Single And Unapologetic.

To start off, let me share with my readers what prompted this post.  There is a post on facebook by an Indian novelist Usha Narayanan giving a link to a newspaper article with the same title.  In fact she is quoted in the article.

I have asked three single lady friends their opinion on the subject.  I really don’t know if they are happy about their single status as it is not something that we have discussed.  I however know of  a few cases of young ladies in careers desperately trying to get married and a couple where they did in haste and repented too.

On the other hand, this is a topic often discussed among men about advantages of being single men.  In my case, this has increased somewhat since I became a widower five years ago.

In India, whether you are a man or a woman does not matter.  From one’s mid-twenties, family and friends start asking one about one’s plans for matrimony.  It is very rare to find Indians unmarried beyond the age of thirty.

It is in this background that articles like the one quoted describe the new phenomenon but to the best of my knowledge, no one bothers to write about single men.  The fact of the matter is that women are under the magnifying glass for just about everything that they do and not so much the men.

I want to address the issue from a man’s point of view and since I do have a number of women readers, their views will be very welcome indeed.  Just a small rider before I proceed.  I am deliberately generalising with broad sweeps whereas reality is usually full of nuances and finer differences.  Please accommodate those for the sake of some intellectual kite flying.

There are bachelors, happily married men, unhappily married men, divorcees and widowers like me among males.  Many young bachelors with normal hormonal problems desperately try to get married and suffer till they do.  Since most of them in India do not know how to go about finding themselves a mate and are unhappy with what their parents find, it is very frustrating indeed for them till something clicks somewhere and they get married.

Next comes the happily married men and there is nothing to discuss about them.  Lucky sods.

The unhappily married men are the ones that need society’s maximum sympathy. Unlike the unhappily married woman who gets a lot of sympathy from everywhere, her male counterpart does not.  If he can afford it, he does find alternatives but that is such a minuscule minority that it is not worth writing about.  The long suffering husband stuck in an unhappy marriage due to financial or familial reasons is worthy of sympathy.  In a patriarchal society like ours he mostly gets ridicule unlike his female counterpart who gets sympathy.

The divorced men are admired by the unhappily married men and encouraged to stay that way.  The happily married men however take it upon themselves to advise them to get married again at the earliest and will even offer to find divorced women.  That the divorced man and divorced woman both want to experience matrimony again is simply too obvious when one peruses the weekend classified ads in our newspapers for second marriages.  There are so many ‘innocent’ divorcees that one wonders what the word means. And one also wonders why they would want to get married again if they are divorced!

Now comes the widower.  Here, I speak from personal experience as I have been one the last five years.  While my late father was alive, he felt it necessary immediately after I became one to take it upon himself to find me another wife.  He tried to get the help of my son who flatly refused saying that I am quite capable of finding one if I wanted.  The point is that even at that age, I was 66 when I became one, parental pressure was possible.  A couple of friends tried to impress on me that I should get married again but did not pursue the matter too much seeing how uninterested I was in the matter.  Two unhappily married friends were the only genuinely happy fellows to see me become a widower and they made it clear that they were happy not at my loss but at the prospect that such an eventuality is a possibility in their lives too.

And, if my dear reader you want to know what I feel, let me tell you, that  solitude is what I feel.  I  realise that I am now too set in my ways to find another mate who will find it difficult to adjust to my ways and I to hers.  So, I have got used to my single status and doubt very much that I will ever change.  I enjoy my solitude.


Mulla Nasrudin’s friend had to attend a funeral for the first time in his life. Not knowing the protocol, he approached Mulla for advice.
“Where should I be in the funeral procession, Mulla?” he said. “At the back, in front, or on one of the sides?”
“It matters little where you are, my friend,” Mulla said, “as long as you are not in the casket.”




Pravin, this is with reference to our conversation yesterday on Karmanye Vaadikarasthey…..


One German professor, Herrigel, was one of the first Western disciples of a Zen master in Japan. He was learning archery. He was already a great archer in Germany, because there values are different. He was a great archer because he was always right one hundred percent, his arrow reaching to the exact middle of the target, the bull’s-eye. In Germany your success will be counted by the percentage – a hundred percent, ninety percent, eighty percent. That is the way it is counted all around the world, except in Japan.

In Japan, when Herrigel had learned archery for years in Germany and had become the champion archer of Germany, he heard about a different valuation. He went to Japan and remained there for three years with a master. He could not understand why the master was always saying, ”You missed” – and his arrow was always reaching exactly to the bull’s- eye.

The master said, ”That is not the point, whether your arrow reaches the bull’s-eye or not. The point is that you should be spontaneous. Forget about the target. Remember that you should be spontaneous, you should not make an effort.”

Three years passed, but the German professor, Herrigel, could not understand what this man was talking about. Every day he would try, and the master would say, ”No!”

Finally he decided to go back: ”This is useless, wasting time!” He could not understand what this spontaneity is. He could not understand how you can be spontaneous when you are an archer. You have to take the bow in your hand, you have to aim, you have to be exact so that your arrow reaches to the point – how can you be without effort? Some effort is absolutely needed. And you will agree that he was not wrong.

But Zen will not agree. The Zen master continued working, without getting bored or fed up that three years have passed and this man cannot relax.

Herrigel told him after three years, ”Tomorrow I have to leave. I’m sorry that I could not understand. I still carry the idea that I am one hundred percent right, so how can you say that I don’t know archery at all?”

