Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Love is when!

Valentine's Day - a day of cliches, a day of heart-shaped things, a day for flowers, a day when everything is red and pink, a day to signify love. But, what really is love? Can love and its expression really be contained within just a day? It is something that occupies a large part of the heart and a large part of your life. How can you just expect it to last one day? And I have realized that nothing could be more wrong than the filmy portrayal of love. Here are some sides to it that have been completely misconstrued.

1. Love is not saying "I love you" 100 times a day

Wow!!! If someone really did that, I don't know how many of us could actually take it. A little too much of anything is hard to handle. Would it sound convincing every time, and would it still be as important? The bigger issue here is you don't always need words to show how you feel. There is nothing wrong about expressing your love in words. But, in real life, actions mean a lot more than words, sometimes. It is the small things of daily life that make a relationship special. Love is when, your partner knows you will be late from work, and is ready with dinner for you. It is knowing when one of you needs a coffee and a great talk about real things that matter. It is about sleeping through a movie, but still agreeing to watch it again, because your partner loves it. Love is when obsessive people, like me, panic over one lost spoon at 1 a.m. and when my husband still calms me down and helps me look for it.

2. Love is not just about you and me

It is the fault of rosy love stories that people believe their love is independent of external factors. It is not just about the two people. It is about her family, his family, her friends, his friends, her workplace, his workplace. No matter how good the two people are with each other, these factors play an important part. Love is when, you can understand the difference, identify the importance of these factors in each other's lives, and still be there for each other. From just you and me, it soon transforms into one huge, intertwined family, where every issue becomes not mine, not yours, but ours. Love is when, your partner becomes your strength to handle these pressures; it is also when you start appreciating the support of your partner.

3. Love is not looking into each other's eyes for hours

In real life, when you have ten agendas on your mind, nobody spends hours looking into each other's eyes. Again, a false illusion propagated by unrealistic cinema, there is no such thing as "losing oneself in the other person's eyes". What is more true, is looking into the other person's eyes and knowing what they are thinking. Once you have been with a person long enough, you know the eyes are a mirror of their thoughts. Love is when you can see the dreams in your partner's eyes and be a part of them. It is when you can go beyond the eyes and share thoughts and plans. It is that beautiful moment when planning every little action becomes a wonderful moment of togetherness.

4. Love is not about 'not having to say sorry'

This really needs to be cleared up. Whoever said that love does not require saying sorry or thank you was so so wrong. Like any other normal relationship, there is real hurt and real feelings involved, unlike the magical feelings that never get hurt in story books and movies. Being with a person all the time, there are bound to be times when you are insensitive and mean. That cannot be avoided and neither does it mean there is no love. Because love is about realizing that your actions hurt the other person, and being sorry for it. Love is when you set aside your ego, and admit your mistakes. It is when you make that extra effort to convey your guilt and to set things right.

5. Love is not the sound of sweet words

Now, if anybody were to listen outside the door of a married couple, there might be times when you hear such words that you would take them to be nothing but enemies. Love is not about sweet-nothings and pleasant words all the time. It is a real world, with real-life tensions and annoyances. So, it is natural to have outbursts once in a while. Love is when you can ignore that and laugh at it later on. It is when you can accept the silliness of fighting over things that are insignificant. It is when you can see that yelling at complete strangers is not an option, so getting annoyed with your closest confidante is what you are left with. It is when you feel comfortable being your partner's punching bag.

6. Love is not about going overboard

Like it happens on Valentine's Day, it is not about getting expensive gifts, giant size teddy bears, balloons and flashy stuff. Although, I will admit that most girls, including me, are suckers for flowers and chocolates; it feels good once in a while, but the fact remains, that a teddy bear and flowers cannot replace a real person. Heart-shaped balloons cannot give you what a hug does. Sometimes, a reassuring hug is all you need. Love is when you find solace in holding your partner's hand. It is when the warmth fills you with happiness that no flower could bring. It is the sweetness that comes with the calming words of your partner, that no chocolate factory has yet managed to forge into a chocolate.

7. Love is not about spending every single moment with each other

Okay, this one, it is actually the opposite. The more time you spend together, more the chances of getting on each other's nerves :) It is very important that both partners spend some time apart and have some 'me' time. If you are fulfilled within, it is more likely that you will spend quality time with your partner. Love is not about tagging along with your partner everywhere. Love is when you can find happiness even if you are together for a little while. It could just be a phone call to check how your partner is doing. It is when at the end of a tiring work day, you can still cuddle up and watch your favorite TV show. It is when you can share so many stories, even as both of you are trying to make a decent dinner. It is when at the end of the day, you can appreciate the other person, for who they are!

For so many dull and boring, but sweet moments, one day is not enough. You need a lifetime of celebration to be able to enjoy these little joys. Those small acts of love, that show how much you care. The Everyday kind of Love is when you can see these joys, cherish them and acknowledge the efforts of the one who gives you this joy, every day, for years!

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Friday, February 3, 2012

The India of my dreams

You grow up in a country, you have seen things change and have grown along with the changes. Then, you move out of that place, and on your return, what you notice, sometimes takes you by surprise. That is what happens to me every year. Only a year passes by between my visits, and yet each time, I feel like I have stagnated, but my country is growing and taking huge strides. And it is so true, that distance nurtures fondness, whether it is for a place or a person. Sometimes, just taking a step back, helps you to notice what was right in front of you all along. I experience that every time I am back home, I get a completely new perspective of things and wonder how I hadn't appreciated these things before.

