PERFECTION IS THE ENEMY OF GOOD

It’s been one year already! April 13th. The day I started this and vowed to continue for as long as I can.

Unfortunately, we all have those days. Days when no matter how badly you want to go ahead with your work, you can’t because of the state of affairs. It could be anything from a cyclone or hurricane to mood swings or morning sickness. I’m not gonna say which and will let the suspense hover for a while. I have made a very bad utilization of the long break and spent it rolling on the bed and lazing on the couch. The party’s over now. Although I can’t promise a weekly update like before, given the circumstances, I would try my best to do it biweekly.

Coming to the topic for today, these three months have served really well for rumination of past events, which made me realize that till this day, no matter what I did, I could never win the appreciation of people. They always end up pointing out the faults even in the good things I do.

For instance, I learn to make a complex dish and cook it for a dozen people. Instead of appreciating for all the hard work put in, I would be met with snide remarks that I’m a slowcoach.

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Essentially, no matter what you do to please others, no matter how hard you try; you WILL be met with criticism. And you can do nothing about it. Because that’s how most of the humans are programmed.

And what better way to make the most out of our twisted minds than the big fat Indian weddings.

The mandap, the food, the seating arrangement, flower décor, warm welcomes, jewellery display, assortment of goodies, plush rooms for guests, euphonious background music, not a detail spared and hundreds of thousands of rupees spent lavishly. But what else would the guests notice but the overgrown lawn or a broken chair in the back?

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The world is bestowed with so much goodness and positivity. But where there’s good, there will be evil too.

No human is perfect. Especially since perfection is a matter of perspective. What’s a perfect cup of coffee for me wouldn’t be the same for you. Your “perfect” chicken curry might be totally unpalatable for me. That doesn’t mean you’re wrong and I’m right. It just means we each know different versions of a perfect chicken curry. If we get that into our thicker than a rhino’s skin brains, then life would be so much easier for us as well as the ones around us.

Finally, here’s a tip on how to handle arm-chair critics. Gather their advice, digs, remarks, and statements into a large garbage bag and throw it out of your brain.

Real well-wishers don’t mock your resources and act like numero uno. They voice their opinions as a side note not as a primary rule.

And here’s a quote to wrap this up:

“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.”

― Donald Miller

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LAST WORDS

Don’t take life and relationships for granted. Appreciate everyone and everything.

It was the first time I’ve lost someone close to me. It was the first time I saw a strong man become fragile and collapse in front of my eyes. It was the first time ever I contemplated the consequences of a loved one’s departure.

All I felt was misery. The painful thought that I would never see my grandfather ever again, the traumatic realization that the toothless grin and innocent, baggy eyes would never be there to welcome me, the depressing knowledge that his tall, stooping form is gone forever, has made me become cognizant of the ephemeral nature of life.

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An old bad quality picture that has become priceless now

Last week, I couldn’t update my blog. My eighty-year-old grandfather, who actively played cards and gambled like Archie Karas, breathed his last right after winning a fair amount of loot. So essentially, he was happy until his last moment arrived and when it finally did, he took off like a flash.

We couldn’t perceive what was happening. Family and friends encompassed him soon after the symptoms began to show and when he glanced at each of us with those glassy eyes, no one guessed he was just registering our faces for one last time.

And before the men carried him to the vehicle, his heart bowed out.

My grandmother crumpled to the floor in despair and the rest of us were too shocked to even shed a tear.

After a few seconds, all hell broke loose.

But all I could hear was a beep.

My mind played a video montage of all the endearing moments I hold so close to my heart—right from the day when he roved the streets of the town in search of colored chicks that I took fancy to; to the day when he was on bed, unwell, and spoke what would now become his last words to me, “You’re leaving already?”

I played the phrase repeatedly in my head as a continuous stream of tears began to flow down my cheeks. When I arrived here four months later last week, I didn’t get to talk to him due to the overflow of guests given that it was festival time in India. And within a few hours, we lost him—before I could ask how the turkeys he recently bought were faring, before I could buy him his favourite snack from the roadside stall, before I could play one last game of ludo . . .

