Monday, November 10, 2008

Dilemma Of Lalita Ji’s Son.

In this post I intend to talk about the Dilemma faced by Lalita ji's son . He is not alone in this dilemma .its a problem , a paradox which many [ but not all ] "MAN" of his generation are going through . Its my take on the troubles of being a man in today's world . while poets ,politicians ,literary pundits & feminist are busy fighting the cause of female equality and liberation this two bit blogger choose to stand up and voice the problem of remaining 50% of human race .

Before we start our inquiry I request you to indulge in a little experiment with me. As part 1 of this experiment Please close your Eyes for few moments, take a deep breath and think about these animals: "Lion ","Tiger", “Panther”. While you think about them try to notice what images flashes in your mind. How do you visualize them? In what setting you see them living? In past couple of week I asked this question to many of my friends. And with unfailing consistency I got answer like "King of Jungle" ,Strong ,Clean ,independent, Powerful, alert, fierce, Sexy ,Powerful , Live by his own rule etc. I am sure that your response will be somewhere close to it .

OK,Now comes the second part . Look back in to your life and think of all those instances when you actually saw a Lion, Tiger or a Panther in front of you & try matching your mental image of these creature to what you have seen . Most of the time people see them in Zoo ,Circus or wild life parks . they are weak , dirty , lazy , feeding on food given by care taker , they look at you and you make fun of them they rarely attack but sometime they roar which is scary . Its always a disappointment to see them . They never live up to the reputation bestowed upon them .

Life of a MAN in our urban metro society is not very different from these creatures . MAN live through a paradox . World has a perception of them as someone with traits like Strong ,Clean ,independent, powerful, alert, fierce, Sexy ,Powerful , Live by his own rule etc . But reality is that more often than not they are confused , weak ,dirty , lazy , feeding on food given by employer, you make fun of them they rarely attack. Its always a disappointment to see them . They never live up to the reputation bestowed upon them . All their life they live in a paradox to live up to an image which they never opted and which is nothing more than a historic baggage . Basic question here is about stereo type . simply put

" Is Stereotypes of "Macho Man" & MCP is any better or worse than a stereo type of "Abla Naari" & Bitch " .

What’s going on here ?

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

~Marcellus:(Hamlet Act 1, scene 4, 87–91)

My friends started getting married couple of year ago. Every year during wedding season 2-3 folks from my gang walked toward the altar or walked down the aisle. situation was serious. Since none of the newly wed has time for their single friends I was afraid that I will be left alone.

Unfortunately that fear was somewhat misplaced .with an alarming rate I saw those newlyweds falling apart . Some of them got separated, some made peace with each other in a sub optimal way and very tiny few of them figure out a middle path and they are living happily. But in every single case the journey was not smooth. it was full of hiccups and rough patches. It won't be an overstatement if I say that I haven't seen a SINGLE fairy tale wedding in my generation. Why?

I know it will sound audacious but I think my conversations with these people and some of the experiences I had in my personal life has given me some insight about why it happens . why most of the nuptial bonds goes through a rough patch . When I say "rough" I don't mean Rough as in Lovey Dovey Nok-Jhok of two soul in some fabled cosmic union . I mean dirty fights, when you feel like killing other guy and kick your self for how you can be such a fool .When compromise becomes sign of weakness and holding to your ground [ No matter how stupid or trivial issue is ] becomes a fight for your identity .

I think there are two reason for this Learning Curve & Biases of Involved parties & Evolutionary Stagnation .

Learning Curve & Biases :

If you don't appreciate the boundaries of your freedom than you are heading toward the Ghetto of slavery

~German Proverb

Transitions are always hard, irrespective of the outcome, irrespective of the fact that whether the transition is chosen or forced . Transition are hard because they involve a learning curve . Learning curve to adjust your world view to new reality. Sometime climbing that learning curve require us to unlearn something . This is more true when it comes to transition in balance of power.We must admit that in our society Man -Women relationship is going through a Power shift .and we [both sexes ] are failing miserably to learn .When I say power shift I mean POWER SHIFT . Not Balance of Power . Power is being redistributed, Right. But is the new distribution Fair and Uniform? I doubt. Lord Buddha Once said that it require a lot of discipline to be truly free .because with freedom comes the power to act , power to judge and power to influence the lives of people around you .

