Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Selfie Fame Craze: Are We Risking Too Much For "Likes"

“I got a thousand likes for my DP!” Squealed my 25 year old friend. She showed me a picture of her with a tiger who was yawning.

I almost fell off my chair, “Wasn’t that dangerous?”

She shrugged her shoulders and said, “Nah. He was an old tiger. They said nothing could happen.”

I was still appalled. Something could have happened to her. A tiger is still ferocious and it only takes a moment for it to react and harm a person. Why was it was so important to her to take that picture and put it up on a social media site?

Recently an MLA visited a drought stricken area and took a selfie. The picture was widely criticised but the MLA wanted to get noticed, recognised and tell her seniors that she was actually there. In her moment of self-obsession, she didn’t recognise the gravity of the situation. She is not alone. There are many people who would say, “What’s the harm? It’s just a photo!”

But the need for the perfect selfie and the desire to be liked and appreciated can go to dangerous lengths.

According to a report in the Washington Post, the most number of selfie deaths in the world occurred in India. Of at least 27 “selfie related” deaths around the world last year, about half occurred in India.

In recent news, two youths were run over by a train while taking selfies on the railway tracks at Purushottampur railway crossing in Chunar area in Mirzapur district in UP state of India. 
In February 2016 a college student drowned after falling off of the Waldevi Dam in Nashik, India, while taking a selfie. In March 2015 seven Indian youths drowned while taking selfies on Mangrul Lake near Kuhi, about 20 km from Nagpur, India. Their boat had tipped over as they were standing up to pose. (Wikipedia)

Our lives are now recorded in selfies. Who we met, what we did, where we are, how we look needs to be documented and appreciated.

What is this need for fame that everyone is seeking?

There are more people who will go online to Facebook to like a new DP than look for a blog to read. In a world which is becoming more visual, the perfect photograph has gained importance. But it’s not just a pretty picture. It’s you in it. It’s how shocking, dangerous, thrilling and exciting it can be and how you look in that moment. It’s the moment of envy of others. Can you make someone else jealous? If you can, that moment is the perfect picture and hence the most amount of likes on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and every social media that you put it up on. If you can even “trend” because of it, or have people comment, share and discuss it, you’re a hit. And if you aren’t noticed, you’re nobody.

In this entire scenario no one really cares if it’s hazardous to your life or if it’s actually ethical!

Our lives are now documented online. Even if we take photos for ourselves, we have a desire to showcase it. To prove we did it. We can’t just go somewhere and enjoy the place, live in the moment or soak in the wonder. Why?

It’s our need to be famous.

Famous people make more money, live better lives, and have all the luxuries in the world. To be famous one need not be moral. One needs to always be in the public eye.

Recently during a TV actress’ funeral, there was much fainting, drama and sound bytes given to the media of how close they were to her. The media played out their stories with their photos and instantly these actors got noticed. In an industry where you need to be spotted, remembered, praised, you don’t think of the right or decent thing to do. It’s about fame after all. And fame that you can ride on someone else without actually paying for your stories, images, and photos to appear in the papers .

According to a renowned Mumbai psychologist Gitali Banerji of and Inner Space Therapy says, “We have become a generation, an era of people who are so self-obsessed that we don’t look at the harm it can cause us later. There will come a time when not as many people will like your picture, or really care about what you do, where you are or how you look. If you’ve built your life on that appreciation, it will become difficult to adjust to normal living. That’s when you get depressed, paranoid, and obsessive.”

In a market that is making better cameras and people taking more photos of themselves and trying desperately to get famous, are we just losing focus?

Hollywood actor Jim Carrey put it succinctly when he said, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it's not the answer.” 

The only way we can find that answer is if we ask different questions. And none of them have to do with being liked or getting fame. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Write India Winners for my passage Love Jihad.

The Rise and Rise of Priyanka Chopra

The year is 2000. It’s the final round of Miss World. The emcee calls a young girl from India, and asks her, "Who do you think is the most successful woman living today and why?"
Since all the Miss Indias’ are prepared with one answer –dead or alive, a nervous Priyanka Chopra answers, "There are a lot of people I admire, but one of the most admirable people is Mother Teresa, who has been so compassionate, considerate and kind." And she goes on to win the title. Lady Luck has been shining on her ever since.

