Category Archives: Relationships

Hai, yeh mummy ke rishtedaar

Please mujhe maarna mat. (Please don’t hit me). I don’t usually give such stupid headlines or write on topics that sound silly to begin with (actually, I do. Sorry). But this one is born out of sheer helplessness. You see, last week’s sermon on loving yourself, much to my good luck, went down really well with the readers. So many of you wrote back with a pledge to love only yourself, that I got seriously worried for the population growth of our Country.

But, you know, each time a certain week’s write-up is really liked, it leads to quite a stress for me in trying to think of a ‘nice’ topic for the next. I couldn’t think of anything sensible this week (don’t you dare say ‘what’s new’).

Hai, yeh mummy ke rishtedaar-a-calmer-you-column-8-jan-2012-ht-city-sonal

I try my best, and there is a limit to being mean. Anyway, so I thought of ditching writing this week, and instead placed an apology message on this page. But, then I read this mail from a girl who was super-stressed about something so interesting that I’m having to write this minutes before we go to press.
“I have six maternal uncles and three aunts. Sometimes they all visit our place, together, when there is some occasion. My mom fusses over them so much that I can’t tell you. Even if I want to study in my room, I’m expected to sit and chat with them and their families, and run errands. Can you please help? And please, please don’t write my name or mom would kill me,” read the mail.

Okay fine, if you insist, I wont write your name, Preeti, though I don’t see any reason why your mother should kill you if your nana-nani loved and reproduced so much. I’m thinking of ways to help. Arranging for abducting your fleet of mamas and mausis comes to my mind first but that could lead to legal hassles for both of us. Hence, restricting myself to giving tips.

But before I go on, let me state a clear disclaimer. Nothing that I write in this column pertains to my mom’s relatives. Nothing. If you are reading this, Ma, be known that in the interest of truth, and my ultimate safety, I am prepared to randomly repeat this disclaimer after every few sentences in the write-up.

Coming back to the point, we all have rishtedaar (relatives) of all kinds, shapes and sizes, in our lives. But there are none to beat mom’s relatives. Ask your dad and his long sigh will tell you if I’m right.
Mothers, actually, are the nicest of God’s creations and they bring all the sweetness and tolerance into this world. So what if this sweetness is slightly more when it comes to her side of the family? (Statutory disclaimer: Not applicable to my mom, at all). She leaves her home to settle into a new house and nurture it. It’s obvious that her heart would go out to those she grew up with. Woh aur baat hai (it is another matter) that this ‘going out of the heart’ sometimes translates in going out the way when it comes to socialising with them.

A friend of mine often cribs, ‘My mom is otherwise quite penny-wise but when it comes to buying gifts for her side of relatives on occasions, suddenly all restrictions vanish.’ (Statutory disclaimer: My mother does not, ever). Another one says, ‘Mom talks to her sister almost every day. My mausi knows which exams I’ve flunked and how many hours I spend on Internet everyday. She is always ready with advice, sometimes sarcastic comments, about my life, my career, what subjects I should choose and when I should get married.’

Arrey, yaar… it’s no big deal. All relatives in India are born advisers, whether from mom’s side or dad’s side. Someday you’ll also do this to someone. Till then, here’s what I have to advise.

 [stextbox id=”info”]1 Thank God that you at least have relatives[/stextbox]

Many don’t. We are still in a generation when you at least know what a chacha, mausi, bua or mama means. At the rate young couples are opting for a single child or no kids, the next generation won’t even know what the words mean. As irritated as you may sometimes get when the uncles and aunts drop in, do remember that the cool, firang friends you may have made on the Internet envy Indian families for the warmth and the way siblings, cousins and relatives connect. It’s simply a case of counting your blessings. Sometimes we forget to.