Grandparents are a treasure. If there could be anyone who can love us more than our parents do, then it’s them. They shower us with unconditional love and ask nothing but acknowledgement in return. They just want to see us smile.

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I will cherish the mythological stories my grandmother used to relate, planting herself between my sister and me.

I will forever remember their far-sighted insights and worldliness as lessons.

And I will preserve the memory of my grandfather’s last words spoken in a downcast voice, deviating from his usual baritone.

You might have left us already grandpa but you will always always be in our hearts, dreams, and memories.

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LIVING IN THE MOMENT

We often don’t realize how important time is. How transient our life is. We take things for granted, especially the time we have with the people we love.

We tend to dwell more on the past, hold grudges in the present and fantasize about the future but forget to cherish the now.

We never know what future holds, then why do we fail to realize the significance of the present?

Recently, I have read a book titled, “Still Alice”, which accounts the slow deterioration that takes place in the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient and how she goes from not remembering simple words to not recognizing her husband and children. By the time, the book ended, I felt a heavy weight settle down in my heart as if wet terrycloth had been stuffed inside.

It was fear, I realized.

In retrospection, I remembered the times I’ve gone without speaking for months with my parents and sister over petty issues that seemed of great import back then. I rued the days I have shown my mean streak to my friends and ended up losing some of them. I wish I could erase the times I have spoken rudely with my folks. If given a chance, I would take back all the whacks my little sister took from me although she deserved most of them. Look, I’m being foul again and I wish I could just stop that altogether.

You know, no matter how many days I spend in repentance, I can’t undo any of my actions. Nor can I change the course they have taken. It didn’t affect any of my relations but it did leave a hole in the past, which I wish I could fill.

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Now, I feel like I have missed so much in life by ruining those few days. But in that process, I’m wrecking havoc on the present. At least now, I could make up to all those unsaid I love you’s, withheld kisses, broken hearts, silent tears, hissy fits . . .

Life is shorter than we can ever imagine. And the time we have with our loved ones is even shorter because we spend half of our lives in our endeavours, which is only practical since we gotta settle down on a firm ground. But we have to make sure that at least the remaining time is devoted to spreading love.

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Absolution is the greatest gift of humankind. We must learn to forgive and embrace our loved ones, setting aside differences because we make mistakes too and a day would come when we would pine for forgiveness.

As long as we focus on the present and let the future be a surprise, we would have lived our lives to the fullest.

I have realized it after two decades of my existence and it could have been sooner. But again, I don’t want to waste my time in remorse when I could be out there bringing smiles to the faces I love more than life itself.

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TYPES OF COLLEAGUES

Ah, colleagues. They can make a real difference in our lives especially since we spend a great deal of waking hours with them.

Let’s take a look at the types of comrades we surround ourselves with.

  1. The nose-diggers:

These people amuse me, besides the obvious disgust factor. Allow me to get straight to the subject in question.

So, a presentation was going on and the hall was palled in pin-drop silence. Either the people were listening like their whole careers depended on it or were sleeping like they didn’t care. I, of course, chose the latter and shrank into my chair in order to snatch forty winks. As I rested my elbow on the arm of the chair, I felt another elbow prodding me lightly. When I turned to look, there was this girl, whom I recognized to be one of my teammate’s friends, devoting all her focus towards one task and that was to find the hidden treasure inside her nostrils.

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The force with which she excavated the shallow depths of her nose scared me. Her whole face scrunched up in the effort. And when she hit the jackpot, her finger slowly came out of the orifice, attached to a long thread of snot at the fingertip. She wiped it on her dupatta, all the while holding on to the beloved booger for dear life and then with Zen-like concentration aimed it at the wall. With one swift flick, she released the object that instead of catapulting six feet over to the wall, stuck to the chair in front of me, barely missing my knee.

