A Beautiful Tradition

Heard about a beautiful tradition practiced by many tharavaads (traditional homes) in the Kerala of a bygone era. The elderly lady of the house would ensure after dinner each night, that one of the younger women go near the gate & look around for anybody who may be in need of a meal.

She would then loudly call out in Malayalam : “Athazha pattinikar indo?” (“Are there any hungry people out there?”)

She would say this once or twice & in case there was someone hungry, they would be given food.

The family which practiced this would be known in the area so there would also be the regulars waiting for a meal.

It was only after this, that the gates would be closed for the night.

What a lovely tradition.

The Manganiyar Seduction

At the Attakkalari festival last month, I got to watch the brilliant ‘Manganiyar Seduction’…it was an absolutely mind-blowing musical performance…like I had never seen or imagined.

The long traffic jams we endured en route to the venue were worth it!

The troupe hails from the state of Rajasthan in India & have dazzled audiences around the world – if they perform in your city, don’t miss it!

The Great Indian Wedding & the Bane of Interference

 

Greetings from the CouchCoach.

Having been a student of psychology, I have always been fascinated by the human mind – what makes people think the way they do & do the things they do. Me included.

Today I write about an angle of  the big fat Indian wedding famous the world over & the accompanying but less known ingredient called interference (for life) in many cases.

Yes, this accompaniment is a normal part of several marriages after the wedding ceremony &  festivities. 

Interference by in-laws in the lives of the newly wed.

The scope of in-laws include Father-in-law, Mother-in-law, Brother-in-law, Sister-in-law, Grandmother-in-law…okay I’ll stop with that, no virtual smelling salts to revive those who pass out reading the list.

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It is a common aspiration for Parents to see their children settle down.  And this aspiration is generally shared by well-meaning relatives & friends. It is extremely common in India for almost the whole community you associate with wanting to see you settled! Which is not a bad thing provided they don’t go overboard.

Settled to a large extent means – married & financially secure (for a daughter the recommended path is ideally Business Tycoon, Doctor, Engineer, Lawyer) , children (minimum 2) & happily ever after. I referred to this famous  settle down syndrome in one of my earlier posts, when I met Mrs. D.

I wish the noble intention ended there.

But, no.

After the marriage happens & all these well wishers  join in the celebration of  the couple’s new life one would imagine they would now give the newly weds the time & space to begin a new life together…along with the blessings they heaped up on the couple during the ceremonies.

Unfortunately it isn’t so in many cases.

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It is very common for families to want their beloved children to ‘settle down, settle down, settle down’ & then the very same parents / now in-laws ‘interfere, interfere, interfere’ in the couples life. Never been able to figure this one out!

This is more so in the case of the young married man who brings his wife into the threshold of his  home to begin a new life.

I love the Indian family & support system we have which beats out several others around the world. I am not talking about couples paying scant respect to family, tradition or to the wisdom of elders. I am talking about the need for letting go in those cases where in-laws suddenly feel they need to manage, monitor & control their newly wed child’s life…spouse, finance & personal choices included.

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You – as the Parents of the couple were longing for the day they would get married.

You dreamt of it. You planned. You waited. You sweated. You saved.

It finally happened.

Yes!

Now, can you please leave the young couple alone to discover their new life together on this journey called marriage?

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Most often the protagonist is the daughter-in-law who has to make the maximum adjustment as she moves in to her new home, be it living with her husband’s  family or setting up a new place in some cases.

You – as a Parent may have been down that road some decades & beyond. You may know exactly what ticks with your beloved son or unnerves your dearest daughter.  Please be aware that your relationship with your child is not being threatened.

Let’s take the more common case of the beloved son, who has now attained status of  Husband.

You – who were so longing to see your son settled, why are you now so insecure? Why does his new companion become a threat? Wasn’t it at your insistence that he gave in & got married to the woman you selected to be his companion for life in the first place? Didn’t you check her background thoroughly? Didn’t the horoscopes match? Weren’t you the one who was convinced it was a good alliance? Why do you now stand in the way of their conjugal bliss… if at all they even have a chance to attain it?

