The dog-lovers and the rest of us

I was listening to a conversation between a mother of a 3 year old daughter and the owner of a 3 year old dog. The conversation was held most amicably but I could see how different their stances were. I was not a part of that conversation but could identify strongly with one of them. If you think your dog is like your child, here are a few things that I would like to tell you.

Firstly, I teach my daughter to behave herself and teaching her manners was not easy. She learnt to say hello, please and thank you when appropriate when she was very young. If your dog non-verbally displays similar manners, I will pat its head and be nice. If not, admit that you are a bad parent/owner. I have seen very well-mannered dogs that will understand the guests and come to cuddle only if invited. Teach your dog that. Child-rearing is not about buying toys and cutting birthday cakes and running on the beach sand. It is about helping the child make sense of the world she is brought into and if you are a dog-owner, the same is expected out of you too.

Don’t say “Dora is not a dog”. Of course she is. She is a canine. She barks and howls and has four legs and a tail. You love the dog like a daughter and that is your right. That does not mean that the barking is a cute sound or that the growling dog has to seem less than intimidating in my eyes. The dog does not become an honorary child in the view of the world and it doesn’t have to. Dora probably likes being a dog.

Don’t feed the dog with your hands; it freaks the rest of us out. Tell the dog that begging for food at the dining table is not a decent habit. Think how you’d feel if I did the same with a komodo dragon and expected you to be cool with it. That is the extent to which dogs freak us out.

I can’t talk on behalf of the rest of the non-dog-loving population, but I personally do know and understand that dogs are intelligent and sweet and loving. Anecdotes about how Dora loves nail polish and begs for it will not make me an instant dog-lover. It is possible to expect a decent distance even after appreciating the complexity of canine (or feline) behavior.

Think twice before you say “Children are more annoying and I hate them.” I understand that you love your pet like a child and most people are not going to give heartfelt condolences when you lose your pet to old age or illness. They will not understand if you take the day off when the dog is sick. But just don’t say “I hate babies” to a parent of a human baby. It is incredibly rude.

Maybe it is different in other countries, but I think here in India we have neither got the hang of managing our own pets nor respecting the pets of others.

* The whole “I hate babies” brigade should probably be a separate topic. So many people like to say that they don’t like babies, that it is almost a trend now.

My first atheist post

Consider the 3 conversations

Conversation #1

Person 1:             Hey, I just came back from my Thirupathi pilgrimage. Please do take prasadam. I guess you are a Christian and are not allowed to have prasadam?

Person2:              Yes, the Bible expressly forbids. Sorry.

Person1:              No problem at all.

Person2:              I hope you had a great time.

Person1:              I did. Thanks.

Conversation #2

Person 1:             Hey, I just came back from my Thirupathi pilgrimage. Please do take prasadam. I guess you are a Christian and are not allowed to have prasadam?

Person2:              Well, the Bible does expressly forbid us Christians. But I do make an exception for ladoos.

Person1:              Rules are meant to be broken or at least bent. <Wink Wink>

Person2:              Ha, ha. True.

Person1:              You are very broadminded and accommodating.

Person 2:             Thank you. I hope you had a great time.

Person1:              I did. Thanks.

 

Conversation #3

Person 1:             Hey, I just came back from my Thirupathi pilgrimage. Please do take prasadam. I guess you are a Christian and are not allowed to have prasadam?

Person2:              Well, the Bible expressly forbids Christians. But I turned became an atheist a few years back so that doesn’t apply to me.

Person1:              Oh…..hmmm…..interesting

Person 2:             Nice Ladoo.

Person1:              hmmmm.

Person 2:             I hope you had a great time.

Person1:              hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Bye.

The above have, of course, been merely paraphrased from the general attitude I generally encounter when I identify with atheism. But the tone is very true. I never attempt to discuss this over prasadam or after the death of a loved one or do anything insensitive. I only mention this when I am asked specific questions about my faith. I am asked about thali sentiments and rituals and sometimes I have to mention that my beliefs is NOT what is held by an average Christian and so I do mention it.

