A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

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Pensive ramblings

The act of moving on

Posted by Pepper on September 6, 2016

When I was little, I mean two ponytails and teddy bears little, I was conditioned into believing my life would follow a typical progression and I would be the mother of two kids by the time I hit 30. I would have a high paying job I love and look forward to everyday. I would also have a dog. And a fun and happening life. I admit, my conjured image of an ideal life was more driven by social conditioning than my own desires. Plus, I was young and stupid.

Having said that, I still didn’t imagine myself not having a single child by the time I turned 30. I suppose I got older a lot sooner than I expected to. I mean, I always wanted to have kids from the time I can remember. I just didn’t know when. When I got married, Mint told me in no uncertain terms that he never wanted to have kids. The word was ‘never’. While such statements did worry me at times, I knew in my heart that he was merely freaked out by the idea of raising a child. He would overcome his fear when the time was right. Also, we did have a lot of time on our hands. We married young.

Time as we all know is a slippery factor. It passes before you know it. All of a sudden, I found myself anxious about my age. I decided it was time to push Mint to think. After a lot of debates and discussions, he ‘agreed’ to have a child. This would worry me at times. Because he only agreed. He still didn’t seem to want it enough himself. But he told me this was the best he could give me. He wasn’t sure he would ever want kids desperately. He would only agree and maybe feel happy about his decision at a later point. But right now, agreement and an assurance that he would give parenting his best shot was all I would get. After more debates and discussions, we decided the time was right. After some more thought, we decided our first choice was to adopt a baby girl. When we signed up for adoption at the beginning of the year, I was ecstatic to get the ball rolling.

Little did I know then that our ride was going to be tumultuous, to say the least. Things changed rapidly. Our personal situation became so precarious that we could no longer be sure about adoption. But until we are sure we can’t adopt, we don’t want to give it up. And unfortunately, it is taking us some time to be sure of that. Our circumstances are making us dangle on the edge. And I find myself wondering everyday. How long should we hold on to this dream? Is it meant to be? Should we start thinking about having a biological baby if adoption isn’t working out? In the end, we decide to wait a little bit longer for adoption to work out before we think of embarking on the journey to have a biological child. This waiting however is wearing me out.

Mint often asks me, why I am so sure I am ready to have a baby. I think my desire to have a child right now is still mild. It hasn’t peaked, but I sense it is there. I think I want a child because I am bored of the monotony. I want to experience something intensely challenging and there are few things as challenging as parenthood. I know having a child will be exceptionally demanding. It will shake us and make us refocus. I like the sound of that. Plus watching a child grow is fascinating. That, and the truth that I can’t deny. I want a child because most people around me have one. And the world has led me to believe that I should have a child by now.

Sadly, since our personal situation is so wobbly and we don’t yet know what path we will take to have a child (and that we shouldn’t even be thinking of having a child until things settle down for us), I know waiting is imminent. A baby will most likely not be on the cards for us for a long time. A year? Maybe. More than that? Perhaps. I have no answers. The thought of my passing age makes me panic but there is little I can do other than convincing myself that though I may be 30, I am not that old. A delay worth a year or two might hurt me a little but it will not kill me.

The social pressure is momentous. Either it has escalated all of sudden, or I am falling prey to it now more than ever. At first, people would ask me when we planned to have a baby. It would anger me and I would respond based on the circumstances and who the questioning authority was. I would either find a polite way of asking them to f*ck off or I would brush it off and laugh. Things seem to have worsened now. From asking me when we plan to have a baby, people have now graduated to asking me if I am pregnant. This has made me cry twice. I’ve thrown a fit, wondering if I look that fat or have such a protruding belly.

People are ruthless and insensitive. I was asking a friend to drop by since she hasn’t yet been to our home, and she kept saying she would come only when I gave her a reason to come. It took me a while to understand her implication. She then went on to say her son would want some company and there was no child in our home. I really couldn’t think of how to respond. It’s just that much harder when people your age do it to you. You can’t even blame it on the mindset of a past generation.

And then there was my yoga instructor. Or rather my ex yoga instructor. She lives in our apartment complex and has known my family for ages. She conducts classes in the community hall. While I was trying to get some inputs on some muscle strengthening exercises, she told me she would rather show me some exercises that will help me conceive. She went on to add that the said exercises have worked for many women and that I would surely benefit. Boundaries anyone? I guess that concept is unheard of in India. I’m sorry, but if I ever need your help in conceiving, I will let you know, thank you. To say that I was enraged would be an understatement. It explains why the said teacher turned into an ex teacher.

Wherever I go, I am hounded by the baby question. The badgering is incessant and merciless. Even if I respond politely, I am subjected to more intense grilling. The fact that we’ve been married for six years makes us undergo constant scrutiny and interrogation. It has reached a point where I have begun to avoid social interaction.

Every move of mine is examined, inspected and dissected. If I am at a party and I refuse alcohol, people ask me if I am pregnant. God forbid I have a stomach upset or some unexplained nausea. People will move on to congratulating me. I feel so suffocated, I am scared to even let out a sigh, least it is interpreted the wrong way. I feel vulnerable wherever I go. I guess I didn’t find the questioning and the investigation half as grueling earlier because at that point I genuinely didn’t want to have kids. Now I think I am ready to have kids and the same questions sting me a lot more.

It’s easy to ask people to ‘not care’ about what others say. I am guilty of telling my unmarried friends to not care about the so called well meaning relatives’ nudges and jabs, asking them to get married. At times it is easy to ignore, but other times it is not. And it is especially hard when you struggling to achieve the same thing you are expected to have.

As for me, I think a lot about time lines. How important are they? What do you do when the time you take to achieve some goals overshoots the time limit you set out for yourself. Sometimes I wonder if our society is devised in such a way that it requires your life path to be constantly aligned with your peers. We usually do find it easier to connect with folks who are in the same phase as us. Whether it is the phase of choosing a partner and getting married, or experiencing parenthood, or the same level of seniority in professions, etc. The moment your lives stop running in parallel, you are made to feel a sense of alienation. Is this why we are pressured into following what is a typical trajectory?

If you’ve chosen differently or life didn’t happen to you at the same time, you’re going to be made to feel like a misfit or a social outcast, depending on how different your choice is and where you are placed at that time. I know we’ve chosen differently. And since adoption is still our first choice for having a baby, I think I have to prepare myself for a lifetime of being under the glare. I know I have to stand up and face the invasive spotlight that will always follow me. Much as I’d like, our unconventional choice doesn’t let me scurry into the shadows and live in oblivion.

Whether it is getting married, or reaching a certain milestone in your career, or having a baby, or buying a house when the world thinks it is time you should own one, or having baby no. 2, the probing never ends. I am actively working on desensitizing myself. One day, I know I will reach that zen emotional state. Hopefully, my posts will map the path I took to get there. Until then, I will continue to silently cringe at the comments and push myself to move on..