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That was when I lost control over my actions and the gag reflex kicked in, forcing me to flee the spot, sending everyone there into a flurry of worry.

Excuse me for all the gory details but this needs to be said. There are some activities that are best done in private and nose digging is one of them.

  1. The know-it-all:

Wow! These people aggravate me to no end because all they do is bring down your brainpower and elevate your temper.

Yet, you can’t do anything about it because of the damn rules, and end up with a herculean task in hand, i.e. struggling to simmer down the raging volcano bubbling inside the pit of your stomach.

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Let me relate an incident to delineate this category of people.

‘Bungee jumping is so passé. Have you guys tried bungee ejection?’ I asked my teammates as we sat for lunch, chitchatting about adventure sports.

The erudite girl seated behind me tapped on my shoulder and said, ‘Um, I think it’s spelled bungee as in blingy.’

I wanted to laugh. But I never mock follies. Instead, I try to offer what I know and contribute to their intelligence quotient. So long as they are willing to accept it. But not the Miss Smarty-Pants.

‘I think you’re mistaken. My pronunciation is accurate,’ I said.

‘Oh no. It is bungee. Don’t spell it the way you did now. People will mock you,’ she giggled and her cohorts followed suit because they didn’t know any better.

I shook my head and chuckled mostly out of sympathy because I was going to put a damper on her intellectual over-confidence.

I opened the dictionary application on my mobile, typed the word in the search box, increased the volume to its full capacity and pressed the sound icon that plays the pronunciation of the word.

Bungee

It said in a loud, clear, unmistakable tone.

The table went silent for a minute and the girls looked at each other unsure of how to react. Then as if a switch had been flipped on, they burst into laughter.

The dummy of my colleague held my hand as if in pity and said, ‘Oh, Shilpa. You rely on these applications to learn English? That explains. It’s spelled as bungee. Like buggy, eggy, groggy . . .’

And piggy. Which you are. I wanted to say. But I didn’t. I simply stared at her speechless. She just said that the dictionary was wrong. She just claimed that Oxford and Webster were wrong. I gave up. I threw up my hands and dissolved into an exasperated laughter as they watched cluelessly.

I suddenly began to fear the safety of my brain amidst those wackos. But I didn’t realize then that it was going to be the first of many more mindscrews.

  1. Braggart:

If you want to test your endurance, talk to a braggart. If you want to have a good laugh with your friends at the expense of a temporary joker, talk to a braggart. But if you are looking to boost your ego, then stay away from these rotters because they make you feel like shit.

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It’s okay to boast once in a while, you know, it makes you feel good and serves as a recap of your achievements. But it gets ugly when you cross the line and blow your trumpet like a daily concerto. Trust me, it doesn’t serve the purpose. In fact, it will have the reverse effect and your peeps will resent you not out of jealousy but out of irritation.

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‘I’ll text you the syllabus. What’s your phone number?’

‘Well, I got 96% in engineering.’

‘Ugh, I hate these equations. What was your favourite subject in engineering?’

‘Well, all subjects are my favourites because I got 96% in engineering. Tee-hee!’

‘I love your outfit. Where did you get it?’

‘I got this at a shop.’ Wait for it. ‘It was while holding this very outfit, I received a call saying that they tallied the averages and I was the university topper.’ Just wait for it. ‘96% in engineering.’

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Just so you know, I ain’t kidding.

Why do I always tend to attract weirdos?

  1. Flirt:

Oh, the classic flirts. There’s at least one in each group/team and I’ll be talking about guy flirts for obvious reasons.

You know the thing about flirts is they either sweep you off your feet with their chivalry or creep you out with their excessive flattery.

Let us leave the former out of the picture since they are no harm to the society. The latter though cause mental stress by embarrassing you in public.

Like complimenting your nail shape and colour. Freak.

Noticing that you’ve got your eyebrows done and blathering about how shapely they are. Sick.

Smelling your hair brazenly and asking what shampoo you use. Run!