Today, she is the most popular heroine not only in India but spreading all across the world. As she became the first South Asian to win the People’s Choice Awards earlier in USA this year she claimed, “I feel like Miss World again.” And this time she has all her answers well prepared. From being on the Jimmy Fallon show for her American TV debut Quantico to commenting on Trump and the Miss Universe fiasco, PC has a voice and people want to hear it.

Priyanka has come a long way in the last sixteen years. Her life has been coated with controversies of affairs with leading actors to plastic surgeries that she hides well to surrogate babies. Other Bollywood actresses never took a liking to Priyanka, an outsider in an industry that was ruled by camps and contacts.

Priyanka however was always a focussed woman who knew fame and fortune only lay in front of the camera. Coming from an army background Priyanka shone in her first year in Bollywood in the film Andaaz that won her a Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut in 2003. Instead of sticking to the traditional roles and typecasting herself PC went on to do a gutsy, negative role in Aitraaz that won her a Filmfare for Best Performance in a Negative Role.

While the industry was still gossiping about how she was so unconventional looking and breaking rules Priyanka’s life was a roller coaster of covers of magazines and winning hearts. Bollywood wives became insecure when she was working with their husbands on a film, often coming to the set to strengthen their presence in the hero’s life.

One director says, “PC is the perfect actress. She becomes who you want her to be. She can be desi eating rajma chawal and chatting in a Bihari accent with an extremely `Indian’ kind of director and she can have an American accent on how she loves Central Park when she’s talking to a director who loves shooting in New York.”

But Priyanka has been unfazed by gossip around her. Even when she was linked to Bollywood’s top married hero as his second wife, she continued to work hard and prove she was more than a WAG. (Wife and Girlfriend) She stretched her talents to spread into as many fields as possible. Unlike other actresses who stuck to simply acting, Priyanka was a host on Indian television in Khatron ka Khiladi and she made an international music video called In My City and Exotic. Quickly learning that her music and hosting career was not going to get her too far, she came back to choose films that would boost her acting ability further. Fashion, Barfi, Mary Kom, Dil Dhadakne Do, Bajirao Mastani, Priyanka has always selected films with great scripts, intelligent directors and meaty roles that would be promoted well. 

She understood how the marketing system works. It’s not just about the craft or the talent if no one sees it. Promotions were important and PC hired enthusiastic PR representatives to push her image and quotes wherever possible so people would see and hear from her continuously. She hash tagged herself into the hearts of people and several ad agencies who would start remembering only her when it came to endorsements – Bollywood, fashion, music, etc.

PC became the girl everyone wanted to work with and her filmography expanded to over 50 films and over 25 awards.

In 2015 Priyanka started working on Quantico, an American TV show. Rumours surrounded even this. Her rise in the last one year has been phenomenal. From being recognised on a global TV platform to presenting at the Oscars, winning a People’s Choice Award, being on the cover of Time magazine, having dinner with the President of the United States Barack Obama to winning the Padma Shri, Priyanka has left the controversies, and love stories behind. Her active PR agency makes sure that she is continuously in the news in India while still filming for Quantico and Baywatch abroad as she knows that out of sight is out of mind for most viewers.

Priyanka balances all her work with extreme poise and grace. While most actors are afraid of social media, she is the first actress to have crossed the 11 million follower mark on Twitter (currently at 13.9 mil) and 3 million followers on Instagram. This makes her imminently likeable and relatable to the ordinary person who feels they can connect with her at any time. 

She paves the way for showing how to respond to trolls and having a thick skin which makes her even more popular on social media. Recently, talking about Donald Trump’s call to ban Muslim immigrants in US, Priyanka Chopra had said, “I just think you can’t put a ban on anyone. Generalizing a type of people is really primitive.” This did not go down well with one of her followers, Adesh Gundecha, who Tweeted to her: “Priyanka, politics is not your arena yet. Better just be actress for now. WAIT!!” And Priyanka has been winning the Internet with her reply: “You’re right @adesh_1 why should an actress stand for humanity... It’s not our place right?” (

From saying the wrong answer to being the most quoted celebrity in India, Priyanka is motivational to many youngsters who are trying to find themselves and become famous as well. “I think it’s great to be flawed. I am hugely flawed, and I like it that way. That’s the fun of life. You fall, get up, make mistakes, learn from them, be human and be you.(2012)” (

While there might be rumours about how she has used the popular black magician of Bollywood who seems to be helping many a star and producer, Priyanka has proved that her hard work and dedication to her craft and talent has made her globally admired and respected. “She is unstoppable,” says one of her directors.

