BOSS IS ALWAYS RIGHT

I am giving him too much credit. And he will never let me forget this. In every future confrontation of ours, he will bring this up. Knowing the risk, I am still narrating this small incident of my life. (Maybe I won’t show it to him)

A couple of years back my husband started his own company and I started working with him. (I am telling you not a good idea). I will give you a brief background about myself. Before starting this work with him I was a housewife (right I too hate this term) for the last 10 years. So even though my degrees stated that I had all the required skill for an office job my great talents were obviously a bit rusted. My husband on the other hand was fresh out of the Corporate world with grand ideas about his startup. His expectations were of that MNC level.

My hubby dear used to turn into a typical demanding boss as soon as we started working. I on the other hand was still a bit laid back. Mind you I tried my best. But still, slip-ups were bound to happen. If he got angry with something I had missed and shouted at me I used to feel how dare he speak to me, his wife, like this. I gave him back good and ended up with both being upset. Almost every day we used to fight.

Letters to be formatted in a certain way, customers to be handled in a specific way, records and filing should be up to date all the time. Records should be available on the click of a button. Seriously I was scrambling to keep up with his bossy demands. And mind you we were a Startup and really understaffed. So, it was a struggle. He shouted, I shouted and then I cried (my best defence). But it hardly changed his stance. Eventually, I did understand his way of working and the number of incidents reduced a little. But his standards never came down.

Few years down the line he closed down that business and moved on to another business. And we decided not to keep all our eggs in the same basket. So, I took up a regular admin job in a school. 

Believe me when I tell you that it took me very less time to impress my current employers with my skills. And every time I get praise here for a job well done, I secretly thank my dear hubby for training me so well or at least for polishing my skills a bit. Really grateful for that period in my life now. It didn’t seem like a blessing then but has really helped me in the long run. Because it is the times of necessity and pressure that teach us the most important life lessons.

THE CATCH 22 SITUATION

Most of the 90’s kids have grown up in an India of limited means. During our childhood, we have all seen a cousin or a friend from UK or States who had those Hershey’s Kisses, Mars bars or the heavenly smelling microwave popcorn, Coke cans, the Nintendo games, the colorful jackets with Disney characters… Whereas we were still stuck in the world of Parle G and Gold spot. Our parents provided for us but there was always a limit to spending and availability of things too.


A decade down the line we have become parents now and by God’s grace are earning well. And we decide that our kids won’t have to yearn for small things like we did during our childhood. This futile effort of ours to live our own childhood through our children makes us go overboard. So now the kids get everything branded. Cost is no bar as mostly there are only one or two children in a household and both parents are earning.


Another decade down the line these children are teenagers now. We thought we gave them all the luxuries in life. But these are basics of life for them they yearn for more… And the story goes on…

I see this as a vicious circle in which we will be caught generation after generation… In order to feel that we are much more successful and accomplished than our previous generations. We fall into the trap of materialism… And this deluded search for happiness never ends.

LITTLE CONVERSATIONS – PART IV

No No No… Disha you are not allowed to do that. Don’t start this guessing game. I have really gathered a lot of courage to come face to face to you and share a very painful incident of my past” Said Akash with a grave face.

Disha was really worried. She wanted her little conversations with Akash to start but the look on Akash’s face told her that this was not the direction she was expecting the talks to move in… Anyways she kept silent and gave time to Akash to gather his thoughts.

I have been married before..” blurted out Akash.

What??” Disha started to speak… “Wait let me complete… then I will answer all your questions.” Akash stopped her mid-sentence. She kept mum but there were a lot of questions in her eyes. In our 36 months of relationship, he did not tell me such a big thing about himself.. 

Akash continued…

6 years ago, like any Indian household where the children are of marriageable age, my parents were also looking out for a match for me. Since I didn’t have any girlfriend, I was ok with the way things were moving. After meeting a few prospective matches, I finally met Archana. She was a simple docile girl from a traditional family. There was no reason to say no to her. She seemed like a girl who would fit in our house and my life. My family was going gaga over her. The family background was good and she was qualified. So this seemed like a perfect match.”

Within a month our marriage date was set. I met Archana a few times but always there were her siblings around. We actually didn’t talk much. Most of the time went in the teasing and fun that goes with a grand Indian wedding.”

After a whirlwind of shopping and multiple functions we finally got married. Archana was welcomed into our house with  an open heart. But she was a changed woman the moment she set step into our house.” 

