The First Floor

“Why didn’t we do this earlier?”, I asked my father.

Construction work was going on at my home in my hometown. I had taken a week’s off from office, to visit home; like I always do in a couple of months. My father had been planning to expand our house by making a few rooms on the first floor. Mine is a small town in very North of Rajasthan. There is enough land and you’ll not see even a single multi-story building. Everyone lives in a small house on the ground floor. People having joint families had first or second floor. But my family didn’t have a first floor, though my father wanted to have few rooms on the first floor when he made this house back in the year 1999. We are a nuclear family, but that’s not the reason we don’t have rooms above the ground level.

“In our family, nobody was allowed to have any room on the first floor.”, He replied.

“Why is that so? What’s wrong with first floor”, I asked.

“If we make any room on first floor, someone in family dies”, he said plainly without a glimpse of any joke.

Shocked and speechless, I recalled having heard this before. I was in school when my father begun the construction of this house 2 kilometers away from our then rented house. I was not involved in planning and designing the house, but I had heard my parents discussing the structure many times. And I had heard that we can’t make a room above a room, or simply put, any room on the first floor. I never cared as a kid, but now it was a topic of interesting stories. How could I miss?

“What? How is that possible? You mean our family is cursed? We can never live in a two-floor-house?”, I inquired.

“Ya, sort of.”, told my father.

“But why! Who said that and what’s the logic?”, a 27 year old engineer boy, who drives everything on logic, feeling clueless about the so called curse, asked his father.

He explained, how our ancestors, who lived in a nearby town in Punjab, saw two consecutive deaths in two houses following the construction of rooms on first floor of their respective houses. The word spread like fire in a jungle. All the members of our family, extended family as well, living anywhere in Punjab, Haryana or Rajasthan were told to never construct a room on the second floor. It became a strong belief. My father didn’t know those families personally as this belief had traveled more than 2 generations before it reached him.

Now even more stunned by the fact that this belief has traveled through many decades, I fired 3-4 bullets from my pistol of logic at my innocent father. “But what’s the relation between the death of those two and the construction of rooms on first floor? Did the ceiling of those room fall on them? Did the whole building crash as soon as they built the first floor? Were they aged people who could have died because of usual health issues at that age or they were young/kids? Did they die in an unnatural or unexplainable way?”

Giving a few moment to register my question in his mind and giving few more searching for the answers, he said, “I don’t know!” to his son staring at him without blinking.

I had no more questions for my father. 15 years ago, my father designed the house thinking we’ll never have any room on first floor and making all decision accordingly. But now he was building the rooms on the first floor. Why? Because some other people in my extended family took the courage to do that and seeing that nobody died in their family, others followed. Now my father, like other people of my spread out family, believes that the curse has been “lifted off”. And that’s why the construction of rooms on the first floor has begun in my own house.

Extending an existing building by 1 floor is not easy as you have to consider the structure’s stability. The floor below should be able to support the new floor. The walls of the rooms above cannot be just anywhere; for strength and stability they have to be aligned with the walls of the floor below. This limits your design of this new floor. Before making a bathroom, kitchen or a room, you have to visualize what’s beneath it and whether that can take load or not. You also have to break a lot of things to merge them in the new floor, like side walls or periphery of the house.

Anyways, all that will be taken care of by my father. What bothers me is, how people make beliefs and these beliefs are spread between people of a family, a group, a community, a religion or a country. This was just one example, but if you think more, you’ll see we are surrounded by many such beliefs that we don’t know a reason for. They may be right or they may be as hollow as the First-floor theory of my family. For instance, not cutting hairs or not eating non-veg on a particular day of the week, not buy anything iron-made on Saturday, sleeping with head in a particular direction like East. I recently came across a piece of Hindu mythology, which sort of explains how people used to explain things they didn’t understand.

King Daksha, son of Brahma had married his two daughters with Chandr (Moon). He loved one of his wife more and the other less. Daksha, when he came to know of this, cursed Chandra to wither and die. Sister of Chandra’s wife and worshiper of Lord Shiva, Sati requests Shiva to save Chandra’s life. Shiva, explains that he cannot cancel the curse, but can spark life back in Chandra as soon as he dies. That way, Chandra will wither first 15 days of month and will regain his life in the next 15 days. That’s how Hindu mythology explained Amavasya (No Moon) and Poornima (Full Moon).

Now ask about Amavasya and Poornima from a 5th standard student and he will explain how Earth, Moon and Sun rotate in the galaxy causing Moon to hide when another planet comes inbetween.

People of centuries ago were same as people of today. They made beliefs out of the pattern of problem they saw. For instance, Chicken-pox was believed to be a ghostly disease. People believed that Mata (Ghost/Spirit of Mother Goddess) comes into a person’s body causing the spots on the body of a person having chicken-pox. There was time when brightest of people believed that earth was flat, for it to be round, the water of ocean would fall off.  They didn’t know about the ‘magical’ gravitational force until Science brought it. Things were explained by man-made-logic rather than science-made-logic. The number of such theories have gone down but they are not extinct. Even the highly educated ones and smart people fall prey to making out patterns of nothing. For instance, buy a new vehicle or house on a particular muhurat, believing in lucky numbers, astrology, businessmen investing in market based on advice of the astrologers etc etc. The list is endless. Even you’ll start thinking I pointed out a pattern in the winning history of Indian Cricket Team. I am not saying all these are wrong but I have my questions and I am looking for answers.

Harm comes when these believes stop our progress and limit our options as to what we can do and what we cannot. The belief may die it’s death soon when science or someone explains it better, but the damage it has caused for decades cannot be averted.

