Sunday, June 28, 2015

The paradox of Indian mythology and the times when your munchkin makes you feel dumb...

Raya is obsessed with some specific Indian mythological characters ever since we got her a book comprising a compilation of stories of 'Lord' Krishna. While there are quite a few life lessons to be learnt from Indian mythological stories, accompanying some of these life lessons are also some regressive concepts . These can be quite confusing for little ones .

In subtle ways, some stories in the book demonstrate concepts I really wouldn't want my little daughter to get exposed to at this age. For example, some of the stories very casually glorify concepts like polygamy by mentioning Krishna and his multiple wives. 'D' and I were quite at a loss when at a point in one of the stories, when Krishna accepts the hand of an 'indebted' King's daughter for marriage, Raya posed the very valid question, 'Why is Krishna marrying again? He already has a wife .Rukmini is his wife.' Then there is an instance where a King and his wife offer prayers / sacrifices and go through a whole lot of painful rituals to have a boy borne to them after a series of daughters. These are only just a couple of the concepts that I find pretty regressive in mythological stories. We literally have to make conscious efforts to tone down stories wherever possible to bring out meaningful social messages and moral lessons, that would prove useful in Raya's development . It's tough though and it can be quite overwhelming trying to answer questions to a 3.5 year old as truthfully as possible, and in ways that would add value to her life!

That's for the darker side . On the brighter side, there are quite a few other important life lessons to be imbibed by little ones from these stories . Most of us are aware of the significance of those .  I have also  learnt quite a 
few names of Indian mythological characters, myself, from my little munchkin. Characters I was not quite aware of or remember. My little one loses no chance to remind me that Krishna's bird is called Garuda Garuda helps Krishna save many a kingdom Mura and Narakasura, the bad boys are punished by Krishna etc. etc.

In fact, it was quite comical when once, in a confused state, Raya made a statement, 'Mama, maybe Krishna is a bad boy because he hits people with his discus' . Oh well, now what could I say about that,coming from a land that worships Krishna, the polygamist, and all his incarnations :)

Now that's that. Obsessed that Raya is with this book of Krishna stories, yesterday while browsing through the book, she came across a picture where Krishna's body appeared purple rather than the conventional blue that generally everyone associates personifications of Krishna with. Raya asked,  'Who made Krishna purple, mama?' I was in the middle of something and tried my best to provide an answer that would make sense to her, 'Raya, the people who wrote the book' . Pop came a completely unexpected statement from Raya, 'Mama, you mean the author and the illustrator?'. I was too dumbfounded to react ! Felt really dumb and just about manageed to say, 'Yes', in response to her query. Once I had recovered enough, I asked Raya, 'Raya, how do you know about the author and the illustrator ?' . Munchkin replied, 'Ms. Amber told us that author writes books and illustrator draws pictures'

Ms. Amber is Raya's class teacher at  pre-school. This is one of the instances that I have  not blushed, but instead have actually felt good and laughed out loud at being made to feel dumber. So thank you Ms.Amber for all that you do for my little munchkin. Here's hoping that there will be many more such 'feeling dumber' moments for me!

Friday, June 26, 2015

The pros and cons of 'being different'...

So yesterday, a very close friend of mine, 'M', called me from India and she started with "Chints, I need to vent". She is one of the few friends I have a "no holds barred" relationship with. Over the years, I have learnt to brace myself into the therapist, philosopher, guide mode as soon as I hear the words, 'I need to vent'.  Jokes aside, she was in the middle of some nasty office politics along with some social life drama, that had made her really jittery and upset. I of course, used my usual way of rationalizing 'people' behavior, trying to make her understand that it's ok to give people the benefit of the doubt once in a while, while preparing oneself to  keep a safe distance from them as soon as streaks of meanness and interference grow to more than a semblance.  I believe that's the best way to protect oneself from getting hurt, while still maintaining a reasonably amicable relationship with the person/people concerned. Of course, it's tougher in the office/work scenario, given that you cannot afford to become invisible by mentally pushing yourself/others to the periphery, in an effort to maintain an amicable  relationship. I do believe, however, it's much easier in the  social scenario, specially when it involves people one has known only for a few years. They shouldn't be given more attention than they deserve. Childhood friends and family are the only ones worth putting in a fight for.

After an hour long conversation, she seemed to have calmed down enough and the conversation moved on to other topics. At the end of the conversation, 'M' just said,'Thank God for you in my life!You always calm me down.You know na you are different'. I could visualize her smile at her end and it made me smile too. I knew what she meant. Haven't I heard that often enough..."You are different"...different because apparently I demonstrate incredible amount of (some of my friends often say, 'undeserved') patience and tolerance in dealing with people and their mean streaks that surface in different ways...folks would really have to pin me to the wall and have me pinned there for sometime, before seeing me lash out in any form, if at all...different because apparently I am not a people pleaser...different because apparently I never feel the need to suck up to anyone or put on  pretenses...different because apparently I come across as very confident and secure in my relationships...different because apparently I have the capability to let go of relationships that are not  working without much ado about them...different because I have this uncanny ability to either mentally pull myself out into the periphery or push relationships/people to the periphery, without feeling the need to be in the centre of it all, while still having amicable relationships.Of course, the downside of 'being different' in these contexts is that often times, it gets construed as aloofness, snobbery by folks who don't know you well also more often than not results in being taken for sometimes folks keeping you pinned to the wall for longer that you can tolerate:(. Oh well, that comes with the territory.

But what folks often miss is that, 'being different' in these contexts is more often than not a conscious choice. The core of emotions that all people go through in being treated 'un fairly/badly' is always the same. It's the same for me's the same for you. But over a period of time, partly due to my inherent personality, partly due to my upbringing, partly due to my early exposure to different kinds of people and flavors of personalities as part of my college/hostel life, I have realized that 'being different' in all the above mentioned ways is not all that bad. It just means you would end up with a few very close
relationships in life that would be 'keepers' for life...all other relationships would be peripheral, but it would be your choice to give them just enough importance or not enough importance so that they bring joy to your life, rather than stress and disappointment:)

On a lighter note, madam Raya asked me this morning if my office was a 'play office' like her 'play school'...oh well I definitely wish it was. It was 'Share and Show' day in school for her today, and she was insisting that I get a toy from home to share in my 'play office' with my friends. Oh well. With all the thunderstorms hitting the Washinghton DC area, these hot summer evenings, madam Raya is also fascinated by clouds. Leaving you with a clip of what she has to say about clouds.