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Lasting impressions

Posted by Pepper on August 20, 2016

Some people touch your life only for a brief period, but leave behind such a lasting impression that you end up remembering them forever. She was one of them. The first thing I did when I walked into college on the first day was to go through the list of professors who would be teaching us. And I saw her name there. Luku Sanya! She would be teaching us Effective Communication. Wow.

I was elated. When I told my mom this, she was as impressed. Ms. Luku Sanyal was one of the earliest faces of Doordarshan and one of the first English news readers of our country. Of course, she was a familiar name and my parents held her in high regard. She was the one who read the news to the whole country when Indira Gandhi was arrested. She gave news updates about the ‘Emergency’ in our nation.

I was terribly excited by the mere idea of being trained under her. Communication is my most favourite subject. And to have the fortune of learning from such a legend was too good to be true. I waited with baited breath for her to arrive in class on our first day. I distinctly remember the thump of my heart when she walked in. What an astounding personality.

I learnt from her later on that an “ordinary looking person can SCREAM personality”. Her words. She was the one who made me realise that it wasn’t about how good you looked or how pretty your physical features were. It was all about the way you carried yourself. And needless to say, she carried herself remarkably well.

Luku ma’am as she was fondly called, taught us Effective Communication for two semesters and Radio Studies for another. Since I have always been so much in love with the field of communication, I used to hang on to every word she said in class. I know I owe a lot to her. She greatly fixed my accent, diction, speech and language skills.

She taught me how to pronounce words like ‘jewelry’, ‘pronunciation’, ‘product’, ‘Wednesday’ and more the right way. Words that have a seemingly simple pronunciation but ones I realised I had been messing up all this while. Her constant reminders of “there is a difference between how you pronounce V and W” and that we should ‘Cut our lips when we talk’ to pronounce each syllable correctly will always stay with me.

I was intrigued by her life. She almost always had a cigarette in her hand, which she would duly finish in the department office before entering our classroom. For a woman in her late 60’s, I thought she was brave. She hardly discussed her personal life, but I knew she had been in a violent marriage.

A few weeks ago, I saw an FB post put up by one of our department heads that said that Luku ma’am was critically ill. A week later, we heard she passed away. Very soon, it was all over the news.

Times of India carried a piece.  “News reading legened Luku Sanyal is no more

DNA carried another piece. “Tributes pour in as legendary news reader, writer Luku Sanyal passes away

There were other articles floating around. I read all of them. I went back and read her earlier interviews too. For days, I couldn’t shake off that feeling of remorse. It still hasn’t left me completely. I think of her time and again. But now, that feeling of remorse is slowly being replaced by pride and gratitude. She was such an amazing person. She helped me build my skills. I take such pride in saying she was my teacher.

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M for Musings

Posted by Pepper on May 26, 2016

In the recent past, I’ve spent many hours contemplating about life. What is the right way of living it? Of course, I haven’t found an answer to that. But all my introspection has led to some clarity. I know in this life, we all strive to achieve one common goal. Happiness. But unfortunately, I think our idea of happiness is skewed.

When I ask myself what it is that makes me happy, I can rattle off a list. Wearing good clothes makes me happy. Eating out and exploring different kinds of food makes me happy. Reading good books makes me happy. Travel and holidays make me very happy. Every item on my list has one common requirement. Money. It almost made me believe that happiness has a cost price. Until I realised with a thwack one day, that it doesn’t. My happiness doesn’t need to be dependent on any external stimuli. In order to be happy, all I need to do is, well, be happy. It is simple and it is free.

The more I think of this life, the more worn out I feel by its complexities. All I really want is a simple life. I think I can find true happiness in simple every day living. I’ve reached a stage where I find myself unwilling to work under highly stressful conditions. Not even for good money. And I also seem to have developed a low threshold for stress. A work day that is longer than 8 hours, a bad commute, a mean boss, a very demanding work culture. For me, all of that equals stress. I see a lot of my friends voluntarily choosing this life. They get good money at the end of the day. The wake up at the crack of down, work hard in the morning to put together lunch boxes, leave their homes in a rush, go through a crazy commute, go through their work days, rush home, feel exhausted, put together dinner and then crash. That is their life on loop.

I’d rather earn less money and pick a peaceful job. These jobs would also pay me less. Simple living is based on the principle that by lowering our expenses, we can lower the time spent earning money. That free time can be used for a variety of purposes. I love the sound of wading through life at my pace, pursuing my interests and having time to volunteer.

I know it is unrealistic on my part to expect myself to embrace all ideas that Simple Living promotes. But I have started taking baby steps in that direction. I try to lower my consumption. I am going to try reduce my possessions. But I know there are some things I can’t give up. Eating out and exploring different food for one. But I am going to limit that activity to only a few times a month.

We also cannot eliminate debt from our lives. Not until we have cleared our home loan, which will take another decade. Until then, I can revisit my idea of happiness. I can try my best to simplify my life and cut down my wants. I know I am saying this now and I might completely change my tune when I am carried away by the glitz. But I am willing to consider this as an experiment and make a genuine attempt at embracing simplicity.

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 19 Comments »

Day 2 of 3 Day Quote challenge

Posted by Pepper on January 28, 2016

Today’s pick is based on a conversation I had with a friend. I mentioned to her some of my preferences and she laughed. She said I was a bundle of contradictions. I thought about it and realised it couldn’t be more true. But then, doesn’t it hold true for all of us?

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large — I contain multitudes”

— Walt Whitman

I am sure I have shared this quote on my blog in the past. Each time I read it, the truth in it leaves me awestruck. I realise I don’t always have to do things to stay true to the character the world thinks I possess. My character and personality are vast. They contain layers. I identify with different sides at different times, because nothing contains a single meaning or a single truth.

If this is contradictory, so be it! Here is a toast to all our contradictions *Clink*

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3 day quote challenge..

Posted by Pepper on January 22, 2016

A million years ago, Princess Butter had tagged me to do the 3 day quote challenge. I almost forgot about it, until today. There can’t be a better time to take this time. And while I may not post quotes for 3 consecutive days, I sure am going to complete this challenge soon.

The first quote I am picking is probably the most common quote. I bet most of us have seen this one a hundred times. I even have a magnet on my fridge that says this.

172012-Life-Is-A-Journey-Not-A-Destination

 

And yet, I seem to forget this so often. While I can say I am generally quite a happy person, I do find myself setting goals to target a higher lever of happiness all the time. For example, I often find myself saying I will be completely happy once we prepay all our loans. The state of being debt free becomes my destination.

I have had various destinations that I have successfully reached. At one time, my destination was India, quite literally. I firmly believed I will achieve that state of being deliriously happy after we move to India. Once that was accomplished, my destination changed to settling in Bombay and I waited for Mint to find a good job in Bombay to feel that unadulterated joy. My next destination was to buy a home in Bombay.