  1. The green-eyed monster:

These are the dangerous lot. They are toxic. One must avoid them at all costs and even try to hide from the person who falls into this category. Because once the fiend fixes its sights on you, it becomes hard to escape. You’ll become a prey and even if you manage to get away, it’ll chase you till the ends of the earth until you move away from its focus.

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When I was working, there used to be a girl who happened to join my team to work on a project.

First, she targeted the healthy lifestyle I had adopted recently by making fun of my food choices.

‘Is that flatbread? Ugh, are you even human? Leave it and have this pizza,’ she used to provoke me.

‘Why do you exercise every single day? You’re paying too much attention to all these formulas. Live freely. You’re still so young.’

I started feeling uneasy because of her bad pieces of advice and feckless habits that she was trying to make me incorporate.

After a lot more red flags, I had decided to keep away from her. But then things started to get ugly. Given her close association with my team lead, she contaminated his mind enough to let me go.

Although this came as a rude shock to me, I was also extremely relieved to be finally free from her stranglehold. I wasn’t the monster’s target anymore. The evil that had latched on to me had unwittingly extricated itself. And it’s on the prowl for a new gull.

THE UNWANTED GUEST

One morning I woke up to the pesky sound of the doorbell. Usually, I don’t get to hear it much often—just once per day when my husband returns from work or occasionally (twice a week) when I order a box of Ferrero Rocher (which I devour within three days) from the departmental store conveniently located a few steps past our apartment building—thanks to my residence in a foreign country. So, this sudden shrill racket at an unusual time startled me, almost tricking me into believing that it could be a dream. Or a nightmare.

When I opened the door, a bright smile greeted me. Yes, a smile, because I literally couldn’t see the face amidst the teeth. When the grin subsided, I recognized the owner of the visage. My penny-pinching uncle, who is so far up our family tree that he wouldn’t be visible even if I searched through the branches one by one.

Two days back, I received a call from my mother saying that he would be temporarily shifting to Qatar, minus his family, and asked me to call him over the weekend just to be polite. But looks like someone dropped him my address instead of a phone number.

Honestly, I wasn’t happy to see him. I mean who would be happy to receive a guest at eight in the morning, the hour at which even your husband wouldn’t dare to stir you awake?

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It’s okay. He’s here on his way to work. Mom might’ve missed out on an important piece of detail—that she gave my freaking address to a man, whom I have known only from an old photograph of an ancient get-together and the new one she whatsapped for reference. But it’s okay. Not a big deal.

I shook my head to ward off the residual languor and invited Uncle in. We exchanged pleasantries. We exchanged awkward looks. Then we exchanged apologies. Me for not calling him after he landed; he for not informing me before dropping at my place like a thunderclap.

He stayed for breakfast. Predictably. He returned after work in the evening alongside my husband, sharing his cab ride. As expected. Annoyed us with some irrelevant and silly anecdotes. Embarrassingly. Stayed for dinner. Unanticipated. Returned the next day. To my horror.

He kept bouncing back to our place persistently like a boomerang and we could do nothing but accept him, although my warm welcome smile receded with each passing day.

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Among our relatives, he had a name for being a miser. He’s a reputed freeloader who would stop at anything to retrench even if it’s a single buck. I concluded that he was trying to save money through meals and got entertainment at our cost by tagging along to malls and picnics during the weekends, leaving us no room for privacy.

Although it had been a challenging few months, the whole thing introduced me to a new perspective on life and I’m going to get a little philosophical here.

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Just like an unwanted, troublesome guest, problems knock on our doors when we least expect them. As long as we face them headlong, without fear, a solution will always show up. If we don’t, then they would just keep coming back.

Sure, in my case, the “problem” vanished after three months. But it won’t always be the case. That’s when we have to develop shatterproof resolve and wear it like a body armour before getting down to engage in a battle. The longer we fight, the shorter the distance between you and victory would get.

In order to drive the unwanted guest away, we first need to dispel the fear and uncertainty from their comfortable abodes of our minds.