But her every moment from the time she was crowned Miss World has been used to better her life. She now has a quote for everyone – magazines, newspapers, press, movie premiers, talk shows, red carpets. She’s left her contemporaries far behind and is ready to compete on the global scale. As she rightfully said she’s on her way to “world domination.” 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Review: Before We Visit the Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Before We Visit The Goddess
by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Before We Visit The Goddess is a beautiful tale of three generations of women who have loved, lost, and misunderstood each other over a span of a lifetime. It’s a bittersweet tale of motherhood of three women Sabitri, Bela and Tara woven through a tapestry of different perspectives in first person and the people who were important in their lives. 

Before We Visit the Goddess is a story of immense alienation felt in myriad ways and the deep need to connect to the ones you love. Each mother has ambitions for her only child, only to be scorned and rejected until the final twist when redemption suddenly comes but it might be too late.

The novel may seem linear in format but through the narrations we flicker back in time to go more in depth with the characters’ thoughts and reasons. It’s a story of how small incidents can alter relationships and how time can manipulate your ego to hold on to grudges long after the memory has faded.

Sabitri’s mother is a master at making sweets, a talent that leads to her daughter getting favours from a rich household that allows Sabitri to go to school. Sabitri’s story is a heart warming tale of a young girl who is tenacious enough to learn everything her mother wanted, but falls into a trap, disappoints her surrogate mother Leelamoyi and must start over again; a theme that is repeated in different ways through Sabitri’s daughter Bela and her daughter Tara. Sabitri’s encounter with a stranger and her choices set off a series of events that are intricately related to the lives of her future generations.

Bela, Sabitri’s daughter is passionate and fiery, exactly like her mother but makes choices that break her mother’s heart. She lives a life full of love and loss until she finds small happiness in the unlikeliest of places through a stranger.

Tara’s story is one of a typical American Born Confused Desi with a fantastic new angle. Her desire to fit in, stand out and be accepted is told in a new way until again like her mother, it’s an encounter with a stranger and not someone she loves that sets her on a new path.

Each woman grows through the years and changes to understand herself better and as readers we see how similar they all are. Regrettably only we readers can understand how deeply connected their choices are and the depth of their immeasurable need for their mother who they reject until maybe it’s too late.

This book could have also been called Fortunate Lamps from the letter Sabitri starts writing to Tara: “Good daughters are fortunate lamps, brightening the family’s name. Wicked daughters are firebrands, blackening the family’s fame.”

Whether they are Fortunate Lamps or not, is left to the reader to decide.

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is a master story teller and she has outdone herself in this novel, weaving in narratives from a male and female viewpoint, leaping through decades and pausing for the moments that we over look in life but the ones that actually matter. This book is tender, sublime, beautiful and evocative. You are sucked into the worlds that seem familiar but are always out of reach. One is moved by the stories of each of the characters, not just the three main women. 

I truly loved Palace of Illusions and it was my favourite novel for a long time until BEFORE WE VISIT THE GODDESS came along and has toppled it. Kudos Chitra. Didn’t want this book to end though it has remained with me long after I finished it.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Why Women Judge Other Women

Recently an ex boyfriend of a successful actress declared in an interview that she used black magic and was violent. The post was put on social media. Surprisingly many men supported her while women commentated that she was a “psycho.”

Working mom and a close friend of mine Soumya Shankar went to her school reunion and met her old girl students there. Most of them were housewives and only one was working but didn’t have any children. While the mothers judged the working woman, my friend judged them all saying, “How can these women just sit at home and look after their husbands and cater to their families all day? Don’t they want to do something more with their life?” And when asked about the woman who was truly successful at her work she said, “Haan but then she’s sacrificed having children. She’ll never know the pleasure of being a mom.”

We are constantly bombarded with images of perfect women in magazines, the film industry, and various different sectors. These women have successfully managed their careers and their home life perfectly while looking like a million bucks. The media has planted the image of what a perfect woman should be in most of our minds. This remains in our subconscious so that when we meet women, our immediate reaction is to judge them according to that image.

How do we judge women?

Even while we don’t compare normal, ordinary women to the glamour industry, women most often gossip about each other. Some of the things they might say could be: She’s become so fat. She does nothing with her life even after studying so much. She’s so aggressive. Her hair cut is terrible. She’s got such negative energy. She doesn’t even know how to cook. What an awful attire she’s wearing. She looks tired, she should do something about those dark circles. She keeps blowing up her husband’s money. Obviously she slept her way to that position. Of course her husband would leave her; who would stay with someone who doesn’t want to give time to her husband? She works so hard that her children will suffer and become these brats. Look at how she dresses, it’s shocking.

