Tag: culture

Let’s Go Back to the Future

Let’s Go Back to the Future

Last night, on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi‘s birth anniversary, I came across an article titled ‘Where was Gandhiji born? Only 4 out of 10 gave the correct answer.’ [link]

What was the big deal anyway? While my outlook is not even half as non-violent as the Mahatma’s,  I have utmost respect for him.

But for questions like when was someone born, or where? History? I always seemed to have had a problem with History. Beyond doubt, History has a lot to offer us. After all, we cannot afford to figure out, experiment, and make all the mistakes ourselves. Things that have worked, or that haven’t; how lives have evolved, etc. all help us with decisions of today. History also inspires us. It tells us about something that has probably never been done before. Or, that people have tried but have all failed. It indirectly challenges people like you and me to prove History wrong. By knowing what is impossible, we can strive to make it possible.

History #1

On the flip side, I guess we humans also saw in History, that the problem of global warming did not exist till the late 19th century; and unfortunately, we seem to have taken it upon ourselves to change that too.

While growing up, what we were often taught in the name of History, was little short of nothing. I remember being scared before history tests. Struggling to remember dates and events. That is what was most focused upon. Who was someone’s husband or wife; or third wife or fourth husband of the second son or daughter? More confusing than my own family tree, which I still have a lot of trouble figuring out. Or when was this battle fought? Would you care, if you have trouble remembering your own spouse’s birthday. If not for family and friends, I’d probably have forgotten my birthday a long time ago.

History #2

Instead, History is actually a brilliant opportunity to teach children about life, the evolution of life, and so on. Teach them more about various cultures and religions; so that we come to respect cultures and religions better. To cultivate better understanding in them by asking them what they would have done in a similar situations from history. To encourage ideas and challenge children about things that were considered impossible up until now. 

And all the energy and brain-space we would save by not having to remember the ‘whats’ and ‘whens’ of history, can then be focused to understand the ‘why’ and ‘why not’ instead. Isn’t that what the Mahatma did? Change History?

History #3 - lego-gandhi

Image: Link


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My oldest bud

India has managed to retain the great binding power of the concept of “family” unlike many other countries, where kids become independent and usually move out soon as they are out of school/ college.

But as much as there is to be proud of such a culture, I still hate one part of it. And that’s the part where daughters, who essentially form an integral part of any family, get married and move to their husband’s place.

Which is why that in India, when daughters and sisters are on the verge of getting married, it suddenly fills your family with a strong and mixed whirl of emotions, joy that your daughter is going to start a new life, and yet a strong selfish urge to keep her in front of your eyes forever.

Now there’s a reason I’ve been repeatedly using the word ‘daughter’ in this post, much more than the word ‘sister’. While many of us have been blessed with a sister, guess it was partly to do with the upbringing, and partly some other unexplained bond, because of which for most part, I treated my sister like a daughter. I’d be protective, I’d get worried when she was out late, I’d defend her (though only when she was right), I’d shout and correct her when she’d goof up (it’s another story that she’d keep doing the same things again and again, till you gave up on correcting her for it). And while I would use foul language with friends in school, I never wanted her to pick up any of that, so the moment I was with her on the bus, I’d switch off, and not a foul word would be spoken in her presence. I’d even fondly call her ‘bachchi’; a Hindi word for ‘girl child’.

A few months ago, in what felt shorter than a blink of the eye, her engagement was done, and all that was looming on my family’s mind was planning out the enormous task of organizing her wedding that was up a few months later. The four months subsequent to the engagement flew like you’d never believe.

From the invitation cards to clothes shopping, to guest lists, to so many other lists, it was only during one of my lone drives to Pune and back that it hit me that soon I was not going to be able to see my sister, my bachchi as often as I was used to. It’s amazing how you can get so used to people around that you assume that nothing will ever change. And here my head echoed with a deafening ticking of a countdown clock to her wedding.

She was probably the first and is probably the oldest friend I have. Lunch together, bus rides from school, the never-ending fights, the abdominal-catch- inducing jokes we’d share, the late night chats about problems we faced, and so on. From discussing my career to my crushes, I had a solid pal in my sister all along. If I were to pick any memory of my childhood, she has a prominent presence in it.

The past week was filled with function after function, parties, get-together’s, and the whole jazz. And while I have probably never enjoyed myself as much at any other wedding or wedding related function before this, I still had this unhappiness hanging around at the back of my mind, as I knew that they were merely steps in the process of taking my little sister away from me. And to add to it, the fact that Indian weddings are so elaborate that you end up spending most of the last few weeks before the wedding in preparation, rather than with your daughter/ sister; that’s something I didn’t like.

And yet, before I could get a grip on things, she was married, and while she will always be a part of the family, it will be difficult not getting to see her ever so often at home.

And in all this symphony of emotions, the only solace is the fact that we managed to identify for her, a partner who we feel is more than ideal; a perfect companion for her. He is, what I feel, an extension of the love, care and affection we have for her; an extension of, and to our family.

So here’s wishing my oldest friend, my pal, my bachchi, my lil sister, all the happiness in the world.!