Back to my undear moocher of an uncle, who, after three months, has left the country with three Tupperware boxes (mine) containing three different varieties of curries (cooked by me) packed to last for at least three days.

Let’s just say each of the dishes missed out on some key ingredients that would keep him off from leeching for a while.

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MY CREATOR

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM…!!!

Amma. That’s what I call my mother and in my opinion, it’s the sweetest word in any language.

Whenever I utter the word to call my mom, especially now that we’re living in two different countries, a range of emotions swell up inside me.

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There’s absolutely nothing in this world that equals a mother’s love for her child. That’s a universal fact. But we never seem to understand the magnitude of it, for a mother is often the most ignored despite the numerous quotations and proverbs indicted to extol her virtues.

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I was prone to doing it as well. When she scolded me for not spending enough time with books, I viewed her with contempt. When she admonished me for not finishing my lunch at school, I rebuked. When she chided me for not cleaning up my room, I was annoyed.

But now, what I wouldn’t give to have her roam around the house ticking me off with her constant grumbles. She visits occasionally but never stays. Her memories linger though, and there isn’t a single day when I don’t reminisce about our little disagreements and arguments that usually culminated in her becoming a child and me trying to quell her ire.

She never took a break all through my childhood and cared for us like we were precious gems. Even now, she doesn’t intend to rest. She dreams of cooking my favourite dishes whenever she’s here, instead of relishing the interlude.

In retrospect, I realize that I have never been fully worthy of her immense love because I have never valued it enough. Like most kids, I have taken it for granted. She nurtured me into a self-sufficient individual while I being a difficult child, still remember the trouble I have put my parents through in the process. My sister successfully managed to pull off the goody two shoes act but sadly, I couldn’t; blame my irascibility.

(My sister stole my share of mangoes when she was ten and I was sleeping like a log. You thief!)

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All right, okay, that was immature of me but the weight of watching my little one walk away with the Miss Noble title while I’m taking the blame here is too onerous and I needed to get it off my chest. Phew!

So, essentially my folks endured that immaturity and more.

I can try to atone for my mistakes although it wouldn’t amount to much because their love can never be quantified.

I want to serve them just like they did when I was a child. I want to pamper them with presents and nag them when they neglect their health. I want to love them like crazy.

Despite me living 2000 miles away from her, I still endure my mother’s protests about my disregard towards my health, and carelessness when it comes to spending money. Sometimes it’s grating. But immediately, I remember that this is what mom is all about. Who would feel responsible enough to pester me like that?

She grouches about my love for fast food and I’m miffed. But then who else would berate me for my poor dietary habits?

She raves about my photographs despite me looking like the Grinch most of the time.

She goes gaga over my hairstyle even when it resembles a porcupine’s backside.

She loves to goof around in Snapchat.

She contributes to at least 100 views for each of my blog post. So when I see the stats and the views are 100 but the visitor is 1, I instantly know that it’s my crazy darling, mom.

 

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I cherish every single reproof, all jokes—both funny and inane, countless banters, myriad laughs together, silly accusations, ambrosial dishes and the proud moments when my friends envied the splendid beauty of my mother and called me lucky. Well, I’m lucky with or without the beauty. She’s an angel, who has come to demonstrate what a heavenly privilege being her daughter would be. It’s time to return the favour to the best of my capabilities.

A word to my Amma—because of you, I came into existence; without you, I would be inexistent.

 

 

 

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY

PRIORITIES

Realize the importance of family and relations before it’s too late.

There are so many relations in our lives that we tend to forget to prioritize and end up ignoring the most important ones. Parents, siblings, spouse, friends, grandparents . . . everyone deserves a special attention—especially the ones you’re sharing your lives with.

 

Imagine going home to a negligent wife, who doesn’t care whether you had your lunch or not.

Wouldn’t it feel terrible when you go out alone to get groceries, don’t turn up at home until four hours later and your husband doesn’t even bother to call why you’re running late?