Until recently I was of opinion that much of the friction among modern day Cosmo couples is due to the inability of MAN to adjust to the reality of Equal Woman . But I have statistically significant evidence that women too, are having a tough time to adjust to their new found freedom. I will document only some of those instances here .

Couple of month back I attended a party , a regular Corporate party with a single point agenda of " Let's Get -Drunk-on-their expense". There I happen to meet a Lady friend of mine , We know each other for 2 years now. She is a top executive in her industry & we keep bumping to each other often in such conferences. She has a charming mannerism and enviable persona. After the party all of us felt that we have taken beer in excess so we should go for a coffee . Six of us went to nearby Barista for a shot of Espresso . while waiting for our brew we somehow got in to a discussion on Divorce , wedding , lack of suitable guys & Sexual infidelity etc .Since we were all drunk so every one of us was having a theory [ one of them, who can remember his drunken words is writing this blog ] . All through the conversation that lady was very intently listening , at times amused but she was silent throughout . Then she put her cup down and said

[Lady ] : " I have some news for you people , you are clueless about the topic you are discussing here" .

Needless to say there was a silence [ its hard not to pay attention when a pretty lady is making a point ] .

[Lady ] : "I have a Question for all of you self proclaimed experts . Guess My Age"

"What ?? ". someone snapped

[Lady ] : " Yes ,Guess My Age , and you can look at me I won't mind " she said mischievously

[Guy 1] : 28

[Me] : 30-32

[Guy 2] : 27

[Guy 3] : 30-32

[Girl 1] : 26-29 <>

[Girl 2] : 27

[Lady ] : <> I am 46 . My first date is father of a College going daughter now . I have seen the change in past 20 years . Its drastic .Thanks to my job I have always been surrounded by the young guys and girls . I have seen the change in attitude of men and women around me . Even though I am sad to say so but truth is that while MEN have been very resilient to adopt , women today are not handling their freedom fairly . They are misusing it. Be it work, family or relationships we are ready to play the gender card at slightest of provocation. Many decent guys today spend a lot of time explaining them self to their partner. For men its a Guilty unless proven innocent situation.

this was followed by a long conversation where she explained her view point in detail .

Her reference to "Guilty unless proven innocent " reminded me of a documentary I saw on Discovery Channel where famous anthropologist Helen Fisher was talking to a group of Univ. student. One of the girl in the audience said “Infidelity is masculine nature . so it’s no wonder they commit adultery " .

Dr.Fisher replied " That’s a stereotype notion and I have seen enough cases that i can assert that there is no reason to believe that Man are any less or any more infidel than women " .

"But most of the guys in I know have slept with someone at one point or another " Girl Countered .

Dr. Fisher said "So does that make men more corrupt than women ?? Tell me with whom does these guys are sleeping with ? Other Women right? "

Do you see the extent of bias we have ? It took world’s leading anthropologist to make us do that simple mathematics.

I admit that historically Men has been unfair to women . Men have tortured and suppressed women for last 500 ( 600 ??) years . Does that mean We should have Next 50 or 100 years of masculine suppression.

Ladies, Those men are dead and rest of us ( or some of us ) are working hard not to be like them . Please don't punish me for the crime committed by our great-great grandfather. Try to Let go …Please.

Evolutionary Stagnation:

This point stems from the previous point only. Idea is to examine if our social structure allow such Balance of power ? While we are working in right direction but I think that a massive change in perspective is needed. Allow me to explain.

In our life we interact with few institution . Govt, market, office ,family ( or Marriage ) . Our life is structured around them . any change in them effect our life . Let’s look at the evolution of these institution from the dawn of civilization to this day .

Government : We started as a cult in hunter gatherer society , first Govt was just a head of cult . He was probably appointed because of muscle power but soon this became hereditary and we had families of monarchs ruling us. This system of centralized monarchy evolved in to fragmented feudalism which further evolved in to participatory Govt. like Democracy . Although transition was tough but general trend was clear. More and more decentralization and EQUAL distribution of power & influence to every stake holder .

