Sunday, October 13, 2013

Are old aged parents a burden to you?

When I was a teenager, there lived a family as my neighbour, on the same floor, comprising of a 70 year old husband and his 64 year old wife. Both were humble and kind. They used to call us and talk to us to let go of their loneliness. When we played and became tired, we used to approach them for water and relaxed in their spacious hall room. Even when we made lots of noise and one time even broke one of the flower pots kept outside, they never complained to our parents. They loved watching us grow up and waved when we went to catch our school buses. Sometimes, they looked sad and troubled. Only neighbours came to console them at such times. The reason for their unhappiness lived on the upper floor. Their son, daughter-in-law and a 5 year old granddaughter. Their son came from office, climbed the same stairs but never once did we see him walking on our floor. He brought Ganesh idol in his rented flat on the upper floor every year on the eve of Ganesh Chaturthi, but few people on our floor totally boycotted it. Because he never invited his parents, had forbade his daughter from coming in any contact with her grandparents and behaved so rudely that at times, it used to reduce his mother to tears. She cried and let out her emotions in our flat in front of my mother.

Later we shifted and started living in a 2BHK flat on the ground floor of an old building. A lady in her 80s, her spine curved and skin worn out, lived alone in a servant’s quarter. She crossed by our window every evening and came back in 2 hours duration with her next day’s stock of vegetables. She didn’t talk much but acknowledged our greetings by just nodding her head. She didn’t have any teeth. I felt very bad on watching her condition. It took a lot of efforts for her to walk even 20 steps. But this woman not only went to market regularly, but also cooked, ate, cleaned her room, washed her clothes and cleaned the front area outside the door of her small room with a broom. When winter arrived every year, she wore the same thin wrinkled saree. She had only three by the way, out of which two had holes. When we sought to help her out, she politely declined. It brought out tears in her eyes. She didn’t want anybody’s pity, she claimed. She said it was hurting and reminded her what kind of a beggar she had turned into after her husband’s death. When she died, nobody came to know about it. Three days later, when an odd smell started coming out of her room, the door was forced open. Her dead body lay in sight on the floor. When the secretary of the building contacted her relatives for performing the last rituals, a shock befell on us. She had two sons. One lived in Mumbai, working as a sales executive in a famous advertisement company and her younger son worked in some public sector in Bloomington, U.S.A.

One of my acquaintances, a couple in their 70s shifted to their hometown recently. They have three sons. Two of them live in cities and they moved in with their youngest son. They thought life would be all about living comfortably, without any work tension and playing with their two grandkids. But after spending few weeks into this retired life, they are getting annoyed and mentally troubled. The reason is very common. The daughter-in-law dumps her children at her mother-in-law, ordering her to take care of them while she is out and goes for shopping and kitty parties. When she comes back home, she complains of being tired and goes back to take a nap. The mother-in-law is left to make breakfast, lunch and dinner. When the maid doesn’t turn up, she cleans the kitchen and washes clothes. If she cuts more onions than expected, she is taunted and abused for that. If she adds more milk while making tea or consumes more biscuits as her evening snack, her daughter-in-law doesn’t let her rest in peace. She complains to her husband to let him know what racket his mother created in the kitchen that day. The worst comes when her husband takes her side and shouts at his aged mother. If his children are crying, it is his mother’s fault. If his wife is upset, it is his mother’s fault. At the end of the day, a 70 year old lady cries silently in her bed and prays to god when she would be dead. 

What are senior citizens for? Taking care of grandchildren in the house? That’s it? Don’t they have a life of their own? Mostly they are seen as a ‘burden’ and treated as such. One of my own long distance cousin’s family lived in a village. When his mother died, there was no one to take care of his 89 year old father. Nobody wanted to take up responsibility of this man. He was very old and did all his bathroom routines on bed. He couldn’t stand properly on his own legs. When his wife was alive, she took care of his deteriorating health and fed him. When she was gone, he was left alone, rejected by his neighbours. Rejected by his own son. A son that claimed his father wouldn’t be able to adjust in a city and anyway, he didn’t have time to take care of him like his mother did and nor does his working wife. When the elders back in the village threatened the son, he was forced to come and take his ailing father away. The lonely father died after two months.