Housewife Jyotsna Kirloskar says, “Sometimes I participate in judging women to fit in to a group. If I don’t, I’ll be a loner because everyone talks about each other.” We women have all known to say something about another woman deliberately and sometimes involuntarily. It could also be that there is truly nothing else to talk about. Sometimes it’s just a reaction to someone saying something about us as well.  

Where did it come from?

We have seen our mothers, grandmothers, aunts sit around and gossip about family members and other women. Sometimes we do it to build our own self esteem that we’re good enough. Most times we compare ourselves to other women to judge where we stand in life. And we tick mark the things in our invisible list of how to be successful that we have been able to achieve. Loving family, respect, appreciation, healthy body, good children, loyal husband, fat bank balance, powerful designations, etc. If in our head we’ve achieved the things we believe should define a woman or are at least trying to, then we judge other women for not following in those footsteps.

What is the harm anyway?

Gitali Chatterji, Senior Psychologist at Inner Space Counselling believes that when you’re judging somebody you get a temporary sense of happiness by comparing yourself. “It’s actually survival of the fittest. Everyone else is competition, everyone wants to be number one. Hence they judge to put the other person down and themselves higher in this evolutionary perspective. Self-reflection is rare. If you self-reflect and are absolutely honest you can take a step back and analyse is there a personal need that is unmet? And then you can develop that rather than judge.”
Most judgements of others are ego strategies to avoid uncomfortable feelings. (

Constant judging could lead to a personality disorder that could lead to emotional distress, anti-social behaviour or anxiety amongst other serious problems. Judging other women will lead to unhappiness, comparison and self-deprecation. Your behaviour, attitude and words will teach younger adults and children to perpetuate stereotypes and continue with the judgements and negativity.

It could also lead to a false sense of pride, arrogance and inflated ego that could crumble later in life leaving you with extreme depression. When we judge, we also compare and subconsciously compete. This fills us with expectations about ourselves and our lives, which when not actualised could lead to great disappointment.

Bestselling Author Chuck Palahniuk says, “We’ve spent so much time judging what other people created that we’ve created very, very little on our own.”

What Can we Do About it?

1.     Stop feeling envious or resentful – Understand where it is coming from – loneliness, being scared, anger, and insecurity. If you’re a shy person you might look at a woman and say “She’s so loud!” Or if you see a person with a happy marriage and you’re suffering you might say, “I’m sure he’s cheating on her.” Acknowledge what they have and what you don’t and abstain from judging either. Say to yourself, I refuse to comment. I let go of this thought.

2.     Keep yourself occupied – Most times an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. When you are busy trying to learn something new, reading, or have a goal in mind you will stop spending so much energy in judging people and focus on yourself.

3.     Consciously Stay Away from Commenting – Many women friends meet to gossip and comment on others. Try to stay away from these connections since you get sucked in to fitting in or speaking ill as well. Or you can try to change the topic to something everyone enjoys and discuss new ideas. Find friends who will inspire you, motivate you, teach you, listen, discuss and move you. Not just those who may gossip when you have free time.

4.     Realise it may not be your own thoughts – Access Consciousness states that 99% of the time our thoughts are not ours and they belong to something in the Universe that we can neutralise and send back. Like energy around us, we remove these thoughts, feelings and send them back to where they came from without it settling into our subconscious and become free of judgements. “Consciousness and Oneness includes everything and judges nothing. It’s the ability to be present in your life in every moment without judgement of you or anyone else.” ( )

Gitali concludes that “Every person’s path of self-discovery is different. There is a need that is not fulfilled within. So even when you do compare and judge, find the thing that’s lacking in you and be inspired rather than put down that person.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Women Not Allowed.
That’s the slogan that most women have heard for centuries. Women Not Allowed. In voting, dargahs, male clubs, temples, sports, in schools, the army, the list goes on. But we’ve fought them all and recently with women entering the 400 year old male bastion of Shani Shingnapur temple, we’ve finally been able to let the world know that women cannot be banned from any place. 

But what happens in our own society? Aren’t we banning women from certain auspicious things in our own way?

