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Why You Need to be a Better Person

This blog post is about why you should be a better person in a relationship.

We are often told,’ if you love me, you will accept me for what I am’. While there is truth to that, we all have our faults.

And we are not as much of an island as we think we are. When we are in a relationship, the basic purpose is to give our loved one the best, most loving, caring experience they can have.

It is critical to know: our relationship with ourselves defines our relationship with our partner. If we are harsh and critical ourselves, our partner will receive the harshness or criticism. If we are impatient and unforgiving, our partner will experience the impatience and judgement.

Its not even the interpersonal relationship outside you that I am speaking of. Inside you. Do you have spaces, quiet, peace? Do you know what feels like? If you don’t, ask. A friend will demonstrate, or I will.

But you haven’t said anything explicitly to your partner, you say.

But ah, say I. You need to make yourself better because your beloved lives in you.

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An Apology in Five Steps

Once upon a time there was a village idiot. He would go around doing genius things and stupid things. And the villagers couldn’t believe how a genius could be So Stupid. But it Could Be, and He Was. And he couldn’t see his own stupidity. Until one day a princess came along and held up a mirror to the Village Idiot. And the Village Idiot saw what he was, and he wept. He had been going around causing hurt due to his stupidity.forgiveness

The village idiot had been happy until the Princess held up the mirror. He wished he had never seen the mirror, because the mirror caused his Unhappiness. And then he didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t Unsee. He tried to Unsee, and everytime he closed his eyes to Unsee, the image of him flashed in his eyes.

And he was miserable, thinking of all the hurt he had caused the villagers and his beloved Princess. And he didn’t know what to do. He ran around the village square a few times, but that didn’t help.

Then he went to a wise woman, who told him that it was okay being the Idiot, as long as he learnt, and became less of an idiot each time. She told him to take five steps in the village square, five magical steps that would make him less of an Idiot.

The first step said this: realize what you did wrong, and seek the aggrieved party’s audience for an apology. Something like, ‘Would you be so kind as to meet with me please? I need to speak with you.’ Say this gently.

A true apology has to be an unconditional, complete, no-holds-barred apology. What it isn’t, is: you did this, so I did that, its not my fault. Or your provoked me to do it. An apology also isn’t ‘I’m sorry’, then turning around and doing it again.

The second step said this: Try and feel the emotion of the wrong doing in your apology. Let the other person know how sorry you are, quietly. No histrionics. Tell them what you are apologizing for.

The Third Step said: and this is a hard one: Allow space for them to tell you how much it hurt. This one hurts the most because we don’t want to hurt anyone. You have to sit and listen to how your behaviour felt for them. And validate it. If they say, ‘you yelled at me and made me feel small’. You hear them, then say, ‘Yes I can see that, and I am so sorry.’

The Fourth Step said: Seek the opportunity for remediation. This sounds something like this: ‘I know your trust in me has been impacted, but if you will allow me to apologize not just by saying I am sorry, but by demonstrating the change in my behavior, and reinstate our love and trust, I would be greatly obliged.’

The Last Step said: If they allow it, follow through by not doing it again, and being present, gentle and loving in the relationship. No one wants to be in a relationship where they are emotionally beaten up.

If they don’t allow it now, say, ‘I understand you don’t wish to accept my apology right now. I hope you will accept my apology in the future. Again, I am really sorry, and I hope you will allow me to redress the hurt I have caused. I feel awful that I hurt you inadvertently.’ And let them have space. In that space, hold them in love. They’ll be able to feel it.

When hurt is caused, it is not the end. What is hurt needs to be soothed, what is broken needs to be mended. Walk in faith.

After hurt is an apology, after apology is the acceptance of the apology, after the acceptance is true forgiveness, and lastly, the alteration of behavior on both sides.

Like you change your behavior, the aggrieved party also needs to let go of their hurt and hold you harmless, and restore the love to its prior splendor. The aggrieved party has to free this person of all grudges, all resentment, and all painful memories. That is true forgiveness.

We are all idiots in our own ways. Through this process of listening, apologizing, learning and forgiveness, we can grow together in love and harmony.

As my dear, departed father once said when my love went up to him and said:

‘Mr. Primlani, your daughter is an idiot.’

My father said:

‘That may well be, but that idiot loves you.’

 

Hurt is not the ending. Love is.

‘Forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us.’forgiveness

The end.

 

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The Silent Partner

So you get in a business or personal relationship, and the partner does something you don’t like, and what do you do? The relationship is so new, you are so excited, you worship them so much, you let it slide.

When something else happens, you are uncomfortable, but you let it be. You second-guess yourself, you carry on with your commitment to the relationship, to them. You give it your best, you give it all you’ve got.

And a third thing happens. Then a fourth. And with diminishing feelings, diminishing commitment, you carry on, until you start building resentment. You serve, but its not with love. Its with anger and resentment. Whenever you serve, you serve with a curse. What did I do to deserve to be in this relationship? What am I doing, suffering like this? I’d be better off alone.

It’s a logical conclusion.