But why do people think so badly about atheists? We aren’t the ones blowing buildings up. We don’t bother you.

Yes, if you sit and question us, we will use terms like delusion and cognitive dissonance to describe beliefs close to your heart. But then again EVERY PERSON who is not in the same religion or denomination or caste as you are does think you are deluded. That is a given. So why isolate atheists for this silent treatment? Why is it mandatory that we believe in some God even if it is not your God? What difference will it make?

Religion will never die away, but atheism is not a stance for quirky rebels anymore. It is growing fast in recent times. We can’t always pretend to believe what we don’t believe just because you’d be offended. Maybe it is time that religious folks re-think about their attitude towards the irreligious.

The acid question

I recently noticed this. Whenever I have the mildest disagreement with a man and then go ahead and discuss it with a woman her response is always, “Please be careful, he might turn spiteful and throw acid on you”. I don’t mean a specific woman but women in general.

I am almost always amused at this reaction. It can make sense if I had a huge public row with the man in question and insulted him in such a way to hurt his pride or if he has shown any evidence of having obsession towards me. But often this is about very mild disagreements the way a human person disagrees with another human person.

Have we really gone too far in teaching women that men should be kept at a safe distance? Do we vilify men too much? Where do we get the “Aiyayo ethavathu pannira poraan” from?

Judgments and other things

I have met a certain type of women who seem to go all out for male attention. It may be because of the conservative circles that I typically move in, but it is almost always never done by revealing skin or the physical touch. It is done by implying to the men that they are the boss, that they are actually the gentler sex and that they are much more reliable than women can ever be. And it is also done by actively avoiding female company, judging them “bitchy”. It is done by turning a little bit mean in the presence of women and changing oneself into an angel when the first man walks in. It is kind of like how Sridevi’s daughter in English Vinglish was a sweeter person when the dad was around. But these women apply this to more than just one man.

Then I heard the term “Daddy Issues” and though I was initially loathe to let that term become a part of my vocablary, I invountarily applied the criteria to these women to check if it threw light on the people these women have turned out to be. Initially it was a near perfect fit. The women in question had absent father figures. It was almost as if that judgemental term was the answer I was looking for to explain what was initially completely incomprehensible to me. And sometimes it was the opposite. It was more regarding the father having been too present in the girl’s life to the extent that the girl started to see the father in a much better light than her own mother. I also saw that the male equivalents (Mommy Issues) existed in droves too. And sometimes the family seemed quite alright from where I was standing. In short, on good scrutiny, the theory did not hold as much water as I was initially crediting to it. Slowly I started to learn to keep myself from wildly making judgements on families that I hardly knew. A hundred judgements made, a lesson learnt.

This entire episode happened within my head. I did not discuss this theory saying mean things about people’s parents though the opportunities were a million. Also, the judgement would have been simplified by the minds of those who were listening to me gaining color that did not initially exist in my own theory. My problem was not against those who have more friends of the opposite sex. This was a different, more specific sort of attitude. But what if someone did not fully understand what I had to say? Would that not make me sound like a particularly mean-spirited person?

Something to this effect is what happened to the terms Manic Pixie Dream Girl and Cool Girl and yes, the judgements are almost always on female behaviour. In fact, the archetype I am describing above may be a sort of “Desi Cool Girl.”

But my question is this. Is it possible to become a unjudgemental person without ever taking a shot at a few quiet judgements initially? Is it wrong to navigate our world by making a few presumptions about people based on our own prior knowledge?

Are we using the words “Judgemental” and “Disapproving” interchangeably? If so, why?

Note: Check out how the “Cool Girl” described by Rosie Waterland and Gillian Flynn aren’t too similar. I may be judged a Cool Girl by Rosie but not by Gillian.

Let me shmoop it for you

You’d scarcely believe this, but Rahini is in love.

