Stereotypes

Stereotypes… the word generally is used with negative connotations. Most often than not it is seen as trying to keep something/somebody constrained in a definition.

But of late, as I see the world around me change form, becoming almost fluid, I realize to some extent the stereotypes did serve the purpose of simplifying our lives. we did not have to evaluate every person/event/place case to case….less effort you see! Just think how simple it was to decide the audience for a movie you wanted to direct/produce by place/gender/income groups etc, or to time TV programmes for housewives/for husbands who return home from work, how straightforward to market electronic gadgets, or to devise HR plans for employees. For eg., Army battalions are organised caste-wise at level of jawans, with simple logic of comfort of homogeneity of the group coming from same region, sharing same culture etc.

Is it as true now as before? Have a look at the diversity now…. for various reasons. But the outcome is that stereotypes do not work anymore, or atleast not as predictably as before.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am in no way in favour of maintaining the stereotypes even at the cost of giving up the ease of classification. Infact, its like a new found freedom. Housewives, working women, small town, Arts, chef etc etc, all are free of a certain set of characteristics that defined them. yes, it means more trouble for employers, advertisers, policy makers and sometimes even in personal life… yet its more enabling. Lets celebrate the new ‘World’.

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Back to life with my love

It was a beautiful day yesterday. Just the kind that I had been waiting for since long to take Agastya and Raghav for an outing. It had just stopped raining, and weather was so pleasant with soft breeze… the one that clears your head  the sky was colorful and air was filled with soothing fragrance…

I and RS headed for a play area we had decided on days ago, that has lots of interestingly designed ‘jhulas’, just right to handle young children’s’ energy level. If you have two kids aged between 1 and 5, you would know what I am talking about.

The weeks prior to our outing had been extremely hectic for me and RS at work, leaving us no time for kids or even to get the house running properly. So much so, that I had begun to question my priorities in life. Whether the hours/work we are putting-in is in right direction, is there where we want to be, or whether its even worth it?

Anyways, finally it was this beautiful Sunday. And off we went with two jumpy kids bursting with excitement. The drive upto the destination was pretty tough with un-ceasing questions from Agastya (the elder one) about what will they get to see and do ‘there’, the under-construction fly-overs on way, the metro, the aliens…. you name it, you have it. Raghav too could not get enough of fast changing visuals around him and could not keep still for a single moment. Hanging on to the hand panel, and experimenting with all switches and knobs in the car is his favorite activity.

Once we got there, it was worth every minute of effort. Generally we take kids to parks for outing. This time it was a spacious play area in a South Delhi mall. Yes, I try to keep them as away from malls as possible, for various reasons. But this play area deserved an exception to the rule. As soon as we entered the area, the kids just loved it. Both of them chose their things and got into it head-on. I and RS needed to do nothing, they were just enjoying themselves so much. Watching them play excitedly, waving to us in between and breaking into happy smiles was everything that life is worth for. Then it came to me, this is the answer to the perennial question that eats me up. Where does my happiness lie? What will make my life worth? This.. My children’s happiness… giving them the childhood they deserve… allowing them to evolve as content and giving individuals. What can bring greater happiness than gift of life itself? I had planned this to make the children happy, but it turned out to be the other way. It was they who made me happy. weeks of accumulated stress just melted away, and I felt so light and fresh. and the second realization, if I think its us the parents who bring up children and ‘give’ them… nothing can be farther from truth. Its the children who give us everything, a chance to live our childhood once again, make us smile and laugh and play.. bring back the simplicity and spontaneity in our days…

As I and RS sat talking on a side bench, watching over kids, we discussed why is it such a one-off outing for which we have to drive for quite some distance and be so pleased over getting a nice play area? Why can’t we have safe play areas for kids all over our cities? Don’t all our kids enjoy this basic right to come and play at a good place every day? These little pleasures of life have become such luxury because of the complexities that we have designed for ourselves.

Anyways, love you kiddoos for making me feel alive… 

Overrated Fire-fighters

One of the challenge that we continuously face, both at professional and personal fronts, is of assessing and getting assessed. I have been observing the process of evaluation at various levels and from various positions, and I increasingly realise how overrated good fire-fighters are.
Crisis management is an important skill. But can it replace a good policy-maker/manager/home-maker? Crisis is one-off thing, and should rarely arise if one is good at his/her work. But somehow the stardom belongs to the fire-fighters. A crisis is what attracts attention, and consequentially recognition. On the other hand, how many organizations or individuals can claim to recognise quiet, methodical and organized work? Work intended to be carried out with love of getting it well-done, without attracting any un-due attention is seldom recognised.
My days at work are replete with instances of hearing bragging stories about real and imagined obstacles people face while carrying out a ‘challenging’ task. Does it become more commendable just because a certain person found it (or made it look) challenging. I sometimes wonder what if there was a more competent and less dramatic person doing it? Would it be equally commended?
To top it all, should I really believe that these people are able to get away with this false presentation, because everybody else is a fool or too naive? Is it possible? I doubt, No. Lot of us are co-ordinating to bring alive this make-believe world. Nodding in agreement with each other’s lies.

