July 26, 2011

{High School Graduation: Then and Now}

The year was 1982. I had just graduated from High School and my eye was single to just one University, the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. There were five IIT campuses at the time with a common entrance exam to get into those. When my name was selected out of all those who took the IIT exam, I was beyond thrilled. I still vividly remember my rank among those who took the exam: 1,363rd. With age, I may not remember very many things from the past, but I vividly remember that day. 1,363rd was my freedom number.  It marked my taking control of my life and being ready to leave home.  I do not know where my confidence came from to feel like I could survive alone in the world outside, but I felt ready. When I think back, my enthusiasm was a combination of me running from home and me wanting to experience a new world outside, both happening at the same time. I had no fear; I had no idea what I should be afraid of. My parents did not give me a big lecture; it was left to me to choose my path in life.

Raka graduated from High School . She is all set to go to NYU. She does not have a number ranking as I did, but if she had one it would surely be better than mine. As I see her celebrating with friends and living up every moment of her last days in High School, I can also see the overflowing excitement in her. It is the same excitement I felt in 1982. 

I am, of course, scared. The world today is a tougher place than the world I jumped into. All I had to do to be safe in college was to stay away from the group in A-Top. The A-Top was a corner wing of our building where eight to ten students lived who were allegedly into drugs. Once I learned how to stay away from them, my life was full of friends, sports, debates, plays, and yes, academics.

I do not know the exact complexities of the life of a high school student or college freshman now, but I know that it is way more complex and tough than it was for me to just avoid the A-Top. It feels like life allowed me a bigger field to play in, with huge margins of error. For Raka, the playing field is much smaller with the margins of error significantly more narrow.

Of course as I write this, I am torn between trusting and worrying. Raka has earned my trust with her actions time and time again, but I cannot help but worry about her.

So Raka... relax, breathe, and enjoy the moment. As I keep telling you, the best is yet to come. Love you baby!

July 19, 2011

{Affairs in a Marriage}

In the last few years, there have been quite a few instances where the topic of "affairs in a marriage" has come up in discussions with my friends. The discussion usually follows one of three directions:

1. Shared blame: In this perspective, couples view the affair as a mutual fault. It is not just the fault of the person who had the affair. Both partners must look back at the void created in a relationship which sets the stage for a third person to enter the relationship. Instead of only blaming the person who had an affair, the other partner looks at his or her role in the marriage as well, examining how it might have possibly contributed to the onset of an affair.

2. No Big Deal: This perspective comes from couples who support open marriages. Even though this is a small group, this group is quite passionate about their belief that marriage is a partnership where open connections with others takes the stress off each other. They believe it strengthens the relationship in the process.

3. Die Mr. Bond!: This perspective is taken by the spouse not involved in the affair. The blame is one sided. There is anger, hurt, and disbelief. Even though it is not admitted openly, the desire to get even with the betraying party exists deep within.

I do not know the right way to approach this situation.

Talking about Arnold Schwarznegger's affair with friends, I realized his take was totally different than mine.When one takes a job, one must be committed to the job and understand the consequence of failure. If you hire a baby sitter for three hours, you expect all three hours he or she will attend to your child. It does not matter if your baby sitter has to go to the bathroom or make a phone call, the expectation remains that he or she still has the responsibility to watch the child.

The same rule applies in a marriage with children. One must understand the commitment he or she has made to the children. The individual should not undermine the consequence of failure by thinking that he or she can most likely get away with it. In fact, by talking to a lot of parents, I learned a simple rule that helps one be in the present and make the right decision. It is,

 “Behave in the same way away from your spouse as you do when you are around them. That way you have nothing to hide and no worries about getting caught.”

I believe that each of us act differently in various situations. Our actions are driven by different reasons. For example, it is not that I do not like to drive faster than the speed limit. We all know it can be fun. However, I do not know if it is the adrenaline rush I get from speeding that is more tempting or the feeling of control I have by knowing I can possibly prevent myself from getting caught due to my car radar. Either way, one day I did the math and I woke up. I realized the consequence of getting caught is not something that I want to risk. There were a lot of reasons for this, but the biggest one was that I needed to be a good role model to my daughter, Raka.

I also realized that I was not smart enough to guarantee that I would not get caught. As a result, I automatically committed to a more mature lifestyle. I am still keenly aware of my temptations to drive faster than the speed limit but now I always have a plan to overcome this temptation.

This evolution of self did not come because I think speeding is wrong. It was a result of wanting to be more mature, and understanding the bigger picture of life.

I completely realize the temptation for an affair can be a much, much stronger urge than the temptation to speed. However, having a plan of action ahead of time in either case is what makes the difference.

July 13, 2011

{What happens after she goes to college?}

How will I stay in touch with Raka after she leaves for college?  Our connection is strong today.  Though, when we are apart, we don’t connect very often.  An occasional brief text message or phone call is all we usually exchange, and those occasions are only when she shares something amazing that she has done.  The good thing is our time apart is normally followed by time together where I cook her favorite meal and we enjoy dinner together.  There are also times when she cooks for me – I truly cherish those meals. 

Other times we both sit in our designated areas in the living room, she in the futon and me on the couch, and we watch an episode of the Big Bang Theory or Two and a Half Men on DVR.  (Although we recently had to drop Two and Half Men as it got more sexually explicit and I simply could not handle it.) We are quiet, but we can laugh and watch together. Even loading or emptying the dishwasher becomes great when we can do it together. 

Come September, the connections we share with the occasional messages will be sparse. 
On one hand, I am excited about her going to NYU and starting her journey as a new adult. On the other hand, I have to admit I am struggling as I think about how to continue our strong connection from a distance.

It feels like it was just yesterday that I was at her very first graduation at montessori.  It also feels like it was just earlier in the day when I attended her middle school graduation. Time flew fast and every moment was a blast. Even though I can try to put on a brave face and say I will not miss her, it is simply not true.  I will truly miss my baby girl who has become my dear friend. 

I am also sure that the connection that we share will evolve into something even sweeter so that I can cheer her on from a distance.  For those of you who read the blog, do not worry.  I will continue to find things to celebrate in my baby girl’s life and keep writing with the pride and love that only a die-hard fan can feel.