Coddled much?

Disclaimer: All opinions here are purely mine and I am open to discussing them with you over a cup of coffee. Any offense taken is not intended and is the perspectiveĀ of the reader alone šŸ˜€

How thick skinned are you to criticism? How much of direct taunting, chiding or blunt opinions can you handle? I recently had an experience where a 16 year old took offense because I asked him/her to “read my previous email completely and answer my questions before replying”. This statement merely seemed to be a task to work onĀ and something to improve on next time to me. But then I was told that this was very harsh. I recalled my mental state when I was 16 and chuckled. This statement seems so mild compared to what we are told in Indian schools/ homes to push us to succeed. I was called an idiot on a daily basis. The funniest part is, I didn’t seem to get hurt, but merely accepted my fault or argued back and moved on. My brain cells then went a little bit deeper and thought, why are we so cautious about dealing with school kids? Has the internet scared us all? Is the slightest rap on the shoulder now considered bullying? If so, how do you tell any youngster (in school/ early college) anything?

Indian upbringing was a different story in an admittedly different era. We had no phones, no internet and our time was spent in the company of classmates, friends and family. We got teased, had arguments and learnt to resolve issues betweenĀ ourselves. Our playtime forced us to form teams, live up to expectations of the team mates or suffer the consequences of skipping turns of being the unfortunate soul to retrieve the ball from a strict neighbor. Almost everyone never complained to elders and any such person who brought their mom/dad to intervene in our affairs was cold shouldered. Today, it is perfectly okay to go off complaining, accusing and utilizing the system to meet our goals. The abuse of the protection provided to us today is leading to certain consequences that weren’t considered in the first place.

Internet bullying is awful and a heinous crime. I am in complete agreement. Today we live in fear of divulging the slightest information for fear of mishandling or wrongful misdoings. Especially in tweens or young adults who are new and headily experiencing the good and bad of the cyber era, our fear is justified. But is telling anyone they should do better also hurt as much? Does that immediately count as being a bully? How much coddling do you need to give youngsters to prevent them from being completely spoilt? I believe in calling spade a spade and enforcing this as early as possible. Accepting the fact that not everything you do is perfect and any criticism is actually opening an avenue for improvement is key for success later in life. I have seen kids these days who are applauded for the most mundane things, things that areĀ basic human behaviour/skills. There is a fine line between encouraging one to do better and just coddling someone so much that they can no longer take a no. It worries me that we are moving to the latter. Graduation parties are another pet peeve. Do you deserve a 50 person, huge bash at a gaming arcade with catered food for completing sixth grade? Why celebrate an achievement of a normal human being to be recognized as of average caliber? Ā It also adds to the feeling of over achievement when in reality it isn’t.

I believe this toughness is slowly going out of people. The acceptance of failure or the acknowledgement that improvement is possible is suddenly not inculcated in a person when they grow up. They have to be tuned to these opinions. After all, we as people are work in progress. We are slowly learning, tumbling, fumbling through life. Growing up, when internet penetration in our daily lives was not as much, those boundaries seemed sufficient. Now,we need to also define what is acceptable and not just what isn’t. Slowly, the younger generation will turn out to be even more spoilt and unapologetic – just because you never told them a no.

Think about it. Meanwhile, let me go apologize to a 16 year oldĀ for telling them to read my instructions completely.

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A fine balance

It is often said that this generation lacks manners. Elders complain about being ignored by the Whatsapping, Snapchatting generation and insist that good, polite behavior is rarely found these days. Ever since I joined the workforce i.e. the real world after the bubble of graduate school, however, I have been in a quandary. Direct communication, blunt evaluations and straight talk is encouraged. It helps solve problems, evaluate situations and once such an expectation is communicated, life becomes easier. It is a non-bureaucratic formula that eliminates the red-tape and fosters an almost peer relationship among the working team. In my limited experience in the corporate world, this seems to work really well. It took a little bit of time to adjust, given how accustomed we are to drafting our responses to seniors with utmost care and the tendency to immediately accept the ideas/suggestions given by those senior to us in the workplace.
But it is a tricky transition to personal relationships. Once you step out of your corporate zone, those rules seldom reply. I am not debating the minimum necessity of decency, manners or polite talk. However, the tendency to be blunt and direct lingers on. I have always suffered from the habit of being a bit too frank and direct, much to the chagrin of those around me. It then gets tricky, how direct is too direct? Do you start taking offense of blunt opinions? I think achieving this balance is the most tricky of all on a daily basis. To add to the woes, there is the technological burden – what to do if your friend has “Seen” your messages and not responded? Do you terminate friendships once you see the double blue tick marks but no responses for a day? Can a question like – why haven’t you responded since yesterday, break relationships?
Or maybe it is easier to shut up and nod your head. Alas, sometimes, that too is mistaken for something else. For a straight-talking, less densely brained Sagittarian, striking a fine balance between politeness, directness and incisiveness is the hardest task of all!!