If one of the life partners dies, things becomes difficult for an old person. And unfortunate if he/she is rejected by his/her grown-up kids just because they have become old, and therefore marked as being a burden. In such a scenario, look into the following cases:-

My grandmother’s mother died at a ripe old age of 103. Or so people say. Nobody knows for sure her true birth date. But her husband was a freedom fighter who died during independence. As a result, she used to get compensation amount from the government every month. It started from Rs. 500 and by the time she died, it had increased to a whooping Rs.40, 000. The result was that, she was always taken care of and nobody wanted her to die. Her sons took care of her and her money. They build their respective houses, brought air-conditioners, sent their kids to good schools and she went through many operations in order to keep her kidney, liver, tummy and eyes safe. She smiled till her last breath and ate sweets even when she was diabetic. She lived a queen’s life. Her family cried like hell when she died. She was given a farewell equivalent to that of Rajesh Khanna’s in our village. 

My maternal grandfather was a journalist. He always valued money and ordered everybody to save theirs for their future. When he retired, he had accumulated a respectable amount. He had built a house that he shifted in after his retirement. People came to visit him and respected him for his previous published works. Later on he told me that 70% of the people approach him still for guidance and help just because he is considered as rich. Else nobody would have come to a poor old bloke like him in his old age. When he died, my grandmother lived in peace and had respect amongst her sons and relatives. Only because she had inherited all the money left behind by my grandfather.

So looking into such real life examples, I keep pestering my dad to start planning for his post retirement life. It’s not that I don’t trust my brother. He is already a good son and my mum's favourite. I know that when the time  comes, he will stand up for our parents. But who has seen the future? Will I and my brother be around to help them in their old age? If something happens to us, what about our parents then? Is it not better to start planning and save money that could help you to live a comfortable and respectable life later in your old age? And till I am on this planet as well, I’ll never let anyone mark my parents as burden. I’ll see to it that I become a good daughter and a helpful daughter-in-law. Those who think that their lives would have been awesome and without any troubles, if their old parents were dead instead, remember this. One day you would become old too. Too aged to walk on your legs and with a weak eyesight. Till that time you would have gone through many surgeries and taken many medicines. Think when your own kid kicks you out of your house when you need him the most, just because you have become a burden. How would you feel?

An Introvert's Life for me

I am an introvert by nature. I think I am, watching my own symptoms and at the feedback I get from others around me. Some complain that I don’t talk much. I can’t gossip unnecessarily when a bunch of girls sit near me and start with their own conversations. When I am at a party or a birthday treat, I mingle and smile with those who I know. But after 15 minutes, I detach myself from the group and take my leave. I don’t have patience to do small talk. If there is seriously something to talk about, I take the initial step and start speaking myself. But if there is nothing worth to talk about, instead of wasting my time, I prefer to not enter into any conversation at all. If any stranger joins my group, I acknowledge him/her with a warm greeting and then go back into my own shell till I am asked something or made to laugh out loud on someone’s joke. People render it in a wrong way. I am labeled as being shy. Sometimes people feel that I am being rude by not talking openly and gregariously to a friend’s friend or a colleague. I am labeled as being arrogant and someone who has ego problems in abundance. I am not talking and deliberately not mixing in a new group because I think highly of myself, some openly tell it on my face. These accusations just amuse me and bring a secret smile on my face that becomes visible to others in no time. Next second I am rendered as being shameless! 

This has been the situation with me since childhood. I have long ago realized that how I would like to be treated is very less preferred and followed by others. And I have learnt to live with this inevitable truth. When there is any function to attend at home, I gladly participate and enjoy till my brain tells me to stop and my heart searches for some solitude, some time alone with myself to live in peace and away from the noisy crowd. When I declare this to my relatives, they feel that I am being rude. I don’t like socializing too long for nothing. The same fake smiles, the same kind of guests who are more bothered about their designer dresses than the actual function or the same new introductions every time- these all get to my nerves and I want to scream out in private and therefore rush of to have some time alone with myself. When I have some thoughtful expressions, people take my look in a wrong way as if I am being arrogant. When I don’t want to visit any hill-station or don't want to go for a new movie, but just want to spend some time alone with myself and family at weekends, my friends label me as a traitor. I am considered a big spoilsport of their weekend fun plans. Though I don't have any strings attached and don't ask anybody to wait for me. 

