Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Autumn activities

It's official, I am in love with Autumn! Fall wardrobes, festivities, and even spiced Chai (which I never cared for before and now am making regularly!) they're all way too much fun and I can't wait until Halloween next week to dress up Ali! Last year he was only 10 months around Halloween and ended up being so tired after the costume parade at his daycare he fell asleep, so we did not take him trick or treating. This year I am so looking forward to taking him out! Also, last year I threw a costume party which I was hoping to turn into an annual event (we did one in 2008 as well), but  honestly it's a lot of effort so I'm sticking to making it a triennial bash! I know, I  enjoy getting into all seasonal activities a weeee more than your average person, (can't wait til winter: hot cocoa, snowman-shaped sugar cookies, gingerbread houses, holiday made for tv movies, fleece pajamas, and going around town to see the most decorated houses!!) but I just can't help it! So we're taking full advantage of fact that we live in an area with amazing foliage and before the weather gets too cold for outdoor activities we've been taking Ali out almost every weekend for some autumn fun! It's a lot more enjoyable this year as he's more interactive and so curious to see, touch, (sometimes even taste!) everything around him.

We went to a barnyard birthday party this weekend and it was a wonderful fall activity. Ali had his first pony (actually a horse) ride, which he didn't seem to care for. We weren't sure if it was because he had just woken from a nap or if he really wasn't as stoked as we were, but he was about as interested in the experience as most people are in watching water boil. What actually got me laughing was to see that he found the rocking horses set up inside the barn way more thrilling. He was squealing with excitement riding on the fake horse (sort of like how we were expecting on the real one) and spent majority of the party there we literally had to drag him out at the end. It was also his first time at a petting zoo with baby goats, bunnies, pigeons, a huge pig, cows, sheep, llamas, emu, and roosters. Needless to say, all the practicing of 'farm animal sounds' was put to good use this weekend. The next day the weather was really gorgeous out again so we took him out to the park for a stroll and had him identify all the bright colors ('wed' and 'yeyyow' are a favorite. we're still working on 'orange'). But, I think his favorite activity all weekend was when his dad threw him in the air. I swear the look on this child's face let me know what inspired JM Barrie to write Peter Pan! Here's a glimpse at our fall activities so far:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Desi Guys I am putting you on blast

In my opinion, there are several underlying issues concerning the modern day South Asian male* (here on out, you are referred to as Desi. Those who don’t know what that means, urban dictionary it). But, the root of all those problems I believe should be called the 'Peter Pan' syndrome. I’m not sure if this has already been named before and I'm totally copyright infringing, but it just fits so well!

From Google Image: Dammit I knew I wasn't creative enough to come up with this word!

You don’t want to grow up simply because why should you if you don’t have to? You’ve gotten by so far by being just average and it’s worked pretty decent in your favor so why bother aiming higher? I see all these over grown boys walking around who are enjoying the perks of being an adult while getting away with behaving like a child, lacking responsibility and having a blasé outlook. So, I took it upon myself, in my visionary attempts of rectifying this occurrence (sarcasm), to blow up your spot. If you are male, between 23-32 years old, possibly single, still living and relying on your parents this may be about you. Rest assured I am aware, you ‘don’t care’ and you might be too lazy to even bother trying since this is too long and you’ll probably lose interest. But I will add a disclaimer that this is a broaaaad generalization. Any sensible person would agree I’m generalizing, as each person is unique and no two guys will ever be the same, but I’m trying to BROADLY define what’s wrong with desi guys and why they need to clean up their act! ;)

I’m focused on the desi male population raised in the US, as I interact more closely with them than I do with their non-desi counterparts and based on what interaction I do have with the non-desis (I sit with ten white males 8 hours a day, 5 days a week in an open office environment) I’d still say our desi men are lagging behind their fair skinned pals.

