Festive Blues

Oh it’s a time for joy & happiness
….Of celebrations, parties and letting go
But my heart, it seldom obeys rules
….It wants to let Joy decide when it wants to flow

If joyous times and sad times were in our hands
….We wouldn’t ever want to undergo the latter
But life’s not like that, it’ll give you a taste of all
….To life, your preferences don’t really matter

And now the festive wave has passed
….Souls like me can breathe easy then
Emotions can flow again without guilt
….And I’m free from expectations again

The holiday season is officially over, it’s Jan mid and it’s back to business. And I’m happy to be free again.

“Free? Weren’t you free till now?” …. you may ask.
Well, not quite, I was in shackles for a few weeks.
“What shackles?”
I was in the shackles of people’s expectations.
“What did the people expect from you?”
Well, people expected me to be happy all the time
“What’s wrong with that? Is that too difficult for you?”
Letting people’s expectations drive my emotional state is what’s difficult
“But everyone is happy, you should be happy too”
I “might be” & “can be”, but the problem arises when someone says “should be”
“I don’t get it”
OK, tell me this, who created a second?
???
I mean, who came up with this concept of a second, a pal, a shahn
Maybe some man long back
And who said 60 secs=1min, 60min=1hour, 24hrs=1day and 365/366 days=1year?
Probably some mathematician long long ago
OK, and why do you think the guy did that?
To divide time into finite parts
And why would someone want to divide time?
To plan better
Plan what?
Hmmm, to plan things better, things like when to wake up and when to sleep, when to plant crop
Ya, but what is the planning with reference to
The Sun?
Yes, and more actually. The sun, the planets, the solar system, the cosmos
Ya, Ok, I’m with you so far
OK, so time was divided to align man with nature, you agree?
Yes
Now lets come back to 1 person, any one person. Can you define when he’ll be happy and when he’ll be sad in terms of a formula?
Hmmmm
Ok, think of astrology! Astrology is all about finding that formula for each person, based on date and place of birth, and using that formula to predict the future.
Ok
And what else is the formula based on?
Planetary positions at time & place of birth and at time & place when you’re predicting.
Right, so we have nature again playing a role here.
Right.
OK, based on this, different people will experience phases of joy and sorrow based on the relative planetary positions between their birth time and now.
Right.
Now, let’s talk about festivals. Who created festivals?
Our ancestors, and festivals are region-specific.
And what were the festivals based on?
Different things, some season changes, some based on lives of great men who lived centuries ago
And what do u do during festivals?
Different things for different festivals
What’s common between festivals?
Everyone is supposed to be happy?
Now, keeping in mind the (probable) driver behind human destiny (phases) and emotions (fluctuations between those phases) and the fact that man created months, years etc. to divide time, Do you think the entire population of a city or of a religion or of a country can be going through a happy phase at the same time?
Maybe
But how fair is it to expect everyone to be happy?
I dunno
Most probably, just some of the people in the group are happy
And the rest?
They’re puppets of other peoples’ expectations. They’re happy because everyone is “supposed to be”/”should be” happy.
I get your point.
Some people are artificially happy due to this expectation/pressure. Some others who don’t want to force their emotions go into a shell during festive times
Ok.
So the festive season is over, I’m free from expectations and it’s time to come out of the shell.
Welcome back.
Hello World!

P.S: Festival blues or Winter blues is a milder form of Seasonal Afflective Disorder (SAD) , which is a psychological disorder in which the patient suffers from extreme depression during the winter/fall season.

Some links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seasonal_affective_disorder
http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/11/not-in-the-holiday-mood-it-might-be-the-blues/
http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/11/beating-the-holiday-blues/

A matter of respect

Theres always an argument when we compare culture of India with that of the West.

The general perception is “kids in India are taught to respect more than those in the West”. I dont agree; in fact have beliefs to the exact contrary. I believe Indians respect age while in the west, individuality is respected. Indian kids are taught to bow and touch the feet of elders. How many children actually know the reason behind that action? Very few (I didnt)! Still, kids grow up touching elders feet and then they pass on the tradition to their kids, minus the reasoning*. Dont get me wrong here – I dont have anything against age-old customs and am sure there would be valid reason behind the action. What Im against though is respect with too many “where” clauses.

Lets take some examples:
In India, if you meet an elder (outside of the workplace) whos not related to you, you would probably address them as Uncle/Aunty. In the west, you would address them by their first name. By placing elders on a pedestal, we cage them in our expectations. Elders in India are expected to conform to a typical image set by the society. We start setting standards for what an elder should or shouldnt do. In the west, everyones privacy is respected and what they do in their life is no-ones business but theirs.
An example: A person in their fifties remarrying in India would raise quite a few brows in India, whereas in the west, no-one interferes.

Indian society tends to set the norm for “when” people should do “what”. Out here, if youre 30 and still single, your relatives would be very worried and would express their concern at every possible opportunity they get. If you married for a few years without kids, people would be curious about “whats going on”. And you get asked over and over again till you come up with something that satisfies their expectations … for the time being that is.

I once attended a session on cross-cultural sensitivity and was delighted to know that in America, its considered rude to ask someone whether theyre married. Wow, I wanna go to the US of A!

We tend to judge people by their profession and tend to look up to people or look down upon them based on what they do. So, a driver, a steward, a cleaner would be treated like an untouchable, someone inferior whereas an executive as an equal or superior. In the west, people arent judged by what they do, no work is considered low. Its nice to see people interact freely with people they meet in their daily lives with no hang-ups about what they do. People are not afraid to take a break from work or to try a different profession after a few years.

In the west, basic courtesy is shown to even people you dont know. People wait for pedestrians to cross streets, people give way to others in lifts, corridors, even on busy roads. If someone snicked against your arm by mistake, most people would be courteous and apologize.

People are disciplined and respect queues, rules, protocol. Often, youre delighted when strangers smile and say Hi as they walk by. In India, there is major havoc on this front too. Rules are broken without much thought, we jump queues, push our way through anything and everything: buses, lifts, roads, malls, restaurants. Look around consciously and you will see even the so-called-“educated””creme of the society” honking on roads, driving on high-beam, parking in reserved slots, grabbing seats for the handicapped in buses and trains.

Lives are lived selfishly, oblivious to the existence of other people around. We feel pride in saying we are religious but if you go to any popular temple, youll see people pushing other people aside to pay their respects to The Almighty, to reach Him, to touch Him. What about the divinity that lives in each one of us: in you, in me and in the person you pushed aside to speed up your “darshan”?

Then, thinking of all this, arent people in the West more respectful than we are?
Is touching elders feet any good if we dont have an iota of respect for people we work with, live with, travel with? Arent we in shackles of other peoples expectations? Is respect for an elder any good if we cage them with our expectations and refuse to treat them as individuals?

I guess each one has to figure that out on their own!

* http://www.swaminarayan.org/faq/charansparsh.htm