Why so "complicated"?

I recently happened to be talking to an old friend after a long time. Normally, when you talk to an old friend, catching up involves a little bit about school/college/work and a lot about the love life. Now the one thing about girls sharing their love life is that although they make it seem like something very confidential, it actually isn’t. They will tell just about everyone who they come across. Show the slightest interest in a girl’s love life and that will be enough to get her going for a good 2 hours. It’s like saying that you wouldn’t want to advertise something via an fb status, but you wouldn’t mind sending an inbox message to everyone in your list.

The funny thing is that the length of any girl’s love life does not vary with the number of relationships she’s had. A girl with no boyfriend at all will also have plenty to say, which may involve how unfortunate she’s been, or how she’s afraid she’s not a catch and she’ll die alone, or how a lot of boys asked her out but she rejected them on the premises that they weren’t really ‘her type’. On the other hand a girl with 20 boyfriends will talk about what was wrong with each one of them and how she’s sick of relationships and is never going to date anyone else ever again. It’s such a cliche. We all know that isn’t gonna happen!
But anyways, coming back, I started thinking about the logic behind all this. Why do romantic relationships have to be so complicated? They are actually just like any other relationship. The kind that you have with your family and friends. But yet, we spend so much more time analysing these kinds of relationships than any other. “I think he likes another girl”, “I think he’s losing interest in me”. These are classic dialogues. Girls spend hours thinking over such things. Even the most subtle hints can throw her mind in the wrong direction. Things as simple as a guy having a long and light hearted conversation with another girl, or not having texted or called for two days.

If you really want to know, then why snoop around or take advice from hundreds of people or make a long heart felt story out of it. Just ask him! It’s really simple, and extremely straightforward and will save you a very long phone bill and a lot of people’s time.
Another classic trick that girls spend hours plotting is “ignoring the guy”. It is a way of getting attention. I’m not saying that it isn’t effective. It is. But then, “ignoring” someone can take more effort than you can imagine. Ignoring a guy involves constantly checking your phone to see if your little trick is working and if he is texting, wondering what you are upto and tracking his every move on facebook to see how he’s taking your cold treatment. 
Jealousy is another big fat problem. And this comes from both sides of the enemy line. Boys are as jealous and possesive as girls are, if not more. When a guy sees his girlfriend or potential girlfriend within a 5 metre radius of another guy, he will immediately look for a girl to talk to as intimately as possible, so that they’re both even. The girl, seeing that the guy is being all close and personal with another girl, will continue to talk to the guy she was hitherto talking to, apparently enjoying herself more than ever and laughing at the lamest jokes he makes. The guy seeing the girl having a good time with another guy, will return the favour. This is something that does not end. And it works the other way around.

And then we have the popular ‘it’s complicated’ relationship status on facebook. I have never actually understood what that meant. Either you’re dating or you’re not. Sometimes, I feel that a ‘it’s complicated’ status is simply a committed girl’s effort to grab her boyfriend’s attention or a single girl’s effort to show that she has a life. It’s hard to say. Most comments on any change of relationship statuses go unanswered. Most people’s queries are generally answered by comments such as “i’ll tell you when we talk next”.
If you want to tell all your friends about your recently upturned love life one by one and not via facebook, why  bother changing your relationship status on facebook?
The people I think are actually sensible are the ones who also mention the name of the person they are dating. They’re the ones who’re accomplishing the purpose of putting up a facebook status. Although most people think it’s a very abominable thing to do, I think it’s better than people putting up a status followed by secretive comments which kind of nullify the purpose of using facebook.

Keeping it simple and not so complicated is much easier for everybody. Little tricks and insinuating comments are pretty much useless and a waste of time and energy. Imagine a world where everyone would just say what they thought and what they really mean to convey. It’s kind of like putting an end to diplomacy!

Here’s hoping you can unravel your life and make it a little less complicated! (And I really mean that) 


Benefits of turning 18

Yesterday, I turned 18. I was very  surprised to find how awesome it is. Ofcourse I have only spent 2 days as an adult, but I like to be optimistic.
I have been told more than once that childhood is the best time of your life, which is why I wasnt exactly *happy* to be turning into an adult.
But when I did, and as I slowly discovered all the benefits of being an adult I realised that for now, its all good!!
Here are a few *awesome* things about being 18.

