Thursday, November 17, 2011

Parents can’t be tigers

Earlier this year blogosphere was abuzz reviewing or mostly criticizing a new publication with all vigor and disdain. When almost everyone had their knives out condemning a treatise which eulogized the Chinese way of harsh parenting, it caught my curiosity and getting my hands on this book soon became my priority. Battle Hymn of Tiger Mother was unavailable in bookstores of Muscat and Bangalore; so when I was just about to give up hope I suddenly got lucky with a store in Gurgaon which had a copy left

Now some may be puzzled as to what a book on parenting has got to do with me, after all someone who is looking to find a bride for himself should not plan too ahead also. But then parenting is a sensitive and delicate topic which touches all of us in a very subtle way, only those born of a cloning experiment can be counted out. While reading Amy Chua’s book last night one line caught my fancy where in she says that no matter what you do your children will someday grow up only to resent you, maybe Ms Chua has a point there for she makes no bones on how she adopted an extreme and maybe cruel parenting form to groom her two daughters. Her daughters were tortured to concentrate excessively on academics, never allowed sleepovers, grilled with music lessons even on holidays, called garbage in public, made to study to be two classes ahead in math…in short get perfection no matter what it takes. Amy Chua however defends her actions on her website “My book has been controversial. Many people have misunderstood it. If I could push a magic button and choose either happiness or success for my children, I’d choose happiness in a second. But I don’t think it’s as simple as that; it can be a tough world out there, and true self-esteem has to be earned”

When this book initially came out it raised controversy, not only in US but also in India with many mothers getting insecure on whether they are doing their best for their young ones or did they do enough for the grown-up ones. Surprisingly I did not feel much emotion while reading the book, maybe I am not a parent so will never feel those pangs and also because I grew up in a very lonely way. In a way I found myself supporting the Chinese parenting way, believe me this is much better than a world where no one trusts or speaks with each other. However this does not imply a license to suffocate your children or deny them freedom so as to maintain a complete control on their lives all the time. I have been denied many freedoms while growing up, scars of which still haunt me no end and I would certainly not like any one else to go through what I did or maybe many others are still undergoing in many Indian households.

Perhaps what Amy Chua forgets in her lucidly written book is that strict parenting at times breeds hatred and resentment. In her book her younger daughter rebels and shows the light of the day to her strict mother, but what if she had bottled up those feelings and later in life simply drifted away? A prime reason for me moving out of India was to be away from the restricted environs that I had been subjected to all my life; I knew that moving anywhere within India also may not solve my issue for I seriously need to break away and even after coming to this sweltering country at times the past continues to haunt me. Self esteem and respect are basic human rights and when a child is denied them by his own kin, self-confidence can get irreparably punctured thereby denting own self worth for many years to come

Being a parent is not easy and I recognize that; no matter what you do someone will say you could have done better or worse someone may lament or even curse your well-intentioned actions. But then to be a good parent it is important to be a good human being first, its only in fables that I find sages being born to dacoits.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Meet my potential dulhans

My trip to India was exhilarating and enjoyable, thankfully all went as per plan without any glitches or unwanted nuances. I was a lot apprehensive before flying as I would be with my folks after long and did not want any twitch in the already fragile relationships but thankfully apart from few ignorable smirks it all went smoothly and I am thankful for it. Travelling across cities I observed that Indian metros are changing a lot and that too very rapidly and for someone visiting motherland after more than a year, this change was all too evident; however keeping the bustling metro life aside I completed a hectic tour of Bangalore, Gurgaon and also stopped at few other smaller cities. Besides I also managed to shop, call old folks, visit Vaishno Devi and yes somewhere also stole a date with an old flame from college days (over cold beer she seemed all the more hotter). But more importantly I was on a dulhan ki khoj this time and this is where all the action lay as I interacted with a few girls this time. Was it fun? Take your guess as you read below

Girl 1
I met this girl at a marriage bureau in Bangalore, she smiled a lot and was crackling with energy in her slim frame and white salwar suit. This chick was a contrast of my reserved disposition and seemed too bubbly, chirpy and a bit pimply for my liking; yes she was all that and more as she smiled bit too much for no reason. The most interesting part of her was her father who looked like a villain from South Indian films in his white kurta pyjama and super dark complexion; whats more he even spoke like a villain when he asked me in his masala dosa accent “whaaatzz your ssaalarieee?” I really pity the guy who will have him as his father-in-law

Girl 2
This girl was the surprise pack of tour as this meeting was fixed only few days after my arrival, Mom and myself had to travel up north to meet this chick and her folks. This was a somewhat decent family though of modest means, the girl was young and working in Pune though her small town upbringing was all too evident. She had a very portly figure and was very nervous when we were left to talk alone. Had she been a bit slimmer and maybe smarter (or sexier) call here would have been different, but I am not very sure if a small town Tun Tun can be a good fit for me

Girl 3
Now this was like an old classic Doordarshan serial, we had travelled to an old South Indian town to see this girl but never knew about the awaiting surprise. The girl’s house seemed as if it had never seen Nerolac paint and appeared more of a clean cow shed than a living place with red brickstones and huge walls. This was a very traditional family and even more traditional house, it seemed as if I was visiting some ashram; also this girl’s father looked like a servant as for long I couldn’t place who that slum dweller seated on the nearby wooden chair really was. The girl on her part was too excited and could not stop talking when she was left alone to talk with me, when I told her I had studied at Hindu College she told me she had heard about this College located near a temple in Delhi! Seeing her and her house reminded me of Gandhi’s vision for India, he would have been proud of their family

Girl 4
Now this is what happens when you meet a hip metro girl after small towners. Have you ever tasted cappuccino after drinking filter coffee for long? The difference between new and old India is so amazing and was starkly evident when I met this attitude girl at a posh Bangalore hotel after having met all other low maintenance and less complicated chicks that I was completely caught off guard. This proposal was one of the best that I had received so far, coming from a well to do and close family friends who had been chasing us for more than two years. However after the meeting I am not sure who was more disappointed as I was completely taken by surprise by this girl’s approach. She asked about my job, career and future plans in minutest details and it was she who was always in command of our conversation. Coming from a very wealthy family I could easily detect her liberal upbringing and affluent lifestyle, which makes me all the more unsure if this will be the best match for me. What was more demeaning was her parting line at end of our talk “We will let you know”. Now I don’t think I was appearing for a job interview here

After meeting all these girls I am back to square one and also back to Muscat, not sure when I will get hitched. But who is in a hurry? After all marriages are made in heaven and suffered on earth