Sunset at 60 ?

While gender stereotyping is a very prevalent topic these days, there is another which is equally pervasive and might be harder to classify as black or white.Stereotyping of the elderly and the overarching expectation to conform or to risk being judged.A short while ago I happened to chance on this article on Facebook.

And it brought to the fore a lot of thoughts I had on the subject of stereotyping of elders in the society.


Young grandchildren invariably imply a duty for the grandparents,if the parents happen to be working professionals. While it is perfectly understandable and a great arrangement,if both parties are amenable to it. It is most certainly not,if the grandparents would rather have a choice and freedom on the subject. Implicitly assuming that one’s parents should drop everything on their plate and come to look after the grandchildren smacks of inconsideration. Whether they really have a lot on their plate or not, is also of little consequence.

The problem revolves around choice. Do grandparents really have a choice to say ‘No’. If they do, do they risk of being judged by everybody around including their own children. The comments to the article above also interestingly implies,that to be looked after in old age, looking after the grandchildren is the price one must pay.
“And I shall have my pound of flesh..” said Shylock. If relationships are indeed so transactional , then where is the pound of flesh for bringing up the children themselves.

As people get older, our society starts putting the emphasis on religion and ritualistic traditions.The unsaid expectation of withdrawal from worldly affairs looms larger with progressing age and any inclination of wanting to enjoy material interests is only looked down upon. While declining importance of materialistic interests and progress along the spiritual path is the aspiration of many spiritual seekers, its correlation to age, puts an undue strain on an individual and snatches away the choice of how one wants to live. Spirituality as a way of life can only be by choice. Though I did take a recourse to talking about religion and spirituality in the same breath, vast differences in the way they are practiced is a topic for another day.

Closely following on its heals and an offshoot of declining materialistic interests is the restriction on forming any romantic liaisons. Do desires die when one is old ? A controversial topic by any standard, but the fact remains that desires don’t die a sudden death. One just chooses to exert a control on desires which are not appropriate.While lonely people finding companions at the fag end of life is perfectly acceptable abroad, here it would be a complete taboo. Although single men &
women remarrying is gaining more acceptance, the taboo still remains strong against somebody considered past the hill.Films like ‘Cheeni kum’ explored this topic to a certain extent,challenging accepted societal norms.

In a society which has strict codes of conduct laid out for almost every strata of society, breaking norms definitely draws eyebrows.And if those are of your own flesh and blood, then it becomes even more onerous.While the article in question did talk about a point-in-time event, it resulted from years of upbringing of the very same children who were not taught the importance of giving space and consideration for another’s view. The root of the problem which lies not in parent-child relationships but in all relationships is giving “space” – one of the most critical foundation for any healthy relationship.Again, that is a post for another day…

The Perennial Sniffles

A mini explosion threatened to bring the house down.The decibel was loud enough to send people scurrying out of their houses in panic.My husband and son slumbered on. All was well with the world. They were so accustomed to the comforting sounds by now, that at times, the absence of it caused some confusion.It was an impending disaster as I scampered frantically around the house with my eyes streaming. I berated myself for the hundredth time for not being more scrupulous. Suddenly I spotted the small bottle peeping out from the back of the medicine cabinet and pounced on it with relief.


I was afflicted with the dreadful nasal allergies.

The family woke up grudgingly after being subjected to an intense stress testing of their sleeping abilities.But decided not to hazard asking delicate questions and conspicuously avoided the red eyes and twitching nose.The nasal explosions were timed to occur when both my hands were strategically occupied. When the collision between culinary and nasal catastrophes appeared imminent, I was forced to dash to the bathroom. The family was rather used to seeing me whizzing between the kitchen and the bathroom as I was prone to do most mornings.And woe betide anybody who managed to get in the path of a trampling rhino. My streaming eyes and nose were deterrent enough to scatter everybody a mile away. I wondered why I never had the common sense to build a wash basin inside my kitchen.

I had visited numerous shady-clinics and not-so-shady clinics who promised to put an end to my perennial watering nose.The only thing I know,unaffected by seasonality,droughts or global warming.But all I have to show for the innumerable visits and my famished purse,are the rows and rows of small empty bottles which now hold some vegetable seeds.I steamed my face till I resembled a lobster, but my sniffles were made of sterner stuff.

I walked around with an air purifier mask,opening it only to eat or sneeze.For some strange reason, a neighbor hurriedly closed the door after one look at my incongruous appearance.I slept with it and wouldn’t have been surprised to have frightened a burglar or two if the torch light had happened to fall upon my rather grotesque visage.Somebody suggested that I stand on my head as apparently the sniffles didn’t like being suspended upside down, but mine didn’t seem to mind them one bit.In fact, just to show that they were a good sport, they tried to see how I would react if they timed the explosion right when I was all knotted up.

I googled and searched till even the great Google was rendered mum on the matter. For my efforts, I was rewarded by finding one of my enemies.They looked like prehistoric dragons with tentacled feet.The dust mites which ruled the world of mattresses and bedding.But finding all the enemies which affected me was far more tedious than finding horcruxes.