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Being Kind

Every now and then I see people who want to help the country, the needy and the society but don’t know what to do. When someone talks about social work, all that comes to mind is ‘leave everything else in your life and work full time or join an NGO‘. Practically difficult, right? We just give up before even starting. Every new wave of political-changes in India, or a new disaster in one of the states (Uttarakhand floods, or J&K floods), every good human being wants to help. But it is not possible to just take a 1 month vacation and go to these people to help them recover. Many times we want to help the bigger group and make a bigger impact, but lack in resources like money or time. But we overlook the small things that we can do to make smaller impacts on a daily basis. I’d like to capture a few instance of these smaller impacts, and try to give some ideas to all the good people reading this post and who want to help people. If you adopt atleast 3 things from these, my purpose is solved. At the end of this, I’ll tell you what you get in return. (My agenda is not to take credit for any of this, but to share and spread a message)

  • Almost on a daily basis, give a free ride to people, who work in the same office as mine. Whoever is standing at the bus stand. It helps the society as well as the environment. Carpooling is not a bad idea either.
  • Don’t bargain with rick-pullers. Someone who carries you technically on his back, cannot be argued with. Giving few bucks more than agreed wouldn’t harm you but bring a huge smile on the puller’s face.
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  • Go easy on your maid and cook or any helper that comes to your house. They are people like you and me. Don’t shout at them if they missed a day for a genuine reason, while otherwise they are sincere in their work. If it’s raining outside, you could consider calling them to skip your house. You’d love it if your boss thought this much about you, won’t you?
  • Do you ever wish ‘Have a good day’ to the customer care representative who just answered your questions? I do. It feels good when they say ‘Thank You’
  • I have a maid who comes for cleaning everyday. She lives downstairs and has two school-going daughters of age less than 12 years. Once there was some extra food which I didn’t want to waste so I called my maid to get it. She sent her daughter. I gave her the food and she sweetly said ‘Thank you‘. Don’t know how, but it clicked. I gave her some stationary from my almirah and a pack of Sharbat (cooler drink) which kids like a lot. Every time I have some extra food/milk, I just give it away to her. So instead of wasting food or things that you don’t really use, just give away and expect nothing in return. I’ve seen people who give away junk to maid to get some extra work done. Don’t do that.
  • I went to get my Dad’s car cleaned up at a service station. It was my first time there. My dad asked me to pay 150/- INR to the guy after he is done. I stood there for 30 minutes and I saw him cleaning the car from all sides. I couldn’t resist giving an extra 50/- bucks for the work he did. I asked my Dad after coming back home, why they charge so less.
  • After observing for a couple of months, I realized that my cook has only 2 shirts which he wears on alternate weeks. Searching from my almirah I found 1 LEVI’S t-shirts and 2 non-branded tees that I was no longer using. I just gave it to him. I saw a big smile on his face when I opened the door the next day. In a matter of seconds, I realized that he was wearing one of those tees. I just realized the value of those useless old tees that were lying in my almirah for over 3 months.
  • In the year 2013, Uttarakhand (India) was facing a disaster. At the same time, I was going through some tough phase financially. While watching the news channel, I thought .. ‘I can spare 5000/- INR for the relief fund. It is not a big amount so It can’t make my situation any worse‘; I instantly made the donation and I hope it helped atleast one person.
  • Once a guy from my college, joined the company I work for, as an intern. I got to know him after he joined. He was more of an acquaintance. One day he pinged me asking for the nearest hospital. I asked him why is he looking for one. He said he has got something on his hand and it’s swelling more every hour. Something inside me just asked me to leave the work and take him to hospital. I just followed. He got well with some medication and later got a surgery done for his elbow.
  • Whenever you drive, be patient and stop for people to cross the road or give a way to someone who has been waiting to take a turn for longer than yourself. People while driving always try to get out as soon as possible, no matter they are running late for something or not. It is strange that we forget the common courtesy while driving.
  • Once I was at a railway station food-court waiting for my train. I was having a Biryani (Rice dish) and suddenly a kid showed up. He must have been around 10 years old. He was Muslim (just guessed from his getup). He was NOT a beggar. Don’t know why he came to me but he asked for food. Just got him another bowl of Biryani. Left him eating there and caught my train. Instructed the waiter to give him whatever he needs. I am Hindu by the way, not that it is relevant here; but just wanted to make a point that humanity isn’t bounded by religion.
  • Two years back there was a guy who used to cook at my place. One day when he was about to go after cooking dinner for me, it started raining heavily. I gave him my adidas jacket to save himself from the rain and return it the next day.
  • Like any other traffic-signal, when a kid comes asking for alms, give him a pack of biscuits, if you really think giving money will promote bagging.
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  • Once I was walking on the road, a man was standing there with his wife and a kid. He was asking random people to give him some food. He wasn’t a beggar but he was carrying some luggage. Seemed like new in town. He asked me too, but I kept walking. I heard him saying ‘We are hungry and don’t have enough money‘. I walked a few steps and then realized this man is not asking for money ( which I often doubt they would use to drink alcohol). I turned back and asked him what’s the matter. He said he came to this town looking for work but couldn’t find any. And now he wants to go back but doesn’t have enough money to eat and go back. So took him to the nearest Dhabha, and got him three pack of fried-rice which would feed his family twice. Handed over some money and asked him to leave immediately.
  • After discussing for 1 or 2 years, I’ve been able to convince my parents to donate to needy and feed people, instead of Gods in temple. In early 2014, my mother told me about a family in her neighborhood which is going through a tough phase as the earning member of the house has fallen sick. She asked me to give some 5000 INR to them. She also asked her father, i.e. my grandpa, to donate some. She collected 7000INR and gave it to that family. Two months back when I was visiting her, I saw her buying a slipper for a 10 year old kid. She had spotted that kid somewhere and noticed that he was barefoot. The fact that my mom has started thinking about it, makes me really happy. She still donates to temples, but doesn’t stop me from donating to common people.
  • One day I went to a bank to open a new account. While I was waiting for my turn, a guy walked upto me and asked me to help him in filling the form. He spoke Tamil, which I don’t understand; but I understood his request from his gestures and body language. He new very few words of Hindi. Using gestures and those few Hindi words, I asked him hi address, name, and the various other question that were there in the account opening form. My turn came and I finished in 10 minutes. He was being pushed back by the people in the crowd, I took his form from him and handed over to the bank representative behind the desk. Ask her to verify and let me know if something is left. She verified, I got him to sign on each page of the form and done. Again handed it over to the representative and she asked him to come after 2 days and get his new passbook. He was so happy and thanked me while getting out of the bank. It costed me just 20 minutes to help an uneducated person in opening a bank account.
    On another occasion I had gone down to Post office for some work. Two ladies had come there to deposit some money in their account. They were from a nearby village and had come specifically for this work. They didn’t know how to read or write. So they gave me their money and the passbook of the account to deposit the money. I filled the slip and got the task done. Then they asked me to verify if the passbook has been updated correctly and how much money is in their account, the past entries also they asked me to verify. They couldn’t even read the 14000/- rupees written as the total in the passbook. I wondered how things that are simple of us can be diffcult for another person.
  • One day I got a flat tyre. I went to a road-side mechanic who could fix it. To my surprise it was a very small shop, without roof, just bunch of tools and an old guy in his 50s sitting on a stone. I asked him if he could repair my bike’s flat tyre. He agreed and started on it. It took 25 minutes for him in total, to get the tube out of the tyre, check for puncture, and put it back in. There was no issue in the tyre, it just had low air pressure. He filled the air and the tyre was fixed. But during those 25 minutes, I saw him move very slowly, he would struggle with tools and take support of my bike to stand up, slowly walk here and there to get his tools. I started helping him whenever the tool dropped from his hand or he struggled with the tube & the tyre, (because he seemed very weak). It felt very bad that such an old man has to work hard in broad sunlight for 30-40 rupees. He could very well be a beggar and earn that much amount easily. Then a thought occurred.. When we say “we don’t want to give alms to beggar, as we do not want to promote begging. They should work and earn on their own. Begging is not a solution.”, then why do we bargain with auto-rickshawala, a vehicle mechanic or a fruit seller. They are working hard right. They didn’t opt for begging. Anyways, I asked him how much he wants and he said 50/-. I handed over a 100 rupees note and he said ‘Change plz!’. That thought that was still floating in my mind just uttered ‘keep it’ and in few seconds I was on my way back home.
  • This year I got an extra bonus of 1.5L INR from my employer. We were working on a critical project and it’s timely delivery helped company’s business. I had always been wanting to help an old teacher of mine, who teaches kids with very less fees and some times for free. I found the opportunity, I called him to get his account details, and gathered the courage of making a transfer of 50,000/- to his account, without telling my parents about it, as I feel they may not support it (though he has been the guide because of whom I was able to reach these heights in my career). Surprisingly giving away money cheered me more than getting that extra bonus.