I am thrown this question a lot, "Why are you so quiet?” I am accused of not being socialable at all in public functions and friend circles. Some claim that I day dream a lot, which I do in fact.   

Give me a mike and a stage in front of 1000 people. Or a blog platform. Or any other spotlight. Let’s see then who talks a lot and who remains silent :-)

I don’t think there is anything wrong at what I am doing or the way I am in my social life. If any occasion calls for it, after saying a simple hi or a hello, I enter into a conversation myself. But I cannot talk for some time pass. If there is nothing to talk on and introductions are over, then it’s a bye bye from my side. I have other important stuff to do instead of wasting time on unnecessary gossips about who wore what and who broke up with whom. If anybody doesn’t get straight to the point and just beat around the bushes, I easily get annoyed. When I am travelling in a train or a flight, novels are my best friends. A cup of coffee and an opened novel in my lap doesn’t bore me. But a non-stop party will. Maybe I am a textbook introvert! But I like to be surrounded by thought-provoking movies, newspapers, magazines, interesting blogs and fiction novels rather than human beings at times. Some friends get surprised when they come to know that I have done something without telling them or sharing with them beforehand. What they fail to understand is that I like to maintain my privacy and remain independent. People can’t get it, why I like to remain most of the time alone or just associate myself with small groups. I have very close knitted friends who I like to be with and feel comfortable in their company. Making new social contacts just for the heck of it is never on my list, whether it is in my office or a party or on Facebook. I like to lead from the front and talk with colleagues about project work, but ask me to mingle with the same people offline and I might turn back to my novels instead. 

Hear, hear! There have been many introverts among the famous personalities in our world. There have been many musicians, film-makers, writers, scientists, doctors, engineers, mathematicians, economists, philosophers in and around us who have made a mark in their respective fields and were an introvert in their personal lives. The popular author of Harry Potter series- J.K.Rowling is an introvert. Even Emma Watson, our very own Hermione Granger, is in the club. The world renowned physicist, Albert Einstein, was widely quoted as saying that the monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind. Steven Spielberg, director and producer of many popular Hollywood films that include Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Adventures of Tintin, and War of the Worlds is an introvert. Did you know that the father of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi was also an introvert? And the list goes on. 

Recently I read in a website about the review of a book titled, The Introvert Advantage (How to Thrive in an Extrovert World) written by Marti Laney. The book went deeper inside a human brain to find out the real reason behind a person being an introvert. It reveals that such a person is the one who is over-sensitive to Dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps in the transmission of signals in the brain and other vital areas and so, too much external stimulation overdoses and exhausts him/her. I couldn’t understand what all this meant. Some scientific fact indeed. But whatever amount of Dopamine or any such thing that I have in my brain, I am fine by it. Over-sensitive or not, I am an introvert, sometimes quiet and many times in my own thoughts. If you can handle it, then fine. If not, then move on. Take it or leave it, see? It’s very simple. No need to break your head or mine for that matter on my mysterious, satirically rude, shy, arrogant, cumbersome and old soul world. I am definitely not any of these adjectives used but I am labeled as such by the society I live in. 

And I am least bothered by it. What to do! That’s how I am. I love being myself. I am a big introvert in my personal life. You might come barging into my life and shake me roughly to speak up to your friends and admirers, catching me unawares and distracting me from my work with your nonsense speech. But then you might run away in search of a safe hide-out on seeing me removing my heels in retaliation and throwing them at your retreating figure. 

That’s me. Some introvert indeed! :-)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Failed again? No problem. Get up and Move on!