Except for one thing: when someone crossed a boundary, you didn’t say anything, until that boundary became a cliff and you watched your partner walk right over it. And you did nothing about it.

And here’s the best part: they had no clue.

The relationship is dead, and your partner is at the bottom of a ravine, bewildered and weeping at the hurt.

Its neither reasonable, nor possible, for you to expect them to know what is going on with you. Especially when you seem to be fine, or claim you are fine. Unless you married a mind reader, they probably can’t. Read your mind.

Withholding information never helps anything. It is tantamount to lying, with equally deleterious effects. You didn’t tell your partner because you are afraid of confrontation, and afraid of the partner being upset. Even so, you owe it to them to at least speak your truth before its too late. Trust is not a matter of speaking when things are going well. It’s a matter of communication and redressal. That is what builds trust. Its not a static thing; trust is built or destroyed every day.

resentment-destroys-relationshipsEveryone fucks up. What is right for them might not be right for you.

Do yourself a favor, speak up. Don’t be a silent (and resentful) partner. The person you chose to be your partner isn’t a bad person. If you brought it to their attention, they would have the opportunity to change course so as not to hurt you. If you brought it to their attention and they didn’t do anything about it, you are justified in walking away. And you and they can choose to stay, or leave. But do them the courtesy of the opportunity of redressal.

Silence is not always golden.

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How to Make Love to a Woman – Intro

I am going to write a series of articles on how to make love to a woman. This series is motivated by a horde of my female friends and their complaints about the men who approach them.

These articles are for men who want to learn how to make love to women.love

What you’ll get from these articles: basic and advanced concepts on how to love women, and – feel free to write to me to ask me to address some specific topics. This is open to both men and women. This series will cover everything from ‘how do I know this woman is interested in me?’, ‘Can I make her fall in love with me?’ ‘How can I tell her I love her?’ ‘When is it okay to kiss her?’ ‘How do I sleep with her?’ ‘How do I know its love?’ and any other questions you care for me to add to this series.

So, answer this for me:

Where did you learn about sex?

If your answer is ‘porn’, then we need a re-education.

And if your answer is that above, chances are, you haven’t received a holistic education on women, either.

Do yourself a favor, don’t believe Bollywood. And certainly not Hollywood. In Hollywood, (and perhaps in your fantasies), women have a size 0 waist, and they hang onto every word you say with moist lips. Real women might have a size 16 waist (like you know what those sizes are!), have cracked lips, and listen to right about half what you say.

And allow me to divert your attention (like its possible! Right, guys?) away from the phallocentric world into the millions of ways you can make love to a woman.

Let me let you in to a secret: sex is not about your d!ck. Its everything before, and everything after. The ‘everything before’ will allow you to get close to a woman, and ‘everything after’, will allow you to keep her.

AND! I always say, a d!ck is wasted on men. Most of them don’t know how to use it.

So. This journey is going to be wonderful. And here’s where you write to me with specific questions; I’ll go over them one by one. And let me know what you want me to address first!

 

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The Horrifying Faces of Acid Attack

It wasn’t without trepidation that I went to meet the victims of Acid Attack. I have never before seen such horror. Will I be able to maintain my composure in front of these women, who bear their scars so well? Would I behave inappropriately, and stare, trying to come to terms with acts that I can’t begin to imagine?

Their stories..

Their stories belie the cordial image of India; they show people so far removed from empathy toward their fellow man that they might as well be standing on the moon. The ‘reasons’ (as if there can be any) boggle the mind. ‘He said he loved me, he asked me to marry him, I refused, so he threw acid on my face’; ‘I don’t know who, or why, poured acid on me while I was sleeping’; ‘my in-laws were trying to hang my sister from the fan, and when I tried to stop them, they poured acid on my face’.

So I went, on my white horse, all ready to teach them how to say no, all ready to teach them self-defense.

I was wrong.

These women were attacked because they said no.

When I tried to teach them self-defense, they fell over laughing. At first, at how ridiculously simple it was. (I also re-iterated that when you can’t see your attacker, or trust your attacker completely, there IS no defense. Sometimes, there just is no defense.) And then they laughed when I taught them to get out of a grab hold of both their wrists. I’d teach them, then hold onto their wrists tight, and say, ‘go on, get out of my grip’, and they’d say, we don’t want to. We like it like this. (Why does this always happen to me?) Then fall over laughing.screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-12-49-12-am

I was curious. Are you happy? ‘Now we are’ they said. There was this moment where they had been obeying their parents, their husband, obeying, obeying, not venturing out of the house because they weren’t allowed to do so, obeying, obeying, and this happened?! Somewhere inside, something snapped, and they said, ‘f*ck this sh!t, now I am going to do exactly what I please’. Now they are happy.

