The better (looking) half : Guest Post

Today my favorite Guest Author forays into relationships and marriages and cites some instances from his experiences as to what makes them tick and last for a long time. Read on to figure out his views on what makes relationships tick.


I have been a regular reader of Just For Women (JFW) magazine. Before you conclude that I am a pervert, it is just that I want to know the view from the other side. The past couple issues of JFW have rather boldly dealt with advantages of live-in relationships and having friends with benefits. I am not going to dwell on the legal or ethical aspects of these relationships. There are two ways to look at the life we have been given. You can say that we live only once and we need to enjoy it to the fullest. You can also argue that we live only once and hence, we need to lead it meaningfully. Both of these are personal choices.

BH001Every relationship, romantic or otherwise, is an entanglement. We lose something of our self when we get attached to someone. Lord Rama chose to be monogamous not because the Hindu Marriage Act was in vogue then. He realized how miserable Dasaratha was in dealing with his multiple wives and mistresses. Rama chose to be married just once and he chose wisely. Have you noticed that after a few years together, it is difficult for us to make out whether a couple had a love marriage or an arranged marriage? It is not how you got to meet your loved one, but what you did once you got together that matters. Most marriages are finalized based on past accomplishments – salary, looks, lineage etc. Past performance is no guarantee of future success.

BH002The best love letters that I have written are the once that stayed in my mind. These were never seen and never heard. You know what, it was good for all the parties involved!

BH003There is a cop who regulates traffic at the Nelson Manickam Road junction. Very smart chap. My wife calls him “Her own Singham” for the ruthless way he deals with errant drivers. But, I am not perturbed. I know he can’t pick up and drop my wife and kids from assorted classes, parlors and social visits. He can tackle rowdies. But, he can’t tell a bed time story or wrap brown paper to the note books at the last minute on the way to school. I put up with my wife’s Singham fascination while she tolerates my flights of fancy about Sameera Reddy. A happy cease-fire prevails.

BH004So, who is the better looking half? Those of you who know about my uncanny resemblance to Thala Ajith will undoubtedly vote for me. My father has left on a tour of temples in and around Kumbakonam. My wife calls him twice a day and makes sure that he is well and is taking his medicines regularly. I don’t know about who the better looking half is, but I can certainly vouch that she is the better half of me.


Now, if that isn’t wisdom gleaned from a decade and a half of a successful and fulfilling marriage, then what is. Leave behind your thoughts and opinions on what makes relationships tick in the comments section.

Guest Post : Happily Ever After

Today my favorite Guest Author takes on another topic which is very close to his heart, and am sure all our hearts as well – the concept of happily ever after and what it takes to achieve this utopian dream. As always, his worldly wisdom clearly shows through in every paragraph of this post and his trademark brand of humor is also kept intact even when he delivers what remains an important message in this day and age.


On most days, our house resembles a battle zone. It is understandable right? I mean with so many ladies…. It is a complete falsehood that wives will fight only with their mothers-in-law. The reality is they will fight with anybody who shares their kitchen – whether it is mother, daughter or mother-in-law. The specifics don’t matter.

One of things that you may wonder about is that whether it is a love marriage or arranged marriage, what happens to couples after marriage? ‘Happily ever after’ is one of the most misleading concepts that people have about marriage.

My analysis of Indian history is that the decline of the Mughal Dynasty began when their harems became too big to manage. The Mughal emperors were probably busy settling disputes amongst the ladies while the East India Company went all over the country. Of course, you will not read this in any conventional text book. Please don’t teach this to your children. They will figure it out for themselves when they get married.

So, what could cause disagreements among couples?

'You can have any opinion you want as long as it's mine.'

a. It is said that God could not be everywhere, so he blessed you with a mother and the devil could not be everywhere & so he sent across a mother-in-law for you. In-laws can certainly cause some ruptures.

b. You spend too much while your spouse spends too little. It could be reverse also, but I doubt it. Folks like us in IT are not exactly smart with money.

c. Responsibilities not shared. You may believe in thought leadership. Your spouse doesn’t.

d. Your friends. Just look around you. Are you really sure your friends look decent and presentable? I don’t think so. No wonder your spouse doesn’t want them around the house.

e. No common interests. (This is actually a blessing. But most spouses think otherwise)

f. The unknown side of you. Whether it is a love marriage or a courtship before an arranged marriage, we are at our best behavior. There is a side of us that our spouses don’t see until too late. Psychologists talk about everyone having a public side, personal side and also a private side.

