Sunday, May 31, 2009

Free Hugs

Earlier this weekend Amit and I went to Indy downtown for some authentic mexican food. Weather was nice and breezy and so were our moods. Going to Indy downtown on such nice day felt like heaven. Living in Columbus Indiana we don't find
much fun things to do. I always said, Columbus is a perfect town for people who are married with kids. This town absorbs you like anything if you fit in that bucket. Different events, activities that goes on in this town
are catered for this demographic. If you do not fit in that bucket, then good luck. You are on your own. So you will find Amit and me taking these mini trips to Indianapolis or Louisville or for that metter even to Cincinnati more often than what we wanted.We need a break and means to enjoy life :)
Acapulco Joe's is my all time favorite mexican reastaurant. Your taste buds start salivating right from the moment you eat their salsa. It's so delicious.It has perfect combination of chilies and tomatoes. It's hot with a nice twist to
it - your mouth doesn't get burnt with the hotness but you feel enough heat to crave for more. Their chimichanga is to die for. After a heavy meal at Acapulco's we took a stroll in downtown Indy. People were flocking to downtown to breath fresh air and get the glimpse of all the fun things going on in downtown. It's a
graduation time for most high school students and so we saw lots of 'kids' going around and doing all the 'aaha-s and ooh-s'. I was telling Amit how that age is such a wonderful age. 17-18 years. You are not mature enough to be seriously thinking about world issues and life tensions but you are not a kid as well to not understand the 'grown up thingies'. At the central monument We saw these two teenage girls carrying a big banner that says "Free Hugs". Initially I had no clue what exactly they meant. While we were sitting by the fountain watching people, traffic and passerby's we realized what 'Free HUgs' was. It's exactly what it says. Anyone can come and give hugs to these girls. And mind you these hugs were friendly, affectionate hugs. When I approached these girls, I asked them what this was. In a very cheering and happy tone one of the girl explained to me that they do this
out of fun and to make people smile and laugh. They believed this world is so full of tensions, hate and rivalry that loving another human being is becoming a rare thing. And isn't that so true. Finding someone to give a hug and just say "I see you, I trust you and I care for you" feels so great. There is a sense of belonging somewhere and at times we need that. Inspite of being surrounded by hundreds of people, we feel lonely and depressed. I believe these acts of kindness and love are much more needed in today's world. With more and more materialistic possessions and technological advancements, people are going away from each other. In these times
free hugs are going to be much needed and appreciated. I and Amit very happily gave a warm hug to these wonderful women and wished them very best for their future. I was amazed with the matured thought process they had at that age. Simply amazing. So, next time when you feel lonely or depressed, give someone a big warm hug and see how comforting you will feel by the touch of another human being.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Celebrating Men’s Men

Celebrating Men’s Men

Things have been crazy for last 2-3 weeks. With work, b’days and social engagements life seems to be hurried and extremely hectic. But, oh well…that’s the world of today for you. Last weekend, one of my friend Shailesh from CA called and told me that he is visiting India as his sister was expecting any time. After that, every two days he updated his facebook profile with latest happenings re: sister and the baby. In his recent facebook update this is what he wrote:

"Shailesh is experiencing what little kids mean.... keeping awake at nights, changing nappies, singing funny songs, talking stupid things and smiling at the middle of night as the little one wakes you up.... its tiring, but soooo fulfilling and satisfying.... there is a sweet happiness in it. It just makes me smile and feel thankful!!!"

Shailesh is one guy who knows how to express his emotions. It was very heartwarming to see his love and affection for his sister and her baby. Men have always been characterized as these tough, emotionless creatures but when I see people like Shailesh who knows how to express their emotions, who are there for their sisters in their most important phase of life, it’s very touching.

John, one of my coworker recently had a babyboy. This is their first child and John is extremely excited about the new arrival. Last week, he talked about how he is waking up every 2-3 hours in the night to take care of the baby so that his wife can get some rest after going through the delivery process. Inspite of being tired and sleepy at work, he thinks it is only fair to take care of the baby in the night in order to give rest to his wife. When he said that, I was like “wow”. This guy not only loves and cares for his wife, but he shows that love through his actions. He understands it.And that’s VERY important.

Atul, another friend of mine from Chicago, follows similar trajectory. He knows how to treat his woman – his wife, with equality, dignity and respect. Whenever I call him or talk to him, he is either taking his daughter to Piano or swimming classes, or getting them ready for school. He is extremely involved in his kids’ lives and works with his wife as an equal partner in everything. I have known Atul for almost more than 15 years and one thing I can say for sure is he knows how to treat his lady. And I tremendously respect him for that. He is one of those men, who give equal importance to their wives’ careers, dreams and ambitions in the true sense and is ready to make sacrifices. He knows how to handle and deal with his ‘male ego’. Unfortunately it’s not a common occurrence when it comes to men, at least Indian men. Recently Shobhaa De commented that Indian men still operate in mediaeval times and have very traditionalist expectations from their wives, whereas Indian women are very ‘today’. And that is so true. Indian women know how to wear pants and bindi at the same time –literally and figuratively. I see this everyday. Indian women are competing with global talent in Corporate suites and still managing to cook ‘daal-chawal’ after coming home. There is a big shift in today’s Indian women’s attitudes and life expectations than women from my parental generation. Unfortunately for men, for most part, things have been pretty much same. They are still stuck with their male egos, ‘Their’ career aspirations and what ‘THEY’ want from life. They still view women’s role as cooks, maids and caretakers in the house and completely shy away from their share of responsibility. It’s not at all a team effort for them – at least for most of them.

In such circumstances, men like Shailesh, John and Atul are breath of fresh air. You call them metrosexual, progressive, open minded or just plain ‘human’ – doesn’t matter -they are here –at least some of them. They give you hope, that centuries and centuries of gender inequality can be eradicated with more open and fresh attitudes. They get it. I call them Men’s Men. They are ready to wear a tie and an apron at the same time. They know how to express their emotions and truly value their sisters, their wives – women in their lives. I firmly believe, kids growing up in such progressive and liberal households will have very bright future, because their attitude towards life will be less biased and more inclusive - more open –a ‘must’ component for tomorrow’s citizens. These Men’s Men should be celebrated on woman’s day and mother’s day. They are the biggest aid for the feminist movement. So, if you know such men around you – let them know how much you value them and please tell them to work with their rest of the ‘tribe’ members so that life will be a real happy fairy tale for all women across the world.

Belated Happy Mother's Day to all the moms and also to those who have heart and responsibility of a Mom !!