While the slant to my story may be the arranged marriage, the same is true in love marriages too.

The sheer unwillingness of some Parents to allow young couples to start life on their own is scary. Regardless of whether they stay with his Parents or stay separately &  get remote-controlled.

Parents please learn to let go! In so doing you will draw your children closer to yourself eventually.

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To the Parents (& siblings) of the new Husband

Please don’t interfere with your daughter-in-law  be it her choice of decor, style of dressing, faith, friends, cooking or career. She managed well all these years, thank you. Yes we all know she’s not & never will be your clone. If that’s what you’re looking for you better make it know upfront before getting your other kids married. Respect her individuality, encourage her independence.

Sisters-in-law – don’t be threatened about the new lady in your brother’s life. Be a positive support & you earn yourself two good friends for life!

To the Parents (& siblings)  of the new Wife

Please don’t be unduly critical of your son-in-law – be it his choice of friends, career (the famous “in comparison” to your own or other son’s or whoever else’s) or taking him to task for not indulging your daughter the way you did. He was & never will be your clone. Respect his position & give him the space to be himself.

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The Bible records in the Book of Genesis – “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Chapter 2 : 24)

Such amazing wisdom from the ancient Scriptures.

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I speak from a purely India perspective. I don’t know how prevalent in-law domination & interference is in a young married couples life  in other parts of the world . In fact I’d love to hear back on the same for my own education.

Thank you for taking the time to read.

Flavours of India

       

India is a country of incredible diversity, a land where ancient customs, cultures &  religions co-exist.

The strength of the fabric lies in the mutual tolerance woven in with threads of diverse cultures, religions & viewpoints.

These are just some of my favourite flavours of India.

It lies in the simple & ordinary everyday life.

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The shout of the fruit & vegetable vendors hollering from the gate, calling out to the only person they deal with in the house.

Jasmine, marigold garlands & other beautiful flowers heaped in baskets as you pass by market streets or temples.

The haunting strain of MS Subbulakshmi singing  Suprabhatam in the early morning quiet playing from some remote house far away.

The sombre sound of a cock crowing in recognition of a new day. In urban cities it is a rarity to have one in the neighborhood.

The watchman’s transistor radio belting some seedy movie mix in the park.

The cry of the Rangoli seller as she makes her way through the streets with the basket on her head.

The aroma & taste of pure filter coffee which you get in a tumbler when visiting  South Indian families & experience simple hospitality.

The fast disappearing sight of the salt seller as he pulls his cart of rock salt through the streets calling to whoever will hear & respond.

The symbols of so many religions & cultures amongst my fellow Indians as we go through everyday life.

This is so distinctly India.

Love it.

Guten Tag Berlin!

Berlin, circa 2008…

What I enjoyed about this city –

–  getting to see history at close quarters

–  getting to actually see the remaining parts of the Berlin Wall

–  the graffiti which captures the spirit of the city, carried in an earlier post  Street Art

–  being a part of the 200,000 odd crowd which thronged the Tiergarten to witness Barack Obama’s speech 

–  walking through the famous Brandenburger Tor

–  staying in East Berlin at Prenzlauer Berg,  über cool & youthful spirit,  home to students & artists

–  the sidewalk cafés of Prenzlauer Berg which served those amazing desserts

–  getting to attend George Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess Opera…terrific

–  art, history & culture blend in

–  truly Berlin, truly enjoyable.

Hover over the image for a brief description of some of these pictures.

Isle Rügen

Rügen is Germany’s largest island located in the Baltic Sea.

Placid & picturesque with cobbled roads, the azure sea, chalky cliffs & brilliant scenery…

Rügen & Stralsund, which is not too far away make for a most memorable visit. Photos are from both places –

Sunlight on the Church at 9PM…