Recently I was part of a group that was discussing a sixteen day puja where every day the woman following the puja had to give a certain amount of fruits to different women every day. I mentioned a young mother’s name and immediately I was shot down by a friend who said, “No! No she’s a widow. It doesn’t make sense to give to her. It won’t count.”

I was shocked. She was a widow for no fault of hers. I asked why it was so inauspicious to give fruits to her.

“Because a puja is about culture and giving and receiving blessings. What blessings would a widow be able to give?” Widows were meant to stick together and do pujas. Not mingle freely with married women. They were a bit of a curse.

The conversation went on to have a heated discussion where I vehemently opposed this thought but no matter what I could not change the other person’s view point.

Many weeks later I was invited by a friend for a religious function. I was surrounded by couples and their children and I was the only divorced woman there. This was the first time I was invited for an auspicious occasion. I brought a big present and greeted my friend happily.

But I overheard, “What is she doing here? Isn’t she divorced? What blessings is she going to give the girl? To live her life independently and not think about the welfare of her husband or family?”

I finally understood why I haven’t been invited for so many other occasions. It wasn’t because I didn’t believe in the rituals of India (most of which I don’t) it was because a divorced woman or a widow wasn’t really welcome in a group of happily married couples. I was and the widow was – 

In a country where tradition, rituals, customs, sanskars hold such an important value that they overtake logic, reasoning and feeling, how can women ever be allowed into sacred territories. The Varanasi widows weren’t even allowed to play Holi.

There is something suspicious about divorced women and widows. It’s like in the olden times when a woman wasn’t allowed in the kitchen because of her menstruation. She was simply not holy then. 

We’ve chosen not to be holy today by not sticking to a marriage or not remarrying after the death of a husband. But then if your husband has died, you’re already besmirched with a tag that the woman is unlucky! So for her to even date, find happiness, remarry and be invited to an auspicious occasion would take a herculean task of overthrowing old patriarchy, deep rooted chauvinist notions and already formulated stone clad judgements on her character. God forbid she doesn’t wear white and actually dresses up, has a drink and a smoke once in a while, it won’t be the men who will be shocked, it will be other educated, liberated women!

As a divorced woman, in this evolving society there are a few people who understand your choices. Just a few. But then to be a successful, independent, arrogant, funny, woman who is living life on her own terms is frowned upon. She is kept away from the husband at all costs.

Recently I needed to call a man to help him with a business proposal that I thought would be good for him. I stated to his wife, “Can you please ask him from my side? I don’t have any husband’s numbers.”

She replied, “Good good. Don’t keep only.”

So I realised that until we divorced women and widows state it, women will not be allowed anywhere. There are only 5 ways we can break the inauspicious curse:
1.     To all wives out there – no matter how handsome and successful your man is, we don’t want him unless he wants us. And we will never make the first move. We have too much self-respect to do so.
2.     All women are equal. Just because you have a husband and family doesn’t mean that we’re lesser than you. Give, invite, welcome, accept, understand and love each woman equally and you’ll get that back from a dynamic woman as well.
3.     Don’t look at women from your high seated perspective. One day you might be one of them.
4.     If you don’t want the blessings of love, nurturing, experience, abundance, security, intelligence, dignity, honour, and respect to your home, child or function, don’t invite a widow or divorced woman. Because that’s what she will bless you with!
5.     Please keep your views to yourself so you don’t pass it onto your children who will be laughed at for being regressive and old fashioned if they do the same tomorrow.

Hopefully we won’t need to resort to high voltage activists to change the thinking of women in our society. Hopefully the realisation shall come from within.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Effect of Divorce on Men

It takes a lot to make a commitment in the first place. You’ve found the person of your dreams and you hope that you’ll grow old with them. So when the marriage crumbles and the fabric of this dream of togetherness starts unravelling there are two people who are left bruised and battered. We rarely see it from the husband’s point of view. Here are a few things that are going through a man’s mind when he’s getting a divorce:

1.     What do I do with my Children? - There are many men who are concerned about their children and not being able to wake up in the same house as them. They want to provide for their offspring but they also want time and love from their children. Harish Mukherjee* is in a bitter court battle against his wife who walked out on him with his two kids. She’s only allowing access to them if he hands over the property in which he is living and a fat alimony to look after the children. But Harish can’t give that because he’ll be out on the streets. So he hasn’t seen his kids. He realises that this will affect the children at a deeper level later in the future but he is helpless. For other men they feel that their children will pick sides and before they can do that, the man has moved away so that he doesn’t get hurt. For others they suddenly need to find time for children because it’s not easy to meet them every day. This leaves a sense of imbalance in their life.