Peter Pan Syndrome, PPS, appears in Desi men due to a combination of factors and is displayed by clear signs listed below:

1)       Upbringing. These guys are of a generation born to traditionally conservative parents who migrated from abroad and wanted to give their children a ‘better’ life than they had while preserving a culture they cherish. While they focused heavily on the importance of academic success, Desi parents neglected to teach their offspring** basic skills in responsibility. Males in most Desi homes are given special treatment requiring little to no involvement in household chores. This creates a very lazy individual who thinks all small tasks are beneath him because he’s too ‘busy’ working towards more ‘important’ things. So while these boys are intelligent in school, give most of them a  mop and see how quickly they try to drop it. Besides, mops belong in the hands of a woman anyway, right? (chauvinism and superiority complexes being among the top gifts your great grandfather left you in his will). But, my point isn’t about the lack of helping around the house (maybe a little bit), it’s about having accountability in day to day activities. You want to be a well-liked leader of the house or in the office? Start acting like one. Leaders have responsibilities, even small ones, and always ‘delegating’ them to others paints an image of you being arrogant and uncaring. Keep it up and see how fast your 'minions’ revolt!

Back to Desi parents, along with focusing too much on education, they tend not to be advocates of playing team sports at a young age (due to factors such as cheapness and time away from studies).  I realize more and more the importance of team sports as I grow up. It teaches one to have goals, to work hard for those goals, to keep trying to be better, as well as the value of physical activity and most importantly, it teaches failure. Desi men don't accept when they have failed, simply because they are sore losers who never learned how to cope with failure. They would rather sit there (due to laziness) and tell you how to play the game (due to their superiority complex) than to admit they’ve never played or to try and play it now. Furthermore, sports put a strong emphasis on collaboration, and the responsibility of each team member. Displaying how it literally takes the efforts of each group member to win and shows how that the QB is nothing without his whole team. This can be applied in almost every aspect of life; work, school, family, religion, government, etc.

Lastly, what sets the current Desi male apart from the generations before them is that most of our fathers were very young when they were sent to foreign countries to make something of themselves, at times expected to support a large family back home. It's the whole concept of sending boys into the woods to make men out of them, and I believe it works. Even if while figuring things out on their own with no one to guide them they made wrong choices, they still learned the importance of standing up for something and owning their mistakes by having to resolve them all on their own. Desi boys of the 90’s lost out on this opportunity. Again, this stems from a childhood of having conservative parents who made most of your decisions for you or simply never included you in any decision making process. Typical of desi families, when you aren’t sent out of the house to live on your own your mom is still making your bed, cleaning your clothes, cooking your meals and your dad is still deciding what health/car insurance you’ll have and college you will attend (and paying for it too!). You might think these are small insignificant choices made for you, but you’ll quickly see that when you lack ability of making small decisions the big ones become even more challenging. Being out on your own teaches you to make choices, right or wrong. Desi guys nowadays don’t even try making decision, they are far too comfortable with that being done for them and fear of failure hinders any attempts. Sometimes you have to jump into the murky waters to figure out what lies there, only fate will tell whether it’s a monster or a mermaid but I’m certain you won’t know if you never try jumping.

2)       Society. To their parents much dismay, Desi boys grew up in a western influence and have acquired a laid back, lazy outlook. They seemed to have taken on the “I don’t care” mentality of American youth, yet conveniently neglected to catch on to the ambitious American mindset. Growing up heavily influenced by MTV and video games coupled with the increased use of internet promoted an idle and unsympathetic attitude. Spending all afternoon fighting monsters on a computer does not make you a superhero. When your actions don’t have any serious repercussions, you are learning zilch about real world scenarios. You can know all the theory out there, but until you can pass a practical exam how useful is your knowledge? This “I don’t care’ attitude may work as a kid when you can just reset the game, but as a grown up, you damn well better care!

