Category Archives: General

Does it make you less happy to have children?

Just quickly went through this article that talks about how your level of happiness increases after having your own kid or kids. The article also refers to a survey that established that people are less happy after having kids.

Whether having kids makes you happy or not depends on lots of factors. It depends on your economic condition, your health, relationship between spouses, the aspirations of both the parents, facilities available in the area, and the support system the couple has. Having a child can totally turn your life upside down. Recently we saw a movie “Marlie and Me” and somewhere the character of Jenifer Anniston says, “Parenting is the toughest job in the world and nobody prepares you for it.”

Clichéd as it may sound, as a couple who have had a baby who, despite being exceptionally intelligent and talented, has some issues when it comes to eating, sleeping and paying attention to things that can make life a bit easier, we could totally relate to the statement. Since Vasudha’s birth we have totally been on our own, as neither my family nor Alka‘s (my wife) family was in a position to be around in case we needed some respite. She’s going to be 5 this July, and not even a single day, or even a few hours she’s spent without us. So for the past 5 years our lives have pretty much revolved around her.

Although I work from home, due to my cerebral palsy, beyond a certain level I cannot help Alka much, especially when Vasudha goes through periodic disturbed sleeping patterns and Alka ends up getting just 2-3-hour sleep for weeks. Sometimes Vasudha used to wake up just when Alka had fallen asleep. And it’s not just sleep. She doesn’t like to eat food but every other thing that can be chewed. She won’t write sometimes even a single alphabet or number without extensive prompting. When she’s not at school we cannot have a single sentence without her interference — spending even 5 minutes together ends up in something disastrous sometimes. She takes minimum one-and-half hour to have a meal. Getting her to fall asleep at night becomes an hour-long or even more project. Whatever you tell her to do the standard reply is “no”.

In India most couples who can afford, have a maid, but unfortunately, our experience with different maids has been quite disturbing. In India most couples occasionally have parental support which, as I mentioned above, has been missing from both our sides. I was living at my parents house when I got married but we had to move to a new place when Vasudha was just 3 months old.

In the building where we live, almost all the couples every second month call their mothers so that they can tend to other things while there is somebody with the child or children. People even go on holidays leaving their kids behind with a relative! The parents of one of our neighbors totally shifted here so that they could keep the kid while his mother went to office. There is nobody with whom we can leave our child for even 3 hours and go somewhere.

Actually it’s very difficult to relate unless you yourself go through a similar situation. The point is, if you try to attach a halo to the experience of having a child and bringing him or her up, I’m going to hit you with my crutch.

Again, as I mentioned above, it depends on your social-economic coordinates. Had we had the support many people take for granted (NRI couples make their parents visit them from India when they have a kid) may be I would have been writing a different experience.

Am I complaining? No, I’m just stating the facts and it doesn’t mean we haven’t had our share of happiness with our child. It’s not her problem that we have had a tough time. In fact, despite all the difficulties we’ve gone through, she’s the best thing that has happened to us, and I’m not saying this just for the sake of saying. She gives us a direction, a purpose. We know that with her around, the only option we have is keep on fighting and moving ahead. And it’s not just a litany of troubles. We have great times together. When she softly touches my face with her small hands or her cheek, the world stops and there remains no other desire. When she is lying by my side, ready to fall asleep, if I want to define heavenly bliss, that’s the time to define it with. We swell with pride when she effortlessly sings songs during school functions and parents and teachers are amazed at her talent. A mere sight of hers lights up the surroundings. She makes our world, our togetherness complete, and we wouldn’t have been us without her. She was our conscious decision, it was just that, we were ill-prepared. As she’s growing up, we’re able to communicate more and things are easing up a bit.

There, I was just going to write a small paragraph on the above-mentioned link. Having children and bringing them up and the related feelings depend on lots of factors, but yes, if you ask me if we ever regretted having a child, definitely not. It doesn’t make sense, but I guess this is how nature makes us. It’s kind of a sadistic pleasure you can say. Right in the midst of a highly chaotic day we do have that WTF feeling but that doesn’t last for long. The above-mentioned article ends quite aptly:

You will lose the freedom to go out on Friday and Saturday night, without a care in the world. You will lose freedom, period. You damn sure will lose sleep. But once that child is here, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without him. You will know contentment at a level beyond your imagination.

An old aunt died

All alone, forsaken by her own children (she was over 85), in an old age home being funded by her brothers (my maternal NRI uncles). When I think of her, the old saying “swarg-naraq sab yahin hai” (heaven and hell is all here) again and again comes to my mind. Nobody ever liked her because she was so selfish — always thinking about how to cause trouble in other people’s lives, how to do as less as possible for someone else — and directly or indirectly she imparted the same values to her only son. In her last years he told her to get lost. She was my mother’s elder sister (and good that my mother doesn’t read my blog).

