Thursday, May 08, 2008

Bare Necessities

When in school the movie Jungle Book was released and as Regal cinema was just across my school we just had to go for the movie. So the school booked the entire theatre for 2 shows for us. After which for many months we were smitten by this song and we would dance just like Bhaloo during our breaks. Ritu Pal, a classmate did it really well and she would dance in many a music class when we were learning this song.

As I grew up I understood and appreciated Bhaloo's mantra even more. This song is written for kids and I must admit it moulded my mind even at that young age. I feel the need to remind many of the people I care for about this song they might have enjoyed years ago or even if they haven't, they should actively listen to it now.

Does it touch you somewhere? It ought to.

We live in times when careers are so important to us. The Money that is meant to provide bare necessities is not enough for us. We pride ourselves in being global resources, earning salaries that match global trends. We are big spenders on a better home, better car, fashionable hangouts etc. We are in the rat race accept it! We mocked the American culture for this and we are doing exactly the same thing.

Family life is being affected by this rat race. Who could realize this more than a person like me who has lived in a joint family of 18 and now we are just 2 of us here in Blr.

The trends show, now it is more commonplace to see couples living separately by attribute of their career. Is career so important? Gone are the days when people like my Mom who did not pursue a career just to be at home and take care of not only me, her only child but even the rest of the family and visitors too. That is not the norm now but should not one of the spouse be making it possible to be together. It is really sad to see many couples separated by distance. This physical distance then creates ravines in the relationships that go beyond repair.

The women aspires to have any kind of career and some who have good ones want to give their best to it. The men are pushed even harder to be better providers, better schools for kids, better looks to match the women. Yes even looking good is not just a pressure for women anymore.

I know people who cannot sleep as they are working hard so they are on pills and some others take pills to stay awake so they can pack more into the day. Where are we heading by doing this? Why are we playing with the most natural healer that is sleep? Analyse this, is it worth it to invest in your work life that you will be done with in a couple of decades? No one will be able to sustain at the current speed. After the worklife is over you will find the rest of the decades gaping at you and no one around you. Simply because you were not around people who needed you most.

The women need to think, do I need the money I earn for myself or the family? Most times it is for themselves, very few shoulder the family demands equally with the husband, this is true especially in middle class and above in Indian families. There are fewer women who need the money they earn, to support families. The men need to think, is family demanding for things beyond their reach. Who is responsible for setting the expectations right? Both need to think what is it they will achieve by so much compromise on personal life?

Are we ready for a simple life? Else the future is dark.

Yes I am. The process began for me 3 years ago quite slowly but deliberately.

I would like to hear a resounding echo from the people I care for, brothers, sisters, friends and all those who are reading this. Go pick up the phone and say no matter what happens you want to be with people you care for and money is just a medium for bare necessities.

Talmalichi vinanti aahe. This is my heartfelt request to you all.

Are you ready to hold hands and feel the power of two? :)


  1. why is it the onus on the woman to compromise on career? and not on the man?

    i see the current trend as a increase in choices. i know someone who makes boatloads of money, travels like crazy and he has a plan. he's going to give it away to those in need. if someone else makes boatloads of it and wants to keep it, that's their choice.

    right now, in the US inflation is so high and returns are so low, that just to pay basic bills you need to slog. it's not a mater of choice.

    i totally agree with you about having a pared down lifestyle and spending more time with near and dear ones, but that's what some of us want - not everyone. i know someone who'd do anything to get away from her abusive 'near and dear' ones. it's not a simple choice.

  2. A very beautifully written article , i am a stay at home mum and i feel so inadequate saying that as where i live where everyone works evryone is either a doctor or enginer or software consultant i have no qualifications have not studied much so cant look for a job so try to do what i know best. but it hurts when evryone asks ,so what do you do all day. i feel i have to work harder to keep the house clean evrything shining a three course meal on the table...
    i can go on i feel so guilty to be at home and i feel i dont contribute u forget you need bare necessties in life learn to be happy with what you have.... will try to do that sorry for the long post you have a great blog!!!

