Tag Archives: Life

Curiosities of a Wistful Mind

Einstein once said, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death”. True. If only it were streamlined and would never reach a point of melancholic saturation. A point where one  feels the need to abandon all the pensiveness and move to a place in life which does not thrive on cognition. The current chain of events around the world, does make one wonder if such a place can be reached.

As we grow up, our perspectives change incessantly. First we believe in a man who lives in North Pole, rides over our houses and delivers presents through our chimneys. Then, we believe, there is  a Howard Roark amongst us. Soon, this belief changes to hope. When we are young, we think a lot about notions like truth, happiness, idea of love, even life.  We grasp all this and move on. A part of this moving on starts with getting the small glimpses of reality, lingering between our still unadulterated world view. And then we reach a certain point in our lives , when nothing seem to make sense. Left brain completely takes over its counterpart. I feel I have reached that point.

Centuries of history and civilizations seem to be a farce. We have not gotten much ahead, or so it seems. When a 11-year-old victim  of a sex crime is accused of provoking the offenders, there is something horribly wrong with the world we live in. When not one but multiple people try to find humour in one of the worst calamities of our time, it is clear that only our bodies have evolved and passed the era of hominids. When  tyrants still exist and  live amongst us, have the power to create havoc and play with lives. Notions of truth, fairness and humanity cease to exist. I would like to resort to faith, if you will, in such times. But that door closed on my face when we chose to  decide that marriage can only be between  a man and a woman but it’s okay to have pedophiles serve our churches and temples.

I know, I am not the only one who feels this way. There are many of us trying to escape  the pangs of helplessness. An occasional Robert Downy Jr. flick is usually effective. Dark chocolate can do wonders as well. The world is just going to hell or the New England’s winter is finally getting me. I  sure hope it’s the latter.

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My mommy is better than yours

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Well, I am not really talking about my mother or yours. Its just my obnoxious way of referring to the mommy war that has gone viral over the cyber world and has ignited many living room conversations in the past days. First  article is called, literally “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior” which ropes in many other cultures as well, since the author took the liberty  of using the word “Chinese” loosely, and its  only fair for its western counterpart to be aptly named “Why American Mothers are Superior”.

Usually articles of such nature make me chuckle,  a face off between a Yale  professor and an academician – cum – entrepreneur – cum – world judo champ is right up my alley, so naturally I ventured into these articles, to my grave disappointment there was not an iota of humour in either of them. I was flabbergasted by the crassness of both the authors.

I  have seen parents sneaking in their kid’s achievements in routine conversations all the time, but have never seen parents boasting about their own parenting styles in parallel to  trashing not one parent but an entire culture or cultures. What happened to some good old-fashioned humility?

No culture is better than other and same applies to  different parenting styles. Each parent is unique and it is no one’s business to judge how they raise their kids. What is good or bad is an abstract notion, there is nothing absolute when it comes to raising a child. Being said that, it is not so difficult to be mindful of people around us, you don’t have to be a saint for that, just use your inner voices when you have an urge to prove superiority over others. As a French philosopher once said “To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them”.

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Beyond Stereotypes

In the fall of 2006, I embarked  my very first flight to US. I had  two reasons for choosing United States for furthering my education. I was disheartened with the Indian education system and I wanted to explore the world. US seemed like the perfect milieu for both academic excellence and ethnic diversity, I so coveted. I picked Boston as my city of choice and rightly so (I will never get over the beauty, multicultural vibe and quaintness that this city offers).

The Simpsons

All illustrations Fox/Photofest.

So, a doe-eyed fresh out of college student started her journey to a whole new world. I wasn’t coming alone, I was bringing my baggage with me, which consisted of anticipation, anxiety and more importantly preconceived notions that years of television, books and media had ingrained in my mind. I came here thinking that it’s a country of  Budweiser drinking, beer belly couch dwelling slob who drives with a shotgun under his seat.

Four years flew in a jiffy and left me with nostalgia and new impressions based on my very own experiences. It is easy to give in to the stereotypes as we homo-sapiens derive this perverted pleasure in seeing through some one elses glass house. From what I have seen, stereotypes tend to be over simplification of people and situations. When I contemplate about the common American stereotypes and my experiences with them the following comes to mind:

People have right to be stupid, some people abuse that privilege

Americans are ridiculed globally for being stupid. I didn’t think any differently. I came here thinking that Chinese students will be my only academic competition. I couldn’t be more wrong, American students were equally intelligent, diligent and passionate about their work as every one else. Same applies for people at different places I have worked. I might have seen some dumb wits here and there but, aren’t they every where else too? The world isn’t exactly dumb proof.

The Wild Wild West

Whenever I plan a trip to India, I am presented with a list containing pricey electronics and not so pricey chocolates a.k.a gifts for my relatives and friends. The shining star of  this list is always the iphone but, this time I was shocked or rather amused to see a semi automatic lingering some where in that list. The person requesting it said, “Can’t you buy it in the  supermarket for cheap?. That’s not true. Well, not exactly. Every one here does not sleep with a gun under their pillow. We all have watched way too many Clint Eastwood movies. Interestingly enough, I did happen to see the cowboys and girls when I was traversing Wyoming, they were a bunch of teenagers watching their cattle on a summer break. As far as I am concerned, I couldn’t feel any more safer. It might look like an over simplification but really none of the people I know own guns!.

From Cars to Houses to Breast Implants

We all believe that Americans believe in bigger the better. I can not entirely deny this. But, again not every one is same. Many people just drive the cute Minis, actively recycle and stay away from cosmetologists.

It is only the superficial qualities that last (Oscar Wilde)

Another common stereotype is  Americans being superficial. Well, money does speak it’s own language and riches every where behave in more or less the same manner(also most of the Americans traveling abroad are either rich or are businessmen). The common folk here seems to indulge in simple pleasures. I was surprised when I heard for the first time people  boasting about cheapness of something they bought. It’s a recurring phenomenon. So many of my friends work in non -profits by choice. Again, do not judge the book by it’s cover.

Sarah Palin Believes Humans and Dinosaurs Coexisted

Well, this one happens to be true.

I do not find it funny when Tina Fey makes fun of Indian accent and when people think that we have monkeys running around every where in India. I am sure, a Chinese person wouldn’t be thrilled when it is assumed that they are good at computers just because they are Chinese and I am pretty sure that French do not appreciate being perceived as rude. In the end it boils down to the fact that every one has their own idiosyncrasies, it’s not prudent to take things at their face value. As my not so favorite writer Paul Coelho said “We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.”

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