You should care if this is the 3rd time you’ve ‘misplaced’ your phone and the battery is dead so you have no way of finding it, because you were too careless to charge it on time. Or if your car stops on the side of the highway at 2 am, because you were too ‘relaxed’ about filling up gas sooner. Or if you get a flat tire, making you late to an important job interview all because you were too thoughtless about getting the tire checked three months ago when you first noticed it was leaking air! It shows you are irresponsible and reckless with valuables in life. You might think ‘it’s not a big deal and it could happen to anyone’, but ironically, it’s always happening to you. And maybe when it’s just affecting you it’s not that serious, but what about when you have a family? What is this teaching your own child who watches daddy’s ‘calm and laid back’ attitude? That it is okay if he keeps screwing up? That others will probably get ahead of him in life, because he was too uncaring about these ‘minor’ things in life. You might brush minor things off with your ‘who cares’ attitude, but over time that attitude spills over onto major issues and when that happens you begin losing out on big opportunities. Desi boys need to reevaluate this ‘cool boy’ demeanor.  Teach your son that its great to be laid back in certain situations but a real superhero, instead of one in the video games, actually physically DO work like fix things (ON TIME) and they give a crap about the important things in life like getting an education, job and building a family. They have goals and they work HARD to get things done, doing them promptly!

So basically, a huge facet is this hybrid of Desi roots in a non Desi environment. But the somewhat surprising fact is that Desi girls were largely saved from this dilemma. Desi girls have always come up stronger than their male counterparts because given their cultural background they were equally as strong academically, but as females they were NOT lazy, so they graduated on time, got a decent job and by 27 are in a managerial role therefore earning better than male counterparts and beyond ready for marriage (especially by Desi standards). Yet they have no suitable mates as all the Alpha males are already nabbed by rishta-hunting aunties who paired them with the optimal Desi girl (22 svelte, and freshly out of college), so most single guys left are the Beta males suffering from PPS. When I chitchat with other Desi girls we find there is an unending list of guys who didn’t know or care about what they were doing in college, graduated late and thus are now behind in the workforce. They are doing mediocre entry level jobs that pay the bills, but they are not ‘go-getters’. Now they’re 26-28 years old and just starting to get on track, but still seriously lagging behind in being ready to settle down. No, this is not all about marriage, it’s about making you the best darn man you can be and marriage is an important facet of that.

Essentially, Desi guys are not all that terrible, they are courteous, witty (Desis are naturally blessed with a sense of humor, no deny it), academically advanced, and boy do they know how to win a girl’s heart. (It’s all that Bollywood cinema they were pretending not to watch as a kid) They just have a few key areas that could use some serious improvement. All the laziness and lack of responsibility is preventing guys from achieving at their real potential. What this does is make them lag behind as strong leaders; it hinders success, and deters them from having any real goals and accomplishments. You know what makes a Desi girl proudest? Seeing a Desi guy who succeeds. One who succeeds both professionally and personally. So guys, Get your act together!

Although this has nothing to do with him, Aziz Ansari is one of my favorite 'desi' guys on TV! Funny desi boys, we love you.

*you know you’re really just overgrown boys, and that is what you should be called!

** This is where the Desi female lucked out (we didn’t think so at the time), but most females were required to help their mothers with all the tedious housekeeping tasks, to make us more marketable as the optimal Desi girl. So we ended up learning how to scrub toilets, vacuum carpets and set tables for dinner parties. Along the way we basically learned how to do things on our own when mom wasn't around and we learned the repercussions of doing it wrong too (Desi mom punishments make Japanese water boarding look like a slap on the wrist). And let's be honest, girls are naturally better than boys ;)


Friday, October 12, 2012

To the citizens of Self.

There’s this part of me, this self-absorbed materialistic part that so badly would love to own a classic quilted lambskin Chanel 2.55 bag. Do you know how much this bag costs? It’s insane. The sad part is, I can afford it. Not even a second hand from eBay but a real one, without making a significant dent in my saving either. Isn’t it crazy? There are people in this world lacking basic necessities and I am able to sit here and spend my time mulling over what handbag I would love to have next.