Again, my motive is not to preach anyone. These are some things that I did and felt that such things can be done on a daily basis. Remember…

Giving money is the easiest thing. What is hard to give is, Love and Time.


What do I get in return?
Kindness, I believe has a ripple effect. One smile or one kind act that you show towards the other person, gets propogated. That person will be kind to someone someday and it’ll progress like this. So here is your first reason for being kind. Second is, what goes around comes around. I’ve seen at many places, people being unexpectedly kind to me. Out of nowhere, someone will pro-actively try to help me. It feels great. Third is, the instant smile and happiness you get when you are kind to someone. So in short…

If you want to help, start at home…

Rapes in India – The Survey

Recently I came across this article which was about survey done on the roads of Mumbai about why rapes happen in India.

Title – These Indian Men Justifying Rapes Is The Most Disgusting Thing You’ll Ever See

Survey video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBYJJuEi5hk

Full article : http://www.mensxp.com/special-features/today/24000-these-indian-men-justifying-rapes-is-the-most-disgusting-thing-youll-ever-see.html

If you instantly agreed to what you just saw and read, you should read this post to look at the flip side.


I find this video fundamentally flawed and have a few objections in the way this survey has been interpreted and the article has been floated on Social media.

This video and article in short is:

Some Indian men and one women were asked randomly on the streets of Mumbai as to why they think that rape happen. Most of them said, because girls don’t dress decently or cover their body. The article concludes that Indian Men are justifying rapes.


Umm okay…

First, I’d like to park aside the argument of the ‘sample taken for survey in video’. Fine, that everyone understand that 10 men don’t represent all Indian Men, though the author of the article doesn’t seem to understand that and goes on to blame ALL Indian men.

And let’s also park the assumption that this video is not edited to filter out some different responses that some Men/Women on the streets of Mumbai might have given.

And let’s talk about this sample first…

So you mean all the men in this video can rape a girl in future or may have raped a girl already, because they’ve seen indecently dressed girls? 

Umm, I’d say No. Not all the men in this video would have raped atleast one woman in their life. If the question had been, “why would you rape a girl” and the answer had been, “because they dress provocatively”, then this would have made sense. The men in the video are just the observers of the incidents and are giving their guess as to why rapes might be happening. If you ask them why bank robbery happen; they might say banks don’t have tough security system in India etc etc. If you ask them why there is corruption in India, they might say because the government doesn’t work hard to avoid it. But that won’t mean that they are justifying robberies or corruption.  ‘Justifying-rapes’ is a gross mis-interpretation of this survey.

Secondly, seeing a girl in short clothes and getting turned on is one thing; while raping that girl is another. For the latter, one needs a criminal instincts. If every man who gets turned-on would rape the girl, there’d be 10s of rapes happening everyday in our vicinity, in workplace, on roads, gardens etc.