I miss festivals

It has been so long since I celebrated Diwali or any other puja at home, I’ve forgotten what it is like. It has been more than 10 years. I felt a pang of nostalgia and sadness hit me like a train when I saw a Diwali ad before a youtube video. Another Diwali gone by, another season of celebrations I missed. Sometimes I wonder why? Why do I punish myself by being away from people I love the most and missing everything that makes life memorable. 10 years. Actually no…it is 11. Crap.
The feels.

Girl-Talk: Exes

I recently read a fabulous blog which concludes in this absolutely true statement.

A man is the sum of his ex-girlfriends.
Ā 
I so agree. She then talks about (yes, it has to be a girl’s blog right?) how you actually do good karma when you “train” a man well. Ā I firmly believe a relationship changes both parties involved. While thousands of wife jokes do the rounds with marriage being described as end of happy times, I think the happy times end for the girl as well. You are suddenly thrust into this scenario where you have most of the responsibility ( oh yea now male chauvinists can flare up) and a late-twenty to early-thirty year old to take care of. Bah. Wait, I’m digressing from the topic.Ā 
Exes are always a touchy topic. I call them the ‘X-files’. I never know what is the best way to deal with it or if one should open those files at all. I know of a friend’s older sibling who got married recently and being the extreme shy and docile girl she is, neverĀ inquiredĀ about her suitor’s past. It is funny how one can just block out the past years of your existence and start fresh. I always want to know because I firmly believe in that one line about you being a sum of your exes. I agree it is uncomfortable- almost like excavating all the past memories,the past happiness, joys everything. But I’d rather be with a man who has an X-file much rather than not. Because the most important thing a relationship teaches you is compromise and I am not ready to teach someone that.
I’ve learnt a lot about relationships from my past. I have transitioned slowly from a doormat to someone who knows what she can now live with. When I look back at my college self, I wonder how naive I could be.
So girls, I think it is a good thing to have a past. Because, in reality most of us don’t end up with our first crushes/loves. If your guy has a past too, stop fretting about it and learn from it. It is loads better than being with someone who has none!
Disclaimer: My opinions only. Also, mostly meant for girls.
PS: Reason for posts on consecutive days is a bad cold and cough.

End of an era

Today was a special day. A day so special I celebrated it in the ultimate way possible – by doing nothing but reading mindless posts on reddit. Ask me why. It marks an end of my graduate life as a student. No no Im not graduating yet, but now have turned into a full time researcher. To cut the story short, I’m done with classes !!!

It feels weird to think classes are done. From our earliest memories, a major chunk of our life has been in a classroom. Kindergarten, oh wait pre-school, school that lasts a good twelve fantastic years save for the last four, college and for me graduate school. It’s been twenty one years of classroom style education. It has it’s pros and cons but that remains an integral part of our lives so far. From the bench scribblers to the back bench rowdys or the front bench nerds, a class defined people and tagged them for life. To think that I won’t be sitting in a class , waiting for it to end by scanning my watch and wondering if a second was actually this slow, to mugging for exams and pulling all nighters over old papers and cheat sheets feels a little bad. But hey, I couldn’t actually wait for them to get over this time because frankly, I cannot be twenty four and still do homework!!!

That brings me to another milestone. The yet-another-birthday-ruined-by-exam-saga has finally ended.
Exams, ruining my birthdays since 1990. Adios.

End of an era

Today was a special day. A day so special I celebrated it in the ultimate way possible – by doing nothing but reading mindless posts on reddit. Ask me why. It marks an end of my graduate life as a student. No no Im not graduating yet, but now have turned into a full time researcher. To cut the story short, I’m done with classes !!!