So should you run away from committing to a marriage?

'I didn't realise a long-term commitment would be so...long-term.'

When an acquaintance made some rude comments about our apartment (it’s an old one!), my wife retorted that every old building leaks and needs to be maintained. This applies to marriages as well. Let me tell you something. All families are dysfunctional. You see perfect looking families only in the movies. Everyone is made of clay. Do you remember the Kurkure ad? “Tedha hai par mera hai!” This applies to families as well! We may be imperfect, but we are capable of loving each other.

How to kiss and make up?

'Care to do something crazy, like kiss and make up?'

Well, I am not going to answer the first part. The Moral Police is lurking in the blogosphere to catch offenders. Well on the second part, I can say this. Every time you hit a speed breaker in your married life, don’t give up. You are far more resilient than you think. Nothing helps like a heart to heart conversation with your spouse. If this doesn’t work, try ordering something from Caratlane. It’s expensive, but hey, who ever said it was easy!

If you are going to avoid getting married after reading this..

You have no idea what you are missing. Never mind. Can you stay back today and do some additional tasks for me? In any case, you have no one to go home to.


So what are your secrets to a happily ever after. Go ahead and use the comments section to educate all of us.

Guest Post : The pursuit of happiness

001Yet again my favorite Guest Author, my ex-manager comes up with a gem of a post talking about what truly makes him happy. Drawing from his vast world experiences he provides a few pointers to all of us.


What makes you happy? A well deserved promotion? Love that is reciprocated? Driving a car that you have bought? Different strokes for different folks! My happiest moments are an empty inbox, self-managing project teams, a boss who is travelling extensively, children away at school, a good book, a plate of spicy pakodas and wife busy on the phone in the other room. I rarely get a combination of all of this in my life. I manage to be reasonably happy with whatever works out from this list.

002Hindu scriptures describe the goals of human life to be around Dharma (Duty), Artha (Wealth), Kama (Desire) and Moksha (Salvation). Our goals are distributed across these four quadrants. No two individuals will have the same distribution of goals. Achieving these goals leads to happiness. The goals by themselves can’t be categorized into these buckets. It is our thought behind it that matters! Let me explain. Working hard in office may be to gain a good increment and bonus (Artha). It can also be done by someone who thinks it is his/her duty (Dharma). Someone may have joined Cognizant simply to be near his loved one who happened to join Cognizant as well (Kama). We may consider the act of sex to be Desire (Kama). But, for those pursuing the path of Tantra, sex is supposed to lead to salvation (Mokhsha). When we are younger, we pursue our studies because it is our Dharma. As we grow older, it is to get a seat in IIT or to get placed in a well paying IT company (Artha). The act is the same. The motive changes. Knowing what drives our goals brings us one step closer to being happy.

003Have you noticed how you experience a bit of a low after the initial euphoria of a promotion or an increment? Promotion leads to extra responsibilities and longer hours at office. The extra money from the increment disappears so quickly! Sometimes, happiness is the memory of a past event – the fun you had at school or college, stolen moments with a loved one and so on… Ask anyone. Their happiest moment will be either in the distant past or in the future. It is never the present!

I am going to take a leap here and generalize. Happiness coming out of Artha & Kama tends to be fleeting. It is intense when it happens, but then the moment passes, it fades away. Happiness coming out of Dharma and Moksha tends to be low-key, but generally endures over time. You measure performance around Artha & Kama Goals through a Balance Sheet like analysis. A Balance Sheets provides a statement as at a point of time. You measure performance around Dharma & Moksha Goals through a Profit & Loss Statement. A P&L provides a statement of performance for a period of time. A good financial analyst uses both a Balance Sheet and a P&L to determine the financial position of a company. Similarly, you need a well rounded performance around all the 4 quadrants to be truly happy.