Do you think you are beautiful? Most raised their hands. Except for one, let’s call her A. Do you not think you are beautiful, I pressed her. She looked down at the ground. Do you love yourself? ‘What, like physically?’ she asked. So, no. Do you think you are a good person? I mustn’t be. That’s why I was attacked. She wouldn’t raise her eyes to look at anyone, wouldn’t say no, wouldn’t fight to protect herself. We all noticed.

img_5197On the second day, I was teaching them how to defend themselves from a slap, and so pleased were the women with the new techniques, they came complaining to me. ‘Ma’am, no one is slapping me! This is not fair’.  With the basic elements of Aikido, they darn near broke each other’s wrists. A got herself out of a wrist hold, everyone noticed, everyone applauded her first effort in even wanting to defend herself.

Oh, and – by ‘horrifying faces’ I don’t mean the women; they are beautiful. I mean the men who can fathom committing such heinous acts. Like Voldemort who left a scar of his attack on little Harry Potter’s face, so did these men leave the mark of their horrible self on these women.

I think I realized my first day that I cannot teach these women anything. They don’t need teaching. As Chetna Gala Sinha, a fellow Ashoka fellow once said, ‘the women don’t need help; the men do – help them!’

My three days with these women tells me they are not Acid Attack Victims. They are Acid Attack Victors.

 

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A Moose and A Biryani

My parents in Alaska are Ray and Vivian Menaker. Vivian passed away from cancer a few years ago, and Ray last year. They were among the finest people I have known, the grandparents of the Alaskan environmental movement, helped set up the Alaskan bald eagle preserve, and were formative influences in my life.

I met them when I went up to do an GIS and web design internship at the Alaska Clean Water Alliance. Vivian was on the board of the organization, and I stayed with Ray and Vivian, and was never the same for that experience.

Haines is a small town upstream of Juneau, the capital of Alaska, along the Lynn Canal. Its small, but cruise ships would stop along this little port town. Once Ray pointed to a cruise ship and said, that cruise ship is using more electricity than the entire town of Haines. And in this tiny town, this young Indian girl of 23 found a home.

thimbleberryI used to wake up and go have a thimbleberry/ raspberry breakfast in their thimbleberry or raspberry bushes, Vivian grew her own produce in a lovely garden she constructed from scratch. I would fetch eggs (as would the town of Haines) from their double-storey chicken coop, clean chicken shit, chop wood (we had a wood stove), stayed with them in a house they pretty much built with their own hands. Vivian would make me cherry pie from cherries that I plucked from their cherry tree, and the finest granola in the world (both Vivian and I loved nuts).

Ray taught me how to drive a stick shift. Once when we came from driving into town, I ran and opened his door for him. And before getting out of the car, he looked down at the ground. And I asked, what are you looking for? He said, I don’t see the red carpet.

We had salmon caught fresh in the Alaskan waters. Vivian had installed a hand-cranked milling machine in her wall, and she would pour wheat into it, and flour would come out the other end. She would then make dough and put it in their bread maker and we would have the softest, warmest bread, best had with melted butter and Alaskan winters. We would wake up to the smell of a house infused with the smell of freshly baked bread. They never locked their home, or their car. Ray read stories every Saturday from across the world, and Vivian would listen to every story he read, back at home, over the radio.

For their 50th wedding anniversary, they snuck me into town at 3 am with eight feet of snow on the ground. The entire town showed up to give them a surprise wedding anniversary party.

2010-05-09 23.38.02You have to know this about them: Ray had a Gandhian charkha and he would spin stuff into yarn. By stuff I mean wool, yes, but the good people of Haines, Alaska, would also give him hair from their huskies, and he would spin that into yarn. And Vivian had a giant loom in one room, from which she would spin it into cloth. And these two wore bathrobes spun by Ray, and woven by Vivian all their lives.

I have always heard them say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to each other, and never once witnessed a fight. I once asked Ray, curious, Ray, how come you two never fight? What happens if you want one thing and Vivian another? Well, he said, in his slow drawl, then it doesn’t get done. Ray would say, Vivian and I have divided responsibilities around this house, Vivian does all the work, and I am perfectly willing to let her. (Which wasn’t quite true, since he did an equal amount of work). They went for walks in the evening, with Vivian holding onto Ray’s arm. He was gallant, and he would always offer his arm to Vivian.

And here is the most remarkable story: when I met Ray last, I was warned that he had lost his memory. When I visited him at Haines Assisted Living, he indeed didn’t recognize me, and he was as polite as he was to everyone. This is what he looked like when I saw him:

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So I decided to cook for everyone at the facility. Since I was in Alaska, guess what I cooked? I made biryani, but what kind? You’d never guess! Moose. I made moose biryani (I had never made biryani before). And this is the little miracle that occurred.

Now, Ray had never had Indian food before he met me. He had never met an Indian before. And he’d never had biryani before. I set a plate before him, he took a bite, frowned, looked up, and asked, you wouldn’t be Vasu Primlani, would you? HE didn’t remember me, but his palate did! From a dish he’d never had before! Not only did he remember, he remembered that he forgot! He said, ‘Now I feel like such an idiot for not remembering you.’

Ray and Vivian Menaker, good people become immortal, and you will live in my heart for my entire life. I love you, and you, and Alaska will always be my home.

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