Lastly, a person with criminal instinct would not just rape a woman; he might steal from someone, he might kill someone and he might kidnap someone for money. Criminal think and function differently and not like you or me. How do we know that? Your answer lies in the cases of child-abuse and men-rapes! A criminal can rape irrespective of age, gender and clothes of the target.
See this for instance: http://www.thehindu.com/news/nat…
The judge, in his verdict, clearly called out the rapists as ‘men with criminal mentality’.

Also, rapists have criminal history of various types of crimes, as can be seen in the linked article above. It’s not like you or I saw a girl in mini-skirt on our way back home from work and took a halt inbetween to rape her. Criminal/rapists is always in lookout of an opportunity for his/her plans.


Why do people end up relating it to the clothes then?

Scene 1

Girl: “Me wearing a miniskirt doesn’t give men the right to rape me.” Guy – Agreed.

Girl: “So don’t tell me what I should wear and what not. I may run naked on the road. It is my will.” Guy – Agreed. But darling I say this because I care. I don’t want you to get into any trouble, when we know a problem like Rape exists in our city/country.

Girl: “That’s not my problem. Crime should be stopped. Police and government should do it. And men should be taught a lesson that they need to respect women.” Guy – Hmm, Okay.

Scene 2

Guy: (reading paper) “These days there are many robberies happening in the city. Sharma ji was on a holiday trip, and some thieves stole stuff from his house.” Girl – Yes, we should ensure safety. I’ll put all jewelry in bank locker.

Guy: “Cool. The other day, my colleague Akshay, got mugged around 9 PM on the way back home on the CR road.” Girl – Oh. Please you start coming home by 7 or avoid that road.

Guy: “Why? I should be free to the road I want to. Govt. should stop the crime. They should put atleast 1 policemen on such roads.” Girl – Govt. will darling, but we can take our precautions. And avoid situations where we may run into problems.

Guy: (smiling) “Yes, we should. you are right.”


The problem with such Surveys and Social Media
Releasing such a generalized video with some fundamental assumptions, on social media doesn’t do any good to the young female of India. All they end up with is a wrong picture of All Indian Men. It just adds to the men-hating content that flows on web everyday. And it makes them more of a fake or pseudo feminists (who don’t know the true definition of feminism and all they understand is hate-men). 

For me, it is very disheartening, when a female friend of mine on Facebook shares this video with a “Disgusting” title on her post. Just look at the title of the article
These Indian Men Justifying Rapes Is The Most Disgusting Thing You’ll Ever See

How much hatred is being filled in her heart on a day to day basis?

Mentors of My Life

Everyone in life has a mentor or at-least one mentor. You may not have identified one in particular and you may not have officially declared them as your mentor; but some people impact your life more than you realize.

For me, there are many. Everyone I’ve met has had an impact on me. I’ve learned things from every individual. Some prove to be life changing and some are sources of good advice that help in decision making. There is, however, one in particular who I consider the Greatest Mentor I’ve had so far; beside many others I met during my journey till today. This one special mentor, changed my life upside down and made me the man I am today. He was my Maths Tuition teacher in 12th standard.

I belong to a very small town, where there are mostly Hindi-medium schools and not very great schools to be precise. This was 10 years back. People were not passionate about their career. All they knew was going to school, doing homework and passing exams every year. After school they’d join the local college, where people study less and fight more. After college, almost everyone will join family business. My parents’ also didn’t care about my studies. No matter I got 70% or 90%. They’d just sign my report card. I never got pressurized for higher marks. Till 8th standard I was an average student and after that somehow I became the topper. Not that I got a very clear idea of what I wanted to be, but just acing in the exam became my agenda. But still no good or bad vibes came from my parents. I was among the toppers in the school, which I felt was a great thing back then. But who was I competing with. Only a few above-average kids, in a hindi-medium school of a small town and 60 other classmates.

But this teacher I mentioned, could see the potential in me. Had he not been there, my parents wouldn’t have known what to do with me after I exit school. In fact, nobody cared. But this teacher of mine did. Nobody in my town knew about IITs, or a very handful of people knew. This teacher, looking at my performance, introduced me to the ‘term’ IIT. All I knew back then was, it is some well known college for engineers, apparently its entrance exam is the toughest and most importantly you don’t need to bribe (aka. donation) to get in. Yes money was a problem for me as I belonged to a lower middle class family. His continuous motivation and guidance made me give an attempt. He’d motivate me to be successful, while he didn’t know about my hidden motive; which was to not make my father pay bribe for getting me into a college. Yes, I cared about my father’s financial condition.

The Teacher

He’d make me, with a couple of other worthy candidates he identified,  come for extra hours. He’d challenge us in every possible way to stretch beyond limits. He’d bombard us with hundreds of problems every weekend and make us complete them. That was his way of testing our limits, probably. His ex studends (couple of them IITians), would sometime come to meet him while he was teaching us. He would ask them to give us some tips. We’d wait till 10PM at his house to meet these elite people. To hear some words of wisdom about what IIT is and how it can change your life. We’d ask silly questions like what should I study, what is the syllabus, is it really in English or I can choose to write in Hindi, will there be a translator etc etc. They’d laugh and answer our queries. They knew our pain because they had been through it few years ago. Looking at our fear of language, my teacher would prepare a special paper in English for us every Sunday. We’d come prepared with a pocket dictionary 😛 . He’d make us learn all the mathematical terms in English. While teaching Maths in Hindi, he would suddenly ask the English word for the term in question. Me and the other 2-3; will race to win the moment.

Besides all this, he knew we’d need better coaching for Physics and Chemistry. So he pushed us to go for coaching to Delhi, India or Kota, (Rajasthan, India). He knew that it’ll be expensive for us, so he’d go to our parents to convince them to send us to these coaching centres (for IITs). He’d even volunteer for funding our education.