The simple fact that these luxuries exist and they create desires in the common person to possess them baffles me. Baffle. My husband laughs, but I tell him how sometimes when I sit and think about the world we live in I’m simply baffled. There is no better way to describe it.

Relating to this topic, I’ve started watching this HumTV drama Shehr-e-Zaat (I believe it means City of Self). Initially I thought why am I bothering? I could not in the least bit relate to the protagonist, a pretentious girl from a wealthy family who is a fine arts student in college. She finds a guy who looks exactly like the sculpture she’s been making and falls madly (when I say madly, I mean like cuckoo for cocoa puffs kind of mad) in love with him. She has never been like this before, usually it’s her that is being pursued all the time and now she’s stalking down this guy, meanwhile he is not all that fazed by her. She’s even got this ‘Boy next door’ buddy who’s head over heels for her, but she’s too much in love with Sculpture Guy to pay him any mind. The show is still running, but so far she gets Sculpture Guy to marry her, he (inevitably) cheats on her with a far less attractive girl (he has his own issues, we won’t go there). Which now leaves her in a state of anxiety, questioning her entire existence as this is first catastrophic event to ever occur in her life. She’s having major epiphanies of how self-obsessed she’s been all her life. She’s finding herself turning towards religion and spirituality in hopes to right all her wrongs. Think of it sort of as a Pakistani version of Eat, Pray, Love so there are impeccably deep dialogues, serious religious references and can’t fail to mention some amazing wardrobes.

I’m a fairly level headed individual (most days), who never quite traveled down that whole crazy fanatic in love path. So, I couldn’t really relate to this character for the first 6-10 episodes of the show when she’s going gaga over this guy. But now, as her character has moments of self-reflection, they’ve really incorporated some great dialogues. These are moments we all go through, because we all have an ugly materialistic monster inside of us who craves all the worldly luxuries or who gets too caught up in the petty things, but we also have a compassionate side. A side who can’t justify paying a month’s salary on something that’s meant to carry our crap around when that could buy food, clothing, education for a year in some parts of the world.

I hope what this show does is hit home with the upper class youth in Pakistan (that is where this TV series is airing), because they are living SO closely to all the poverty, famine, and destitution yet many of them have closed up their eyes, hearts and minds to that reality which exists a few miles away from their gated communities.  Inside their lavish homes they have created a bubble untouched by the reality outside. They have air conditioning, flat screen TVs, and the women are shopping.. ALL THE TIME.  Yet, just step out to a common bazaar and there are beggars everywhere. Young and old. Maybe the upper class has become numb to it, because they see it so often and partly because they have to in order to go about life. But that doesn’t make it right. The low income population of that country has turned into a business for those with power and money, manipulating them or just treating them as subhuman. I’m not saying the youth of Pakistan needs to go out and shower the poor with wealth. Just stop spending their time and money on their own selves and think for a moment about the bigger picture. How all this self-serving really never fulfills us internally.

I’m not blaming Pakistani youth alone, the entire global society has become self-interested. We care only about our needs and wants all the time. And the truth is, those ‘needs’ will never stop. As long as you lust for the worldly treasures you could worship it but it will never be yours. It will only leave you wanting more. But I’m focusing on the adolescents here, because that is the prime period of our lives when we are so passionate about everything. We think we’re passionately in love with the boy in our math class, we zealously hate our mom’s for never letting us have a social life, we’re extremely eager about fitting in with the crowd, but mostly about discovering who we are.Take that passion and channel it towards something of true value. Use your time and prosperity seeking out more gratifying things than nabbing the latest Lawn prints before everyone else. Trust me, your grown up self will appreciate the years of self-therapy and soul searching you saved.

Did you see what youth in other parts of the world was capable of? How they were able to overthrow tyrants and rulers, because they stopped thinking about how difficult it would be for them to fight the oppressor and they channeled all their energy towards actions which would improve the lives of so many others. O.T.H.E.R.S.