Think about a bullied child’s misery when the tech-savvy parents are busy fiddling with their phones instead of asking the kid how their day went.

Scary, isn’t it? But that’s the situation of our present world. We are so caught up in our own affairs that we don’t bother to take a peek into the life of the person living under the same roof.

Let me tell you a story.

Meet Tanya, a garrulous woman, who loves to talk and keep everyone around her engaged with her vivacity. Her family, which consists of her husband, C, and an adult son, J, is the complete opposite of her. In fact, they’re sometimes repelled by her volubility and take her warmth for granted.

Tanya does notice that her husband is quite talkative too but only on phone. Her son is bustling with activity too but only around his friends. She often wonders what she did wrong to be ostracized by her own family but that doesn’t urge her to retaliate because if she does, then they won’t be a family anymore.

She would strike conversations with J’s friends much to his chagrin, discusses her views on politics only to be made fun by C, expects a compliment on her new dress but receives none. Yet the smile on her face never leaves.

One day, Tanya meets with an accident and slips into a coma. Of course, C and J are worried because after all she is their family. The doctor tells them that her chances of recovery are favourable but the time it might take is indefinite.

They return home and are hit by the sudden realization that there’s no Tanya greeting them with her Cheshire cat smile and irking them with her “How was your day?” “What did your friends say about your new shirt?” “How was the food at the restaurant?” “What did you eat?” questions. It feels odd and lifeless.

They face no problem with food as they take on a cook, who makes dishes of their wish. But the food lost its magical touch lent by Tanya.

They face no problem with house cleaning as they employ a maid to scrub the house spotless. But there’s no Tanya running around the house arranging things, and dusting tables.

Without her voice echoing through the walls, the house feels like a graveyard.

Without her bright face beaming at the threshold, going home feels stale.

Without her dainty form offering to fulfill their every whim, desolation becomes their constant companion.

They set aside their duties and jobs, pack bags and decide to spend a few days with Tanya at the hospital doing her favourite thing—talking. They would fill her in with the details about their lives, which she craved before, they would hold her hand like she did whenever they were upset and assure her that she would be up and about in no time.

They promise that once she wakes up from sleep, they would treat her like a queen and would put her above all.

The moral of the story is—never ever ignore the person who loves you. Being a priority is a blessing. A gift that’s rare and should be treasured.

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Your friends on your contact list can wait a minute or two for your response to their text messages. But the person sitting in front of you, hoping to catch your eye and share their day is much more important.

Those TV shows you’ve been binge watching all day, ignoring your mother, ain’t gonna vanish by tomorrow. There’s always tomorrow. And if there isn’t then what are you gonna regret more—an unwatched episode or a one-hour long colloquy with your mom?

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Share with your spouse, make time for your grandparents, giggle with your sister, peeve your brother, adore your mom, worship your dad, meet your friends, play with your cousins, talk to your kids, have meals together, make memories because these are what matter over the long haul.

Realize the importance of family and relations before it’s too late.

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A quick note to my readers.

My next blog post is going to be on Sunday, two days from now. You’ll find out why

 

HONEY, SHOW ME THE MONEY

So, here I am, despondent, after watching yet another pal of mine slip away.This raises the question – does money change people?

This raises the question – does money change people?

Unfortunately yes. But not everyone, of course. There are some sections of people who seem to think that they have conquered the world when they get a job or start earning. Well, there’s something that they are not earning though, and that’s respect.

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I’m not going to preach the banal stuff like “when you are unhappy, money doesn’t heal but friends do” because money certainly buys the expensive Häagen-Dazs or Ben and Jerry’s ice cream your soul pines for in order to gulp the sadness down. But what you need more importantly is a shoulder to cry on and a hand to stroke your back. Without those two, a person would truly be a paragon of poverty.

I have seen people who choose friends based on factors like looks, financial status, and popularity.

