parents fun

Why are my parents only fun when other people are around?

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Can you recall the moment?

When you were staring at your parents in disbelief?

The moment when, despite being in a state of misery only ten minutes prior, they’d suddenly perked up at the sight of guests?

They’re laughing and joking and being … really rather fun – a state you’d never witnessed when it was just the family.

So the disbelief is two-fold:

  1. Your parents crack jokes and seem (dare we attest) cool
  2. Why aren’t they like that when they’re with you?

With you, it’s all: Why haven’t you cleaned your room? Is your homework done? What did that boy want and why were you talking to him? The chappatis won’t make themselves.

And with the guest it’s all smiles and laughs and you’d never guess what happened

This phenomenon (which we’ll lovingly call The Pointless Transformation), isn’t just limited to brown parents.

It certainly isn’t a cultural thing more than it’s a dysfunctional parent thing.

And you know it when you see it.

Most of us with parents suffering from The Pointless Transformation will resort to asking:

Why?

Why do my parents do this? Why do they yell at me while being really nice to other kids? Why is it that I get the worst of them and others get the best? Why are they putting up this front? Why aren’t they able to show me their fun side? Why do I get the crappy end of the deal?

Well, my friends. Why isn’t the question you should ask.

Here’s the real question:

What.

What can I do to take advantage of this state? What do I most want? What can I ask for that they’ll give me right now?

Because the beauty of The Pointless Transformation in brown parents is that they’ll do anything to keep up appearances in front of guests.

Now that they’re showing they’re fun, they’ll do whatever it takes to keep the parade going. They don’t want to be judged badly. They want to be shining beacons of pleasant parenting.

So instead of feeling dejected at the sight of your parents experiencing TPT, take advantage of it.

Ask for what you want. They’re fun! They’ll say yes!

But proceed with caution. Because TPT only lasts until the guests leave the house and the door closes.

After that? You’re on your own.

 

For those who’re wondering … this piece was written with tongue firmly in cheek (and glass of Merlot firmly in hand)

 

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A word about compassion

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Compassion

The concept that religions have been promoting for centuries that, along the way, got shrouded under mundane, wing-clipping rules nobody ever requested. The bringer of peace. The heart of understanding.

 

Compassion

While the theory feels light n fluffy, it can only take you so far. Once felt, it brings an instant release, like the pressure valve was turned and you no longer experience the gut wrenching disgust that makes the huge vein in your forehead throb like a frog on speed.

 

Compassion

Start with yourself. Then show it to others.

 

Compassion

When I first felt it, everything made sense. I realised it all starts and ends with me (in a non self-involved way). I feel frustrated with you because I allow you to take me there. What if I tried to understand you instead? What would change between us?

 

Compassion

Has no room for judgement, hatred, or blood-boiling frustration that skyrockets your stress and clogs your arteries.

 

Compassion

If you’re frustrated with family, ferociously fiery around friends or pissed at your partner … give compassion a try. What happened in your day today? I want to understand – tell me more. Let’s make amends – explain what you saw and heard when we had that fight.

 

Compassion

When a human sees another human as just that. That’s the starting point. And the vantage point. It’s the measure of whether you’re doing compassion well.

 

Compassion

The secret to the kinda love you’ve yearned for since you took your first breath following your first glimpse of light.

 

Compassion

I accept you. I see you. I’m intrigued by the experiences that led you to today.

 

Compassion

It’s a release. From expectancy. From judgement. From the need for acceptance.

 

Compassion

Requires acceptance of yourself before you show it to anyone else. It’s forgiving yourself for whatever flaws get your attention and desperately hold onto it. It’s being at peace with all that you are, and knowing you’ll change. It’s making all of it OK.

 

Compassion

Freedom. Freedom. Freedom.

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control

You’re never in control … until this happens

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It started as a random thought.

There was no obvious reason why this particular thought entered my head. But once it was there, it wouldn’t leave.

So I sat with it. Gave it time. Allowed it to simmer so I could understand its origins.

It didn’t take me long. Thoughts like this seem to have an inevitable trigger.

Mother.

“She doesn’t ask about my job,” I thought to myself.

But that wasn’t the surprise. Since most people’s families don’t know what they do for a living.

Do yours?

Do they take an active interest in what you do professionally?

When you see them, are details asked about your day in the office and how that tough conversation with a colleague went last week? Are they interested?

Thought not.

That’s why they’re family.

It’s the same with mine.

But there’s more to it.

It isn’t that my vocation isn’t important. It is.

But it just isn’t important enough.

Nothing’s important enough. Not compared to that other thing. That thing that came to me in the thought that I now not-so-randomly had.

And the thought was this:

I could have all the accolades in the world. I could travel, create a global company, rule a country, do meaningful charity work and still make it home in time to clean and cook dinner.

But all that? Wouldn’t get 10% of the praise that having a man in my life does.

 

Let that sink in for a moment.

 

What I do professionally, and in my personal time, could change the lives of thousands of people. I could find the cure for a disease or go down in history as the first brown woman to fly solo to the moon.

But none of that would count.

Not compared to: “Mum, I’m engaged,” or “Mum, I’m getting married.”