This thought process isn’t just applicable for long term goals. I tend to rest my happiness on a lot of small achievements too. Maybe I will feel really happy after I fix the burner on our stove. Maybe I will feel totally content after I learn to be in control of our finances. Maybe I will be satisfied with the way our home looks after I hang these warli art figures on the wall. My happiness mantra is always based on getting from point A to point B.

And just like that, when I reach my desired destination, all I do is shift focus and set my sights higher. That is when I like to remind myself, I don’t need to have a destination. Because that is not what life is all about. It is about the experiences that we collect along the way. It indeed is a journey. I don’t have to get anywhere to be happy. Happiness is right here. Even in the small, imperfect and sometimes incomplete things I may be surrounded with. They all add flavor to my journey.

I may have a big loan, a dusty home, not as much money as I’d like, but I have to admit, I do have so much more than all of that. And so far, my journey has been incredible.

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Uncertainty of life..

Posted by Pepper on January 18, 2016

I was about to drop out of the marathon today. It was all okay until a while ago. We were finishing dinner, and then I got a call from a colleague. He told me a business associate who we had just met two weeks ago, and who I had spoken to on phone only yesterday, passed away. I was awfully shocked. And silenced. When I spoke to him on phone yesterday, we scheduled our next meeting, which was going to be on the 20th. I kept thinking if he even in his wildest dreams on the 17th, could have imagined that he will be no more on the 18th.

I was reasonably disturbed. I could also see myself getting into the ‘what is the point of all our shallow pursuits if life if so unreliable’ line of thought. Sigh. Anyway, I’ve told myself very sternly that I cannot dwell into this beyond a point. Because this is really how life is. Completely unpredictable. And people die unexpectedly every single day. I might as well accept that as a lesson and choose the way I want to live my life. In a way, I’ve been served with another reminder to focus on all that matters and to live in the present.

Today, I almost decided to not post. I was so close to not caring about the blogathon, but then decided  in the very end to put up these few lines. I am going to excuse myself and not care about putting up a ‘real’ post. See you tomorrow..

 

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Less is more

Posted by Pepper on January 17, 2016

flipflops

 

During one of our marathon tidy up sessions today, I kept feeling phenomenally irritated by this sight. Those are Mint’s slippers. And I simply cannot fathom why he needs 4 of them. I mean, they are exactly the same kind. Just flipflops in different patterns. I am not even getting into how many shoes he owns. Let’s just talk about these slippers for now. I would probably feel less annoyed if they were shoes of different designs and styles. But why hoard so many things of the same kind? Not like we have a very spacious house or adequate storage space. And really not like he needs so many.

All our life, Mint and I have been hoarders. We have a million clothes, shoes and cartons full of miscellaneous stuff that we have carried with us all the way from the US. We haven’t even unpacked those cartons after all these years because we simply do not have the space or storage to accommodate those things.

In the past few months, I’ve been so exhausted and frustrated with all the excess in my life, it isn’t funny. The more things we own, the more difficult my life seems to get. Wardrobes are difficult to organize with million clothes to fold and fit in. I don’t have enough space to hang the outfits I want to. Other than that, the house seems to get untidy in a jiffy because we have so many things that need to be put in their rightful place, we tend to slack and just let them pile on all flat surfaces.

Part of the reason I have been such a hoarder is because I am terribly sentimental. I attach a sentimental value to every frigging thing. The first item we bought together as a married couple. What my mother gave me when I was moving to the UK. The book the sister and I kept reading throughout our childhood. The watch my dad gifted me on my 16th birthday. It just never ends. I refuse to part with my things even if they are no longer functional.

I’ve realised over time that this attitude is taking me no where. I am accumulating junk at the speed of life. It is adding more chaos to my life than I’m willing to accept. I read somewhere that “Every increased possession loads us with a new weariness.”  I can personally vouch for this. I want to walk on the Buddha path of detachment now.

And I want to pile on less. In a step towards that goal, I ignored the 50% sale at Marks & Spencer. Despite knowing that they were selling the trousers that I wanted so badly. I convinced myself that I didn’t need them. I haven’t shopped much in the past year infact. It has saved me from spending unnecessary money and I have less stuff to worry about.

Unfortunately, Mint still isn’t aligned with the idea of less is more. His million possessions get on my nerves. Hopefully, he will start appreciating a minimalist lifestyle at some point. Until then, I am going to try and focus on decluttering my own life.

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 12 Comments »

Does your partner read your blog?

Posted by Pepper on January 15, 2016

That is the question I was asked recently in an email sent by somebody. Quite an interesting question, I thought. For various reasons, she was especially interested in knowing if Mint reads my blog. Because a) I write quite extensively about the imperfections in my relationship with my in-laws. I have on several occasions spoken about how angry I feel with some of their ideas. And b) I have at times even written about an odd fight or argument I have had with Mint.

So. Is he aware of what I write about his parents and family? The answer is a resounding yes. To start with, let me say Mint does not read my blog regularly. He used to at one time. I don’t know if he lost interest eventually (hah, I should ask him) or if he no longer finds the time to read it regularly. He now reads my blog every fortnight. And he may not always catch up on every post he missed. Having said that, if I write something that I think I want his opinion on, I make it a point to make him read it. And yes, so far, he has read every single post I have written about his parents.

She gave me as an example this post, one I had written 4 years ago. Does it bother Mint when I so openly talk about his mother’s attitude? Well, it doesn’t. You probably need to know Mint a little more to understand how rational and unbiased he is. For one, it doesn’t bother him because he feels exactly the same way about his parents. He is more critical of their flaws than I am. And two, he has always made it clear that this is MY blog and I am free to share my views here.

The same holds true when I write about any argument or fight I have had with Mint. I know he reads those posts and I know they only offer my side of the story, but isn’t that a given, considering this blog is only mine. On the whole, I have to give it to Mint though. He doesn’t question me even after I have written an angry post that doesn’t show him in great light. Even if he feels I was unfair in my depiction of the event, he gives me the freedom to choose what I want to say on my blog. I guess he knows I just want to vent and I will be back to normal soon, but I would probably not extend the same courtesy to him.

And then there is the mushy stuff. I have written so many love filled posts, full of mush. For some strange reason, I am absolutely uncomfortable with letting him read my posts while I am writing them! It makes me utterly conscious. He is welcome to read the post after it is published, but not while I am typing it. I don’t even let him peak into my laptop when I am writing. I know, it doesn’t make sense at all.

I know so many people who don’t feel comfortable with their partners reading their blog. No, not because they lead secret lives or want to hide something. No! It is only because they want the space to be exclusively theirs and they get conscious if they know they are being read by somebody they are so closely connected with. I completely get that. I am fairly conscious of my writing too and long ago we made a rule that Mint would not discuss my blog posts with me unless I asked for it. But again, I really do understand people who are overly conscious if they know they are being read by the one person who they feature so much on their blog. So I am never surprised when I hear people tell me they prefer not to share their blog links with their partners.