It may seem crude to write like this about her, now that she’s gone after a painful death, but I’m not writing this to denigrate her. I’m just wondering what made her so ill-tempered and sinister. I never, ever saw her happy. All her life she had to depend on others and still she was never nice to people who tried to help her. She had to flee from her husband (a drunkard and a gambler) who was planning to sell his own daughters to afford a few bottles of liquor. At her mother’s  place she would deny food to her brothers’ kids but would give the best food to her own children, while totally depending on her brothers for support. Whenever there was a catastrophe she would just make arrangements for herself and her kids without bothering for the others.

Among three of her kids (two daughters and one son) the eldest daughter and the son turned up just like her and hence, could never keep her with them. The only daughter that took care of her died of severe diabetes in a young age.

If I think her circumstances turned her like that, then my mother says she was always like this, even at a younger age. None of her siblings liked her or respected her, and they took care of her just because in India we have this conditioning of taking care of the elderly no matter how foul their attitude is.

It’s a live example I’ve seen (something that we read in moralizing stories) of a person who always thinks bad of the others lives a miserable life and dies all alone.

Your vision improves with proper outlook

The new studies have shown that how clearly you can see depends a lot on your attitude. Here’s the link to the news.

This is something I have actually experienced. My vision gets blurry when writing a check (cheque) because I always think I’ll make a mistake, or my signatures won’t match. This is because due to cerebral palsy my handwriting depends a lot on what’s on my mind and how I’m sitting and what’s the level of the platform where the checkbook rests.

My problems with my checkbook percolated into other writing activities and soon it affected my laptop vision too and consequently I had to get my eyesight checked and start wearing glasses. But I never picked up the habit and always forgot wearing the glasses and now I no longer need them. Although my problem with the checkbook remains.

Recently my dad purchased a cheap Chinese version of Blackberry and since he never intended to use it, I borrowed it from him. This instrument is quite ill-designed (of course, since it’s so cheap), and although it solves my purpose (sending text messages to my writers and clients and other associates) it’s difficult to maneuver it in the lying position. So my vision gets blurred when I’m trying to set the alarm in it or trying to play a song. I never had this problem with my normal Sony Ericsson phone.

Media is compelled to go overboard

I don’t remember if it was on We The People or the Big Fight (debate programmes on current affairs broadcast by NDTV), they were discussing the pressure of media and public opinion on recent judgments like the Jessica Lal murder case, the Nithari killings and the Arushi Talwar murder case. An eminent lawyer, Ram Jethmalani was ranting (perhaps, holding his evening drink) about how the media affected the case of the client he was representing (Manu Sharma), while the judge, sitting in the panel, vociferously denied that.

It was shocking to watch yesterday how a youth from Gaziabath was killed, allegedly in a false encounter by the police. It grew murkier by every passing hour and by late evening every major news channel was covering it. If it hadn’t been for the TV channels, this would have turned into any one of those hundreds of encounters carried out by the police. None of the reporters were trying to carry out their own investigations and trying to take the law into their own hands, they were simply pointing out the loopholes — since most of the policemen are basically stupid (they are powerful, nonetheless), they couldn’t even concoct a proper story around the brutal murder.

Whatever was the reason and whatever was the motive, you just don’t pump 5 12 bullets into the chest of a person who is trying to run away. And anyway, policemen are instructed not to shoot above the abdomen unless under extreme circumstances. Another reporter said that the police had claimed there were two more friends of his that were absconding. The jungle (where the encounter took place) wasn’t being combed by the search parties and police dogs.

Anyway, the point is not whether he was guilty or not or whether the encounter was legitimate, everybody knows that crimes go unpunished in our country. 10s of encounters take place all over India everyday with no valid inquiry. In media the common man/woman finds a voice. If the police doesn’t file an FIR, or bullies a small businessman, they can approach a news channel and they’re are more than happy to highlight the transgression. Of course some go overboard, but it happens everywhere. Police goes overboard — criminals have a less fear of it than the common folks. Corrupt politicians have become folklore stuff.

The growth of news media is I think the best thing that has happened to India. Of course channels like NDTV and CNN-IBN mostly act like the Congress mouthpieces and it is often embarrassing to watch them, with more and more aggressive news media, it is increasingly becoming difficult for the powerful people to commit crimes and get away with them.

If you swallow a seed

If you swallow a seed or if a small seed gets stuck somewhere inside your nose or ear it can sprout and start turning into a plant. No wonder our mother used to scare us that if you swallow a seed along with the fruit a tree will grow out of your stomach.