As if having a life partner is akin to achieving the impossible. It hasn’t been done before. It’s an historical milestone.

But it doesn’t end there.

Because once the marriage has happened and the lives are still being saved. The moon is still being visited solo. And the country’s still being run. The expectations then change.

Now it’s time you had a child.

Then said child eventually comes along in all his newness and wonder. He’s celebrated.

Parties are thrown. Gifts are purchased. Congrats are shared and hearts are full.

Compare that to: “Mum, I’ve been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize”, which is met with: “Hmm … Oh look, he’s drooling! Quick! Get a camera so we can take a picture!”

And once an heir to the thrown is produced, the expectation starts that he needs a playmate.

Shouldn’t you buy a house rather than rent it?

I really wish you’d start taking better care of yourself. You’ve put some unsightly weight on around your hips. It’s been there for far too long.

And on and on it goes.

 

It. Doesn’t. Fucking. End.

 

Not only is professional achievement not enough. The rest is never enough.

Not for them.

They don’t pay attention to what you’re proud of. They magnify attention to what you ‘should’ be doing and pile on the pressure to achieve it.

And once you have, the dust settles for the best part of three seconds, and they’re at it again.

With the expectations. The small digs. The judgement.

It doesn’t end.

So … what can you do?

In the face of your professional achievements being ignored and your personal life being dictated? What can you do to get them off your back?

There’s only one thing for it.

Get a fake passport, have your face surgically altered, change your name and make a dash for the nearest remote village with zero internet connection and a friendly goat named Zuma.

That’s one option.

The other?

Thank them for their concern and then get on with your life.

They want what they think is best for you. They’re family. They’ll do that (in whatever warped way they choose).

But your role isn’t to find ways to appease them.

It’s to find ways to appease yourself.

Because the one thing worse than feeling controlled by their expectations? Is hating yourself for allowing the control to happen in the first place.

 

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honesty kills parents

Honesty Will Kill Your Parents … Lie to Them

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Do you remember the Where’s Wally? books?

In the US, they were called Where’s Waldo? but the books were the same.

This young boy in colourful attire, who was supposedly lost in a sea of people, that you had to find.

He was dressed to stand out, but managed to blend in. Encouraged to be visible but expertly did the opposite. Such talent.

Being different was celebrated. We weren’t appalled by him – we went searching for him. That ‘s the game we played together.

When my niece was a baby, we used to watch this show called Blue Cow. It was about …

… wait for it … Read More

If you don’t wear a headscarf

If you don’t wear a headscarf, Satan pees on your head

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Remember when you were a child and some random teacher told you: Careful, your face might freeze like that?

And you were totally confused by what it meant?

Couldn’t see the logic in it?

But were too afraid to ask how such freezing would actually happen?

That’s pretty much your entire life when you grow up in a South-Asian household.

Multiple times daily, your head’s filled with cautionary tales packed with manipulative motivation, designed to mold and viciously stuff your behaviour into the box your parents want you to fit in.

Today, let’s lay it all out in the open. Get it out of our collective systems. Laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.

Here’s everything I was wrongly advised as a child – what can you add? Read More

family

What’s The Meaning of Family?

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“Where’s my brother?” I asked him.

“Um .. I dunno” he replied. He was four. Making it to two-syllable words was a major achievement on any given day.

Your brother’s in school. So where do you think mine is?” I pushed.

In your house”. It made sense to him. He looked at me in anticipation of getting the answer correct.

I pointed over at the man at the end of the garden. “That’s my brother over there,” I confirmed.

“No! He’s my dad!” he laughed, at the ridiculousness of my statement.

“Yes, he’s your dad. And he’s my brother. He’s both those people.”

** Silence ** Read More

Relatives back home

What if I don’t care about my relatives ‘back home’?

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“When I see my dad cry, I feel helpless and sad for him. But when I think about my grandma that died … I feel numb”

 

She got the call at 2am. She was in Toronto on business. The news was unexpected.

Grandma died,’ her sister wept to her on the phone. ‘Dad’s in pieces. Get the next flight home.’

So that’s what she did. Her manager understood. The client was more than sympathetic.

But she? She was numb.

She should be feeling something, right? Read More

self respect

A high level of self-respect leaves you chasing nothing

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When I was at school, I didn’t have a group I hung out with.

I wasn’t a loner by any stretch (too damn talkative for that).

I just didn’t … fit in. With any group. At all.

So I floated from one to the other, making friends with some of the kids as I went.

When I was at university, the same thing happened.

I was close to some students, and we studied together. With others, I went to the movies on a Thursday night. The rest were students I saw in class.

It was like that when I graduated and started working in offices. And when I moved to new cities. And when I started my business.

But it wasn’t like that consistently. Read More

stranger

I feel like a stranger in my own country

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Horrified. Betrayed. Shocked. Enraged. Completely mortified

Just a few of the emotions I felt for Britain last week. Like I was a stranger to it.

My country … one that has come so far, had taken ten steps backwards in one very relevant vote.

Politics isn’t a topic we discuss ‘round these parts.

Usually it’s something that simmers in the background and we pay little attention to it.

But today? Today politics is more than significant. Read More