I met the love of my life quite accidentally when I was browsing about Delilah. (Well, what can I say? I wanted to post something really cool and witty on my new twitter account and Delilah is one interesting character. I take to such research like a fish to water)

So turns out there is this secret community of teachers who are dedicated to make learning fun. This thing did not exist when I was a child. But let us focus on this existing when I am an adult. Things can’t possibly get better, no? These teachers know that learning can and should be fun and so they did what they had to do and made plenty of dry subjects pretty darn palatable, juicy even.

Here is a sample list.

Books – Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn or Sherlock Holmes are all there and not to mention more recent ones like Interpreter of Maladies and Gone Girl and that girl who kicked the hornet’s nest.

The Bard naturally gets his own section with plays and quotes discussed in detail.

Science topics, SongsMythology and Movies they are all there.

The opening lines of Jurassic Park goes “These dinosaurs ain’t Barney. But that’s neither here nor there. We’re here to talk about Jurassic Park, the mega-hit that got everybody in the 1990s interested in paleontology, chaos theory, and genetic engineering.” and this is the upbeat introduction that I have been looking for all my life. I read the Twilight introduction and it is not condescending at all. And the Harry Potter set of articles is not overtly fan-girling him either and that is new in the World Wide Web unless we are talking about boring analysis that deliberately saps itself of the written words’ juice. This is the best of all possible worlds.

And I get to read the BIBLE with someone with a sense of humour. And surely that has NOT happened before.

Please don’t come and tell me you knew all about Shmoop already. I might kill you for not letting me know.

Just kidding. You know I turn to mush when I am in love.  ❤

Those who know how it is done

I have a met a few people who seem to have done things just right.

You got married at 24 and they at 27? They ask you “why so soon?” and immediately turn to ask someone a “why so late” if they weren’t tied up by the golden age of 27.

They know that couples should ideally have an age difference of two or three. It goes without saying that men should be older and thereby earn more. It is REALLY recommended that men are taller so that the photos look good and the men are darker so that the women look fairer. Did I mention that men should pass an extra post-graduation course as men should always have that extra degree? Never mind if that MBA course is not going to be useful at all.

They know the exact number of children a happy person should have. Two. And though they know that you can’t choose it, they believe that a boy should come out first and the girl should follow three years later. That, apparently, is the natural order of things.

“Remain in the first company for 2 years and the second one for 3 years and stick to the third company forever”, they tell you. Yes, that is exactly what they did. Didn’t I tell you that they always get their stuff right?

Such planned lives. I am glad this works for them. But I also wonder. Do they know that there are other ways of going through life?

Waiting in the Wings by Melissa Brayden

Was it George Bernard Shaw who said that a woman will ask you for advice listen very attentively and then go out and do exactly as it pleases her? Hmm. That is exactly what I did. I asked you all for some recent fiction that you enjoyed and going by the synopsis of most of your recommendations, I could see that you knew what you were talking about. But I finally chose something completely different.


I chose “Waiting in the wings” by Melissa Brayden as it was high time I sampled LGBT fiction. And I chose a light read that did not have disapproving straight people breathing down the protagonist’s neck and I chose well. I had been going through a few behind the scenes videos of Ballet performances and could very much connect with the theatre backdrop of this sweet novel. No one disapproves of Jenna or Adrienne just because they are lesbians. All the problems are regular people problems that any woman in a relationship can face. That said, it wasn’t exactly a read that gripped my heart and soul. It was good in a mild ‘one time read’ way.

It had a lot of ‘Oh, how can I admit my deep love? I am not sure if the other person loves me back’ hand wringing and that is somehow not something that grips me. The girl on girl hotness is something that was quite sweet without any cheesiness. Romances of recent times seem to be often about the protagonist’s struggle to choose between their career and their relationship. That is the main conceit of this novel. Jenna has delightful straight friends who give her the support she needs when she is down. The career is almost always an uphill climb. That may not be REAL for any career has its ups and downs. But it was somehow very much relatable in spite of the sugar coating.

So I am looking for a good novel with male gay protagonists. Once again I would prefer something light and some good humor would not be out of place. Got anything to suggest?  😀