I had a talk with my cousin last night. She sounded unhappy. When I asked her what the problem was, she hesitated. After a long pause, she finally told me the truth. She hadn’t been selected in any of the three campus interviews conducted in her engineering college by some IT companies. When I asked her a straight so what, she became silent. After a moment, she started telling all the details. How much low she was feeling right now and jealous of her classmates who had cracked the interviews. How she too wanted a job badly because her elder sisters and brothers too had succeeded in cracking interviews before her. She was wondering if she is incompetent, dumb and undeserving. She had failed and didn’t know where to go and hide her face. She sounded close to tears. 

There are many times when we give up completely when we fail. Be it in a class test, a semester exam, an interview, a project, a job or a career. We may fail in living upto the expectations of our managers or parents. We may fail to fulfill certain promises made to others by us. We may fail in our personal or professional life. But we shouldn’t start sulking and getting drowned in shame. We must not let others hurt us more when we are low and easily touchy at such times. 

When I was selected by Infosys, at the same time around a dozen other companies came for campus interviews in my college. I wasn't selected by any other company that conducted placements. I didn’t feel disappointed. Yes, it was shocking at first, when others around me got selected in companies providing higher pay packages and I wasn’t. But then I moved on. I learnt two things in all this. One, those who got selected were more competent than me and that doesn’t mean that I should start doubting my own confidence levels. And second, if I stop and become jealous of others around me, it won’t do me any good. And if things are not doing me any good or making me progress in life, it’s better to move on. 

One of my colleagues, popularly known as UJ in our group, has another story to share. When he entered in the generic training at Mysore campus, he was quite excited like others around him. When the training began, he studied and attempted every test after a lot of preparation. But he failed. He had backlogs in his generic which made him wonder if he even deserved to do this training further. He felt alone in classes and wondered if he should just quit. There were many quitters around in the campus at the time of his batch. Before the first day of intermediate training dawned, he was ready to pack his bags and leave. But he thought over it deeply that night. He stopped blaming himself and looked at the situation in front of him. If he quits now, will it not affect his entire future? Is it justifiable to be a quitter anyway? He decided to try his hard work again and this time he made friends who supported him. He enjoyed the new company he got and forced himself to learn about the topics taught in classes mandatorily at the end of each day. If he had any doubts, he didn’t keep quiet. He asked his friends different questions and concepts till his doubts were cleared. He stayed late at night in GEC and studied harder every day. The result? He cleared every exam in intermediate and stream training with flying colours. He scored a whopping 80% or 90% in each test.  He started smiling around and gained his confidence back. Today ask him to do something difficult in a project or meet a killer deadline of some pending assignment and he will never say no. He will face it head on. 

One of my relatives got a major heart-break in his relationship with his girlfriend or rather, I will say ex-girlfriend. According to him, she used him a lot, made him spend money on all her expensive girlish stuff, forced him to hide their relationship from family and friends, and then he realized the bitter truth. She already had boyfriends previously, had made them do the same thing and then had dumped them all. When she proclaimed to her own friend circle that she wasn’t yet committed to anyone, his heart was crushed. He broke up with her and then went into depression. He stopped eating food and sulked at anyone who approached him for counselling. His parents became anxious on seeing his deteriorating health. When he saw his mother also getting anxious on seeing him at home, sitting silently detached from the world, he realized one thing. What was the point of going into depression now, for a girl who didn’t value his feelings ever? Who is ultimately suffering? Why was he ruining his health, just for that one traitor? He is currently working in a reputed company, is healthy and made a promise to never disappoint his parents for a girl who didn’t deserve him. Or never to ruin his life for another human being who doesn’t care for him.

One of my acquaintances tried his best to get into IITs for 4-5 years. It was his passion and a dream to get admission into an IIT. But it wasn’t easy. His family was poor financially but wanted their son to make his own mark in the world. Bowing under the pressure, he went to Kota to study in one of the best coaching institutes in the country. He is clever, worked hard and attempted every IIT exam with full concentration. But when he failed to clear them every time, he was devastated. Later he realized that it would be better to start on another career when this wasn’t working out for him. A man like him who wanted to go into IIT but failed every time, is an excellent entrepreneur today. He works harder now and delivers lectures on skills to become a good entrepreneur in various technical colleges. He was financially unstable before he started on this new venture. Right now, he has cars and bikes in his garage that Mahendra Singh Dhoni would be quite envious of on knowing about this collection!

