Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Looking Married

They - "You are married!"
Me - "Yeah....."
They - "But you don't look married at all!!!!"

I get this a lot. From colleagues, acquaintances, salon staff to random people I meet. Many of my office colleagues assumed that I am single and are surprised when I mention my husband or in-laws in my casual talks. When I was already working for couple of years, many still asked me what I was studying.

Not to brag, but I have been even looked at as a prospective bride in other people's weddings a couple of times. They didn't even notice the red vermilion on my forehead. And once it was at my own brothers-in-law's wedding! And yes, that's the reason why aunties and sisters attend weddings, to check out prospective daughter-in-laws for their families.

My husband breathes mock fumes when I report such stories and remarks playfully that I should go out of the house all dolled up in fistful of sindoor (vermilion) , dangling mangalsutra (a black beaded necklace which married North Indian women typically wear) and jingling bangles.

And it makes me wonder what does looking married means anyway. How does a woman look married?

Is it wearing traditional attire?
Or applying a dollop of sindoor on her middle hair parting?
Or by announcing her entry with jingling of bangles and anklets?
Or by not taking care of her looks and body?
Or by opening her mouth only to blabber about cooking, housekeeping, husband and children?
Or by appearing haggard at all times?

And why does a married woman need to look married at all?


They - "But you don't look married at all!!!!"
Me - "Thank you. I would take that as a compliment." (With a wide grin!)

May be it's just my "look younger" genes (Thank you Ma and Deta!).

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

If You Have To Compare

The problem with most of us is that we always want to live someone else's lives. We set the so-called "happiness standards" based on the visible lives of others.  We are haunted by their apparent "happy and happening" lives, thanks to the omnipresent social media. Based on their visible lives around us and on social media, we define our own lives. We don't even know for real how their lives actual are, we are simply blinded by what they seem to have and we don't. We choose to ignore and nullify what we already have.

We are sent to school and college by our parents with great hope. We look at our peers and choose to compare ourselves with whom we perceive to be leading better lives than us. We want to fit in, we desire to be them. We like what they wear and our own clothes start looking shabby. We desire to go out as often as they do. We start spending our pocket money in matching standards instead of spending on our necessities. We start forgetting the sacrifices of our parents. We start asking for more. But never once it crosses our minds to compare ourselves with peers who are less privileged than we are. Neither we look beyond the the superficial happiness of our "better" friends and and take a peep at their real selves.

We start earning. But it's never enough. We chose to spend all of it on ourselves to match our upgraded "happiness standards". Basic necessities of life take a backseat. We desire to fit in among our new better "peers". In our minds, we are still comparing our lives with our old and new friends. When our pockets are empty, we go to our parents. We don't even feel that now it's our turn to take care of them. We continue to take them for granted.

We start our own family with our spouses. "Happiness standards" are upgraded once again. We compare our standings with that of our siblings, relatives, friends and colleagues. We even compare our spouses and children with that of others instead of focusing on the good in them. Instead of giving importance to our familial responsibilities or to values and principles, we continue giving importance to maintaining our superficial images and status. We spend our money on branded clothes and accessories, throwing parties, gifting our well-to-do friends and relatives in a desire to receive expensive gifts and favours in return, looking down upon our less privileged relatives and friends. We take loans to go on foreign vacations because we too need to share "foreign vacation stories" with our friends. We don't understand our spouses and children, but click "happy" photos to post on social media, hinting love and happiness. We still don't care much our parents. We still look at them as caregivers, free nannies and free loan givers.

We are doing what our "happy" peers are doing. But somehow we are still not happy. We are striving to provide our spouses and children with all luxuries. But they are still not happy with us and still complaining.

Will we ever understand that happiness is in our hands, that we can never be happy if we set superficial and abnormally high materialistic "happiness standards"? Will we understand that instead of running after money and success,  if we start focusing on working hard and bettering ourselves everyday, all kind of successes are bound to follow. In our quest of looking towards the superficial upwards, we do not choose to compare ourselves with the ones who are less privileged than us. But if we choose we do so, we will be grateful for everything that we do have in our hands.

Think about those who have to struggle each day for the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. Think about those who can't even afford to go to school or college. Think about those who are the only earning member in the entire family, worse they don't even have a job but have mouths to feed.

Think about those who are not blessed with health. They have terminal or perennial illness, or deformities. Think about what they and their families have to go through, everyday.

Think about those who don't have elders to fall back on, or worse, they are not even blessed with a family.

If you need to compare at all, compare your life with someone who is less blessed than you are and count your own blessings. 

Compare yourselves with better spouses, children, parents or friends and strive to be better persons. If you really have to compare, compare with what really matters.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

First Impressions

First meetings can be deceiving. We cannot really judge a person on the basis of a single meeting, unless we are psychic. Yet we mostly go by first impressions. But beware, because our quick judgements may impact our lives forever.

As a kid we were always told, "The first impression is the last impression". But as I grew older, I experienced the opposite in many cases, in my personal as well as professional lives. Classmates who I abhorred in the initial days of college, turned out to be true and lasting friends. Women who sounded like progressive liberal women over the first cup of coffee, turned out to be regressive and bitchy. Candidates who seemed smart and hardworking in the interviews, turned out to be over-smart and sluggish. A manager who sounded like a cool visionary turned out to be myopic with a twisted mind. There are even instances where people seemed impressive till they opened their mouth!

It is only after a considerable number of interactions that we can truly understand the nature of people. Sometimes it take days, sometimes months and sometimes even years to actually understand people. 

I recently read an article "How many seconds to a first impression?" An excerpt from it says:

"Like it or not, judgments based on facial appearance play a powerful role in how we treat others, and how we get treated. Psychologists have long known that attractive people get better outcomes in practically all walks of life. People with “mature” faces receive more severe judicial outcomes than “baby-faced” people. And having a face that looks competent (as opposed to trustworthy or likeable) may matter a lot in whether a person gets elected to public office." 

It is a well established fact that we are easily deceived by looks. Good first impressions might work briefly in business relationships, where you don't really have to spend much time together and the only motive is to get the work done. But when it comes to personal relationships, be it familial or friendship, deceiving first impressions may affect life-long relations. When people start showing their true colours, it might already be too late, and you might get stuck with them for the rest of your lives. It may be even possible to distance yourself from such people who are outside family. But when such people are in close family or social circle, your lives continue to remain uncomfortably entwined.

So, while it is natural to be deceived by first impressions, basically due to "primacy effect", it is not wise to be influenced so easily. We should learn and practice to evaluate people over time, and from varying aspects. Don't be quick to judge people, neither negatively nor positively. Take your time, take it slow.