1. You are no more referred to as a “minor”. Gosh I hate that word. Bloody discriminating.

2. You are taken a little more seriously by your parents (and everyone else) who until now, have been treating you as a “minor”. With the legal benefits you are suddenly in possession of, they begin to take you a little more seriously.

Silence! I’ll sue you!

3. You are officially on your own. No one can adopt you or take responsibility of you or claim to be your ‘guardian’.

4. You can become someone’s guardian. Although I really don’t care to adopt or whatever, being a godmother would be cool.

5. You can drive. Although for most people this might have been on the top of the list, I don’t think being 18 is a matter of concern for the Indian police. With the number of cars on the road, you could be a 9 year old in a driver’s seat and get away with it.

6. You can have your own bank account. No more carrying cash or using mommy’s or daddy’s credit or debit card to book movie tickets. You can flash around your own. Agreed that once in a while the cashier may tell you that you do not have enough money in your account and he/she wonders if you’re carrying some cash. But it is still worth it!

7. If you were very docile and gullibe (and stupid) as a child and entered your real date of birth while making online accounts on youtube, gmail, etc, you will no more be bothered by annoying warnings and restrictions saying that you need to be a certain age to have access to such content. You can finally make a google+ account just to see how good or bad it is.

Wanna see my ID?

8. You can go to adult movies without having to fear rejection at the ticket counter. Infact you can flash them your ID even if they didn’t ask for it!

For all the adults out there reading this and thinking “wait till she gets a job”, suck it up! Being a child might have been fun, but being an adult has its own moments.

Generation Y

“PAYAL LAL, get up! GET UP, NOW! Do you have any idea how much I studied when I was your age? I woke up at 5 a.m. every morning. And look at you. Still sleeping.”

This is the story of every one of my Saturday mornings. Every one of them. On the Saturdays my parents have to work, I hear them in my dreams. My parents, live in another world altogether. They get up at 5 a.m. every morning, even if they have nothing specific to do. I don’t even do that if my facebook account gets hacked.  

Welcome to India-a country where the parents are too Indian and the children are too American
Being part of generation Y, I can tell you based on experience, it is a combination that doesn’t go well at all. It’s like having Punjabi food with South Indian food.
Allow me to tell you why.

Every now and then my mom barges into my room, see me sitting around and says
“Sitting around on your bed, talking on the phone and whiling away time on your laptop. I knew we shouldn’t have given it to you. Stupid useless distractions. I had none at all when I was your age “

Okay, MOM, first of all, a laptop or a cell phone did not even exist when you were my age. There is no way you could have had it. You learnt how to use it about the same time I did.
Secondly, I could be doing something productive. Don’t just walk into my room and assume stuff. I could be discussing the terrible conditions of the Greek economy on my phone and researching about the Middle Eastern uprisings. I’m not. I actually just talking to my friend on the phone and chatting with a few others on facebook. But whatever. Don’t assume stuff.

Not only do they not like the idea of a laptop or cell phone with their child, but also, they donot know how to use it.

It’s understandable considering the circumstances that existed when they were kids. Terrible circumstances! Worse than poverty!

The other day, I was trying to figure out the deal with these middle eastern countries. I was researching on google.
I asked my dad who was sitting besides me, “Papa, was Iran earlier called Persia?”
But before my dad answered, I had already looked up the answer on the web.
When my dad was my age, he would probably not have bothered to make an effort to find an answer to such a question. Not because, it was a stupid question, but because the effort would not have been worth it. He would have to get up, go to the bookshelf, open the bookshelf, find an atlas, open it, look through the index, find the right page number, then browse through all the text and then he’d have his answer. By then Iran would have changed it’s name again! All I had to do was type two words into google.

And it isn’t just the computer which had changed things, it’s the cell phone as well. Commonly known to be a maniac among parents, it’s dearer to us than our own lives. While they take hours to send a two word text, it takes us seconds to do the same. If they were to send the same number of tects that we do in one day, that’s probably all they would do that day. Baby’s today are probably born with their fingers moving that way. Part of evolution you see.

Facebook is another hilarious example of the generation gap. My parents joined facebook much later than I did. And they didn’t seem to like the idea that everyone could see their profile picture and all their friends could see what they wrote on people’s wall. When my mom realized this she said “What? What if Vanita sees what I wrote about her on Renu’s wall? Wont she feel bad?”