 [stextbox id=”info”]2 Understand your mom’s psyche[/stextbox]

A sociologist friend had once told me that there are deep-rooted reasons behind why a married woman, in the Indian set-up or, in fact, universally, is instinctively protective and soft towards her own relatives. Traditionally, from the time a marriage alliance is fixed, the girl’s side subconsciously behaves subservient to the guy’s family — always trying to ensure that ladke waale should not get upset, should be well taken care of, etc etc. The bride, in this case your mother (Disclaimer: not mine, surely), throughout her life afterwards, makes subconscious attempts to make up for it. She wants her parents, her siblings to feel important and loved. And hence, sometimes the fuss, which is so normal … in fact justified. If you see any sense in the above theory, I can safely tell you that it’s mine and I have no sociologist friend. Otherwise, please think that these experts are crazy. They have a theory for any nonsense.

 [stextbox id=”info”]3 Finally, a word for the parents, especially mothers[/stextbox]

(Disclaimer: Not mine. Ma, why are you even reading this? It’s not about you, trust me. I love you). Always remember, ma’am, that no child, teenager or grown up person likes it when reminded in front of relatives that he/she should greet them with respect. If you won’t keep harping ‘namaste karo’ or ‘touch their feet’ or the favourite of the Punjabis — ‘beta, aunty se theek se milo’, perhaps your children would greet your relatives more warmly on their own. I’m sure you didn’t enjoy being told when you were young.
Also, it never helps to point out the flaws of your children in front of your relatives. Even if the poor relative tries to give a well-meaning advice (they mostly do), he/she becomes a villain in your child’s eyes. Discipline your children in private, let the mama-mausis pamper them. They’ll soon start looking forward to the relatives’ visits. You can thank me then, for the advice. I do accept cash, with a heavy heart.

Sonal Kalra is trying to decode the meaning of the phrase theek se milo. She’s going to attempt something on her relatives. She may not be left with any, afterwards.

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So your friend is gay? Big deal!

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It’s most humbling to receive hundreds of feedback mails for this column each week, and the nicest thing that’s common to most of them is when you say you liked it because you can ‘totally relate to it’. Well, some of you may not relate to what I’m going to write this week. But, that’s not stopping me from still taking up this topic because, who knows, a lot of you may just.

calmness-tips-for-homosexuals-gays-lesbians

Last week, I got two mails from two very different individuals, but with a thread of irony connecting them. One mail was from a young college student, Kabir, from Delhi. ‘I’m gay. I’ve totally accepted this reality of my life, though my family and friends don’t know yet, though I’m sure they suspect. Now, I want to tell my best friend. But, I don’t know how he’ll react. What if he starts avoiding me once I tell him? I don’t want to lose his friendship.”

The other mail, interestingly in a gap of just two days, was from 18-year-old Akshit in Lucknow. “I have a serious problem. I’ve come to know that my best friend is gay. He’s not yet told me, but I feel he soon will. I’m absolutely cool with it, but I don’t know what’s the right way to react when he tells me. I don’t want to lose his friendship.”

Now look at this! The first thought that came to my mind after reading these was how most of our life’s stresses are because we are caught up in mind-webs of our own. We spend more time imagining and worrying about others’ reactions than dealing with things when and if they actually happen.

Anyway, coming back to the subject. See, much to an acute embarrassment of my intellect, this column has not turned out to be a forum for serious, intelligent talk. In my own way, I try and tell you how to deal with small problems in life, with simple solutions. In this case, however, I don’t think there is a problem to begin with.

 [stextbox id=”info”]Calmness Tips for People With Unnatural Sexual Orientation [Homosexual, Gay, Lesbian][/stextbox]

Without sounding as if I’m trivialising the issue bogging Kabir, Akshit or several others, I just want to say that I’ve had enough of people categorising something as basic and private as sexual orientation — homo or hetero — as a problem. I would say there’s a ‘problem’ if you or your friend is a pervert, dishonest, cheat, thief, ill-mannered (a crime in my dictionary. Yours?). Different sexual preference? I’m sorry, but no ‘problem’ there, my friend. Still, if it is stressing you out, there have to be calmness tips. Here’s my advice for Akshit and all those to whom a friend, or a family member has confessed to be homosexual.