There was this acquaintance of mine who agreed to date a guy only after he confirmed that he owns a car. There was this childhood friend who worshipped a girl in her university class (despite being snubbed) just because she’s beautiful. And I can never forget the friendless gawky boy in my high school, who grew up to become an actor and even has a fan page now. During our reunion, the very people who bullied him and made him feel worthless ended up taking selfies with him.

The pattern disturbs me. If these are the factors on which a friendship rests, then I don’t want friends.

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I’m lucky enough to have some amazing friends, who have stuck by me through thick and thin; who have seen my worse and loved it; who brought out the best in me. I’m sure I would be phoning them even after thirty years and nothing will change. We would just become busier and more exhausted due to the added duties that come with age. But our affection towards each other will remain the same.

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Well, as for the passing clouds, who have ushered momentary fun into my life and left without a trace—I thank them for the precious memories and rewarding lessons.

So, this “pal” I’m talking about has decided that her old friends aren’t worth her attention. Maybe she’s in the process of making new ones or maybe she’s not. But the arrogant attitude she displayed made us all gape in shock—Is she the same innocent wide-eyed girl we met a decade ago?

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I did what I gotta do. I REMOVED HER FROM OUR MESSAGE GROUP. Sigh. It’s petty, I know but that’s my act of revenge. I had to take revenge because it’s my thing. I don’t leave a wrecked relationship without retribution especially when it jeopardizes my self-esteem.

I must have sufficiently spooked my readers by now but look at it this way; when a person whom you have regarded as a friend mocks your failures in front of other buddies, you have the basic responsibility to avenge your dignity.

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Money turns a person into a smug cat. They start believing that they need no one and set out by severing old ties one by one. This happens mostly to individuals who let the allure of wealth override conscience and let it take precedence over relationships.

I prefer to surround myself with people who would stay with me for the long haul rather than the ones who would judge me based on my accomplishments or the lack of them thereof.

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Choose the right friends and they’ll show you the meaning of joy.

 

 

 

DOMINANCE DOESN’T EARN REVERENCE

We all have relatives who love to dominate and belittle anyone who is inferior to them. For some it’s elder sister, for many it’s husband, for most it’s mother-in-law, and for me, it’s my maternal aunt, who stops at nothing to feed her superiority complex.

She’s the youngest in the family and thereby she never got the chance to brandish her impudence quite often. And here I am fulfilling her needs.

So there I was perfectly lost in my own girly world of nail colors and clippers, when she trotted towards me with an air of superiority that’s unseen even in the meanest of bosses, and demanded me to clip and colour her nails. That was not where it ended. She wanted me to decorate her toenails too. And frankly, I didn’t find that offensive at all. What’s the big deal about touching toes of a family member? But when my grandma looked at her in surprise because she never ever coloured her nails, prompt came the condescending reply, ‘This is the time when I have to make the most of her services.’

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Services? Do I look like a slave to you, woman? What the hell do you think of yourself? Tell me that you can’t reach your toes with that belly of yours hanging in between, I’d be convinced; say you are not trained in colouring your nails as deftly as I do, I’d be honoured; but you want to use my services? I mean, yeah maybe she enjoys having her smelly paw over my face but at least she can be subtle about her awful intentions?

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I would so love to get your feet off my face, Aunt Meano.

Man, I need to make sure that our dates don’t clash when I pay the next visit to my parents’ because I can’t bear the sight of her dopey grin and domineering personality.

She makes me the butt of every inane joke she cracks, trivializes every contribution of mine towards helping my mom in household chores or whatever and also scoffs at the baggy shirts I wear for my comfort, seizing the opportunity to brag about her daughter’s dress choices.

This brings me to the topic of relevance – domination.

Why do we feel the need to dominate? Why don’t we treat everyone as our equal? Does it harm? Does it lower our status? If anything, it elevates our footing and we win big time in terms of respect.