What about you? If you do have a partner, are you comfortable with him/her reading your blog? Would you be okay with your future partner reading your blog?

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 35 Comments »

Sounds of silence

Posted by Pepper on January 7, 2016

That’s all I can hear in my head. Usually I try my best to silent my mind. I am quite a hyperactive person and my mind is perennially racing with thoughts. Today I feel, well, quiet. So strange to not have any thoughts distracting me. So I decided to take deep breaths and just listen. Listen to the sounds around me. In the past 5 minutes, I have heard..

– A dog barking in the distance.

– A car reversing.

– A bike going past below our home

– Our neighbour’s 3 year old daughter whimpering (when I suspect her dad was leaving the house to go somewhere)

– Distant sound of TV floating from somewhere in the neighborhood.

And that makes me realise, the sounds are too few. It is mostly quiet. Well, it is 11.20 at night, so there isn’t much activity around my locality. The streets are calm. Most people have returned to their homes. I step out to the balcony and look. Lights in most homes are switched off. I am guessing people are asleep by now. I wonder how many battles they have fought today. How many victories they have celebrated, defeats they have grieved over. I wonder how people went to bed. Whether it was with smiles and joys or fears and concerns.

I love stories. It is probably why I love to read and watch movies. Because both those mediums provide me with good stories. But more than anything else, I love real life stories. I have often wished I could don an invisibility cloak and just watch people around me live their life story.

If I could, I would randomly stop passerbys on the road and ask them who they are, where they came from, where they were heading, what kind of a childhood they had, what they were planning to have for lunch today, who would they go home to and so on. But I can’t. Because this world classifies that as crazy behaviour. Our current set up forbids us from getting too familiar with people we have no apparent connection with. Besides, who has the time and inclination to spare time and divulge personal details to a stranger?

And so, I will watch from the sidelines and build their stories in my head. Right now, I imagine most people around me sleeping. Some in their comfortable homes, some in their little huts, and many other road. Very soon, a new day will begin. People will rise. The hustle will set in. For now, I will soak in the silence. And with that thought, I will go to bed..

 

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End of dilemma

Posted by Pepper on January 2, 2016

In this post, I had written about a pressing dilemma we were facing. I had promised myself I would update this place once we had crossed the bridge and taken a final decision. Like a lot of you guessed, we were trying to decide whether or not we should move back to the US.

Sometime in early October, Mint’s company offered him a new role. But that role was going to be based in the company headquarters in San Francisco. They gave us a week to decide if we wanted to take it. Now, while we always knew that Mint had the option of moving back to the US at some point, I was still taken off guard by the sudden proposal. This opportunity was tied to a significant career jump for him. There were way too many aspects to consider and a week just didn’t seem like enough time to make a decision. So we requested them for more time and they agreed to give us a month.

The big question that was gnawing at me was this: Why were we considering moving back to the US when we consciously chose to move to India. I can safely say that both Mint and I are quite happy with our lives here. Fortunately, we haven’t been put in the category of people who move back to India only to realise that R2I has been a mistake. We love our life here. On most days atleast. Why then, would we want to disrupt this wonderful setting and move back.

The answer to my question is quite simple, and in my heart, I knew it. The one big reason we would consider moving back to the US is the money. Mint and I bought a house in Mumbai when the real estate boom had occurred, benefiting a million people who had invested in property 5 to 10 years ago. But for us, it meant paying a sky high price for something that others had bought for a fraction of a cost not too long ago. We have a humongous mortgage and we are nothing but slaves to EMI. And we have signed ourselves up for this slavery for the next 25 years. By moving to the US (even if it chose to be there only for a few years) and earning in USD, if we could prepay even a part of our massive loan, wouldn’t it be worth it?

We faced two main road blocks. The first was my company. I am running an organisation that does some complex work, I certainly can’t drop the ball and flee. Thankfully, after a lot of brain storming, we were able to come up with a solution for that without toppling over too many things. Our second concern was adopting a baby. US immigration does not assure you a dependent visa for an adopted child. A lot depends on what your location is while adopting a baby, how much time the adopted child has been in your custody before you apply for a visa and so on. We realised, if we decided to take up the US offer, we may well have to give up on the idea of adoption completely and just go ahead with having our own baby at some point.

We did our initial research, calculated our living costs in the Bay Area, calculated our monthly savings, compared them to savings made after future increments in India, weighed pros and cons of life in India and the US and basically tore ourselves up in pieces. Before we knew it, a month was up and we still hadn’t been able to make a decision. The parents, sister and close friends were living on the edge, waiting to hear our final decision. We kept putting them off. Mint’s company further extended their deadline and the extra time made it even harder for us to decide.

On one hand, I loved my life here. Living close to my parents is the biggest blessing. On the other hand, I knew we needed the extra cash. Moreover, the BFF is moving to CA next week! Things would certainly be brighter there with her presence, even if we wouldn’t be living in the same city. Also, Oregano would be around. But again, I felt so unprepared to live away from my parents. We share such a strong connection, I wondered if the deep, deep longing I would suffer from on a daily basis would be worth the money.

I did a lot of soul searching in those few months. I questioned myself and tried to figure out, what it is that I really want in life. I think I have a fair idea now. But at that moment, what I wanted most importantly was an answer. I wanted to make a final call. Living in this state of uncertainty was killing me. And after a lot of deliberations and consideration, we finally decided to let go of the offer and stay put in Bombay. Maybe I will get into the reasons some day. Maybe I will not. All I can say is that arriving at a decision lifted a huge weight off my shoulders.

Can I say we will stay here for good? I’m not sure. We decided to let go of this opportunity for now, but we may consider moving back at some point if we really need the money. Maybe later this year. Maybe after a few more years. Or maybe never. I don’t know. Life is uncertain. For now, I am just so glad we have chosen to be home.

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 28 Comments »

D for Dream

Posted by Pepper on November 24, 2015

I’ve harboured this dream since I was in my teens. I don’t know what thought triggered it, but I decided I would grow up and adopt a baby girl. I was surprised by my own unwavering determination. I had a couple of friends who used to say the same thing when we were kids. Most of them happened to change their mind as they grew. It is after all common to outgrow such fantasies. For some reason, I stuck to my guns and only felt more convinced as time passed.

When I started dating Mint, I shared this thought with him and to my delight, he echoed my sentiments. At that point, even marriage was a mere dream, but we didn’t hesitate to add to our list of dreams. One day, we would get married and one day we would adopt a baby. We both preferred to NOT have our own baby. So we thought maybe we would even adopt two kids.