They have been accustomed to emailing.  One of my uncles whose on my facebook friends list has a habit of writing comments in the form of letters. I once wrote on his wall “Happy Birthday”. The next day when I logged in I had a bunch of notifications. So I clicked on them and I found that he had commented on that wall post. He had written

“Dear Payal,
Thank you for your wishes.
Hope you are doing well.

Anyone else would just write thanks. At most a thank you and a smiley.
So it isn’t only the age gap that creates such differences. It’s also the change of trend. What our parents did at our age, we wouldn’t even dream of doing. That would make us a different species altogether. I would call them Boro sapiens.

Gen Y thinks their parents are impractical, overly conservative, boring. On the other hand, the oldies complain all the time, about how the younger generation is lazy and spoilt. We have all been grown up in different environments and different mindsets. In India, the kind of change that occurred over the last 20 years, makes 1 generation gap equal to 5.  The generation gap does not allow us to see eye to eye on much, unless we try to think from their point of view once in a while.

Everyone is the way they are because of a reason. It’s their background or their upbringing that makes them that way. Therefore they have a different point of view. That’s why we are so different from our parents. We have grown up in such diverse environments.

Next time you are talking to people who you don’t see eye to eye with, be it people from the older or younger generation or anyone else, wait for a second before you pick up an argument with them and put yourself in their shoes. Maybe you’ll realize that they are right in their own old ways. 

(also published in the Hindu : http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/article2442489.ece)


One afternoon my mother walked into my room and said “Your aunt is here from America, she wants to meet you, can you come and say hello”
Me? oh NO, I am ok playing SIMS on the computer. 
But that’s not what I say aloud. To my mom I say, “Coming in  5 minutes.”

15 minutes later, “Are you coming? You must come and SAY HELLO”
“Okay Mom! Why this big deal?.”

Grudgingly I get there- say hello and the little kitten that I am, in 15 seconds I give some stares to my aunt, to the wall, to the fan and before my aunt can blink, I am out of there.

Believe it or not, this was the scene at my home every weekend 5 years ago. If it was not my aunt, it was my granny’s sister, or my grandfathers friend. Once I was asked to say hello to our neighbour’s brother who was visiting from Australia. Imagine? 

My parents were fed up. They hated dragging me up to greet guests. It was not only humiliating for them, but after I turned 12, my shyness became an issue of worry. They kept persevering to come up with solutions to my little problem! I hated what they were doing. I was in my comfort zone, happy where I was. I did not really care for any change. But I knew that my parents did. And they would do something about it-very soon.

As expected the D-Day arrived. The dreadful one – and I got the BITTER PILL.

Do you know what is the 2ndbiggest fear most people have? (the 1st being death) Do you know what the biggest punishment my dad gave me was?
When my uncle was once visiting and I refused to come up and say hello, my dad punished me by pushing me into a public speaking club, namely the NEW DELHI GAVELS CLUB.

Corporal punishment was banned. But the 2nd biggest fear. You fear, I fear..PUBLIC SPEAKING! And can you believe it, my own father was the one who pushed me into facing this fear.

I had heard of Toastmasters. My dad went there on Sundays, when he had nothing better to do (although he still claims that he tries his best to go there). It was a place where he went to improve his speaking skills.
One fine day, I was in my happy place (in front of the TV) when my dad walked in and announced “My toastmaster friends just told me that there’s a junior version of toastmaster being opened. It’s called the New Delhi Gavel’s Club. It’s for kids of ages 12-18. And guess what, Payal’s joining it!” 

The fireworks began!! I am actually scared of swimming, but I was willing to jump into a 12 feet deep pool. Maybe get some water in my lungs, NO BIGGIE RIGHT? 
But gavels? Woah!  BIG BIGGIE!
From that day onwards, 90% of my time was spent thinking of ways to get out of this big mess. But my dad was adamant. He would take me there. 

1 week later I was at the first meeting of the NEW DELHI GAVELS CLUB. I had already decided that I would hate it. I wouldn’t open my mouth. I would behave just like I did at the dentists.

There was no way in hell they’re going to make ME speak! I went and sat inside. As people kept coming up and speaking, I thought, what geeks, don’t they have anything better to do!

