India was if India had nothing to offer in terms of market, the racial bias would have remained? Man, Money Talks!!! Doesn't it?

Nature's small wonders

I guess we all are overpowered with a sensation of 'Wow!' over simple things in life. Like wanting to get drenched in a rain shower...sitting in a window and watching the sun set behind the hills or mountains!

My children do plenty of the both.

They love rain, and when in Nasik, my son loves to sit in the window of my sister Jyoti's third floor flat and watch the horizon in the evenings.

This video I am including next is something from the same adventurous flavour we all seek in plain matters of life.

The caterpillars are nibbling away at the leaves with what gay abandon! Watch this is the link to the video I have pasted below.

A member of my yahoogroup shot the video and I have included his note.

Have fun. I am sure you will watch it again and again.

Hi guys,
Here is a time lapse of caterpillar eating awaay the leaf...unfortunately, my cam's battery was over before I could take a much longer video of it.

Recently, the pets are in the pupa stage and maybe emerge in a day or 2 as a moth or butterflies.The interesting thing was that they made the pupa using there own droppings maybe, because there was no sand or other material I kept for them in the box.
Cheers and good wishes.
Hitesh Gusani