Eventually, we got married and since we absolutely weren’t thinking of having kids any time soon, we decided to not pursue the adoption topic till we were ready. All along though, I was very vocal about my preferences. I told all and sundry that we preferred to adopt instead of having our own kids. I was surrounded by the same question everywhere. WHY did we want to adopt if we were fully capable of having our own kids. This isn’t easy to answer.

I honestly don’t want to sound martyr like, because I am not. The simple answer to that is that the whole concept made sense to us. There are a million babies that need a home. Why create more? We didn’t really care about the concept of ‘my own blood’ For us, the purpose of having a child was just to have the experience of nurturing a life and expanding our family. So to adopt a baby seemed perfectly logical to us.

Nobody seemed to understand it though. Till date, people tell me the pregnancy journey is something that cannot be replicated and I may eventually regret not experiencing it. I understand and appreciate the fact that it is a marvelous journey. It does feel like a miracle and I am sure it is fascinating. It surely is to me. But honestly, my desire to adopt is far stronger than my desire to experience pregnancy and child birth. So if I were to weigh the two, I know what the winner would be.

And then there are people who tell us how magical it is to see the manifestation of your own genes. Now, this is something I am more convinced by. While I don’t really care about ‘my own’ genes, I do feel curious to see the amalgamation of our genes, Mint and mine. We come from such vastly different regions and spheres, our personalities, our ancestry and history, our lineage, these are all worlds apart.I trace my lineage to Balochistan and Karachi in Pakistan. My clan originated there and lived there for eons. We only moved to Mumbai a few decades ago. My mother tongue is part Punjabi, part Sindhi, part Multani. Our lives have strong influences of Sufi and Islamic traditions, although we are Hindus. Mint’s ancestors inhabited villages in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. He is part Tamil and part Telugu. He grew up under the strong influence of the Dravidian culture and way of life.

Like I said, we come from different worlds and yet through some strange stroke of luck, our paths collided and we ended up together. This does make me curious to know what our union can create. It is interesting to think of how or what our aggregate will be like. More than anything else, it is pure curiosity on my part. Again, I had to stop and question myself on several occasions. What is more important to me? Knowing what our creation will be like? Or adopting a baby ? And though both the options hold weight, my answer mostly tips in favour of adoption.

I really have no idea why, but my heart beats for adoption. That underlying desire overrides all other apprehensions and thoughts. I know I have not been successful in pointing out why I feel so strongly about it. Mint too is on the same page as me. So we have always been 90% in favour of adoption, versus having our own baby. Why the 10% doubt? Here are the reasons.

–  I know I am being really vain when I say this, but I don’t want people to think we are adopting kids because we aren’t capable of having kids of our own. Especially when that is so far from the truth. Mint has asked me several times why I care about what others think. I honestly don’t know. I agree with him when he says that if he have our own baby just to prove to the world that we can, then it will be the stupidest reason ever. I know I just need to get over this crap and care a hoot about what the world thinks. Since the idea of adoption (when you can have your own kids) is seen as bizarre in our country, people are bound to assume that we are adopting only because we can’t conceive. I need to accept this and move on. Also, I hope nobody judges me for this confession I made.

–  Breast feeding. Because of all the blogs I read and all the information that floods me, it has been hammered into my head that without the great benefits of breast milk, a child can suffer a big loss and have a compromised immune system and so on. I really don’t know how much of this is true and how much of it is mere propaganda, but I know it makes me worry about my future formula fed child suffering from a disadvantage.

–   Discrimination. I would say this is our most legitimate concern. While I know we will never discriminate against our child just because he/she is adopted, I worry about the world discriminating in cruel ways. I know it isn’t feasible to not be open about the fact that your baby is adopted and I don’t know what hurdles lie in store. Having said that, I know it largely depends on how self assured your child is, and that again is a task for the parents.

Having said all that, we were still all for adoption. Oh well, 90% like I said. That 10% doubt or fear of not being able to manage the difficulties that come with it always haunts me. It isn’t an easy decision and we have conveniently deferred it until now. We also toyed with the idea of having one baby of our own and adopting the other but that comes with its own set of challenges. We decided to not go this route and adopt two kids, IF we decided to have two kids that is.

After all this time, we thought maybe we should start thinking about planning a baby in some time. And then just when we were beginning to take a clear decision and consider adoption to be our final choice, a part of our circumstances changed. I am not getting into details, but it was beginning to appear that for certain reasons, adoption may not be an option for us, if we go with a certain other choice. That we just have to give up on the idea in that case. That has resulted in added confusion in our lives.

Sigh.. I don’t know anymore, if one day we will be able to adopt or not. Or even if we will plan our own child soon. We may not do either. Or we may force ourselves to pick a stand soon. I really don’t know what the future holds. All I know is that adoption has always been a very precious dream. It is something that will remain close to my heart, no matter what choice we make.

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 57 Comments »

Thoughts on education

Posted by Pepper on August 20, 2015

Towards the end of my last post, I said ‘It makes me sad when I realise that quality education in India is only for the privileged. I know we will never be able to afford this school for our future child. This is such a flawed system. But well, that is a post for another day..

I had no intention of crystallizing my thoughts and writing a post on this subject soon. ‘Another day’ was far away. But I found myself writing *a very long* response to a comment from Hidden Passions. The length of my comment was equivalent to a lengthy post. So I thought I should probably just share my views in a separate post here, instead of replying to her individually. After all, that was a part of my long term agenda anyway.

For the sake of convenience, I am reposting HP’s comment here.

“I agree that some kids get better education over others depending on how rich one’s parents are. You are 100% right there is lot of inequality. No one wants to admit that it is not equal society.

But, here is the thing, one need not go to school for us to have a successful society. Some times, education can be waste of money and time for some. The trade/skill can be learned from their family or opportunities around to live a successful life, that does not mean that they should not be given the opportunity in the first place. The government spends ton of money on education, those public schools, IIT’s , IIM’s, all other colleges, does it mean that you want to get in free for nothing? society pays for it in the form of taxes. Do I have to pay for others in return for nothing? . There is no ideal solution for this problem.

There is limit for everything, and only some people can get into it. There are central government run schools and the students are well groomed for a very nominal fees, for instance kendriya vidyalaya’s, bhartiya vidya bhavan’s, army, navy schools and many such schools exists? they are open to common people as well, and if they can get into it, they are no less than many people educated at high-profile private institutions. Infact, I met many successful people who got their education entirely from government institutes, in some sense they know more about hard work and hardship with limited resources and are giving back to society in some or the other form. Does it mean, only by sending kids to those international schools be the kids successful? are there any statistics to back it ?

Overall, IMHO – there is price one should pay to get something. After all, nothing comes for free. Some one has to pay price for it somewhere.”

For easy reference, I am going to be sharing my thoughts and responses to her views by extracting parts of her comment. My responses are to HP, because I am copying the comment I composed. Her comment and its extracts have been made bold.