1 No drama, please:

I don’t know why we think it’s imperative to react to every bit of news. I’m not saying you act indifferent to what someone tells you, but there’s no need for a dramatic reaction to everything in life. If a friend tells you he or she is gay, do NOT say something like ‘Haww. How come?’ or ‘Are you sure?’ or the worst of the lot — ‘It’s okay. I still love you.’ If you use the word ‘still’ as if they’ve told you about some crime they’ve committed, I will beat you up. I mean it. C’mon, man. Somebody is sharing a very, very private part of their life with you. Don’t let the stupidity of your own beliefs come in the way of reacting sensibly. Just tell them you love them, and leave it at that. I still vividly remember an evening 12 years back when one of my close friends told me she’s homosexual. All I felt at that time was, ‘My god, she must trust me a lot to share this with me.’ And my only response to her was, ‘Thanks for telling me.’ It’s one of the few things I’m still proud of. Be sincere. Be honest. Be simple. No tamasha.

2 Don’t let it bother you:

Frankly, I don’t believe in beating the chest and saying, ‘I support the rights of gays and lesbians,’ because that just segregates them from other people, when they are no different. I don’t care if you attend marches or parades holding placards. If you really want to make a difference, do just one thing. Don’t treat them differently. That’s it. Hate a gay friend if he or she is a bad friend. Just like you would have hated a straight friend for the same reason. Love them as much, not more, as you would have loved any other good friend.

I honestly don’t think what anyone does behind closed bedroom doors should make a difference to your friendship with them, unless they are doing something to harm you. The thought of homosexuality creeps you out? Fair enough. Who’s asking you to like it? But how does that give you the right to be unreasonable or mocking towards someone who does? Don’t judge people for feelings they can’t control.

I fail to understand why our society, including our cinema, believes in mostly portraying gays as comic characters. At the same time, I fail to understand why a lot of homosexuals are sensitive about that, because that would only mean taking a joke seriously, when it’s not supposed to be. I have a lot of gay friends, just as I have plenty of straight friends. Some are funny, some are a real pain. It’s got absolutely nothing to do with their orientation. Base your friendship on what sort of a person they are… trustworthy, truthful, sincere. Not what gender turns them on, because that’s none of your business. The day you get that fact firmly in your head, you would be sorted in life. And it’s a good feeling.

3 This one is for Kabir or anyone who’s having a hard time coming out of the closet. Dekho yaar… you do know, more than anyone else that your sexuality is not an acquired fad. It’s the reality of how you feel. And there’s never a point trying to shun reality.

I once read a graffiti on a church wall in Europe. It was not in the context of homosexuality, but it said, “If it is not a choice, it is not a sin.” You get the point, don’t you? If your parents, friends or family see a flicker of shame in your eyes, they would go on a wrong reaction-path. When you’ve not done anything wrong, why torture yourself with thoughts that someone will leave you. If they indeed do, it’s their loss. But, that said, don’t forget that while you may have spent sleepless nights thinking and coming to terms with your alternative sexuality, it is unfair to expect an immediate positive reaction from those who you break the news to, as a surprise.

Your friends may have grown in households where the thought of homosexuality is taboo. We all have. But then, there used to be a time when things like contraception or abortion etc also used to be taboos. Times change. Mindsets change. But not overnight. Give them time, answer their queries, have patience. If they love you, they will come around. Sexuality is just a trivial part of life… don’t make it the cause of all your happiness or sadness in life.

And puhleez, don’t get into an overdrive of trying to understand the psyche of those who just can’t get their heads around homosexuality. The more you try to convince someone, the more it would seem as if your self-respect is dependant on that someone getting convinced. I’m sorry, but it.is.not. It’s OKAY if they don’t understand how you feel. Some things people are just not meant to get. Big deal.

Sonal Kalra thinks that gay parades only reinforce the notion that homosexuals are any different from the others. But, she totally loves the rainbow masks. What to do?