  3. Thoughtful insight into what is happening in most Indian families. I am not the one against women working... There has to be a compromise somewhere and it can be the men of the house compromising too. Research says working parents hardly spend 30mts with their kids. So are your Bare Necessities acomplished????
    The so called American culture has come a ful circle with importance given to families.
    I may be biased being a stay at home mom.

  4. Bee it is not the onus of just the woman definitely thats why I said one of the spouse could make a choice, however in the Indian context our society is not yet ready for a stay at home man. There is a stigma, when one is trying to make life easy who wants that?

    Plus once a man is at home he has to learn the skills required unlike women. Inspite of this in my immediate circle we have had 2 men make the difficult choice.

    Yes I know about the choices people make and also feel it take all types to make this world.

    Hummm that is also true, people staying in far off villages in the US just to save every penny to send back home. I have seen that too.

    May be the abusive relatives is a truth. We don't know if they helped making them abusive or tried to change things. Just my thought.

  5. Anon that side of the story I've heard from the women of earlier generations.

    You have to believe in yourself that you are doing a great job of staying at home for your family. Once in a while make them realize how important it is so you are not taken for granted. Unless you believe in yourself no one will. Don't feel ashamed and now that you have decided to be happy with what you have you will feel better.

  6. Cilantro, here too many companies have just started policies for men and women to work from home so they can watch their children grow. That is a good sign of change.

    Indian's ape American's really well so hope they speed past all else and go to the family is important point asap ;)

  7. Totally agree with your thoughts, and its clearly not about feminism's about doing something for the family and one of us has to take the step...I know of a distant cousin in US who recently got married for love, and now they are working in distant states at their own career...well I for one wouldn't even consider a marriage like this, but if people do find it doable, then I'm not going to complain :)
    Keep going with these thought provoking posts Anjali.

  8. I totally concur...nice post...
    we have set our own expectations so high and in turn pressurise ourselves into fulfilling them which many a times are just materialistic luxuries...and when we achieve all that we have no people, health with us to savor them..its a vicious cycle...hope it gets better...
    Duirng my chilhood I hated it when I couldn't see my mom as soon as I returned from school...she rarely ever went out...but even that one day wasn't accepted by me....I missed her on that day
    I wonder how many mom's today can afford that...

  9. Its a beautiful thought but sometimes even staying at home is a luxury. Sometimes, both spouses have to work to provide food on the table and a good education for the children.

    My mom was at home for the initial years of my childhood, but when she started working, I could see how much pleasure it brought her and how much more fulfilled she felt.

    Sometimes, people work because it brings them pleasure - not just for the money. I was also so proud to see my mom working.

    I agree that spending time with dear ones is great. But look at this side of it - I know a person whose parents struggled all their lives to provide a good education and base for their son, who then left to the US and sends money home for them. Through the money he sends for them, they have been able to buy a house and be safe and secure in their retirement age. And he sees them only once every two years - since he has to save to make a trip to India. And they are thrilled and proud to bits of their son, and they wouldn't have it any other way.

    Sigh. Sorry - this was so long. There is no right answer, there is only varied ways of looking at situations.

  10. "in the Indian context our society is not yet ready for a stay at home man."

    that's why i respect jaidev hattangady (rohini's husband) he was a stay-at-home dad in the '80s. he didn't give two hoots about what others had to say.

    if the men are secure, what others say doesn't matter. fortunately, thee are more men like him now.

  11. I didn't know that about Jaidev Hattangadi, he must be a really strong man to live in the Wadala area dominated by middle class Maharshtrians that has a chawl culture and that too in the 80s

  12. I agree with you, the issue is not so much about feminism but more about "choices" as Bee said.

    It makes me happy that as women we have the freedom to choose these days, now the onus is on whom is a personal choice among the couples, expecially when kids enter the picture.

    Though in India we talk about "Western Culture", don't know how much we really understand it. At least here I see a lot of mothers/fathers taking a break from their career or slowing down and staying home for their child (maybe because help is not easily available and also expensive unlike India).

    Among my cousins etc. in India I hardly see anyone doing that, almost everyone has multiple helps at home and taking care of the child is hardly amongst the priorities of parents. I guess that is the emerging trend in a country where economy is on the boom and lifestyle changes are very rapid. People are not able to comprehend what they can do with all the money and available commercial luxuries.


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