2.     What happens to my Finances and Property? – When the man was living with his wife and children, he was looking after one house. But when a divorce happens, he needs to look after two houses, his own where he has shifted if he’s not gone back to staying with his parents and the one where his wife and children are still staying. A wife may also demand property in the settlement and it could cause a massive ego tussle since the man has worked hard to have savings and buy property and he believes his wife wants to snatch that away from him. There is a deep insecurity about how he will save again.

3.     How did I lose my authority? – Most boys grow up to believe that they’ll be the “man of the house.” Hence they have a lot of power and authority at home, especially if it’s a joint family. So when the woman leaves it’s a huge blow to their ego. Divorce Lawyer Swaty Singh Malik says most men who come to her say, “How can she leave me? I can leave her!” Suddenly when they’ve lost the power at home, men find it difficult to concentrate on other aspects in their life and may try to find that power and dominance over others in other spheres, says senior psychologist Gitali Chatterji at Inner Space.

4.     Who will love me again? – As soon as he’s got a divorce, a man may feel free and liberated and date many women. But it isn’t easy for a man to be alone. After a while he realises that his mind set has changed from what it was when he was in his twenties. He is now so used to having a wife and a family that he begins to crave it. Gautam Iyer refused to give his wife a divorce for many years believing that she will get back to him. After he was convinced that she will never return, he promptly signed the legal paper, got on a marriage website and married the first girl he dated.

5.     Why are people judging me? – Most divorces end in ugly battles with the woman filing a 498A or a Domestic Violence case against the husband. And most times it is true. But in the rare cases when it’s not true, the man is automatically judged by his friends, society and the children’s school where gossip flows freely and he is condemned unless proven innocent. Lawyer Swaty Singh Malik says she has handled many cases where the man has just given away crores to the wife to have peace of mind. She said women can use children and the media to get back at the husband and people will be sympathetic towards her. In not so extreme cases, a couple does lose friends. During the course of a marriage, couples begin to meet collectively. When a divorce happens friends choose sides and suddenly a man’s social circle diminishes. For a man who is shy, reserved and has made friends through his wife’s friends, he finds himself alone and friendless.

It’s not easy for men to get a divorce. And even though they may not show it, they are heartbroken and insecure too. Most men should know that there are support groups who can help them in this difficult time. You must also reach out to your family and friends and talk to them, instead of bottling up your emotions. A good lawyer can also advise you on the correct steps to take. And most importantly don’t shy away from seeing a counsellor in your city who can help you deal with the issues at a core level. 

*(names changed to protect identity)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

5 Relationship Advice Therapists Will Tell You

1.     Accept, Respect & Space– Your partner will have a difference of opinion on some issues. He is not your clone. Let him have his ideas. You don’t need to argue to prove you’re right and you don’t need to sulk because he disagrees with you. If there are serious health issues you are arguing about, find a way to convince him. Don’t try to change your partner but motivate them to look at things differently if it’s really important to you. Respect the choices he makes and give him space to deal with issues in his own way rather than telling him how it should be done says Dr. Shefali Batra psychiatrist and co-founder InnerHour.

2.     A Relationship Can’t Complete You - Don’t lose your identity in a relationship. Who are you? What are your dreams? What are your goals? What if your partner wasn’t there? What if he walks out on you tomorrow? According to Dr. Amit Malik, founder at InnerHour, women need to define themselves outside of a relationship. Only then will couples not take their partners and relationship for granted. When you are happy with yourself you will be happy within the relationship as well. And within the relationship women need to find boundaries. Just because you are a strong working woman outside, you don’t need to be submissive and apologetic for it within a relationship. A relationship he adds should enhance your life, not deplete it.

3.     Communicate About Expectations – You want him to come home early. You want to go for a drive. You want him to attend family functions with you. Every couple has expectations from each other. It’s important to converse what you want and then allow the person to do the things you want, or not when he’s ready. Don’t badger him into doing things as per your time schedule says Dr. Shefali Batra. Understand when he’s not willing to make certain changes. Let those go. Also many times women keep their expectations to themselves hoping the man she’s spent so much time with, to understand her. Men aren’t mind readers. You don’t always need to fulfil his expectations and desires. You need to voice yours as well and remind him occasionally if he forgets.

