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.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Family is Family

When you get married, you just don't get married to your spouse, you get married into his or her family. And unless you embrace your marital family as your own, your marriage is not complete.

No family is perfect, so neither is yours nor your spouse's. It's natural to see your maternal family in the brighter light, but it's not right to demean your marital one. Women often complain that they are looked upon as an outsider by their in-laws. But the question is if they had even tried to become an insider! Most women around me say, "I can never see my mother-in-law as I see my own mother!" And then they complain that they are not treated like a daughter by their mothers-in-law. The truth is that you will feel like an outsider till you want to feel like an outsider.

The hypocrisy of our individuality is that we want everyone around us to take an interest in us, while we are not at all interested in making that kind of an investment in them. And that's where the problem lies. When you wish people to accept you as you are, you must be open to accept others as they are too. By virtue of birth, you have already accepted members of your maternal family, no matter how crazy they are. Accepting members of your marital family is harder work, it needs effort and your will. You just need to open your heart and open your mind. The same holds true while welcoming a person getting married into your family. You cannot expect to "take" all the time, you have to "give" too. Else, you will just stop "receiving" altogether one day.

The equations in a family doesn't remain the same forever. When new ingredients are added by virtue of marriages and birth, or subtracted by virtue of death or circumstances, flavours of a family change. The proportions of sweetness, saltiness, sourness or spiciness goes up and down along the line. That's life. The only thing that we need to take care of is that the flavour shouldn't turn bitter. You might not like everyone in the family and everybody may not like you. You cannot please everyone and everyone may not be pleasing to you. The only thing you can  do is play your part. As Ma rightly says, "Don't fret about what they think of you or what they do for or against you, you just keep doing your own part. Rest God will take care of".

Since I got married, life's been a roller-coaster, especially in terms of emotions and situations. Having to stay in a joint family, with each person having an individual set of issues isn't easy. Each day brings its own menu. A cocktail of sweet, salt and sour. A mock-tail of drama, action, romance, tragedy and comedy. Each day in varying proportions. But having a supportive and understanding spouse, who is on the same page as you ninety-eight percent of the times, has been my greatest blessing. A lot have changed since I had introduced the family to my readers. Our Delhi hostel-home has been almost reduced to  nuclear families. With the addition of new ingredients and dynamic situations, the flavour graph have changed shape several times and intra-equations have been modified. But clear communications and frank conversations, and mostly a clear head, kept saving the days.

What I have understood over the years is that when it comes to sub-relationships within an ever-expanding family, it is very important to rationalize with a clear head. It is very, very easy to get caught in a web of words and insecurities, and to get carried away by a whirlwind of emotions. Only undiluted communication, trust, love and empathy can keep growing families intact. While complaining about what the others don't do for us, we should think about what we don't do for them. And instead of holding grudges, we just need to remember the times when the other has been there for us.

Whether it is your maternal family or your marital one, it is not about individuals, it is about team work where individual roles sum up. So open up, give your new family a chance, invest in them and play your part with love. Give yourself a chance in your new role. And trust me, lifelong affection and warmth will be guaranteed.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Wishing For A Hearth

Lonely heart, lonely alone,
Cold people, coldness adorned;
Intense thoughts, laughter long gone,
Home doesn't feel like home.

No one cares, nobody knows,
Like guests, come and go;
Like mismatched puzzle pieces,
A wrong picture, they always show;
What do you expect?
With a closed shutter;
What can you find?
When hearts are not aflutter.

So much can change,
With people alone;
Sinking your heart,
Like a heavy stone;
Smiles all lost,
Replaced by snickery;
All that now remains,
Is neat mockery.

Wishing for a hearth,
To call our own;
Wishing for some rain,
For all that we have sown;
Reclaiming the warmth,
Reclaiming our youth;
Living our life,
Like we really should.