Ahh…its off my chest now.. Thanks to you, my blog 🙂

The fairer Sex? Nothing fair about it

After a long day at work, I finally sat down to spend the last hour watching TV. There is a serial/soap I catch up with whenever I find time and access to TV (all mothers of toddlers will agree with me here )! Anyway, this particular one is supposed to be a light comedy type. But somehow, this too has taken a turn for the serious.
So, yesterday, it showed a situation when a (self confessed) “bad” bahu is comparing herself to a “good” bahu (Although I thought that, if any, there can be good or bad persons…. is ‘bahu’ also a category?… some special kind of a human being?…anyways…)
Continuing …. she goes on to explain how the “good” bahu is actually good … which is because she does all the household chores (including cooking, cleaning etc) so happily, and also because she did not mind giving up her job as her family did not want her to work outside, and further because she did not hire a maid …. blah blah blah … and the “bad” bahu was a self-confessed villain because she did not like working from day to night doing what a maid could do, and instead wanted to pursue a job. There were many more such frivolous reasons.
Now, assuming I don’t have a problem with labelling somebody good or bad, what sort of ridiculous parameters are these for making that distinction? How can one propagate such stereotypes? What is scarier is that this is not just in a particular serial, but this is how a major portion of our society classifies ‘bahus’ or for that matter all the females. If I may ask, what is wrong in thinking about oneself, giving time to oneself, wanting to take part in the economic activities outside home, having individual opinions that don’t necessarily match with others? Come on, why are we such unfair people? Why do we think that only that which conforms is correct? It reminds me of what I had read in one of Jonathan Livingston’s books – “someone who tells you that if you do not do as he/she desires, he/she will be deeply hurt, is actually sucking your blood”. Why don’t we give the different a chance? Why do we bring up our sons and daughters so differently? Why are women judged so differently than men? Why are most of the men/families not understanding of the variety of roles that a today’s woman has to take on? Why don’t we groom our sons for an egalitarian society? I make out that while we bring up our daughters to assume various responsibilities in her life (personal and professionals); we forget to prepare our sons for the changing times. Somehow, we fail to communicate to them that their colleagues/wives/girlfriends have grown up in time and space different than their mothers did… she will be an equal partner(with all associated costs and benefits) to him, but can not be expected to conform to remnants of past…
Above all, I am not making a case that men and women are same. I am aware that both have different strength/weaknesses, role/responsibilities etc. I also fully acknowledge and agree with the crucial & indispensable role that a woman plays as a home-maker (I too struggle everyday to fulfil all these roles). Having said this, what I wish for is an understanding to this difference, and respect for it. And also that if a woman does not fit in the prevalent ‘good’ woman image, then please think of her as an individual before judging her. Don’t expect from her atleast that which you do not expect of yourself.
Let us not forget that every individual owes it to self to realize one’s full potential, make the best of this life. And what is this ‘best’ must be a personal choice. Also, if at all this personal choice is to be judged, the rules of judging it must be the same for everybody.
It is easy to brush it off saying that it only happens at some particular places or in some classes of society. However, I see it to be far more widespread across cultures and classes. The degree and method of operation may vary. In some situations it is crude and visible, in others it is subtle and beautified or hidden. The latter is far more dangerous, because it permeates into our lives and becomes invisible … a part of ‘normal’.
All I want to say is that fairness should prevail.

God’s Greater Design

We all have our individual inclinations…individual choices… all of us walk through various experiences, advices, learning, readings, scenes, conversations, visuals etc. Yet each of us processes it differently, drawing a certain piece of learning, and storing some chunks for possible future use.
Somehow, a short chance discussion with a very senior colleague of mine brought back a very important childhood memory. I remember a lazy summer vacation afternoon, when I was lying sprawled near my elder brother. I don’t know how he started, but weaving in small stories, he tried to explain to me the God’s scheme of Greater Design. I can recall him telling about how we live in a small circle of individual circle of light, but there is much more outside that circle that we may not see or understand. But as we open our heart and soul to encompass new experiences, as we make (sometimes slow and tedious) progress to imbibe compassion, gratefulness and modesty, this circle keeps expanding. It feels like the beautiful sight of dissolving mist, when sunshine spreads. Of course, I was too young to grasp it then, but now it keeps coming back to me, gathering a new meaning each day.
Yet, we (most of us) are still far from seeing the greater design…. His scheme of things. I also recall the talk about complete surrender to Him. Complete trust. Not asking for anything, because its not I, but He who knows the best. Does it sound like favouring inaction.. or being fatalistic? If it does, then allow me to clarify that, if anything, its the exact opposite. There is no crime greater than inaction, making spirituality an excuse for it. I must do what I find to be the best (even with my limited resources). Continuous, deliberated, hard work is for me the best way to try to give back a part of what I have received.
It may sound as a sermon from a very religious person. Yes, I do like to pray. But, more often than not, I end up not doing so. Also, I don’t remember the last time I went to any temple. This is just an attempt to describe how I look at life. It seems like a huge intricately designed patchwork quilt. One can see the entire pattern only when its complete, and with the benefit of hindsight. There have been times which felt like the worst times…seemed as undeserved punishments. But on looking back, it were those times that made me what I am today…hammered me to become a better person… to withstand the misery …to learn what was important. Yes, in a way, they turned out to be the best times.
Now comes what should have come first… the purpose of this writing… to share the peace that I find in this.

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