‘here is the thing, one need not go to school for us to have a successful society. Some times, education can be waste of money and time for some. The trade/skill can be learned from their family or opportunities around to live a successful life’

What does education mean to you? Do you believe the purpose of education is only to enable you to earn a livelihood? Sure, like you say, a trade or a skill can be acquired through family expertise. In fact, I am a big believer of informal learning and education. That skill you acquire may actually turn into your profession. You do not necessarily need formal schooling to earn money.

But is education all about the power to earn? For me, the answer is a resounding ‘No!’. I think a good education teaches you how to think, question and evaluate the choices we make in our everyday life. It teaches you to be imaginative and makes you explore new ideas. It makes you truly progress.

We are all products of our learning and education (both formal and informal). Yet, we’ve all seen ‘highly educated’ people living lives guided by their very narrow thinking. Gender biases, disparity, lack of logic, misogyny, disrespect for the environment, blind adherence to regressive customs are all factors that rule their lives.

How do you explain educated people behaving like that? I think it is because our education only gave us information on different subjects. It only taught us what to think. Not how to think. Indian education system syllabus encourages rote learning. We are given data and are asked to memorize it. We are never taught how to use that data. We’ve never really been taught how to think. You don’t need fancy schools to have a good education, even home schooling can work wonders, as long as you are exposed to quality education.

You’ve said that, ‘The trade/skill can be learned from their family or opportunities around to live a successful life’. What does a ‘successful life’ mean to you? Rather, what does a successful society mean to you? One which boasts of 100% employment? Or what is your idea? Do you think Indian society is successful? If yes, what does it owe its success to? If not, what do you think is the problem?

I have a feeling our definitions of ‘education’ and ‘successful society’ differ. Because unlike you, I will never believe education can be a waste of time and money for anybody.

The government spends ton of money on education, those public schools, IIT’s , IIM’s, all other colleges, does it mean that you want to get in free for nothing? society pays for it in the form of taxes. Do I have to pay for others in return for nothing? . There is no ideal solution for this problem.”

I’m sorry, the Government does not spend tons of money on education. And even if you believe they do, the outcome is still far from desirable. Have you ever stepped inside a free public school run by the Government? These are institutes where slum kids and other underprivileged sections of our society study. These schools are falling apart, quite literally. The lack of infrastructure aside, the quality of education they provide is highly inferior. The teachers in these schools are barely paid. They have no interest in their jobs. Most are not even qualified enough to teach. The lack of quality is clearly visible. My helper’s son who goes to one such school is in the 8th grade and he is still incapable of doing simple Math and calculations. He can’t speak a line of English despite having that as a subject for 10 years. They are hardly taught well in school, he says. The teachers in these schools are absent a lot and kids run wild. Since the staff is so underpaid, they take on other odd jobs to fill the gap and neglect the school as a result.

I don’t care if colleges are made free. And by the way, despite the few examples you have cited, most colleges are not free either. Not everybody gets into an IIT or an IIM. (Are they even free?) But I would rather have everybody pay for their own college, but basic education (until school) should be accessible to ALL.

Please tell me, how do you expect people to break out of this vicious cycle of poverty without access to a good education? Yes, society pays for it in the form of tax. I will be happy if they allocate a higher budget for education out of the tax I have already paid. In fact, I may even be willing to pay a slightly higher tax if they improve public education in India. If they do that, then I can send my child to a good public school for free, rather than me using that money for paying my child’s school fees in an upscale private school.

We need all classes of society (including the underprivileged) to progress parallelly. It is a flawed system if only one segment of society progresses. That is what I see happening in India right now. Where did the statement, ‘Do I have to pay for others in return for nothing?’ come from? If I am paying the same amount (whether it is in the form of tax to the Government or fees to a private school), I am saying I would rather use the money I have to ensure education reaches everybody, rather than it reaching only MY child.  Do you really believe investing money in educating a society gives you nothing in return? That is such a flawed premise.

There are central government run schools and the students are well groomed for a very nominal fees, for instance kendriya vidyalaya’s, bhartiya vidya bhavan’s, army, navy schools and many such schools exists?

I think you have failed to recognize the notable difference between centrally run Government schools and State run Government schools. The KVs and other schools you have mentioned are centrally run, they are much better funded, because the Government has different motives for funding them. State run and local Government schools are almost always facing a resource crunch. They are in dilapidated states. I think this article explains the reasons for the stark difference in treatment between a Central and State run Government school quite well.

So tell me, how many good centrally run Government schools do we have in India? Compare the number of these schools to the population of the country and you will know what I mean. We don’t have enough of those schools to match the populations’ needs and demands. Most underprivileged kids have no means to even afford public transport. They walk long distances to get themselves to the nearest free school, which in most cases is run by the state or local Government. So if you are trying to tell me that our masses do have access to good education, I will disagree with you, strongly.

Moreover, you have also mentioned that the centrally run Government schools produce students who are ‘well groomed’. Again, this may be true, but I think it is also debatable. It depends on how we both define ‘well groomed’. Even if the students are what you believe, well groomed, I still believe these schools and our education system does not teach us how to think.

Infact, I met many successful people who got their education entirely from government institutes,

I think you mean to say you’ve met people from these schools who are well placed professionally. But ‘successful’? I think I use a different yardstick to measure success and professional life is just one aspect of it, it is not the whole definition for me. So how successful these people are is a matter of personal perception.

Does it mean, only by sending kids to those international schools be the kids successful? are there any statistics to back it ?

Please point out to me and let me know where I said this? I don’t think I said something even close to this.

What I said was the opposite. I said I feel sad that quality education is available only to the privileged. I said that I see international schools (and other elite boards) providing the kind of quality education that I believe should be provided to all. Since my sister works as a teacher in one such school, I have first hand information on their teaching methods. These schools do indeed teach you how to think. The young minds are stimulated in different ways. I think it produces individuals who are truly intellectual, open minded and well-rounded, not just individuals who are knowledgeable and informed.

Right now, only a small class of our population is privy to this kind of education. I believe our education system needs an overhaul. If our education truly teaches us how to think, I believe it will eradicate a lot of the problems that are so deeply woven into our society.

Overall, IMHO – there is price one should pay to get something. After all, nothing comes for free. Some one has to pay price for it somewhere.”

Sure, nothing comes for free. That approach is typical of a capitalist economy. While I may agree with that in other areas, I will never agree with that line of thought when it comes to education. Higher education can be paid for, but I will always believe basic education until school should be a fundamental right of every citizen. I know this is debatable but it is something I feel very strongly about. Every child deserves equal opportunity. Your circumstances of birth should not decide your destiny.