While these thoughts flew in and out of mind, the others in the room spoke. I was so preoccupied with my thoughts that it took me a while to realize it when I was called upon to speak. There were some chits on the table and I had to pick one at random and speak on the topic that was written inside the chit. As I opened the chit to read my topic, my knees trembled! I was sweating and suddenly, there were double the number of people in the room. Why didn’t the ground just open up and swallow me.  Gosh dad! I hate you! If it wasn’t for you I could have been in my happy place.  
Now, I had a new happy place, the time the meetings would finish!

This cycle continued for a while-my dad would force me to go and I would unhappily and half-heartedly oblige. 

Strangely, after a couple of meetings, I began to feel better about being there.I actually felt confident. My voice no more shook, my knees started to stabilize! I started actively taking part in the meetings. 
I guess the end of the meeting was no more my happy place! The people around me were not geeks any more. And I was in no mood to kill my parents.

Not only had the D-Day lead to me feeling better about my speech, but over the years, being part of the club made me more confident as a person. I became more open about coming out of my comfort zone and doing things that initially sound very scary and undoable. Sometimes you need someone to force the BITTER PILL down your throat!
Now, when my parents insist on me joining a class or a club or a program, I willingly accept. After all, who knows what it might have in store for me? 

A day without my cell phone

I woke up on a Friday morning at 11 am.
Sounds strange? Shouldn’t I be at work or at school or doing whatever I do? Well, this happened when I was in class 9. It was a warm day in mid-feb and my grueling exams were approaching. They started as soon as Monday and our school had been generous enough to give us a preparation leave on Friday-to study. Most of the students whiled away their prep leaves on the phone or on facebook or doing everything but studying. I happened to be one of them. My parents were at work. I had all the freedom I wanted.
So I woke up on Friday morning and with my eyes still half shut and with all intentions of going back to sleep in not more than a few seconds, I unconsciously reached out for my cell phone.
My hand felt the cell phone cover on the bedsheet and picked it up. It didn’t feel like it usually did. It felt so light and soft and..uh oh! This was the point of time when I opened my eyes and saw a sticky note on my empty cell phone cover.
Dear daughter,
 Today you shall study while your cell phone goes on vacation. Don’t bother opening the computer either. Facebook’s blocked for the day. A day without these distractions will do you good.
Happy Learning!
Mom and Dad
PS: Outgoing call service on land line is deactivated. In case of emergency, use neighbor’s phone
What will you do next mom and dad? Rip out my lungs and tell me that a day without air will do me good?
Needless to say, I wasn’t going to be getting any more sleep today.
I wanted to write back. But our postal services were probably cut off too!
This system didn’t really work for me. I knew there was no way I could unblock facebook (how I wish I’d paid attention in computer class) or activate the outgoing calls on the landline. So I decided to tackle the cell phone problem. I started the hunt. I had nothing better to do anyway!
 So I started by looking in my parent’s bedroom, in their cupboards, their medicine cabinet, their bathroom, under their bed sheet, on their workstation. It was like playing hide and seek. It would have actually been fun if it wasn’t my cell phone which was hidden!
By the time I finished with their bedroom, it was 2 pm. It was time for lunch. But hunger was the last thing on my mind. I decided to keep looking.  I looked in our dining room, kitchen, living room, guest rooms, everywhere! But with no luck at all.
It was 6 p.m. by now. This was the time I sat in my room with a book in my hands in order to welcome my parents home!
I heard the key turn in the lock of our front door! They were early. I rushed into my room and grabbed my science book. Ugh! I despised science. I hadn’t paid attention in class or opened my book throughout the whole year. But right now, there was really no time to choose! I opened my book on a  random page, noticing how colourful our science book was.
 And something slipped out and fell on the floor. It was my cell phone!. My cell phone! In my room! In my biology book!
Before I had time to even feel baffled about the situation, my parents who had been standing in the doorway watching me for I don’t know how long went into fits of laughter.
“Oh, I get it! You guys put it in my science book, cuz you knew I would never look there! HAHA! Very funny! I looked for it all day! I couldn’t even eat. See? I didn’t study at all. Your loss!”
They continued to laugh. I didn’t find it funny at all. Infact, I didn’t speak or even look at my parents for the next one week.
Now, 3 years later, when I look back, it actually was pretty funny! They knew I’d never touch my science book. Or even in the wildest, dream of my cell phone being hidden there.
Well, atleast one good thing came out of it!