If asked, what two things I absolutely love about my country, it would be an impossible task to write those down. There are uncountable things that I love and admire about this great nation, but here are two that in recent times, have struck me as remarkable.

1. Smart enough to be flexible

The adaptability of this huge nation just amazes me every time I am here. It really is true, whether be it technology, fashion trends or education, India is always open to change. The pace at which the telecom industry is spreading its wings is unbelievable. Every household, these days, has at least two mobile phones. And given the fact that, the cell phone industry is undergoing such a revolution, India is not far behind in adopting those developments. Every urbane professional today aims to pocket a smart phone, even though the facilities like 'maps' might not be as useful. The widespread use of Facebook and Twitter in a country where the neighborhood gossiper keeps chattering about updates around the locality, the city and the world is just amusing. The extent of awareness about global trends is so much, so that even a small "chat" vendor has a sign put up with the option of "liking" his stall and account on Facebook. It might seem ridiculous at times, but to me, it is a sign of the willingness to absorb new technology. It is due to the same attitude that our professionals are doing so well in countries like USA and UK, where English is the essential language of communication. It is because our policy makers were smart enough to ensure that it's country men shouldn't lose a chance at proving their worth, just because of the lack of fluency in a language. As opposed to China, whose people are equally hard-working, Indians had the upper-hand of  being able to fulfill the basic requirement of communication. It fills me with pride to see that India knows it's strength and also knows where and how it needs to fill the holes, so that the world takes notice of it's mettle. The number of people wearing sweatshirts, with logos of American Universities, is an indicator of our presence on the education scene. I am sure this innate Indian flexibility will definitely take India to newer heights.

2. Who needs a GPS?
It is a well known fact that a GPS would not work in India as well, as it does in Western countries. The reason being, the small lanes and in-roads, which do not even show up on the GPS. But, the bigger question here is, does India need a GPS? The fact that you could just stop someone and ask them for directions, eliminates the need for a GPS. Add to that, ten people who would be more than willing to show you the way. And everybody trying to think about the shortest way, taking in consideration closed areas due to construction changes on the road. Could a GPS take into account these dynamic changes? I love the fact that in India, the people connection is as good as the network connection. If you are in need, all it takes is a phone call to a friend, who calls another friend, who calls another friend, and eventually you are helped by a friend's friend's friend. I think this concept exists only in India - we never have acquaintances, we only have friends. A look at our Facebook friends list, and you would know, that anybody we even spoke for 5 minutes becomes our friend. And it is this connection, that is one of our biggest strengths. While putting our car in reverse gear (or backing up), we don't feel the need of the rear-view mirror, because we have people around, guiding us on how much to back up, constantly saying "Aan do, aan do". I love that we rely more on humans than on machines, because finally, it is a human who can understand best what another human needs.

As, I had said, I could go on about what I love about India, but there are also sore points, that we might not like to talk a lot about, but have to accept them. We have to realize that if we want our country to change and improve, the first step would be to realize and accept the shortcomings. So, here come:

1. Breaking barriers

The economic disparity between the rich and the poor has been a classic problem in many countries around the world. And of course, India is not untouched by that. But, what makes this difference worse is that, the disparity between the rich and poor, soon transcends into a disparity between the educated and uneducated. Money should not control the ability of a person to be literate, but it does. And the condition is getting worse. On the one hand, we feel proud about our country producing intellectuals. As I just said above, we feel proud that our good education and fluency in English have helped us make a place for ourselves in the world. But, what percentage of the Indian population does that section form? There is still a huge percentage of the population, where children have never been to a school, they have never known the pleasure of reading a book, just because their parents cannot afford to send them to a school. Although, the "Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan" tried making an effort, the ignorance towards smaller villages is unbelievable. And the fact, that these campaigns pick up momentum only from election to election is disheartening. The policy makers should realize that the "Right to Education" is a very pertinent right in today's world, and instead of having reservations here and there, there should only be special privileges for the worthy, but financially weak section. Our education system has paved way for the country's success, but it is the same education system that discriminates and might design the downfall too.

2. Taking responsibility
On the same lines as above, it is amazing to see how many Indian students and working professionals are placed outside of India. All these people take pride in being in such developed countries and don't hesitate even for a second, before showering praises on the quality of life and living conditions in these countries. The irony is that we are aware enough to notice what the benefits are, but not proactive enough to implement them. There are so many NRIs today, who visit India, or just students coming back home, yet they don't try to bring back what they noticed and admired about these developed countries. I do realize, that one man's actions cannot change the universe, in a second. But, there is a chance, that these actions might start a chain reaction and there might be substantial results. I detest the fact that people will be careful about cleanliness in USA, UK, but those same people, when back in India, start treating the roads as a garbage disposal. You can't just crib about the system, without trying to do your bit. If you can't change, yourself, how is the system going to change? Are we not part of the system? It hurts to hear people talk about the systematic traffic and strict traffic rules abroad, but not even wanting to use the vehicle's indicator, while making turns in India. If you have got the opportunity to learn the good points about a country, have the commitment to bring it back to your country. Looking into the number if people that are studying or working outside of India, if each one tried to implement one positive, the change in India would be visible. Your country made you capable enough to sail the seven seas, now it is your chance to give back to the country in your small way.

When every citizen is conscientious enough to realize what the strengths and weaknesses of our country are, when he/she is dynamic enough to think of ways to make our strengths outdo our weaknesses, what will arise is the "India of our dreams". 
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