One of my friends, failed to make plans and execute them in her professional life. After marriage, she struggled to balance her personal life and make her colleagues happy at work at the same time. She had confusions, didn’t make any advance planning and the pile of work to do at office and the pile of dishes in the kitchen tremendously increased each day. But one day she realized that why she had failed to excel in her life was because of lack of dedication and miserable planning. She started leading her life in a way that would allow her to allot time to do her works properly without taking a toll on her. She got up early every morning, did her walks, made breakfast for all, ate her share and then she made a note of how to do things for the rest of the day. She followed that plan strictly. And she does planning every day. The result? She is a mother of 2 kids, is a manager in a bank and a happy lady who gives yoga classes on weekends to other ladies in her building. 

So imagine if you have failed in something. Instead of crying and quitting, stop blaming yourself and think it over. What went wrong? How can you solve it? Can you ask somebody’s help and support to come out of this? If Sachin Tendulkar, after going for a duck in two consecutive matches, had quit and stopped playing further for fear of more failures, would he have achieved so many milestones that the Master Blaster is currently known for? If every Indian director who has had a flop movie in store in the past, refuses to make further films expecting more failures, would we have any movies to watch in the theatres? Remember that you yourself can battle your failures. Family and friends can support you to some extent but in the end, it’s your life and you have to make the ultimate decision. When you have failed, you will feel rejection. You will suffer and your head will seem to crack open in two. But don’t quit. Because winners never quit. And each of us has a winner in us. Which will present itself to the world when the time comes. Till that time go ahead and take a failure bow. Success awaits you on your next step.
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Friday, October 11, 2013

Marriages are made in costly heaven!

In middle class families, when a girl reaches her marriageable age, a mother mourns not much for finding a suitable match for her daughter. Her main headache is the unaffordable wedding budget. 

Dowry is openly given and accepted even today. If a girl’s parents are rich enough, they give a truck full of house-hold stuff like refrigerator, television set, washing machine, air-conditioner and a four-wheeler vehicle to their super cool son-in-law as a ‘gift’. That clever son-in-law refrains mutely but under the pressure of the elders involved gives in and accepts it all later. He is labeled as being humble. If some girl’s parents are not rich, cannot afford to give these extra gifts, still go for planning and saving money to save their reputation at the time of their daughter’s marriage and in a hope that their daughter won’t be harassed after marriage for dowry. 

The average budget of an Indian middle class family in North India starts from Rs. 7 lakh. If a daughter is the eldest or an only child, then this amount may increase easily to Rs.15 lakh and end up somewhere within Rs. 25 lakh. For marriages involving people, who are lawyers, doctors and IPS officers, this amount is laughable. It may straight shoot up to Rs. 1 crore. The reason often given is that as these marriages happen only once in everybody’s life, families see to it that they parade around and show it to the whole world that it’s their beloved daughter’s marriage. Of course, nobody thinks about the whole point of spending so much money extravagantly becoming useless, if the same marriage turns into a divorce later. 

In my family, people spend money on marriages as if there is a money plant in our back yard that actually grows Indian rupee notes on its branches. I have seen women growing anxious when the final moment of truth arrives, their daughters are about to get married and they start looking uncomfortably at their bank accounts. There are still men around who turn away in disgust whenever a girl child is born, because that would amount to spending lots of money on her marriage later. 

I argue with my mother over this issue many times. She is firm on her thoughts. If we don’t give away dowry and do not spend lakhs at the time of my marriage, the boy’s side may feel unhappy and trouble me later. When I’ll be troubled, she will be heart-broken too. When I say anything about court marriages and even community marriages, she becomes fed up. The society will not accept it, she tells me. And I know for a fact that my traditional thinking grandparents certainly won’t. A marriage means spending money on catering, dresses, band walas, photographers, video recorders, travel tickets, guests, relatives, dowry and four wheelers. Even if a future groom has his own Volkswagen, he wants another priced trophy in his personal collection by his future-in-laws. Even when a boy’s side is well maintained financially, they want a Sony Bravia T.V set (without a Tata Sky connection) and the latest available washing machine in the market. This is baffling to me. A bride’s side gives dowry under the name of ‘gifts’ and a groom’s side, not to dishonor the opposite party, accepts it graciously. Here both the parties are at fault. 