He would in-between teach us some great life lessons. He’d tell us the importance of parents. How delicate dreams are and how much pain they can bring to us and our loved ones. He’d teach us to be a great person and help others. And all of this he does, for nothing in return.

10 years fast forward

I hold a B.Tech. and M.Tech. degree in Computer Science from one of the old IITs. I work at the top MNC in India. I earn thrice my father. Not to mention the English fear 🙂 I think I’ve improved 🙂

That teacher gets nothing out of it, but he still keeps doing the same thing for his current students that he did for us. I just express my gratitude by visiting him every time I visit my parents. I help him in giving his students some tips about IITs.  He is no less than my parents for me.


Journey

On my journey to this place where I am today, I’ve met a lot of people who taught me some lesson that is helpful in life. And some of these people I love and some I hate.  With that teacher’s help, I learned to learn from everyone I meet. Like

  • From this Physics teacher in my IIT Coaching, I learned to learn from other’s mistakes. He mentioned that people who learn from other’s mistakes are the one who fall very less. For some reason this thing stuck in my mind. And has helped me very much in life.
  • The first manager I had on my job, who I sincerely hated for not doing her job properly; taught me how to emotionally detach oneself from work. Everyone in her team hated for one thing or the other, but that lady surely knew some great tricks of being successful in profession life. I am thankful to her for the same.
  • A friend of mine at my first job taught me how to present work. He was 1 year younger than me, but damn good at many things. He made me realize that mentor come in different forms. We just need an eye to identify them.
  • Needless to mention my mother. She has given me the mantra of giving my best attempt, in my toughest time. Despite being less educated, she is wise enough to get me out of my lows.
  • My father taught me about the pace of life. By running faster you cannot achieves things that are reserved for some later time. Respect life’s pace and flow in its river. Don’t swim against it and let it bring things to you.
  • And now the people around me teach me things everyday.  Like
    How to not run after happiness and how to live in the moment?
    How to be happy in whatever you have?
    How to not envy people?
    How to be giving and helping?
    Free advice is not always a waste.

Life is incomplete without mentors. Don’t shut people off , who try to suggest you or help you with some advice. They are not getting anything in return and you might be pushing a mentor out of your life. Be open for new ideas, opposing thoughts and be respectful.

The Indian Patriarchy & Feminism

While there are a lot of issues that women of India are going through; equality is something we strive to achieve to ensure women rights, opportunities and respect is preserved. Feminism is a term that comes up in every discussion about women’s rights. Feminism by definition is:

“Feminism refers to movements aimed at establishing and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women.”

While the definition is very simple and straight forward, sadly it is often misunderstood by a lot and has become synonymous to “hating men”. These pseudo-Feminists (hereon, p-Feminists) believe, that equality can be achieved only by dividing the responsibilities of a household equally between men and women; OR by making women do what men do and vice-versa.

India has a patriarchal society? True. It has given many unfair advantages to men? True. It has robbed women in all possible ways? Not entirely true. It has given advantage to men in all possible areas? Not entirely true again. The p-Feminists, attack the patriarchal society and define feminism as a movement to give these advantages to women; while to completely overlook a big never-talked aspect of it. There are some advantages that are given to women by this very patriarchal society and some disadvantages given to men. When these p-feminists talk about equality, they completely forget to mention these or overlook these.
Let’s look at them one by one.

Becoming Independent is a must

A man must always strive to stand on his feet by his early 20s; if he ever wants to get married to an Indian woman. If you don’t have a job or business of your own setup by your early 20s, you are doomed. But women on the other hand, do not have any such requirement. Hence earning is important only for men. An otherwise great guy (loving, caring and respecting family and society) is not good enough, if he doesn’t earn. It is still perceived as a disgrace for men, but not for women. Women are never judged for their earning potential.


The House

It is implicit that the man will arrange a house to live. The patriarchal society puts the onus of buying a house on the man. One of the things that women are spared from. Owning a house, while managing in one person’s income is not an easy task. But still Indian men happily manage it without complaining. So after becoming independent, this is the first thing every Indian man strives for. Not to mention the other amenities like car, luxury etc.

Personal_finance


Learn to be a man

The women of India have to go through ‘torturous upbringing’, as they have to learn to cook in their teenage, while men are spared from it. True. A p-Feminists once said “my brother can’t even make a sandwich to survive, while I must know cooking else no one will marry me“. But she failed to mention how guys are pressurized to become a ‘man’ by this patriarchal society. An Indian guy is taught to stand on his feet by his early 20s (as I mentioned earlier), else no father will give his daughter’s hand to him for marriage. These are the exact words of Indian parents. Man are supposed to not get into drinking/smoking or any disputes which may lead to negative reputation in the society; else he’ll never get married. A Indian is supposed to be owning the tough tasks and responsibilities.
For example: Once we were visiting my grand-parents. We (me, my parents and my sister) got into a car and started off. Few miles later we got a flat Tyre. So my father asked me to get the tools and change the Tyre. I changed it without any complaints, while my sister enjoyed the music sitting on the sidewalk. I am not complaining, but I am telling the flip side.

A man must know finance very early in the age, so that he can manage the money and savings for future life, apartment, spouse and kids. Girls (in my family and social circle) on the other hand don’t know a bit about it.
So If the family goes through a financial crisis, It will be considered the man’s fault. Pick the luggage on every family trip, drop your sister to her friend’s place or coaching class and pick her up, let her buy anything she likes and you spend carefully cause you will need savings for future etc. These are some things that p-feminists will never acknowledge.


The embarrassing questions 

India still is a country where majority of marriages are arranged. Many girls have objection when the two families meet and the guy’s family ask questions from the bride. What they forget to talk about is, the guy has been through his round of questions already.