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So, taking cases I’ve heard and seen into account, I deduce that the people who like to feel strong by exercising control over others do so because they’ve never experienced what it feels like. For example, if I were the youngest in the family, then everyone expects me to pay heed to them. I have no say in anything important because, you know, I’m still a kid. Being a sidekick has boundaries. I have to listen to whatever the older ones say. After being under someone’s thumb for so long, I’d feel the urge to see what bossing around feels like. And when the time arrives, I make full use of the newfound reins and don’t care what the person whom I regard as a minion thinks.

That’s exactly what’s happening to my aunt and to most of the people who love to dominate. Take a mother-in-law for instance. She has been bossed around by her own mom-in-law for so long that as soon as her daughter-in-law arrives, her mind flashes a bingo sign.

This is not the logic for everyone of course. I decoded the workings of a dominant person’s mind but it obviously doesn’t apply to the world at large. It’s just something I’ve noticed around.

Whatever the reason may be, each person deserves respect. Just because you are older and in higher position, it doesn’t mean you can toy around with underlings as if they are puppets. It might be sadistically uplifting but morally wrong. So wrong.

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Remember, everyone is important and should be treated with the same respect you expect to be treated with.

HUMAN HAMMERS

Humans are carpers. And it’s an immutable, unbearable trait.

A wedding is about to take place. The groom’s mother views the bride’s family with much contempt as the latter has decided to conduct the wedding at a small church and booked a medium-sized hall for the buffet. That’s all they can afford without sharing the costs; plus it was beyond the budget they have planned. But affines are never satisfied, are they? They just need that one thing to hold against you.

After the nuptials, the mother-in-law takes direct digs by griping about how her cachet among her high-society friends and relatives came down due to the economical wedding the girl’s family has managed to pull off. How the congested church made her feel claustrophobic. How the food items at the dinner were not properly garnished. How the chillies in the biryani were sliced too thin and also how the server didn’t smile at her. The girl took the offence in silence.

Now time comes for the mother-in-law to marry her daughter off. And she doesn’t pick any fancy beach resort or a backyard of a mansion as the venue. The wedding’s going to take place at her home—the cheapest option available.

I cited this example not to stereotype anyone. I wanted to pinpoint the kind of hypocrisy that prevails in majority of humans and how people take delight in hammering anyone that doesn’t share their DNA. But say one thing even remotely unfavourable to them, they would be glaring at you with fangs ready to sink into your throat. You can dish it out but you can’t take it.

Why are our thoughts and morals so warped? Our favourite pastime is to criticize. We condemn everyone for everything just to feel better about ourselves. God, why are we born this way? Why can’t we be more pure and acceptive?

The kind of people I’ve seen in my short existence so far has made me a cynic. I see a person spending as meagre as a cent on a birthday present to someone but expects to receive a gift worth one hundred dollars in return and if you don’t sate his anticipation, then get ready for some serious arraignment and bad-mouthing. Wow, doesn’t conscience dictate human thoughts and actions anymore? “We give, we take” is how life is supposed to be within a society. But I see more of “You give, I take” in people these days.

It’s important to take the other person into account always simply because we can’t spare the price of being an outcast, which would be the definite consequence of acting like an ass.

Expect the other to do what you would do in their shoes. You can’t aim to be treated like a queen while you view every other person as your minion. I see that most of them are not satisfied with what they have. They want additional, that too for free. Isn’t that nasty? You’re basically hoping to lick on someone else’s sweat. Produce your own sweat instead of being a parasite.

When you bundle up jobless people together all they do is gossip, pummel and slam with limitless ardour.

‘Mr. X doesn’t hold his wife’s hand in public. Things are not right between them. I give four months max.’

Maybe Mr. X is just shy and doesn’t like PDA.

‘Miss Jane had a tear in the dress she wore yesterday. She’s so broke.’

Probably, Jane didn’t notice the hole and unfortunately became the subject of your hole.

‘Mr. Y uses a basic phone despite being a millionaire. Such a cheapo.’

Perhaps, Mr. Y loves simplicity and doesn’t heed barking dogs.

Such is the dreadful situation. If you have nothing to do, then do nothing. But do not hammer. It hits very hard.

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