004Is contentment the key to happiness? Contentment is like dessert. You should definitely have it. The point is if you have it too early, it fills your stomach and prevents you from enjoying the other dishes in a buffet. Study when you have to study. Work hard when you have to work hard. Save when you have to save. Contentment, when it happens too early and too easily, leads to you never achieving your potential. Contentment should come from an attitude of ‘Nishkaama Karma’ as described in the Gita. Act as you should without expectations of the outcome, is what the Gita advocates.

Desire and Anger seem to be two evils. However, desire can lead to us aspiring to be better than what we are today. Aam aadmi’s righteous anger can overthrow arrogant and non-performing governments. Both – Desire & Anger are needed in moderation for us to change and improve for the better.

My wife thinks i go to office just for the free coffee & air-conditioning. She also thinks that she has done womenfolk a great service by marrying me and taking me off the matrimonial columns of ‘The Hindu’. If this makes her happy, why challenge her?  😀


Now that you have read the post and are in the mood, I would really like to know what it is that truly makes you happy in life.

(All images used in this post have been sourced from Google Image search)



There is this famous quote “The only thing constant is change” and the hilariously funny part about this quote is that the credit of authoring/coming up with this quote itself seems to have changed over the course of time. If you don’t believe me, Google this quote and you will see some sources which credit it to Francois de la Rochefourcauld, a French author whereas other sources credit to Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher. Irrespective of who actually quoted it, the fact remains that change truly is the only constant we have in our lives.

All of life is a constant chain of actions and reactions, causes and effects, and while most of the actions and causes are somewhat in our control, the subsequent reactions and effects are not so. The best laid plans can work out the various permutations and combinations of possible variances which affect the reactions given the set of circumstances in which actions are taken, but life invariably proves to be ‘smarter’ than these best laid plans and almost always brings into play that one unaccounted for variable, the probability of which is 1 in 100, and ends up with an unanticipated reaction to the action.

Case in point, till around 1992 the way One Day cricket was played was that the openers would ‘see off’ the new ball and wait until it lost a bit of its shine before launching into attacking the bowlers and generally followed the classical style of batting followed in the longer version of the game. But all this changed when a young Sachin Tendulkar was promoted to open the batting for India in the 1992 World Cup held in Australia & New Zealand. Almost from the first over itself, Sachin took it upon himself to attack the new ball and make full use of the fielding restrictions. And did that change in style pay rich dividends or what. In fact, so much so that the New Zealand opener, Mark Greatbatch also adopted a similar aggressive style of batting that he also ended up giving his team some explosive starts in this tournament. Whether it was his confidence in his abilities, or the brash aggression of his youth, or a careful planned out combination of both, the fact remains that this move of Tendulkar went a long way in beginning his ascent as one of the all time great limited overs batsmen that the game of cricket has ever seen.

The above was just one example of how change, if well thought-out, adequately planned, appropriately prepared for and embraced with some degree of flexibility can go a long way in enhancing our lives in general, and other specific aspects.

Now, the next question that comes to all of us is when the ‘change’ to be made is relatively ‘major’ in nature, are we better off making it in ‘one shot’ or do we use the technique of making numerous ‘minor’ changes incrementally and gradually achieving our targeted end state.

While my opinion is that there is no one single right way of embracing change, I personally have found it more effective when change is made in a ‘single shot’, at least in most cases. For example, when I had to quit smoking, I tried changing the habit in smaller incremental installments. From 20+ cigarettes a day, I reduced the number to 10+ and then to 5+ with a decent degree of success. But once I had reached that number, I hit a stonewall. To come down to no cigarettes from 5 a day proved to be next to impossible, so much so that at times I reverted to the older higher number of around 10 cigarettes a day. And then finally I adopted the other method, the ‘single shot’ method, and went completely ‘cold turkey’ one fine day and I haven’t smoked a cigarette since.

My quitting smoking using this method was just one instance where the ‘single shot’ adoption of change has worked for me. Other instances include me cutting off relationships with ‘toxic people, making lifestyle changes in terms of diet, giving up on long standing completely unrealistic, unattainable goals, etc, and in all of these cases this method has worked well for me in terms of me achieving closure and moving on with life.

Having said that I am not saying that the incremental method of adopting change is bad, or that it doesn’t work. It has worked perfectly well for a lot of people I know in their personal and professional lives. It’s just that it requires a fair degree of patience, a lot of single-mindedness, dedication and motivation to keep one’s eye on the final goal and constantly keep taking conscious steps in that direction.

I would love to know what method of adopting change works well for you folks. Do you think ‘single shot’ is better or would you rather make smaller ‘incremental changes’ to achieve your target end state?


This post is written for WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts where the idea is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided.

Today’s prompt was “You need to make a major change in your life. Do you make it all at once, cold turkey style, or incrementally?”

Guest Post : How to name your kids


Yet another lovely guest post by my favorite guest author on the blog. This time around he deals with the nuances of how to name our kids keeping in mind the various points to be considered while doing so.

Read on to enjoy this timeless piece of advice.


‘***********chary’ is quite a mouthful. I figured out quite early that if I had to get anywhere in my love-life and work-life, I should have a shorter (& sweeter) name and so I became ‘Nandu’. My paternal grandfather wanted everyone in his clan to have a ‘Swamy’ or ‘Chary’ in their names. Normally, these appellations are given to learned scholars, but my paternal grand-pa took the easy way out. My maternal grandfather wanted his entire clan names to start with the letter ‘V’. The number of hindu names starting with the letter ‘V’ is mind-boggling. I sometime feel I have descended from loonies in both sides of the family tree.

bram2My favorite fantasy these days is listing out all the things that I will do post-retirement. My wife then gently reminds me of my responsibilities – bringing up both our kids, their education, their marriage and then grand-kids, their education and their marriage… I didn’t go through the fine print carefully when I signed-up for marriage and parenthood.

Whether it’s a love marriage or arranged marriage, the true test happens when the baby is born and you are trying to figure out a suitable name. Our family friend has delivered a baby. Though the baby is nearly a month old, they are undecided on the baby’s name. The baby is referred to by them as – ‘The Baby’. Should be tough for the baby, I think…

When my elder one was born, we took the easy way out and she was christened with all the names (about half-a-dozen) that my parents and in-laws came up with. But, my wife and I agreed that we will call her legally as ‘Anjana’ thanks to our fascination with Hanuman. When the younger one was born, Anjana took the responsibility of finding a suitable name and the younger one was duly called as ‘Ananya’. Thanks to her involvement in selecting a name, I think Anjana feels some sense of ownership or responsibility for Ananya!

Some Dos and Don’ts when choosing names

a. Most schools sort lists on the basis of alphabetical order. Kids with names that figure early in the attendance list generally catch attention from the teachers.

b. The flip side is if the kids are too ahead in the alphabetical order (like mine are), they get called out for surprise quizzes and recitations without time for preparation.

c. Don’t try to name your baby after your ex-flame. Your wife will soon find out.

d. Naming your baby after a relation or an ancestor is a nice gesture. But, do bear in mind that some of those names are really old fashioned and can be hard on the baby.

bram3e. Beware of quirks in local pronunciations. Vidya becomes Bidya in Kolkata. Ramya becomes Remya in Kerala. Shruti becomes Suruthi in Tamil Nadu.

f. Should you consult a numerologist or an astrologer to name your baby? I think there is no harm if you think an extra alphabet will give an extra edge to your baby. Why leave things un-tried?

g. Don’t name your baby after any cine-star or celebrity. Sooner or later these folks will do something silly and you will regret your choice.

The elder one writes ‘Anjana *****’ in various fonts and styles and admires her creations. While I watch her with a smile, I realize that in some time, ‘*****’ will be replaced by a ‘XYZ’ when she finds her love.

That’s when I feel like freezing time, stop my children from growing up and holding on to them forever. At these times I how I used to tease my wife (she has no siblings) when her parents used to come visiting her almost every day when we were newly married. Life takes time but makes sure that you learn your lessons the hard way.

The younger one says she should have a more glamorous name like Barbie or Dora perhaps. Then I take her into my arms and tell her a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. 🙂


Didn’t I tell that this post contains timeless nuggets of information which would prove invaluable when naming your kids. While the rest of the post was awesome, that last line simply tugged at my heart strings, am sure you also felt warm and fuzzy when reading it, didn’t you 😀


All images used in this post are courtesy Google Image search results.