Every father loves his daughter. I know that when the time comes, my dad too will fall in this stupid trap just to see me getting married off to a good family. Good family? It means a rich family and a man straight from an IIT or an IIM. Why? So that I would be guaranteed to be kept happy by my in-laws and my future would be secured. A groom’s education is directly proportional to a demand for dowry nowadays. A teacher, teaching in some unpopular school may demand a two-wheeler and that’s considered acceptable. But when a groom works in a government job, the dowry money increases with the velocity of a rocket launched from Earth straight into space. I have told him many times that why to agree for such an alliance when the other party wants not your daughter but your money. He keeps quiet and frowns. He just doesn’t want to see his daughter remain in the house forever just because he said no to every boy’s side that demanded open dowry. When I tell him that I don’t have any problem with staying at home, he frowns further and my mother glares. He explains that I need a life partner at any cost, someone who looks after me when my parents are not there to do that job. Now how to argue with that statement?

So in a close competition between saving my father’s money (he will never allow me to spend a penny on my own marriage, why are dads like this?) and getting married to a man who wants me and not a flashy BMW, I can see that I am going to get sandwiched easily. It will be a close and tough call. But I am ready for it. As always when anybody tries to pressurize my parents. This whole marriage system has grown into such a painful business. In future, I don’t want to get ‘exchanged’ for a dowry. I am not a commodity or a product on sale. I am a human being who has some feelings. I don’t want my father to spend lakhs on my marriage. I don’t want him to give dowry to any undeserving fool who demands for it. Instead of spending so much on an unpredictable marriage, it is better for him to save it for future health expenses. A father earns every month and accumulates it preciously for his daughter’s marriage, to give it all on that one night and then become bankrupt? No thank you. I don’t want that time to come ever. Period. I'll prefer remaining single. 

Marriages are certainly not made in heaven nowadays. If it is so, then I would like to go to hell. Because this heaven sounds costlier. If anybody approaches me and utters “Mujhse Shaadi Karogi?” any time, before asking him “Hum Aapke Hai Kaun?”, I would first dial that special hot seat number to go in Kaun Banega Crorepati and gear up for my future marriage expenses. Only this thing is left to do I suppose. A big sigh.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Don’t humiliate me just because I cannot speak your language!

There are times when people from different states migrate to other cities. Some will find it difficult to adjust. Initial period would be troublesome. But if your neighbours turn out to be helpful and you stop feeling lonely, that’s when your happy life starts in a new place. But it becomes torture when you are not so fortunate.   

I learnt a lot in my golden days of engineering at Hyderabad. I call it golden because apart from learning about electrical instruments, power supply and electronics, I also learnt the harsh reality of consequences of being someone from a different state in India. 

I was the only girl in my engineering class who did not understand or could not speak Telugu. While getting admission into this English medium college, I was highly thrilled to be entering into my college life/freedom. Making friends, bunking classes, finishing assignments while sitting in a back bench and reading novels during technical lectures was fun. But I also suffered from something completely different which was strange, annoying, humiliating and many times frustrating.

I had good professors throughout my college life, who knew what they were teaching and were eager to instil true and useful technical stuff into our rarely used brains. But there were few who were not so humble. The first year had very few who accepted me as an ‘alien’ of my class. Heads turned in my direction when other students and professors came to know that I didn’t know Telugu. By my classmates, I was easily accepted. I made friends and talked with everyone in English. I talked in Hindi with my Muslim friends. But some professors were not at all kind. They delivered many lectures in Telugu. Later they asked me in English whether I have understood anything at all. There were times when general instructions were given in Telugu. One professor, in his free period, announced that he wouldn’t be teaching anything that day and started giving philosophical speeches in the rest of that hour in his local language. In between he turned, looked at me and declared in English that as I am not understanding anything, this class is not meant for me. I looked up at my best friend in alarm. She gave my hand a reassuring squeeze in sympathy. 