It feels weird to think classes are done. From our earliest memories, a major chunk of our life has been in a classroom. Kindergarten, oh wait pre-school, school that lasts a good twelve fantastic years save for the last four, college and for me graduate school. It’s been twenty one years of classroom style education. It has it’s pros and cons but that remains an integral part of our lives so far. From the bench scribbling to the back bench rowdys or the front bench nerds, a class defined people and tagged them for life. To think that I won’t be sitting in a class , waiting for it to end by scanning my watch and wondering if a second was actually this slow, to mugging for exams and pulling all nighters over old papers and cheat sheets feels a little bad. But hey, I couldn’t actually wait for them to get over this time because frankly, I cannot be twenty four and still do homework!!!

That brings me to another milestone. The yet-another-birthday-ruined-by-exam-saga has finally ended.
Exams, ruining my birthdays since 1990. Adios.

Need For Whisky and Food

The other day, my (new) roomies and I got into a long discussion about Chennai and the amazing plethora of restaurants it offered. Each one had a favourite, from the all time 14 pcs Mini Idlis costing 21 rupees and some paisa (they knew exactly) in any Saravana Bhavan to the tangy Pani Puris at Gangotree or the lovely Pongals (both sweet and salty) in donnais in Murugan Idlis. Gosh! It was only then we realized how badly we missed those Bhagyas (a small shop near West Mambalam station) selling extremely greasy, unhygenic but out-of-the-world Gobi Manchurians or the early morning scenes of various coffee and tea kadais making hot coffee and idlis or walking into any of the million Vasantha / Saravanaa bhavans or Komalas or Udipis or Sangeethas and enjoying a hot delicious meal.

I am sure only a Chennai-ite knows what I am talking about here. To others it might seem like a list of restaurants in Chennai. The feeling is even more intense when all you get nearby is creamy, greasy pasta or cold breakfasts like waffles or bagels and dark non-milky weird coffee (which I guess I can never like!). I really think American cuisine is second worst in the world, the top being Scandinavian. The only way they know to get anything tasty is to either fry it or coat it with a layer of grease and grill it. I have never even dared to walk into any of the McDonalds/ Papa Johns here because I finally do realize how junky junk food can get. Seminars are followed up by boxes upon boxes of cookies or chips (both cold) and the mixers offer you trays upon trays of raw vegetables. I am not the complaining or choosy variety so I do not usually complain but in a year you start longing for something you can just dig into, and nothing here is remotely as healthy or tasty as Asian esp. South Asian Cuisine.
Chennai spells f-o-o-d to any true South Indian, worse if he/she has returned from the USA. All of us recounted how our relatives just ate and ate and ate when they came home almost as if they starved here. The food here is unhealthy and very fatty, no wonder everyone has the standard 15-pound weight gain during the first year. Cheese, cream cheese, butter, margraine, cookies, lard, dips..ARGH! I so want some nice green chilly or tomato chutney. (Salsa comes close..but CLOSE thats it)

So, Im going home and I cant wait. I need Whisky. Gosh, I cant believe its almost been a year without my dear doggy. I only saw his boring stares at the computer screen during our Skype Chats this past year and that kept me going. I’m sure he’z abandoned me by now, hopping on to more reliable people like my mom and dad who dont just leave him for a year and run off, but he wont forget. I cant wait to get welcomed by him in the usual style and he prances around frantically licking my face and jumping all over. Gosh, I can almost smell him now. My biggest shopping bag is from Petco filled with all the stuff he’d need. I am so excited. Finally! Whisky! Yaaay. I cant wait to have him follow me all over the house and put up with all his antics. WHISKYYYY Im coming!

And yeah..Chennai šŸ˜€ I’m coming for you. I’m coming for the innumerable hot idlis and dosas that my mom’s gonna make and the lovely wafting smell of sambhar. I m coming for the heat and the dirt and the Grand Sweets adai-avials and the pastes and the Ambika applams and podis. I’m coming for the pickles and the nellu ennai oil baths with freshly ground shikakai and of course fresh filter coffeee.

Damn this week. Fly away! šŸ˜€