Relationships have been threatened by fungus laden houses whose thresholds I absolutely refused to enter. Yellowed books telling stories of an age gone by in forgotten library shelves, were better to be forgotten for the sake of my nose.But even more curious was my apparent allergies to all ‘green’ soaps. I gasp for air when the household decides to spray themselves with noxious perfumes. Not for me, a romantic tête-à-tête where the man’s perfume comes wafting.I snorted derisively as a salesman tried to sell me those small pieces of cloth they call ladies’ kerchiefs, who quietly slunk away when he saw the mammoth towels I carried in my purse.

But there are times when it has saved the day. A calm and serene home stay in the plantations and the silence only broken by the singing of the crickets and sudden explosions.During one of his nocturnal birding forays as my husband was figuring out the way home, the far away sound of sneezing was like a beacon, aiding the way to poor lost souls. I was well suited to become a foghorn directing far away ships through the correct course.

Of course, all this became thankfully not-so-ubiquitous, once I found my savior. I would unceremoniously dump the knight in shining armor anyday for a small round pill called Montek-LC, quite unrelated to the noted economist.A quarter of a pill and I manage to keep the devil at bay. Whoever had coined that saying about apples, hadn’t heard of Montek or didnt have the foggiest clue about the sniffles.Stranded without food or water doesn’t scare me one bit, but stranded without my beloved Montek will have me quaking in my boots.

The time has come and I call upon all the allergy afflicted in the world to unite and come forth to form the Allergix Anonymous(AA).If you think you can be member of this elite society, then you need to stake a claim and prove that you deserve it!

The Professional Hobbyist

My first post under a new category called ‘Musings’. There are myriad thoughts that arise intermittently and lead me to speculate about alternate viewpoints.I am starting this category, just to hear your thoughts on some of these subjects. The intention is not to arrive at specific conclusions nor to enforce any preconceived ideas or opinions,but to just exchange free flowing thoughts.


‘Hobby’ by definition implies an activity done during one’s leisure time for pleasure. For anyone who’s very passionate about their hobbies, the definition itself could border on the insipid. But nevertheless, the underlying intent doesn’t vary – that it is done during one’s leisure time , suggesting one has an absolute choice in deciding when and whether to pursue. I think therein lies the crux – hobby is something that’s freewheeling, rather than getting straight-jacketed into specific schedules and timelines.

As more and more people transition their hobbies or interests into full fledged businesses, the question that often crops up  in my mind, is whether the essence of a hobby still holds good. One very important constituent of a hobby, is that one has a choice to pursue it when one wants and the moment when one changes this very intrinsic nature, does it cease to offer the same enjoyment and the sense of carefree liberation , it otherwise would have afforded. Business, of course, implies a monetary compensation imposing a very rigid outline on how the hobby progresses but at times, this carefree aspect is robbed, the moment one is under a compulsion of any sort.

Blogging networks and the blogging world throws up several interesting gauntlets.One such blogging mantra suggests one to keep updating one’s blog every week. This, to my mind immediately becomes a compulsion. Can one be a serious blogger and still consider blogging a hobby ? Plausibly, that’s when a hobby meta-morphs into a more serious pursuit and one strives to excel at it rather than it merely serving to add a relaxing distraction in life.

It can be argued whether a hobby which doesn’t result in any discernible output, is less amenable to the pressures of achieving perfection – wherein the focus is more on the ‘doing’ rather than the creation itself. For instance, reading would have definitely qualified to be one such pursuit, where one could have retreated to a private world away from the constant pressures of proving oneself. I would have presumed bird watching as well, to be a personal pursuit with out undue pressure,but now I know better.We are ‘facebooked’ and the more we ‘do’ something, the more we promote it. The minute we have an audience,there is always a need to showcase and everyday desires are not far behind.

Would you still continue a hobby if there was no audience ? Nobody to appreciate what you did. Some of course, are more audience driven than others eg. blogging. But there are others, which could obviate the need to showcase and hence could be more pursuant to an unadulterated relaxation.

If you have converted a hobby into a profession, do you still derive the same amount of joy and relaxation vis a vis when it was not ? Do share your thoughts !

The List

I finally break the silence on my blog with a first-time fiction on a guest blog for Sid Balachandran – Author at I Wrote Those, Photographer at I Took Those, winner of more awards than my fingers can handle, a cooking enthusiast who can whip up eye-popping scrumptious chocolate sinfuls and last but not the least, a work-at-home Dad ! Now that’s what’s called breaking stereotypes ! Sid maintains delightful catalogs of his parenting escapades at Daddy Journals.

A wonderful blogger friend, I got introduced to Sid through his most delightful post about an ever-perennial problem – Finding the right pair of Jeans. Here’s his kickass post – Fashionista ? I think not!

Sid is a master in the craft of fiction.So, when he invited me to write a fiction post for his blog, I went ‘Ulp’. Fortunately he gave me enough time to hammer something together, so here I am – with my first-ever true-blue fiction !