  • How much you earn,
  • How frequent are your increments (if in a job),
  • Have any side incomes?
  • Does you own a house or lives in a rented apartment,
  • How sound are you financially and so on (Talking from personal experience, if the guy earns more than 15LPA INR, still the questions come from girl’s father).
  • Will you be able to manage expenses of my daughter?

Surprisingly, Indian men never complained about it. They considered it a moral responsibility to be the bread-earner. Why so? The patriarchal society, right? They grew up learning that they’ll have to bear the responsibility of the whole family on their shoulder, but they never complained about it.


The Earning Lady

As India is growing and changing day by day; more and more women are now educated and independent. It is a good change. But what hasn’t changed is the underlying mentality. It is almost impossible to find an Indian women who will agree to marry an unemployed guy. While countless Indian men, don’t oppose marrying an unemployed girl. When we really want equality for gender, we’ll have to come out of the conventional paradigms. The p-feminists, don’t talk about it. The more the girl earns, the more she wants the guy to earn.


The Dowry

For whatever reason dowry started, it must end. I remember a trending image on Facebook, where a girl holds a placard which read “I don’t need to pay you to marry me“. While I fully support the underlying concern, i.e. end dowry; I don’t agree with the way it is written on the placard. Indian man are not solely responsible for this. Men and women both are. Read my older post to understand why (Dowry will live). It is the guy’s parents who demand dowry, not the guy. In most cases, he doesn’t even have a say in it. But the p-feminist blame it all on young men. Also, in many cases, the girl’s family forcefully gives dowry, because somewhere for them it has become a status symbol as to how much they gave to their daughter in wedding. The p-feminists always advocate ending dowry and splitting the marriage expenses between both families; which is not wrong, but only half side of the story.


The sister of Dowry

While we are at it, let’s talk about one more tradition that must end. Wondering what it is? The tradition of covering the bride in gold jewelry and expensive clothes. It is very expensive, and completely owned by groom’s family. No matter dowry is taken or not, this custom is carried out. The fact that it is never mentioned in any article, is sad. Whatever it is, show off of groom’s family, or an old rotten custom; it must end.

Jewellery_4C--621x414


Men starts Saving, and Women start Spending

As already mentioned, Indian man become independent very early in 20s. The struggle doesn’t end there. Indian men start saving right after they start earning. Deposits, stocks, real-estate-property, Govt. bonds, tax saving schemes etc are on their mind from the day they get their first salary. The reason is same, they have to buy a house, a car and all other amenities that will be required to start a family; (house being the most expensive). However, the scene for young women is different. Young earning women laugh off the topic of saving and freely spend without any thought in the back of their head of any pressure of saving. The p-feminists will never acknowledge this unfair advantage women have over men in this case. Hopefully when we’ll have gender equality; women will also start saving before marriage and will enter the relationship will whatever they have saved just like men do. And hopefully it will not be considered dowry.

finance


The Demanding Indian bride

The urban Indian girls, have come up with some conditions that they feel will bring them equality and are totally inline with feminism. Note: They feel.
A guy cannot share his opinion about girl’s job. A man is criticized if he tells her to work, because “what kind of a man wants his wife to earn for the home”, (‘patriarchal’ society). And he is judged. And if he asks her to quit her job because he promises to take full responsibility of her. What he gets in return is, “why don’t you get a maid if all you want me to do is, sit at home and cook for you.” That’s one of the dilemma an Indian man is stuck in.
Not sure how the tradition started, that girl goes to the guy’s house after marriage. But p-feminists believe that true equality will be achieved when the guy also dumps his parents behind and settle in a separate city. But many p-feminists girls are not comfortable with it, when the Indian man in question is their brother. So not sure what kind of equality we are trying to achieve.
Many urban Indian men, somewhere have come from a small town, became independent and live in a metro or tier 2 city. But the brides come with a condition (even if they are from a small town) that the guy should never relocate to a small town. This is said to ensure that the girl always wishes to enjoy a good lifestyle. I am not sure how much is this in control of the guy; but he has to agree to this. Of course, everyone want to have a good lifestyle; but life is full of surprises. You cannot predict what happens in future. There could be several reasons of moving to a small town. May be 10 years later one wants to quit the hectic job and start a business in their native place. How can one predict that they’ll stay in metro city for the rest of their life. So what this tells me about the women is that she is majorly looking for a lifetime guarantee of a lavish lifestyle that can keep her happy. While marriage was used to be an institution where both should stand by each other in their ups and downs. It is not about one person’s happiness. Now it has just become a business contract.

Wherever we are going with this, this doesn’t sound like equality.


Seeking support for escaping

Many Indian man, (including the ones I’ve met), are often poked by some prospective brides on social networking websites, to help them in getting away from the ongoing marriage proposal between their families. They expect the guy to say NO to the proposal, because ‘they’ don’t want to marry right now. They expect the guy to take care of the whole situation and take the whole blame of rejecting the proposal and face his parents because they cannot face their. Gone are the times when only girls used to be pressurized for getting married soon. Guys are equally pressurized by parents. I am one of them. And it’s not easy for me to say no, just because you can’t handle your parents.

             Also, I’ve seen cases where the guy went out of his way to help the girl and rejecting the proposal from his side. But all he got in return was bashing from the bride’s family for being arrogant and proudy. The girl will not come for his savior.


The Draconian Indian Laws

Indian laws were intended to protect women from Dowry, rape or any sort of assault. But sadly they are so poorly designed that they are being grossly misused. The urban India has matured and many women are now in better condition than before, but rural India still struggles to reach here. Many Indian women have gone beyond and started misusing these laws to overpower men and many time innocents men. I’ll let the videos speak about the facts.

Also Indian laws are highly sexist. Here’s a snippet of IPC 498A, Dowry Act.

Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.—Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be pun­ished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

           So a man cannot be subjected to cruelty? Is that not possible? There are cases of Men being abused by their wives. Physical and mental both. But India doesn’t have that kind of scenarios defined. The p-feminists too, smartly keep mum on it.


Role of Media

After watching the above listed videos, you might have wondered that if this problem exists, why you haven’t read about it in any paper so far. Well, your question is a valid one; but Media is smart. They only print, what sells. Newspaper or television, are not interested in reporting about abused men, or men who committed suicide because of false rape/dowry allegations. If it is about a woman, they’ll cover make it a breaking news. Recently Supreme Court, looking at the increasing misuse of Dowry law, passed an order that “immediate arrest should not be done in case of Dowry complaint”. Media projected this in a negative light as they know this will resonate with the daily news readers; while hiding the facts based on which Supreme Court passed this order.


Victim of Generalizations and portrayed as a Criminal 

                  On a daily basis, ALL Indian man are bashed for the raped women or dowry-victim, in the far corner of India. Social media, newspaper, television channels, blogs and debate shows/forums. Every one of them holds every Indian man responsible for each rape case in India. The p-feminists can quickly jot down an article criticizing ALL Indian men, using their dictionary made of words like male-dominant, patriarchal, chauvinistic etc. These articles are very much one sided, very insensitive towards Indian men and very inconsiderate of the feelings of countless innocent Indian men. Nobody cares how much a common Indian man, like me, respects the women in his life like his mother, sister, girl-friend, wife, female-friends, classmates, peer, neighbor or any stranger women on a bus/train and has done nothing wrong to any of them.

                  After every rape/sexual-harassment incident, every man is tagged as rapist and pervert. No one gives a thought to how these articles floating everyday on social media, are impacting the young women of India and filling their mind with negativity towards all Indian men. (see my latest other post for details – Rapes in India – The Survey)I am not making this up. Every day I am seeing how girls in my social circle are turning hostile by seeing this content on a daily basis. Comments like ‘you men are disgusting’, ‘stop being sexist’ etc are not so pleasant coming out of anger. Tell me this, what’s the first thought that runs through your mind when you see a guy and a girl fighting in a public place? .. “Stupid man! who fights with a woman. Bastard!” isn’t it? Now think for a while, why are you assuming that the guy is wrong in this fight? Do you ever bother to give it a second thought? I personally have seen fights where women have been wrong.
See this video and decide for yourself.  And feel free to try this in India.

Experiment 1

Experiment 2

Think now..

             This media has been doing more harm than good in the name of women empowerment and awareness. It has changed how young women of India think. For example, an Indian man is judged for being concerned about his wife/spouse/girlfriend’s safety. How? He asks her to avoid wearing short clothes in some areas and in certain times. Before you bash me, wait for it and let me complete. I know he has no right to dictate what she wears. But, hold on for a moment and think why is he saying that. Is he concerned about her safety? He said many other things like that. For instance, yesterday he said, “don’t travel after 11PM in the local train it is not safe”. You weren’t offended then? Then why today? In both scenarios, isn’t the underlying concern of the guy same? But why do we judge him for the former? Everything can be misinterpreted if you look at it in a negative way. I don’t blame young women for this, I blame media and p-feminists who write article, shoot survey-videos and upload them on youtube just to get TRP and views. These p-feminists feed her with so much of negativity and insensitivity, everyday.


So coming back to the point. We do want equality. But equality means respect and opportunities be given to each person irrespective of their gender. It’s not about taking it away from one and giving it to other. It is more about working as a team in every household and family out there. My request to young women of India is, don’t be mislead by what you see; because there is a lot going out there that you don’t see. So don’t make opinions and avoid being a pseudo-feminist.

Dowry will live

Few days back I was talking to a friend about marriages in India. The topic of Dowry was inevitable. She strongly criticized it.

Her: I won’t offer dowry when I get married.

Me: Well, it’s not the bride/groom who gives/takes dowry mostly, it is their parents. So what you can do is, don’t take dowry when you get your kids married.

Her: Of course, then Dowry will be out of question.

Me: May be! If it is that easy, then probably dowry will not exist 25 years later, because today’s generation (guys/girls) hate dowry. So Dowry should not be a problem in future.

Her: Yes, it won’t be. (smiles)

Me: I don’t think so.

Her: Why?

Me: Think about it. Didn’t our mothers hate dowry when their parents had to give it?

Her: Umm.. I guess, yes. They did.

Me: Then why do they ask for dowry when their son is to be married?

Her: Umm, not sure.

Me: Tell me, when you were in 10th standard, what mattered to you the most. Getting highest marks in class, right?

Her: Yes, obviously.

Me: At that time, if some neighbor’s son got a promotion in his firm, would you care?

Her: Of course, not.

Me: But you do care now if your peer gets a promotion and you don’t.

Her: Ya, we all do.

Me: And now do you care, if your peer’s kid topped in his board exams?

Her: No.

Me: But you will care when your own kid won’t but his/her kid will.

Her: But every parent want their kid to top everywhere. What’s wrong with that?

Me: Exactly. If that kid of yours, is about to get married and your peers/neighbours/any-xyz-in-your-soceity’s kid get married for 50 lacs of dowry; somewhere in the corner of your heart a new desire is born. “My son looks smart. He has done well in life. He is earning high. Sharma’s kid isn’t even close to my son. If he can fetch 50Lacs, my son is worth atleast 60L.

Her: We cannot generalize it. I won’t think like that.

Me: Of course, you won’t. But your husband might. Or someone from our generation might. But it is possible, don’t you agree?

Her: May be… (Silence)… Quite possible. Everyone thinks differently. I may not do it and may not allow my husband to do it, but cannot change the way everyone thinks.

Me: So Dowry will live more than we think.

Human develop desire from their surroundings and society. They compare themselves with their peers, relatives and neighbors. The small set of people that you interact with, on a regular basis, form your society/surrounding. Comparison is inevitable. You didn’t care if your neighbour got a big car when you were 16, but now when you earn, you kind of feel like having car bigger than your peer’s.

Dowry is an evil and so are Desires, I believe. If you take a moment and think about it, many things we perceive as evil today, are somewhere linked to Desires. Think of Corruption, for instance. The desire, of giving your family and kids a rich life without giving any thought to the welfare of others and earning more money (which you may not be able to use in one lifetime and it is as good as a ‘paper’ lying miles away in the Swiss accounts abroad), gives birth to the Evil. When someone offers a bribe, he is just tickling the desires of the receiver and of course, exploiting it for personal gain (read: desires).

If I may quote one of the books I read and analysed the philosophies discussed in it thoroughly, the famous Shiva Trilogy…

Evil is within us

Work And Life

If it is dinner time, and you are still in office; If you skipped a movie outing with your friends due to work; If you cancelled your next vacation, due to some new important work-item; And if you find yourself in such situations frequently…

Dude! You need help.

As important as giving your best at work, is giving time to yourself. There need to be a balance between work and your personal life. If you get too involved in your work, you’ll lose hold on your life. One of my earlier posts, can give you a good idea of what I am talking about. (Refer To: I got promoted). Realize and change things before it’s too late and if you don’t want to regret later. Otherwise, slowly it’ll become monotonous and will adversely affect your performance as well.

Work smart! Don’t just work hard.

Having a good work-life balance depends on you as well as the company you work for.

What you should do:

  • Identifying the extra work-hours: This can be the major reason, why you are having no time for yourself. If you are spending more than 9 hours/day at office, if you are working on the weekends, and if you are working from home as well after devoting a full day at office, then you really need to look back, and see what exactly is causing this. You should do this activity regularly, like every month.
  • Squeezing work in work-hours: When you start identifying the reasons of spending extra hours at work, you will mostly find that, it’s not the company/manager who is overloading you, but it’s you who is not managing the work properly. Do this:
    1. In the beginning of every week, list down the items that are on your plate, prioritize them and estimate cost for each item.
    2. Do not put aggressive cost and keep some buffer for unknown-issues that you might hit.
    3. Now pick the top items whose cost sums up to 5 days (only weekdays).
    4. Important: Feel free to share this list, prioritization and estimation, with your manager. Considering that your estimate and prioritization is reasonable, he will not question you for pushing a few items to the next week. He might ask you to change the prioritization for some item and ask you to re-estimate. But it is completely okay to have another iteration of it.
    5. At the end of the week, do send an update on what was accomplished and what’s left (If you sent the plan to your manager on Monday)
  • Learn to say ‘NO’: This is one of the key rules of succeeding in your career in the Industry. It is very likely that many adhoc requests will come during the week and the plan you set in beginning will get disturbed. Adhoc requests come from unplanned work-items, delegations from peers or a new high priority escalation coming from customer etc. Be smart in handling these randomization, as these are the real culprits of screwed work-life balance. Do this:
    1. Don’t be lazy. Evaluate the work-item, it’s cost and it’s priority.
    2. Re-look at your plan and see if you can fit it in(feel free to push few items to the next week).
    3. Do check that the management and peer is not trying to randomize you. If you don’t feel like entertaining this new adhoc request, simply say ‘NO’. The plan you had shared with your manager on Monday, will help you in justifying your NO.
  • Make Impact: Big companies care about the impact you are having on their business and their performance review models also have metrics to measure your impact. So every work-item you get from your manager, may not have the strong impact expected from you at your career level/stage/work-ex. So hard work may ask you to stretch and do those workitems, but smart work asks you to pass it on to your juniors. Let your juniors use that as an opportunity to grow; because at your level, the expectations are higher, so only pick high impact work items.
  • Have you unknowingly joined a race?: After doing all the right things, if it is not working out. Just check if you are unknowingly trying to compete with any of your smarter/senior peer just to prove yourself. If yes, then stop doing it. You are not going to grow if you just work-hard, you need to work-smart.These are the qualities that are valued in the industry and by management as well.

What depends on your company:

  • Values Work-Life balance?: Your company/manager should also respect your work-life balance. If they officially make you work 12 hours a day, then the plan you share with your manager every week, is going to count more work-hours. And he’ll ask you to squeeze-in more work. Here you need to make a decision. If you are okay with it then continue else switch (team/manager/company).
  • Critical Projects: It might happen that the company/team you are working for, has signed-up for a critical project. Such projects can have aggressive deadlines and might make your work more, everyday. This is okay, as long as this is being done for a short period of time like 1 or 2 months. If this continues throughout the year, then you really need to evaluate if the management is making the right decisions or not. For the success of each individual, it is important that the leadership-team/management is having the right vision. If you strongly feel that some of the decisions taken were not correct, convey your concerns to management in a positive way. Some management-teams are mature enough to accept their mistakes and improve on it, but all may not. If later is the case, then you might want to start thinking of changing the division/team/company at this point. For your career, nothing is more dangerous than working for an immature management or incompetent leaders.
  • Resource crunch: At times, you’ll realize that everyone in the team is overloaded and still work-items are slipping the deadlines. Then, It’s time to let your mangers know that your team is lacking resources. Put it diplomatically. Ask for loaning a resource from another team. A smart manager will get your point and might hire someone from outside/inside. If they don’t value your feedback and keep asking you to stretch without proper justification, then it’s time to re-think over your decision to work for that particular team/project/division/company. Doing extra-work due to resource-crunch is okay, if that phase is temporary. If you help the team during the ‘temporary’ phase of resource-crunch, you will be appreciated.

on the next turn