Yes, it had come to this-begging everybody for sympathy and rendering myself dependent on others to translate what the hell was going on in classes. Later in the next year onwards, I got used to the partiality and injustices that my being as the only North Indian in the class, brought on me. In my fourth year, I developed absolute indifference. My whole class knew me and I was made to feel one among them. But some lecturers came and went, carrying the same narrow-minded attitude and regarding me as someone who didn’t deserve to sit in the class. I was looked upon with constant doubt, as if I had landed from Mars or Jupiter. Some taunted me for not having learnt Telugu in four years of my stay in Hyderabad. They considered it unacceptable and rude on my part. My constant explanations and reasons fell on deaf ears many times.

Why? Because I was a North Indian who had failed to understand their language.

I argued, fought, choked and kept myself sane with the help of my Telugu and Muslim classmates. They were my constant support and translators during lectures. One of my Telugu bench mates has become my good friend for the rest of my life. Others around me, when they felt my low spirits, tried cheering me up during breaks and lunch time. This was my generation and they understood me. But some elders teaching in front of me failed to have similar thoughts.

I have studied in Maharashtra, a place marred by onslaught of abuses by the likes of Thackerays on North Indians. But I never felt it in my childhood days spent in schools. I have stayed for two years in Surat, Gujarat. This stay turned out to be useless in terms of learning Gujarati but I was never mocked for that in the state. The Mysore training is the epitome of cultural diversity. A place packed with trainees from different states in India and speaking in different languages. But never one would feel lonely or alien in this campus. But cultural differences leave their permanent spots somewhere in our lives. I had the bitter taste of it in my B.Tech days. Few years back, my older cousin, in fear of not getting selected in a job interview, lied about his birthplace.        

I cannot learn new languages easily. My only excuse of having learnt to read and write in English is because that was taught right since childhood days. I suck at learning other new languages. So what shall I do? Get myself humiliated by others for this for the rest of my life? The worst is that I cannot speak fluently in the local language of my own hometown-Bhojpuri. But never once did anybody scold or abuse me for that.   

Some say let it go. Or why am I so bothered? Why in the first place did I feel humiliated? I don’t understand someone’s language and the other person doesn’t understand mine so I shouldn’t give a damn. And most importantly I shouldn’t feel humiliated.  One of my favourite writers claims that Gandhiji has said- happiness and sorrowness should be in your command and not others. I nod at such inspiring lines but when I look back at my past, somewhere down the line, it still hurts. I just wish I hadn’t gone through those traumatic moments back in college. I wish people would have stopped taunting for my inability to understand their local dialect. Was it my ‘fault’ that I wasn’t born in that state and learn their language since my birth? Is this even justified, mocking someone because he/she cannot speak your local language? 

If I meet anybody in trains, buses or in my own campus, hailing from different state and not understanding Hindi, I switch to English. Sometimes when people do not understand English, I switch to sign language or try talking to them by hunting for a person who would understand their local language and act as a translator. But never have I mocked anybody for it. I have never underestimated anyone just because they cannot speak in English or Hindi properly. Last month, I went to Mangalore where there was some miscommunication between me and my housekeeper. She couldn’t understand Hindi nor English properly and I didn’t understand her local language. So I started pointing at things and explaining to her which things I wanted done. She nodded and from their onwards we started communicating in our own invented and patented sign language which couldn’t be decoded by others! :)

So in future if anybody wants to meet me and talk to me in your local language, do not hesitate. Please come and join me and my surrounding translators if you have any work! Do not raise your eyebrows and look bewildered when you come to know that I have been to your state for a stay of 5-6 years but still cannot speak your language. Because that’s me. You won’t find a second human being on Earth like me. After failing terribly in learning my own native language of Bhojpuri properly, I cannot guarantee you that I would be learning yours anytime soon.