When it comes to Market : we have seen evolution from pure "Share the prey " system –to- bartering –to- currency based trade –to- banking–to- central banking –to- currency conversion –to- complex derivative based financial instrument ( and now to some god forsaken Sub Prime Mortgage ) . Along the way we developed economic systems like Socialism , capitalism, Mixed economy etc . Again you can see a clear trend in the favor of decentralization , distributed control ,accountability and participation of every stakeholder .

Same goes with the Workplace : We started with system of hunter and prey , graduated to self sustaining Agro economy where everyone worked for himself and did bartering when needed . With the invent of currency we moved to shops and began to employ fellow human beings. Initially it was a Master slave sort of arrangement than we started having wages and salary . moving further we developed complex dependency of supplier, manufacturer ,seller , customer. During industrial age we glorified the “process” so much that people become a pseudo clockwork orange and we had movies like Modern Times & now we have a equal opportunity office , where we call each other by first name . again you can see emergence of complex interdependency which reinforce the notion that individual is as important as institution. people have clear expectation and understanding . This system has a self correcting mechanism which can not be hijacked by a single stake holder for his/her agenda .

But when it comes to the institution of marriage you will see that it hasn't been exposed to that kind of correction and evolution , Marriage has same notion around the world. Boy Meets Girl , they do some ritual and society approve the union. They raise the kids . share the responsibility in terms of earning the bread and fixing the meal.

When rest of the institutions around us were going through turmoil , Institute of Marriage was rock solid example of stability , something which stood the test of time, something which symbolized permanence . My dad has same perception of marriage as my grandfather and I have same perception of wedding as my father. But much as I like to believe otherwise, this is not the case .Institute of marriage is having its first phase of evolutionary turmoil. To be very frank I think it’s much needed & long overdue. Men were getting too good a deal out of it for far too long.

Its widely agreed upon that financial equality is first step to social equality . But I have seen families of previous generations that even when women stared contributing equally to income this was not reciprocated by men by sharing the load in other department . Sadly majority of Man wanted their wife to be a working women but they don't want to chip in with household chores . Surprisingly this deal was accepted to women of previous generation.

Remember Lalita Ji of Surf commercial ? She was women of previous gen.
So who is the rebel now ? perhaps its the daughter of Lailta Jee , who grew up watching her mom sweating it out in kitchen, working hard in office , staying awake with them on study table during their exams while father was fiddling with remote . Perhaps she quietly resolved that she won’t let this happen to her. This baggage leads to some sort of “always –out- to- protect –fellow-women” mindset . there is a skepticism. While I respect their resolution and I am all for equality . But there is one small error of assumption in this theory , Think about Son of Lalita Ji , why do we assume that the boy hasn’t learned anything ? Why its always implicitly assumed that He hasn’t resolved to be different when its his turn ? Just because He is a Boy ?? . I think that’s unfair.

Photo Credit : Creative Genius of Web 2.0 Hugh Macleod


sachingaur said...

Good food for thought. :)
Keep writing.

the who said...

wow.. a big bite of life packed in a small nugget.. very crisp! When people can barely gasp for air making movies on Gandhiji, somone comes up with a movie on Gandhiji's almost non-existent son. Trust Prashant Singh to probably be the first one to think about Lalita ji's son's dilemma!
What a comeback!
Now please don't abandon your readers again..

Tarun Upadhyay said...

Liked your quotes

Rohit M said...

Excellent post Prashant , I think every man can relate to the dilemma you are talking about but I wish i could describe it like the way you did . Great Stuff

PS : What do you think this post will do to your chances of finding a DATE /Wife :)


@The Who, @sachin @Tarun : Thanks I will try not to disappoint you guys :)

@Rohit : Thanks for kind word . I have no intention of date hunting so i guess it doesn't matter .But thanks for pointing out

crystal said...


I'm in the works with a friend here in NYC in setting up the first MobileCamp in New Delhi next month. Since you participated in a previous BarCamp in the area would you have any fellow campers or others interested you could put us in touch with? I would love to chat with you regarding feedback and thoughts from BarCamps there.

Our link:

Much appreciated!

Crystal Ginn