***

PS – The sister has volunteered for Teach for India, where in she was teaching in a state run Government school for a while. She has personal experience working with and teaching kids of truck drivers, domestic helpers and other menial workers from lower strata of society. She also has witnessed first hand, the practical problems faced by this segment and understands deeply why the present state of the free locally run Government schools is not helping them. She knows where the gaps lie. The views I have expressed have been backed by her personal experiences.

Posted in A penny for my thoughts, Life in India | 41 Comments »

My response to the question

Posted by Pepper on June 24, 2015

Warming: Long post.

Firstly, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me on my last post. The question I asked was, ‘Do you believe that couples who have had a love marriage should ideally be fighting lesser than couples who have had an arranged marriage?‘ About 50 people shared their opinions and except for 2 people, everybody agreed that the amount you fight does not depend on the kind of marriage you’ve had.

My answer is very much in line with the general consensus. I do not believe it is justified to expect a couple who has had a love marriage to fight lesser than a couple who has had an arranged marriage. The comments in the last post sum up my thoughts.

Coming to the debate I had with Maya, I’m going to quote her initial thoughts. She said, “I had a big question which was haunting me for no reason at all. There should be no fights after marriage, between people who knew each other and were head over heals in love with each other before getting married. Okay.. That’s pretty Utopian. At least lesser fights, right? That was the fleeting thought. I call it ‘fleeting’ ‘cos I knew most of the friends who didn’t go through the arranged marriage route were fighting more or less like us, who had not even seen each other before our engagement. Does that mean their love has diminished after they got married? ‘Cos I knew most of them would fight very little before marriage happened

I disagreed and we first debated in her comment section and then took it to emails before agreeing to disagree with each other. I think Maya has changed her views now and looks like we are all on the same side. Yet, every now and then I come across people who get a little shocked when they find out that a couple who has had a love marriage actually fights almost to the same extent as other couples. Their shock surprises me.

To start with, like I told Maya in the comment space, I had plenty of fights with Mint even before we were married. We had been in a committed relationship for a long time and every now and then we had to deal with a fight of high magnitude. Ofcourse, we would make up and go back to being madly in love. But the fights, they were always there. Those fights were insignificant in the larger scheme of things. We fought tooth and nail to get married to each other. So I do not fit into her category of friends who fought very little before marriage but went on to fighting a lot more after marriage happened. For us, our fights have remained constant over the years and marriage was inconsequential.

Maya did have an interesting point. She said people generally fight lesser after they accept each other. Shouldn’t this acceptance come more easily in a love marriage? Hmm. It did make sense. So I looked up the definition of ‘acceptance’ to start with. It says ‘A disposition to tolerate or accept people or situations’. Now this, I believe is completely dependent on your personality for one. While I have much higher tolerance and acceptance when it comes to other people, I always hold Mint to very high standards. Also, if there is one person I take the liberty to cross the line with, it is him. For two, personalities evolve. I can’t accept a certain kind of behaviour if it is unknown to me.

The point to note is, Mint and I rarely fight because we disagree with each other. Typically, our fights happen because Mint annoys me for seemingly trivial issues. I react. And then Mint reacts to my reaction, or what he calls ‘over reaction’. Would you believe, we’ve had an explosive fight once over a piece of cake?. He finished the last piece without checking with me because he was under the impression that I had had my share. I yelled. Called him names. Cried. Got him mad. We sulked and eventually I walked out of the house in cold, cold Cincinnati. I didn’t even have a hoodie on me and yet I was walking out in a thin tee in the harsh winter of Ohio. I walked for a mile to a place where I knew he couldn’t find me. And then I sat shivering on a bench until good sense prevailed.

This was in the early months of our marriage. Now, the fact that I have known Mint since I was 16 had no bearing on our fight. I couldn’t ‘accept’ this behaviour because it is very unlike Mint to not think of me while eating the last piece. This incident was not in line with my expectations. When you have a love marriage, you always have the past to compare the present with. Secondly, our fight was because of our personalities. My personality, to be precise. I should have let go after he apologised. Instead, I considered the act of him finishing the cake as a grave offense. Almost like a betrayal to me. The more I think of it, the more I realise most of our fights are because of how we react to the events around us. That is completely personality dependent.

I’m going to talk about another gigantic fight we had. One of the most prominent ones till date. For my cousin’s wedding, I had flown down from San Francisco to Chicago. Mint was to fly down two days after me. I realised I had forgotten a pair of my shoes, so I asked Mint to carry them with him when he came. To make sure he does, I had reminded him a total of 5 times. I even asked him before he left, if he was sure he was carrying them. I really wanted to wear them with my selected outfit. He assured me had packed them.

He reached Chicago and we went through the wedding festivities. Just before we were ready to leave for the reception, Mint told me he had forgotten my shoes! Although he had packed them originally, he had to remove them at a later point to reshuffle his luggage. In the process, he forgot them while repacking. He realised this after we were all dressed to leave for the party. I couldn’t believe my ears. I was depending on the said shoes . I had no alternate arrangements. So I threw a fit and accused him of not caring about me and so on and so forth. It got supremely messy. I was so furious, that I told him I no longer wanted to go for the reception. Yes, despite having come all the way from the Bay Area. I sat at the door, a sulking mess. I can’t believe that idiot boy took a picture of me while I was sulking, but here it is.

sulk

Now, this probably comes across as funny, but I assure you, at that time it was not. It was a catastrophic fight. I will always remember it because this was the fight that caused us to get very late for my cousin’s reception. In hindsight, I can’t even call this a fight. Mint really didn’t fight this out with me. It was mainly me having an uncontrollable outburst. By the time we made up, we were running extremely late. Everybody wanted to know what had caused the delay. Of course, we lied. Till date, I regret missing a big part of her reception.

Because I have known Mint for years, I knew he is absent minded and highly capable of forgetting things like these. I still managed to flare up. Probably because I sent him adequate reminders and he still forgot? I mean, even if I know him well enough to predict some of his actions, and even if I make provisions to ensure certain things don’t happen, I am still unable to forecast or control his behaviour beyond a point. I am unable to prevent a fight.

I am ashamed to say I have even raised my hand at Mint during a fight. I read through that post to understand the dynamics and the whole cycle of cause and effect. I come back to what I strongly believe in – this too was entirely dependent on the situation and both our temperaments.

Any two strong headed individuals who are living together are bound to disagree. Whether you convert this disagreement into a fight or whether you pass it off as ‘acceptance’ entirely depends on you. I don’t think it depends on the time you’ve known each other for. Moreover, disagreements are not the only things that cause disputes. I hardly disagree with Mint in principle. Most of the time we fight because he procrastinates beyond a point, making me lose all my patience. Or I get mad because he is never on time. And so on. And no, I cannot ‘accept’ these things easily. I cannot ‘accept’ cleaning the kitchen myself everyday just because he procrastinates beyond a point. I argue with him if he pushes me too much. I cannot ‘accept’ making others wait for us because Mint is used to being late everywhere. So we argue and sometimes our arguments turn heated.