On our first night together she told me that she was in love with another man from a different religion and she had been forced to marry me. She got into this marriage only to get away from her family.” 

She laughed on my face saying that she didn’t understand how I could be such a simpleton and not recognise the red flags during our marriage. Her bags were packed and she left to be with her boyfriend who was waiting for her. And I was left behind flabbergasted. To face my family and the world. I was completely broken after this. The marriage between us got annulled. But I was not the same again. More than my heart my trust was broken. And the world can be very cruel with their taunts.”

Akash continued “I retreated into a shell. It took me more than 5 years to rebuild my confidence in myself. I felt rejected. I could never trust anyone anymore. That is the reason I didn’t tell you before.  I was scared that you might not trust me.. Or you may leave me.” 

Akash was looking at Disha with so many emotions on his face. Disha opened her mouth to say something but the words didn’t come out…

MY JOURNEY

I am a story person. I mean I love stories. Throughout my life I have been a voracious reader. So much so that I used to enjoy reading the comprehension in the English language exam too. Some people love songs and keep listening to it in a loop similarly I can keep reading novels or books or magazines back to back.

But still I never thought I could actually write something interesting which others would enjoy reading. Confidence was low but still there had been a desire to read my name printed somewhere in black and white. I wrote letter to the editor in various magazines in the hope that my letter would get published in the next edition of the magazine. And my gamble worked also. I still have a couple of copies of Femina from more than 10 years ago where my letter to the editor was published along with my name.

My sister Prabhjot Kaur on the other hand had been dabbing in writing for a long time. I guess she was writing during her college time also. She had been writing short stories and articles which got published in actual books and websites. She was very much involved in the print version of Candles Online too. I used to her read her creations on FB, impressed and in awe that she could write so well.

Once while chatting with her I told her that I am very impressed with the article series called O-Zone in the Sunday supplement of Times of India. They gave such a sound advice and such good examples in the article. I said that I wished I could write something similar which touches people. And she said something very simple. “Why don’t you write? You can.. You have the potential..

But who listens to a younger sister. What does she know. Of course I said a no..

But she is also not one to take no for an answer. She promptly told Chiradeep about me and told him to contact and convince me..

Thus entered an angel in my life.

Chiradeep.. my buddy.. the guy who showed confidence in me when I didn’t have it myself. He convinced me that I could actually write. He edited my first few articles too. He was my cheer leader and my critic too.. He came with great ideas and topics to write every week and I loved rising to his challenge every time.

This is my journey on how I became a blogger. A tag which I carry with pride. Candles Online has re-instilled my confidence in myself. It came into my life when my self esteem was at an all time low. My life has enriched by simply sharing my thoughts with my readers.

CROSSROADS – VI

Avinash sat on the sofa sipping while, an action movie on the screen. The perfect evening to wind up. But his mind was not in the movie. He was lost in the past. He remembered the small piggy tailed Riddhima. They were next-door neighbours and practically grew up together. He had a lot of friends but she was the one who used to help him out when he was in trouble. As a young boy, he had a knack of getting into trouble and then face the wrath of his strict father. Most of the time she would come to his rescue. Be it sneaking in some sweet delicacies when he was in time-out or giving him an alibi when he got into trouble. She would always say that you would do the same for me when I am in trouble. 

When they stepped into adolescence both got busy with their own sets of friends and studies. But whenever they met they brought each other up to date. She told him about her first crush on the head boy of the school. He told her about his first kiss with his girlfriend. How she teased him about it all the time. She used to call his girlfriend dumb and he used to be so angry… That’s another story that the relationship with this girlfriend didn’t last long. 

And then there were these famous arguments they had. They could argue on any topic under the sun. That was because when it came to life both had a diametrically opposite view on everything. But maybe these arguments let them stay grounded and not move too much to one end of the spectrum. 

The tables turned when she got her first job. She seemed to be getting into a lot of trouble after that. Oh want an uproar there was in her family when she moved in with Suyash. Ridhima’s mom called Avi to drill some sense into this Riddhi. But no matter what anyone said she was determined to do her own thing.

Avinash supported her through it all in fact calmed down her parents and talked them into accepting the live-in. 

But then that night almost one year into her relationship with Suyash. Avinash got a call from Ridhima. She was hysterical.. Crying shouting, completely broken. 

When the beer spilled on his lap he realized that he was so angry on the mere memory of that night that he was unknowingly crushing the beer can.

Ridhima had on the other hand plucked the courage to speak to a doctor. Or maybe was so desperate that she had to see a doctor. She walked into the doctor’s room. Dark circles under her eyes were already telling her story. “I can’t sleep. Even if I get to sleep the demons of my past and present keep haunting me. I tried having Restil too that is not helping me either.” 

I am desperate doctor.” 

My whole life has turned topsy turvy. It’s affecting my work also.”

The doctor heard her through and asked her a few questions about her age, diet, stress levels at work, and other things. Doctor asked her when did it all begin.

That fateful evening when she entered the room with her hand full of flowers and big romantic plans in her eyes. The day her life shattered into pieces, flashed in front of her eyes. Wondering how to put it all in words.

WORK FROM HOME – I WANNA GO BACK TO MY WORK PLACE ☹

It was raining heavily and I was balancing my umbrella in one hand and the purse in the other hand and another small bag with my tiffin etc. I realised that I had missed my bus. No auto or taxi in sight and I was frantic. There was an open day in school today. I couldn’t afford to be late, I just had to reach before the parents started streaming in. What a bother…

But today sitting at my window looking at the falling rain I was wistfully remembering those days. It was hectic but it was fun. I didn’t know I could ever miss meeting my colleagues, even the irritating ones. I didn’t know I could miss the early unearthly hour of reaching school. I didn’t know I could miss the noise of the children in the corridors and the hustle-bustle of the school. But I do. Only when the thing is gone do we realise the value of it. 

Anyways cut to present. My life revolves around three words – Work From Home. Let me give you the picture. My husband and I are working from home and my two children are studying from home. And the poor WiFi Router of my house is trying its level best but still barely keeping up with the demands of all our PCs, laptops and mobiles. 

With no need to get up early the teenagers in my house get up just 10 mins before the class is about to start. I don’t know how they manage to look and sound presentable when the teacher calls out their names for attendance. 

As far as I am concerned. I have come to realise that with work from home the work never stops. When we used to go to our workplaces there was a point in the day when we used to shut down our PCs and head home. The work for the day used to end there. But it’s no longer so. Everyone knows you are at home and have nowhere to go. So no fixed lunchtimes and no pack up time. Work goes on endlessly with endless kitchen breaks and cleaning breaks in between.

I am at home the whole time but I am not spending extra time with my family. We all are working and talking on the phone. Looking at each other and willing the other person to get up and make the next round of tea.

The guys working in the IT industry had their processes etc streamlined for work from home environment. But I work in a school, we were always hands-on, never heard of work from home in our line of work. So you can imagine the scrambling we must have done to make teaching at home and learning at home possible. The teachers are no doubt struggling and their struggle is visible but the administrators behind the scene are dealing with completely new ways of running the school. Every form, every notification to staff or parents has to be online. Every programme the school used to conduct has to be online, even exams have to be online. All schools are struggling to come up with a foolproof method to test the students sitting so far away in their homes. There have been storytelling, recitation, elocution, fancy dress competitions online. We even managed the group singing competition and skit also online. 

So in short for people who are not used to this system of working, work from home is a lot of additional hard work, intercepted with bouts of frustration ;). But there is one big advantage of work from home. It has made many of us learn new things and become more technically advanced. People who used to shy away from computers etc., are using it like a pro these days. 

So keep learning guys. This is a transition time hopefully we all will learn to handle work from home better.

ARE WE RAISING A BRITTLE GENERATION?

When the popular Bollywood star Sushant Singh Rajput committed suicide I was shell shocked. Only question in my mind was WHY?

I mean as a typical middle class person we all aspire for the success, fame and money. And he had it all… So what went wrong?

He is not alone. Recently there was news of a 17 year old Tik Tok star committed suicide. This social media star enjoyed a huge following on various social media platforms and had gained immense popularity due to her dance videos. So again the question – WHY?

Another actress of the ‘Balika Vadhu’  fame and contestant of Big Boss too committed suicide couple of years back.

These are just a few famous people we know so their deaths have made headlines. There are thousands others – students, housewives, patients etc who give up on their life and it is just a small news item in some inside page of the newspaper. And a notable trend is that the number of young people giving up easily and choosing death as a way out over the struggles is on mercurial rise. And many a times the reasons too are quite absurd.

* Problem – Failure in exams; Solution – Suicide.

* Problem – Didn’t get the new iPhone; Solution – Suicide.

* Problem – Parents denied night out with friends; Solution – Suicide.

* Problem – not enough social media following; Solution – Suicide.

And I can go on with the seemingly funny reasons that we can laugh away but serious enough for this generation to take the dreaded decision or at least emotionally blackmail their loved ones into accepting their clueless demands, as well as jetting them in deep sorrow because of their weakness to confront issues or simply lack of trust on the bond they share with their close ones or simply because of their low to no comprehension of life and its value.

The question that looms large is why? We have a big hand in glove in raising such a brittle generation. See how:

  • The primary reason I understand is the parenting styles. I have seen parents of the mindset that “I will provide everything that my child desires. He /she will not suffer as I did in my childhood for small things because heck I can afford it“. This mindset of new age parenting is actually denying the children their right to evolve and grow strong. The struggle is cut short by providing everything readymade in platter hence snatching away from them the entire exercise and experience of knowing the value of things and they end up taking life very lightly only to be hit hard in the real world. When they grow up and the world does not fulfill all their demands like their parents used to they are at a loss on how to handle the situation. This is the point where they succumb easily to even the slightest of pressures.
  • Not being able to handle a loss is also another major cause of breakdown. Be it a breakup or death of a loved ones; be it a failure in an exam or business or career, some people really struggle hard to cope with it. As parents we need to make a child emotionally strong also. I personally as a mother tell my kids that it’s ok to fall, to fail, to lose because be it a game or life situations change. Not every moment or person is same. You might get hurt but you must know the art of self healing. And I firmly believe that this mental grind must start at young age. Usually we see parents intentionally losing to kids so that they see them happy and as they grow up parents want kids to win for their (parents’) happiness, irony isn’t it? Efforts must be consciously made to make our children understand that losing is not a big deal but not trying again or losing hope surely is. I see rather an alternative approach where winning, coming first, excelling in every sphere for the recognition purposes, being perfect is being encouraged. That is creating an immense pressure on young minds.
  • The prevailing education system sadly is not creating great characters. Our curriculum is on great deficiency when it comes to imparting good value in its students. It’s more or less a system following “demand and supply” theory. The occupation in vogue in the market decides the curriculum of the young ones. Educational institutions are no more a character building laboratories but factories mass producing robots having no substance / knowledge when it comes to their inner mechanisms (read mind and soul) in the face of extreme life situations. Surprisingly a lame man from a village is far more tactical, holding more wisdom and knowledge about life than a Masters degree holder just out of the college with no exposure to life outside the campus. And rightfully he is not the one to be blamed. In the first case life has given the needed lessons but in the second case the education on which the students rely so much for their betterment must have enough material to train the young minds. It’s really appalling that world history has witnessed numerous great personalities whose patience, hard work, perseverance, never say die attitude, humility we can swear by are either never a part of the text books our kids read or simply mentioned as a blink and miss chronology just to add the volume of the book. To put it precisely our education system is actually churning out literates and not educated ones with strong minds.
  • Wrong concept of “space” has doomed us. 10 years of age and we fear saying something to our own kids. They might get hurt, their space might get encroached, they might feel ashamed of our involvement in their lives… give me a break!!! These are the guidelines on which new age parenting is working on. This extreme fear of “we might hurt them” is actually making kids overtly sensitive. Imagine a baby is crawling towards an electrical switch board, what would be the immediate action of the parent , stop the baby or he/she will get hurt, isn’t it? Then why parents of young kids fear the reaction and go to inaction mode? Wouldn’t that harm your baby ? Is the world outside so considerate? It is our responsibility to train our children into a strong personality by telling them wrong and right for our grey hair isn’t just age but experience too. Its absolutely ok if they feel bad now but have the last laugh when life puts them in a tricky position for they know the solution. Giving space doesn’t mean dancing to their unacceptable whims and fancies but respecting their opinions, giving a thought to their ideas and thought processes, providing an amicable environment for their invidualities to prosper in a fruitful manner.

The crux lies in how we nurture our gen next. Right from the beginning one thing must be made clear : Life is not a bed of roses and world is ruthless. Whatever results your choices bear, own them up and don’t kneel down for we have your back!!! And one thing we must remember : Attachment and Love are not synonymous. Attachment with our kids impedes us from being strong whereas our Love for them groom them into a strong personality; an individual with an individuality even if it means being adamant or painted in bad light sometimes.

***Not a parenting tip but an emotional note: I think what a troubled person genuinely needs is empathy and a listening ear. There are already demons inside their heads telling them that their lives are not worth living. So they don’t need any more judgments or rationalizations they need someone to hear them out, pay attention and understand.***

COLLABORATIVELY WRITTEN BY KALPANA VOGETI AND KULJEET SAINI