4.     Boost & Market Yourself – For most women when they enter a relationship, their entire life becomes the man and when married, the home. Soon they start questioning what they have actually done in their life. There get no validation in the house. Gitali Chatterji, Senior Psychologist at Inner Space says it’s very important to build your self-esteem. Even if you don’t have a job, understand what you’re doing at home is important. Recognise past instances where you’ve solved tricky situations and appreciate yourself for it. Sometimes it’s also important to remind your partner of all that you do for him. Boost yourself up a little in his eyes. Market your capabilities by saying something as innocent as, “I’m glad I could help you solve that situation otherwise it would have been a complete disaster.” Or, “Imagine if I wasn’t there to cook/ clean/ manage that for you. You would have taken much longer to tackle/ complete it.”

5.     Pause Before Reacting – One of the most important things anyone can do in a relationship, according to psychologist Gitali Chatterji is to pause before reacting to their partner. It’s very easy for women to be affronted by what the man says, or react to him in a negative way and then analyse where the fight began and how it all became sour. Suppose the man has said something that you weren’t expecting, instead of immediately snapping back, just pause and think if it’s important to react in a negative way and what else could he have meant. Maybe the man has behaved badly for some reason and your instant reaction is to scold him, tell him off, have a fight and prove how hurt you are. Pause. Is it the correct time to talk about it? Is it something that is very important? Can you change your tone if you’re about to speak? Gitali says that split second thought that have before reacting could save a relationship and two people from a lot of angst. 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Child, The Adult, The Parent

Have you ever felt that you’ve gone into a meeting and not known what to say or floundered too much? Have you ever scolded your child and felt bad about it? Have you felt that sometimes you’re not able to stand up for yourself in relationships?

Erik Berne, a psychiatrist in the 1950s created the theory of Transactional Analysis to explain human behaviour for situations that happen in our daily life. He said that we all have 3 ego states of Parent, Adult and Child that we constantly use.

A Parent state is: A response in which people think, feel and act like their parents used to with them. A sheer mimicking rather than an understanding. For example, a person may shout at someone out of frustration because they learned from an influential figure in childhood the lesson that this seemed to be a way of relating that worked. (Ref

Adult: “A state of the ego which is most like an artificially intelligent system processing information and making predictions about major emotions that could affect its operation.” Used for relationships, work places and managerial duties.

Child: A state in which people behave, feel, and think similarly to how they did in childhood. For example, if they are praised, they will laugh and dance and if they are criticised they will feel upset and may cry.

This is Berne’s theory of Transactional Analysis for which he has written Games People Play and several other books.

So most of us would say, isn’t this obvious? Don’t people behave like this in any case?

So I had a slightly different take on the Child, Adult, Parent Theory.

Suppose the Child state in us is just a free, natural person who wants to be loved and gives love freely. Our inner child is someone who requires nurturing, pampering, adulation and is hesitant about the outside world, of all those people in a groups and is trusting of just a few who he really loves. The true 5 year old. Imagine if this person enters a work place and has to deal with powerful bosses and cranky co-workers. They’ll most likely throw fits at work, want special attention and may get terribly upset if criticised.

An Adult manages that.

The Adult state is the one where the person has power or control over their relationships, they’re able to balance their duties and responsibilities at work and stand up for themselves because they understand what it’s taken for them to be there. 

An Adult state of being is a person who doesn’t let fear rule their decisions. An Adult ego is someone who is more calculating, manipulative and figures out strategies that work best for him. An over active Adult state without the Child or Parent state could lead to someone who is selfish, narcissist, dominating and may not have balanced relationships.

A Parent state for me, is very different than what Erik Berne defined.

The Parent state is one of the ego or soul longing for more in life than wealth, fame and success. It’s the desire to just be searching, questioning, grasping for a higher light, a deeper meaning, inner truth, living in the moment, and extreme mindfulness. Most people who are just in this state will have given up most of the worldly pleasures to focus on doing something for humanity, or finding something deeper about themselves or the world in general. 

The Parent person is also a very giving person. If you’re in this state you’ll feel like giving advice, generally helping people, nurturing someone, or just being alone to meditate, seek answers from within, etc.

So how do we apply this in our daily lives?

First of all, we need an awareness that these 3 states exist within us and they can switch in a moment or take an extended period of time. Most people can behave in just a Child state in a work environment or in their relationships their whole lives, unable to understand why they are failing at both. 