So the next day, early in the morning, he went to see the master for the last time. The master was teaching somebody else, so he sat there on the bench and just looked. For the first time he was not concerned; he was going, he had dropped the idea of learning archery through Zen, so he was totally relaxed and was watching, just watching how the master took the bow in his hand and how he totally relaxed as if not concerned at all whether the arrow reaches to the target or not, with no tension and with no desire, being just playful and relaxed.

He had been seeing the master for three years, but because he was full of desire he could not see that his archery was totally different: the value is not in the target, the value is in your gesture, in you. Are you relaxed? Are you total? Is your mind absolutely silent? A different orientation… because the archery is not important, the meditation is important. And a man of meditation, although he does not care about the target, simply reaches the target, with no mind, in utter clarity, in silence, relaxed.

Zen has brought a different valuation to everything. In China they have a saying that when a musician becomes perfect, he throws away his instruments; when an archer becomes perfect, he throws away his bows and arrows. Strange, because what is the point of becoming a perfect archer and now you are throwing away your bows and arrows?


Role Model.

Role Model

That was me as a young lad imagining myself to be my favourite uncle PK.  He was a debonaire bachelor always impeccably dressed and would take me and my siblings for rides on his motorcycle and later on in his Citroën cars.  He would take us to Moor Market in Madras and inevitably buy us useful things like Mecanno sets.

He was my only role model ever and I copied many of his mannerisms and traits, particularly his sartorial tastes, impeccable manners and chivalry of the highest order.   He continued to be my favourite uncle and a role model for my planned gentleman farmer retirement dreams, till his murder  in the hands of dacoits who raided his farm house on the outskirts of Bangalore.

He did not go to any college or university but the Indian schooling system of his days was enough to get him employment in colonial India with some multinational organisations which took him to dizzy corporate heights before he retired and went into his own business in his later years.  He taught me to tie a bow tie, mix cocktails and play golf, and to be sociable with all strata of society with no difference in the language/tone used between the classes and was always there cheering me on in my own progress in life.  And at a time when I was broke, allowed me to take his car to take my girl friends out on dates when cars were highly valued assets not to be carelessly used.  In many respects, he was more father to me than my own father was.  He had his faults but I loved him knowing fully well that he loved me too.

He was the first elder from my side of the family that my late wife met and I suspect that she decided that she would be quite safe in our family by that one meeting.  He and his lovely wife and our aunt Hazel were particular favourites of hers as well as for our son Ranjan who spent many weekends at their farm house when he was working in Bangalore.

Recently, we have been digging up old photographs and sharing among ourselves in the family group mails and whatsapp and everytime I see him or my aunt I choke.  Neither deserved to die such untimely deaths as they did.

I wonder if at some future date some nephew of mine will write about me as I have written about him.  How about you dear reader?  Any such role model in your life?

This topic was suggested by Ashok who fully deserves to be a role model for young Indians for all the very important and useful things that he does.  By ignoring blogging however, he has not been one for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium (LBC) where currently six of us write on the same topic every Friday. I hope that you have enjoyed my contribution to that effort.  The five other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order,  AshokgaelikaaMaxi, and Shackman and The Old Fossil. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, or not at all this week, do give some allowance for that too!


Fatal Error!


Recently, I have had this message pop up when trying to access my blog, either to access or to comment on or to do any dashboard work.  Please click on it to get a larger version so that you can read the message.

Fatal Error

With the help of my geek son we tried various solutions to solve this problem as some of my readers also wrote to me to say that they were getting this message when trying to access the blog or when they trid to comment.

We have now had to remove about 23000 comments from the older blog posts so that the storage space now becomes available for newer comments. I have retained about 8000 comments going back to November 2012. The comments entered before that unfortunately have had to be deleted.

Since doing that, I have not had the message pop up and I hope that it does not for my readers as well. If it does, please let me know.

Incidentally, if and when the message pops up all you have to do is to refresh the page to continue to go to my blog to access it or to comment on any post.

Thank you for putting up with this minor irritation for some time.

Teaching And Mentoring.


She is my all time favourite film star but her message is more powerful than that fact.

Last night my mentee Pravin rang me up to pick my brain on the career path that he has to be on. Among the various alternatives that we discussed one was to become a teacher. This has been suggested to him by some well meaning friends/associates who think that he will do well as a teacher. He is too smart to fall for that kind of advice and as a mentor I cannot but add some humour to the situation. I have to use my other hand!  Pravin, please click on the image to enlarge it!

Teachers pay

Where Has It All Gone?

The boys watch the girls while the girls watch the boys who watch the girls go by
Eye to eye, they solemnly convene to make the scene
Which is the name of the game, watch a guy watch a dame on any street in town
Up and down and over and across, romance is boss

Guys talk “girl talk”, it happens everywhere
Eyes watch girls walk with tender lovin’ care

It’s keepin’ track of the pack watching them watching back
That makes the world go ’round
“What’s that sound?” each time you hear a loud collective sigh
They’re making music to watch girls by

Guys talk “girl talk”, it happens everywhere
Eyes watch girls walk with tender lovin’ care

It’s keepin’ track of the pack watching them watching back
That makes the world go ’round
“What’s that sound?” each time you hear a loud collective sigh
They’re making music to watch girls by

The boys watch the girls while the girls watch the boys who watch the girls go by
Eye to eye, they solemnly convene to make the scene

La, la, la, la