Sunday, May 31, 2009

A matter of the "mind"!!

Have you ever had a situation where people "mind" (sulk)? In other words, when people get upset or angry as a result of "something" you said or did? But you have no idea about what that "something" is?!

So I was asking my friend the other day about people "minding."
"You got to be careful what you say, my friend. It's very tricky," he advised.
"It should be easy," I replied. "Around people who are a little more sensitive, just be quiet. Don't say anything."
"Aha," he said. "But there's a catch."
"A catch?" I asked.
"Yeah," he said. "You see, people can "mind" about something you say or do, but they can also "mind" about something that you don't say or something that you don't do!"
"So where does that leave a guy like me?" I asked.
"For a person who generally speaks his mind -- in a no-win situation," he said, smiling!
"That's no consolation," I said.
"People who really know and understand you will not get upset, no matter what you say, because they know where you are coming from," he continued. "They will talk to you, let you know what's bothering them rather than minding (sulking)."

Now that did make sense to me. When we are around people who know us, we can speak freely without the fear of somebody "minding." Around folks that we don't know well or vice-versa, restraint might be a better option.

But I know its more complicated than the simplistic idea coming forth in the lines above. We all live in a complex social environment where relationships, occasionally, will lose their definition and purpose over a period of time. Sometimes, social engagements become more about saying and doing things as per protocol to boost egos, rather than a celebration of true feelings and real emotions.

I agree with the essence of the quote below, although it might not always be practical in the "real" world.

"Speak your mind freely, for people who matter don't mind and people who mind, don't really matter." ~ Dr Seuss


Sunday, May 24, 2009

A "moving" experience

Whenever I visit a university town, I feel rejuvenated. I feel younger, maybe because of all the nostalgia that floods me and my mind jaunts to the days when I was in college.

A couple of weekends ago, we helped our daughter empty her dorm room at UVA and move her stuff back home for the summer. The drive to Charlottesville is very scenic, especially this time of the year with the trees showing off their fresh green foliage. And then as we arrived in Charlottesville, as it happens every time, I "feel" the town.

That day was "move-out day." Our daughter is a young lady now, mature and in control. She had all her things packed and ready to load.
"The first 2 bags," she said, pointing to the sea humongous black trash bags, "are shoes and the next two are hangers."
"Your shoes are in two bags?" I asked.
"Yeah, just two. Most of my shoes are at home. These are my winter & spring shoes."

As I was carrying two large trash bags to our SUV, one filled with hangers and the other with shoes, one of the parents I crossed on the way smiled at me.
"Yours must be a girl," she said, pointing to the bags on my shoulders.
"That's right," I smiled back.
"Ours is a boy and his entire stuff is in one bag," she smiled. And I could see that she loved being there, helping her son. As were we.... just happy to be with our daughter, spending time with her. Kids grow up and carve their own path. We see less of them as they get older, but the "family thread" binds us together, wherever we are. So whatever time we get to spend with them is a blessing. That is what makes a family, being there and creating beautiful moments, so that we have wonderful memories to look back to. Here's a definition of family.....

Families are a unique little band of characters trudging through life sharing colds and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, borrowing money, locking each other out of rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that binds us all together.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Weighed down by obligations

Every once in a while, we are all faced with a dilemma of choosing between doing what's right or what is popular. On the face of it, it is a simple question. And of course, doing the right thing is the obvious answer. But sometimes, it's not as easy as it sounds.

If, as in most situations, the right thing to do is also the popular sentiment, the choice is easy. A true test of our character is when the right choice is definitely not the popular thing to do. For an individual who always sticks to his principles, this is not a hard decision. He or she would do the right thing, not being unduly worried about the consequences and let the chips fall as they may. Sometimes, sensible and mature people will knowingly choose the popular path, even though its not on the "right" side of life. And this is generally because of the weight of obligations and social pressures, which can make even a thoroughly steadfast person falter. But always remember that relationships based on obligations lack dignity.

So how much obligation should a person take? Socrates, the Greek philosopher, credited with pioneering thoughts about values and morals of modern society, had an interesting take on that issue. He said-- "Only take an obligation if you know you can (and will) repay it one day soon. The more obligations you owe, more twisted are your morals, ethics and principles." I guess what he's saying is we should try to keep our backbone to ourselves and not lend it to people to whom we owe favors!

Favors come in different shapes and sizes. Some genuine and some with ulterior motives. The latter mostly in the form that satisfies our materialistic desires. So I assume that if our materialistic desires are less, we really would not need favors, would we? Let me end with another quote that should give us some food for thought--

"I hold that to need nothing is divine, and the less a man needs, the nearer does he approach divinity." ~ Socrates


Sunday, May 10, 2009

The "Chai" delay!

The weekend was busy. Let me run you through a part of it -- the Saturday night party at our friends home.
9:30 pm -- Our arrival time. (a wee bit late, the official time was 7:30 pm!) We start to mingle, have a few snacks, drinks.....
10:30 pm -- The socializing is more vocal and vociferous as a few drinks have made the rounds.
11:30 pm -- Dinner is served! The food was great, so there is a brief lull in the conversation. (a very, very brief lull.... after all its a panjabi party and we just luuuvv to talk!)
Midnight -- Rumblings of "let's go" start. My wife comes up to me and says -- "We should leave soon, we have to wake up early in the morning." (We had to drop our daughter off at the airport at 6:30 in the morning.)
So I call out to my son-- "Hey Simar, we leave in a few minutes."
"Have you had chai (tea) yet?" he asked.
"Chai? No... we are not going to have chai."
"Whom are you kidding, Dad." And he went back to his video games.
12:30 am -- Good-byes start.
1:00 am -- People who've already said their good-byes to me, suddenly have chai (or "cha") in their hands! Now they are drinking chai and saying good-byes at the same time (And among those people is my wife!) The conversation doesn't seem to end.
1:30 am -- One of our friends comes up to me. "Have I said good-bye to you already?"
"I stopped counting after the third time," I said.
"Well, what's another good-bye among friends," he says and we go through the process again.
2:00 am -- People are milling around the hallway now, everybody knows its time to leave but nobody wants to. Murmurs of another round of chai start floating around. The younger kids are getting tired now.
2:30 am -- Finally, the kids put their foot down and want to leave because they are really tired. There's a sudden flurry of activity with Moms & Dads hurrying around collecting shoes, jackets and sleepy kids.
2:45 am -- Absolutely final good-byes and we are in our car. I avoid eye-contact with my son!

And all the credit goes to the lovely host couple for creating an atmosphere and ambiance that made everyone feel at home. And that's how most of our parties end --- not because the adults want to go home, its the kids!

"To invite someone is to take charge of his happiness during the time he spends under your roof." ~ Mark Twain

And our host couple did that and more!