If at work you are aware of these states you’ll acknowledge if you’re behaving like the Child, Adult or spending too much time as the Parent that is affecting your work.

Are your reactions immature (Child)? Are you just wanting to give up everything and go to the hills (Parent)? Or are you taking in the information and forming a strategy in your head before responding (Adult)? 

In relationships, are you over nurturing, allowing your partner to make many faults while you cover up for them? (Parent) Are you looking for attention, feeling insecure and fearful of what could happen? (Child) Are you dominating and emotionally unavailable sometimes because it’s a strategy to not be vulnerable? (Adult)

As a householder are you too aloof, into your own thoughts, not caring about the world and what is needed to survive? (Parent)

Transactional Analysis is then a way to alter your ego state to the situation to solve your emotional problem.

This comes through an inner dialogue of the different psyches.

Berne believed that these states are largely formed through childhood. I believe that childhood has a part to play in the formation but each moment that we have to choose the state plays in the development of which state becomes stronger.

You will find many successful people who are just in the Adult state. They have the Parent lacking in them.

Many people who have a very developed Child aspect in them but not the Adult state will not be able to fathom why they’re not taken seriously.

An over active Adult who doesn’t have a balanced Child ego will feel jaded and bitter with life. A Child ego brings wonder, happiness, hope and dreams and is the state that can tap into the subconscious level as well.

So the next time you’re going for a meeting, know that you need to be an Adult there. And when you’re in a relationship, maybe in that moment you can be a child. And find moments in your life to truly be the Parent and seek out a deeper truth and meaning of life.
And always be consciously aware of what you’re choosing and why!

(Inputs from Anuraadha Tewari, Writer & Director) 

Monday, February 29, 2016

Book Review: In Other Words - Jhumpa Lahiri.

I am reviewing this book under the Flipkart Book Review Program.

It is my unbiased opinion.

Jhumpa Lahiri’s new book In Altre Parole is a memoir written in Italian and translated into English In Other Words about her journey to find her identity through language. Born as a Bengali Nilanjana Sudeshna, Jhumpa has recreated herself several times through her books bringing out the issues of exile, alienation and identity. In her first nonfiction attempt she chooses to give us a glimpse of the two years in her life when she moved from USA to Italy where she stayed with her Spanish husband and two children (Octavio and Noor, again breaking from the true form of identity through name for them.)
The book is beautifully written, full of angst of the author to find a new voice and identity through language. In the world, there are Trans Gender people who want to completely change themselves because they feel they belong to the other gender. Jhumpa is “trans linguistic” because in her heart she feels she is neither Bengali even though she was born to Bengali parents nor English because she was raised in London and USA but feels more Italian because she chooses it and intrinsically had felt so for many years.
While the book is interesting to read, after a point the reader may feel “What’s the big deal? It’s only a third language she is learning and we know Hindi, English, Marathi, Bengali and even French or Spanish!”

The book is evocative, truthful and a slice of Jhumpa Lahiri’s life and work. Not many authors have crossed over to new languages to write and Jhumpa through “In Altre Parole” urges writers to go beyond their comfort zones and to do more for their craft. But more than that it didn’t leave me as riveted as The Lowland or The Namesake. I hope Jhumpa continues to write stories in English, not just for the awards that she will gather no doubt, but because she has the gift of storytelling that must not die in any language.  

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Forbidden Desires

‘Why do romantic relationships fade away? Does the magic slowly die? Or do lovers simply wake up one morning realizing they are done? Is it a trick that time plays on happy couples or is it something more profound, an evolution perhaps, of our feelings and our needs?’

Imagine if there was a person you don’t know anything about, who was slowing destroying your marriage.

Imagine if there was a stranger who entered your life and made you realize you were living a lie.

Imagine if there was a love so deep that you needed to sacrifice everything you have to save it.

Imagine if you found out your partner was cheating on you.

What would you do?

Naina, Ayesha, Kavita and Kaajal are four women who know nothing about each other’s lives and continue to live in their own secure world. Until one day, they’re forced to reckon with their shocking truths that they never imagined!

Their desires will come to haunt them, provoke them and make them fight to choose a new path in their lives.

Will these women survive their stories of passion, betrayal and pain? And is there a larger mystery that binds them together?

Best selling author and film writer Madhuri Banerjee brings to you a new romance thriller that interweaves different stories of women and their passions and how all relationships ultimately crash into each other.

Available at leading book stores and on Amazon: Flipkart: