The conflict-compassion conflict

Plurality always existed as did difference of opinions. But, so did each sect, sub-sect, and sub-sub-sect’s
need for individuality.

Is it a surprise then, that there has never been a world without conflict? It goes with the theory of evolution too, right? Every group of humans fighting a fight only because they want to survive?

So, looks like there will always be war to be seen as the fittest. By definition then, are compassion, taking care of the “weaker” ones, etc relatively newer concepts that have to fight a long battle of survival?

Does this apply to non-war situations too? Can war then, be thought of as an extension of a conflict between two people?

Who knows ¯\_(?)_/¯, right? Till then I guess we have to make peace whenever we can, and make peace with whatever we can’t.

~ ~ ~

This is a thought I tried to articulate in response to a discussion on the StoryBench group about “Confilct”.

OMG modified

The kids were playing a game of cards with their friends. The usual banter of a bunch of 10-14 year olds was on. A perfect hot, summer afternoon pass-time.

Of course, I had to chime in a “Language!” every time one of them went “SHIT!” or “What the hell!?!” That would make them switch to “Oh no!” and “Oh my god”. Well, at least for the next two times.

In one of those breaks from inappropriate language, one of them pleasantly surprised me. He went, “Oh my Goddess!”

I was stumped, for a minute I thought I misheard a “Oh my goodness!” (because that is what I use. Why bother God for every little thing, right?). But, he had said Goddess.

He must’ve meant it like a quip, a pun, an attempt at being funny. But, it felt good to see that play of words by a fresh teenager, the true next generation. It was reassuring. Maybe we, the current generation are doing some thing right.

Are people phases?

Are people, phases of your life?

Are kids phases in their parents’ lives? At different ages, different phases? When they fly away, the empty nest phase arrives with a whole new world of opportunities for all parties involved?

Are friends phases in friends’ lives, with physical distance, comes a little emotional one too? You grow apart and then maybe you can’t relate to any more.

Are lovers the most difficult phases of them all? For they leave a phase of heartbreak behind.

You are the sum of a few important people in your life, they say. Makes perfect sense. For a little of each phase, each person that has passed has changed me and stayed with me thus. If it stays though, has it passed?

My daughter, she has these egg-phases. For months she ate plain boiled egg, with no salt or pepper. Then there were weeks of omellette – this time there was salt and pepper only to be followed by days after days of a recipe she saw at a friends – baida roti*. Currently, we are at bhurji**.

The egg stays constant, the flavors change.

We are the same; people come and go. Of course, there are constants, our pillars, our soldiers. But, the ones who are not, they too add to my life, nourish me so.

Then why do they feel like phases? Why does it feel like they have moved on and we are left behind? We manage fine without them, but the emptiness stays. We don’t miss them much either, yet something’s amiss.

The attachment stays, then why is there a pre and a post era? Something changes. Of course, nothing is permanent, everything is transient, ya-di-ya-da-da. We adapt, we figure it out, tra-la-la-la. But then, what did that attachment mean? Does it mean anything now?

~ ~ ~

*Indianised eggy-bread (French/German toast) of sorts

**sauted crumbled eggs with Indian spices

Faking Nonchalance

I’ve been having these intense conversations with a few close friends. Coincidentally, almost all of these friends are single. And I guess not so coincidentally, many of these conversations revolved around relationships – both romantic and platonic (but relatively close friendships). A common theme has begun to emerge. People play games – knowingly or unknowingly, even with people they are close to.

It is not just a “who calls how many times” and “responds to texts how quickly” kind of a game. And it is beyond the quality of the conversations and responses too – no more a dissatisfaction with a “hmmm” as a reply. It is more manipulative than judgement of self-worth based on these quantity and quality parameters.

They are games, I am not sure, they realise they are playing. It is things like –
– She is giving me attention, now she can be taken for granted. It’s as if some battle has been won and now the territory doesn’t need to be heeded to – by way of time or attention.
– As a converse, I should behave as if I don’t care about him. That’s the only way to get him to talk to me.
– If I share my emotions, I will be “showing my cards”.
– Let me ask this question. Her answer will tell me if she is thinking of me/likes me/is angry with me.
– I am giving away too much control. Let me not do this thing he wants, (even though I want to) so he knows, I am boss.

All the above lines of thought point towards one thing – hiding one’s true feelings from oneself and the other and ending up expressing quite the opposite – nonchalance. Faking nonchalance when you actually care.

In most cases, this isn’t a calculated move. It just materialises in the back of one’s mind in a fraction of a second. Only when questioned, might the person figure their train of thought. Unfortunately, though, once they realise it too, it gets only a shrug. It has become so ingrained in the system. When I ask them, “isn’t that a game though?” They either are stumped or they go, “That’s how it goes, Meeta.”

One close friend pointed out, people don’t “show cards” because it is self-protection and if the other person knows how important they are, it makes them vulnerable to the other. But, how does showing the opposite of what you feel help the relationship?

What is so wrong about letting the other person know you care, that you think of them at random times, that you think of them more often than not? Of course, you don’t go about saying that to one and all. How many people do you feel about that way, anyway?

What struck me was this wasn’t restricted to romantic relationships. Other than those, I saw a daughter-father relationship, a relatively close friendship, and colleagues who are friends also pointing towards, “let me not make myself too available”. Most of these people would count the other in the top 15 important people of their lives, if not better.

As far as I understand, close relationships are meant to fulfill emotional needs. Needs of companionship. Companionship comes from sharing. Not only sharing of other things going on in life, but also what you feel about each other. Of course not in words or a “I love being with you” every second day, but by actions – little by little, one at a time.

It doesn’t surprise me that people play games. It surprises me that age (maturity?) is not a barrier here, neither is gender. It surprises me that people are faking nonchalance in relationships that they deeply care about. **shudder**

~ ~ ~

Thank you Ashlu for your input.

Two TED talks and a comedy talk show.

Navin and I watched three YouTube videos yesterday. All three – must watch!

Two TED talks and a comedy talk show that is more informative than funny. These videos have all been doing the rounds on social media for a bit now. But we never got around to watching them, because well, who has time to watch 15-20-30 minute videos during the day! In no particular order, here goes –

Maysoon Zayid: I got 99 problems…palsy is just one

A person’s disability is not their identity. Repeat to yourself, a person’s disability is not their identity. Maysoon is not only funny because she can laugh at herself which in itself is very dark humor, but she is insightful, engaging and has a story to tell. Just imagine, she can identify herself as an Arab, a woman, non-white in America and yet she doesn’t let one of these identities take over her being.

Monica Lewinsky: The price of shame

From a nobody to globally infamous overnight, Monica Lewinsky, reminds us of how cruel we can be as a people. With a compelling and sorry experience to share, she could have let the video be all about herself and it would have been a story I’d like to hear, but she does more. She takes on cyber-bullying and asks us one pertinent question – is it so difficult to be compassionate? A question that we can ask ourselves of our day-to-day lives and life in general.

John Oliver on Government Surveillance – An interview with Edward Snowden

If the Lewinsky video gets you worked up about privacy and personal space, this one isn’t good for your health. We all know that “nothing” on the Internet is private, and even so, it is worse than we thought.

We aren’t taking it seriously enough, I know I’m not. I take it as a given for using free e-mail, free social media and so on. I, in fact, accept it as a no-brainer every time I check the “Read terms and conditions” box without reading it.

Edward Snowden geekiness is endearing. It is a complicated issue – security vs. privacy and he doesn’t help. John Oliver dumbs it down for us and how! 😀

Equally amazing is the fact that the show was aired in the US. The video is up and running. Though that is how it should be and noone needs to be applauded for allowing freedom of expression. But, we know that is not how it is always, right?

* * *

Thank you Amit Paranjape for the chromecast stick, our night time TV is so much richer now. We’d never have watched these videos, if it weren’t for being able to stream them on TV.

Make away “chewing gum for the brain” TV shows, here come cerebral video vieweing. Three videos, chromecast and so much inspiration!

Any suggestions?

Love Limited

When I was pregnant for the first time, I read these articles on mother-child bonding – how the first few months of a child are the most defining ones as far as bonding is concerned, etc. My initial instinct was – what a load of crap! How can my bonding with my child be defined by what I do in the first few months of a lifelong relationship?

Anyway, too shy to challenge research, I chose to believe it. Okay, fine, there were the hormones too. I remember being borderline obsessed with how much or how little time I got with my kids in the first few months.

I came across a similar article somewhere today. But, 12 years and another child later I realise my instinct was right – it is all over-rated. My kids and I are doing just fine, thanks for asking. It’s the other end I am talking about.

Just look at life and you see the innumerable people that came and went in your life. You didn’t connect with many and they drifted away. And there are a few that have stayed around and you became invaluable to each other.

Read that last line again. You became invaluable to each other.

Guess what? This happened even though you did not hold each other when you were a few days old! Miracle, isn’t it? Okay, so I don’t have statistics, but this just instinctively feels right.

I went further along this line of thought. Let’s say even if it were true. That the strongest bonds are those formed in the first few months. My obsession, as mild as it may have been, was so misplaced. As a mother, why would one restrict their child to bond only with themselves and/or their spouse? Thankfully, I didn’t do that. But, was wondering what if I had.

That would be so silly. As if a person’s bonding is limited. As if love is limited. As if any emotion is limited. Well, I believe that a person can be in love (romantically, too!) with more than one person at a time, but let’s not digress.

Extrapolate it though, we do have father figures and mother figures in our lives. We have motherly feelings for others’ children, even some adults. We have those feelings for our pets.

It seems so obvious that it feels dumb to even put it in writing. And its not just new mothers, right? You do see parents obsessed with their teenagers falling in love, mothers trying to resist her son’s new bride, jealous lovers, possessive spouses – they are all around.

I refuse to believe though that bonding as limited.

Love cannot be that limited. You are not that small.

From the Unsaid to the Over-said

Is there such a thing as too much communication? I’d like to go all sexist and say, “I think not, but then again, I am a woman.” But seriously, is there such a thing as too much communication? Can you over-express yourself?

I have known no communication lead to misinterpretations of silences and/or frustrations. I’ve known little communication to do pretty much the same.

Recently, I have had two very important and unrelated conversations with two men. They were each in a situation where they needed to sort out something in their relationship with an important person in their lives. But, out of habit or fear or confusion or willingness to open up, they chose silence. After egging them to talk about it (let’s say a lot of egging, by their standards) they finally opened up. The result from these conversations was, “I am glad I talked, I feel so much lighter.”

I have known communication to help, almost always. Even if it leads to confrontation. Even if it leads to huge rows. Even if it starts of with miscommunication. Even if the tone is all wrong.

I am talking about healthy, functional relationships or at least those that have potential to be so. Not relationships where one party isn’t interested in communication at all.

No one said it is easy. But it works.

You communicate more to get rid of the miscommunication. You apologise for a wrong tone and continue with the issue at hand. At this point then, does it become too much? Can there be too many words?

Have you noticed how even the most non-communicative of people are willing to “talk” when things aren’t going well? What about the times when things are all hunky dory? When there is no trouble in the relationship?

Trust and love are considered the foundations of any relationship. But, I think communication comes before that. How are you going to know there is trust or love if it were not communicated? In this context, the communication isn’t necessarily verbal. Actions speak louder than words and all that. But then again, actions can be misinterpreted too or not interpreted at all. They become invisible to the receiver, “taken for granted” of sorts. So, do you fall back on words?

Do you have to hear “I love you.” to know that you are loved? Isn’t there a chance that if you haven’t heard the words, it is because the emotion doesn’t exist? Does an-“I love you”-a-day make you feel more loved? Do too many “I love you”s make the words lose their meaning?

Turn the above paragraph around in your head for a father-daughter or a brother-sister or a best-friends relationship. How does it pan out?

Turn it around once again to not be about “I love you”s. But, just conversation. Conversation in which you get to know the other person a little more. I have found out more about my best friend of 20 years and myself from conversations. There’s always something more to know about people you are genuinely interested in.

Personally, I love the conversations that have no purpose. Wandering thoughts of two people have brought clarity on many occasions – opened small windows into myself. They reach out to some beauty somewhere even if what they expose isn’t exactly flattering.

But, none of this can happen if there is a worry of “too much” communication. Like with anything else, some “over”-communication can be irritating while others can be some of the best random conversations ever. And of course, one person’s annoying is another’s joy.

I guess it is macho to deal with your confusions by yourself and not express. But it is amazing to have a fellow traveller. Or two. Or three.

What if that number becomes 150, or basically who ever is willing to chat with you on your facebook friend list? Then, has it become too much communication? Oops, for me it has. Because I find myself judging such people.

Like all things in life it comes down to balance. Then? Whose balance is it? Mine or yours? Or hers who is not sharing it with 756 friends but only with 150.

The gorgeousness of silence will always remain, the charm of the unsaid is undying. But, between the romance of wordlessness and the fear of too much communication, are we losing out?

The thing is –
Few or no words have done harm uncovered, unsaid. Worse, they have left emotions unexpressed.
There’s always more to say, for there are always things unsaid. The delightful silence ain’t going nowhere.
How much harm can extra words do? Can the harm not be healed with a few more words?


So, I answered this question on Quora, “What is the shortest sad story you can come up with?” with

She waited for him. Forever.

When I first thought of it, I loved the fact that it can be interpreted in many ways. Of course, didn’t want to explain it there, so here goes –

  • She was waiting for him to reply to a message/e-mail/letter and he never did and we don’t know why.
  • He had left her, and she didn’t know.
  • He was dead, and she didn’t know.
  • She was waiting for what she felt like was forever, but it had been only a few minutes.
    My favorite –
  • She was waiting for the “one” for her, and she never found him.

Multiple interpretations got me to wonder if there were more. What was(were) your interpretations?

And there was the other thought, what if I exchanged the gender, which I tried here

He waited for her. Forever.

Does it bring about more interpretations? Or does it change the texture of the story?

Do men and women react differently to the two stories because the genders are changed around?

Any thoughts?


Amazing, how all through your life, it’s only your family that you know right from the beginning. The rest are people who were strangers with names that meant nothing to you, but for the fact that they came to you repeatedly. Then, that name moulds from an unknown-just-another name to a recognizable face to an everyday companion to a friend to a person you cannot imagine life without.

That once unknown name, becomes so much a part of your thought process that if it does not come to you for one moment in the day – you feel TRIUMPH! There is hope after all. Maybe, just maybe there is life beyond.


Where did the in-between go?

Friend. Close ones.

There are two kinds when you are trying to make sense of the struggle within, when self-doubt takes over every single thought.

Some of the close ones you approach, remind you of your past laurels. But, my self doubt is so strong that it doesn’t allow me to accept their feedback. They take your “side” and the negativity is rationalized.

Then there is this rare breed who gives it to you right on your face. A word of positive reinforcement is denied – ruthlessly. Your worthlessness is validated.

I need them all in my life. A combination of talking to both might bring in sanity – at least temporary. But it brings me to this question –


Where did the ‘in between’ go?