Call me weird, but I love the fact that I can fight with Mint with zero inhibitions. I know at times he is the recipient of my worst behavior. I show him that ugly side of mine that I keep hidden from the rest of the world. We need to have that one person in our life we can be our true self with, without worrying about the consequences. I feel so confident of his love, it makes me feel fearless of pushing the wrong buttons. So if I go by this logic, I will say people in love marriages should actually be fighting more! But that is untrue because even people who have had an arranged marriage eventually fall in love and gain that same sense of security over time (I am guessing). So we all end up having the same fights, depending on our personalities.

In the end, I’ll say any two people who are genuinely in love (irrespective of whether they have had a love marriage or an arranged marriage, or even if they are in a loving and committed relationship) will revel in this security. And this security is conducive to fights, bad behaviour and everything else.

PS – For a deeper analysis, please read these insightful comments.

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 19 Comments »

A question..

Posted by Pepper on June 21, 2015

Many months ago, I had this very interesting debate with Maya. I tried to evaluate the issue from many different angles and view points. I also started observing real life examples more closely. So far, I’ve enjoyed collecting and analysing the data in my head.

Coincidentally,  I was asked the same question again, very recently. I would love to share my thoughts on this subject on the blog, but before that, I would like to know your thoughts. So here is the question.

Do you believe that couples who have had a love marriage should ideally be fighting lesser than couples who have had an arranged marriage?  

I urge and request you to leave your responses in the comment section. In order to avoid influences and biases, I am not going to approve comments until I am ready to share my thoughts. I know I am using a small and random sample set, but the more comments and responses there are, the more interesting the analysis will be. So please, consider this to be my personal request to you and leave your responses in the comment section. Even if you are otherwise a lurker. Thank you very much.

PS – You do not have to be married to qualify to comment on this post. I will be very happy to hear your thoughts even if you are single, in a relationship, divorced, or belong to any other category possible.

 

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 115 Comments »

What lies ahead

Posted by Pepper on January 23, 2015

Ever since Daddy passed away, I’ve been struggling with a big decision. What do I do with our company?

This needs some context. My papa and daddy had (have?) been running this organisation for almost 4 decades. We operate in the atomic energy and radiography space. I am not going to get into specifics about what we do, but it is ‘Heavy Engineering’. You have to come from a closely associated field to be able to understand our area of work. Most people can’t. It is complex, to say the least. I was coaxed by my family to come aboard the company just over a year ago. In that one year, I’ve had to struggle to understand the technicalities and nature of our work. When I told people it was ‘Nuclear Science’, I wasn’t kidding or exaggerating. It IS truly Nuclear Science.

Over time, I learnt what I believed I had to learn. I was in a comfortable space. I was managing operations, for which I did not need technical proficiency. My papa and daddy were taking care of other things. Saying I learnt a lot in this one year of partly managing our company would be an understatement. No other work opportunity could have given me a parallel experience. My time here gave me an opportunity to see first hand how a company is run. I realised what went into it. After all, not everybody knows how to successfully run a business. I always thought I was fortunate I was getting a chance to learn from such close quarters.

And then, daddy passed away suddenly. It was only then that I realised how inadequately prepared we were for his absence. Our lack of planning in this regard made me feel extremely stupid. Right after daddy passed away, my papa was pulled into performing endless ceremonies and was made to follow a million customs that kept him away from work and everything else for a long time.

Not only did I have to deal with Daddy’s absence, I also had to contend with my dad’s unavailability. Suddenly, the entire onus of managing everything at work was on me. I don’t know what I was being hit with. Everybody came to me for approvals. I had to rely on my own judgment and make some critical decisions. I had to look into countless matters. Some days when I felt too burdened, I would begin to tear up at my desk. Then I would hold myself and try and move on. Even now, I work for the entire day without a break and have to spend my weekends in our factory. I hope things get better once I find a rhythm of some sort.

Some days ago, my dad asked me what I wanted to do with the company. Do I want to run it? Or do I want to shut/sell it? He reminded me of the fact that there was nobody else to run it other than me. He is 64. He doesn’t know how long he can work. I realised he was right. Most of his friends have retired. If you see my dad, you’ll say he looks old for his age. I’d like him to sit back and enjoy his life now, instead of stressing over work. But that brought me back to my present state. Am I capable of running this company on my own? Before I knew it, everything came down to this one question. Should I run the company or sell it?

The general consensus is that I should keep it running. I see logic in that. This was started by my family so many years ago. I feel emotionally attached to it. Beside that, there is no way we can recreate something like this in this day and age. The office. Our factory. The machines. The unit. The whole plant. It is almost impossible to establish this set up again. Since we own it, we should keep it functional. Also, our employees, in particular, our factory workers have been with us for decades. They’ve spent their lifetime serving us. Their livelihood is our responsibility. I don’t want them to be stranded or displaced in anyway.

Most importantly, running your own company will give you higher prospects of raking in money as compared to an ordinary job. Ofcourse, this is generalisation to an extent, but it is mostly true in my opinion. Do I want to let go of that opportunity? After all, my family inducted me because they wanted me to take over. That is the thought I entered the company with. To carry it forward. I knew there is nobody else that could. Then why do I find myself having second thoughts now that the time has come?

I think the reasons are plenty. For one, when I began, I had no idea of how hard it is. You need to possess good business acumen, sound judgment and many other skills. Only then can you keep all the balls up in the air. I wonder if I have the required aptitude and abilities. There isn’t much margin to slip. If I take this on, I have to be ready to lead an organisation. Sure, if my budget permits, I can hire effectively, but I will still be the one at the forefront. The thought of being the one responsible for generating enough revenue to profit or atleast enough to pay salaries of all employees on our payroll is terrifying.

I haven’t yet spoken about my biggest apprehension. Commitment. I don’t know if I am the kind who can devote 12 hours or more of my day to work and be happy. I know I will have no choice but to invest *a lot * of my time in work. I wanted to think of having a baby in a year or so atleast. If I commit myself to the company, I cannot have a child anytime soon. There is no way I can run a company and raise a child. I know myself. Maybe some people can. But I can’t. I will not be able to do justice either way and I will be miserable.

Other than that, I will be bound to this city. That’s another important point of consideration. Mint is the primary bread winner in our home and he will have to restrict his opportunities to this city. Considering how massive our loan is, I am not sure that is a very wise idea. Even now, at times he seems jittery and sometimes even talks about moving back to the US. If I take this up, I will have to mentally close that door.

I don’t know how to arrive at a decision. I am confused. Mint is confused. And I am time bound. I need to decide soon. Don’t ask me why. Certain circumstances demand it. I really need to make up my mind. Sigh.. Hopefully, my decision will be driven not by emotion, but by logic, feasibility and practicality. *Takes a few deep breaths*

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 23 Comments »

 
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