Buy groceries. Pay bills.

Indu crossed out items from the to-do list, on the laptop and leaned back with a palpable sense of relief. Only few more left to go. Unfinished things rankled and nipped at the edges of her consciousness. Resigning to the fact that ‘Cleaning the closet’ was too daunting to be attempted immediately, she stretched wearily and headed to the bathroom.TheListThe street lights were casting long shadows through the window. The haggard reflection in the bathroom mirror revealed an average looking woman. With the hair pulled back severely away from the face, into a tight bun and the round horn-rimmed glasses, her face appeared unflatteringly mousy. Shoulder length hair tumbled down as the strangling metal pins were pulled out and neatly stacked inside the medicine cabinet. Deciding to take a quick shower, she ran the hot water in the tub. A strange prickling sensation caused her to glance at the door which creaked open slowly inwards. She suppressed a scream, as the bottle in her hand fell with a dull clunk and scattered small white pills all over the floor.

Read the full post on Sid’s blog…

Compassion – Where art thou ?

This above all; to thine own self be true,
And it must follow,as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

– William Shakespeare

Everyday reports in the newspaper of barbaric killings by ISIS, Boko Haram and other terror organizations have jarred our sensibilities by the sheer intensity of their violence.And every time, I am plagued by the apparent ease with which a human being is able to transgress into such perversions. Are political,religious or economic inducements sufficient to bring out this horrendous aspect in a man? More often than not, I could only view them as maniacal and in the process, classify them as sub-human. Until I realized that this was perhaps the same emotion which controlled them too.


History has been replete with instances where human beings have descended to such barbaric acts that humanity can only shiver in its grave. It is the process wherein a human dehumanizes the other so completely that no conceivable relation to the other can then be established.This formed the basis for nearly all the genocides in the world.

An ability to establish oneness and connection with another, forms the basis of compassion. Compassion – the singular emotion which is direly needed in today’s world.Different religions espouse this central thought in their philosophies. Keeping aside the inherent mis-interpretations that each religion has given rise to, compassion is a salve for humanism – where being ‘human’ is far more critical than being religious.Compassion encompasses empathy along with action.It differs from altruism where emotional attachment is not mandated and neither is it comparable to empathy, where despite the emotional involvement, it needn’t translate into action.Nonetheless, rather than splitting hair on these variations, any proclivity towards altruism or empathy is only to be appreciated and viewed as a stepping stone to attaining true compassion.

The ability to be compassionate can be intrinsic to an individual,but interestingly, it can also be consciously developed.In this age of bloodshed, the ability to be compassionate to oneself and to others is the one gift we can give ourselves and our children.

Haile Selassie says “It is much easier to show compassion to animals. They are never wicked.” Everybody’s latitude for compassion would vary and so would it also be undeniably linked, to the object of compassion.But even that residual innate quality would succumb to the everyday onslaught of inconsideration that we show, not because we deliberately intend to but because many a times,we even forget to spare a thought to the existence of an alternate way.

So prior to become ‘compassionate’, lies the state of being ‘considerate’. Its akin to learning A ahead of Z.

Are we considerate with ourselves ? – When we constantly disparage ourselves on our looks, our achievements and our capabilities. When we are overly harsh with ourselves for not living up to our standards, when we take our achievements for granted and our failures as our scars.

Are we considerate at home ? With our family ? – While demanding and taking our family for granted. When we place undue burden on our children as we try to mold them in our cast. When we fail to appreciate a spouse as a person who could have independent needs and desires.

Are we considerate at work ? With our colleagues ? – When our demands are unfair. When we absolve ourselves for our failures and steal someone’s limelight.When our subordinates become ‘resources’ in the true sense of the word.

Are we considerate towards the place where we live ? – When we unabashedly litter our surroundings because it’s not ‘my’ headache.When we play loud music in the dead of night.

Are we considerate on the road ? – When we constantly get overcome with road rage.When we don’t abide by any traffic rules.When we forget that the five minutes we save on traffic is not a life-changing deal.

And finally,

Are we considerate towards people ? – When we encounter people with differing views, different religious practices, different sexual orientations. When we sit on judgement on every differing view.

It is said that to practice tolerance one needs to put oneself in another person’s shoes.It’s facile to ridicule another based on their beliefs and value systems, but it’s much harder to introspect and understand the context. This is not to condone unlawful or antisocial behavior, but simply to acknowledge those, that are different to ours. Social transformations are not ushered by people who are judgmental, instead it is by people who are compassionate and yet,steadfast about their causes.

Our children will become who you are.So be, who you want them to be. – Anonymous

In being who we are, we determine our future generation.The answer to the question of whether humanity will survive the onslaught of intolerance and hatred, lies with us.We can choose how we wish to answer it.


This post is written for ‘1000 Voices of Compassion’ where 1000 bloggers from across the world decided to lend their voices for Peace and Compassion on Feb 20th.

Further Reading :


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 295 other followers

%d bloggers like this: