Saturday, 20 August 2011

Saying 'No'

In my Bank, I once appeared for an interview for selection of Faculty Members for the Bank’s Staff Training Colleges. During the course of the interview, I was asked to list my strengths and weaknesses. After telling the strengths, I said,” I have one weakness. I find it difficult to say ‘No’.” At that time I thought that difficulty in saying “No’ to a request was the quality of a likeable person.
After joining as a Faculty Member, I had the opportunity of reading many books on Management and Human Behaviour and realized that the ability to say ‘No’ to an unreasonable request is indeed a strength. I realized that many people fall in the predicament whether to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in many situations. I realized that saying ‘yes’ only in order not to offend another person is a sign of lack of assertiveness.
It dawned upon me that one should not confuse the goal of being liked with the goal of being respected.

Saying ‘Yes’ is easier than saying ‘No’. Saying ‘No’ requires more physical and psychological effort. Nodding the head forward is easier than shaking it sideways. Often, during talks with friends, we nod our head or keep silent when someone is saying something even when we do not agree with what she/he is saying with a fear that it may offend the speaker. But if you say ‘Yes’ to any request, reasonable or unreasonable, you will be taken for granted; people will take advantage of your ‘goodness’ and you would be saddled with responsibilities you won’t like to take and your own work will suffer. You will be ‘used’ by other people. We should not be confused between being selfish in a bad sense and being selfish in a good sense.
 Selfishness is not a bad thing in all situations. Man cannot live unless he is a little selfish when needed.

Also, when people know that you can be taken for granted, it lowers their respect for you in their unconscious mind.

There is a painting by the famous Raja Ravi Varma, of Menaka seducing sage Vishwamitra. The sage was doing tapasya and fearing that after his successful tapasya, he might take the position of Indra, the latter sent the nymph Menaka to seduce him and thus foil his tapasya. Shouldn’t Vishwamitra have said “No” to her entreating? In stead, he was charmed and enamoured by her celestial beauty, forgetting all about his tapasya and asceticism. By the time he realized what had happened, it was all over! He had to leave Menaka and she had to abandon the baby Shakuntala! (Of course, the subsequent events leading to Kanwa Muni taking charge of the baby and to the Shakuntala-Dushyanta love-story and the birth of the brave Bharat, after whose name our country Bhaarat is called, is another matter.)
In the Bible, there is a verse:
Let your yea be yea and your nay, nay;
Lest ye fall into condemnation.
While declining, use the word 'No’ and be as brief as possible.

Don’t give elaborate explanations and don’t say things like “Well, I don’t just think so.” or “I shouldn’t.”

Such excuses may be used by the other person to argue you out of your ‘no’.Here, we must remember that being assertive is not the same thing as being stubborn or aggressive. It only means that one should not say ‘Yes’ if one really wants to say ‘No’. One has to be flexible and open to different view-points. ‘Don’t Say Yes If You Want to say No’ is the title of a good book on assertiveness training, by Herbert Fensterheim and Jean Baer.

One must also remember that just as one has the right to say ‘No’, the other person has an equal right to refuse a request. There is nothing bad to feel when one’s request is declined.


In my personal life, I hear 'No' frequently. Whatever I say, the wife responds with a 'No'. So we decided on an arrangement: Whenever I would like to say anything, I would raise a hand. Taking this as a signal, she would say 'No'. After she finishes this, I would say what I wanted to say! 
When a diplomat says “Yes”, he means ‘Perhaps’; when he says “Perhaps”, he means ‘No’. If he says “No”, he is no diplomat. When a lady says “No”, she means “Perhaps’; when she says “Perhaps”, she means ‘Yes’. If she says “Yes”, she is no lady!!!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Treat Your Husband Like A Dog

(Strictly for the eyes of married ladies only and strictly prohibited for married men)

Do you find it difficult to manage your husband? Do you throw up your hands in despair when he never keeps any thing in its place? Do you curse your stars when the hubby ever forgets to shut the front door every time? Do you lose your patience every time he fails to find things he needs even if it is lying a couple of feet away from him or he is sitting over it? Do you always wish to go back to the days of blissful first few days of your wedded life, when your every wish was command for him and he was ever eager to please you and ever willing to carry out all your whims and fancies with a song in his heart and an ear-to-ear smile on his lips?

The way out is simple: Treat your husband like a dog – your pet dog!!!

What do you do to and for your pet dog? You shower all your love and affection on him. You cuddle him. You allow him to lie on your lap. You caress him. You run your fingers through his hairs. You bathe him with great care. You find out and provide him with his favourite food. You lose sleep when he is ill. You overlook his not-so-serious faults. You don’t keep finding fault with him. When your friends come, you tell them how good and intelligent he is. You don't tell them his faults. When you are away, you make sure that in your absence, there is someone who takes care of him as much you do. 

And how does he pay you back? He is totally devoted to you. He gives you a ‘standing ovation’ every time you return after going out. He dances around you and tries to be as close to you as possible.

And he obeys all your COMMANDS without demur! 

He sits when you command him to do so; he fetches your newspaper when you ask him to do so; he brings back the ball thrown by you. In short, he does what you want him to do! What an enviable situation!!! 

Now you know how to ‘manage’ your husband.:))))))))))))))))))))))))))

Monday, 15 August 2011

Raksha Bandhan


Rakhi was celebrated all over India on the 13th of August.

That day, I received a call from Kukky, all the way from Etah, a small town in U.P., reminding me to get the Rakhi sent by her, tied on my wrist.

Kukky is my Rakhi-sister.

Way back in 1975, after my training, I was posted to Etah Branch of my Bank. I was undergoing training at Mumbai (then Bombay) when the posting order came. I sent a telegram (Telephone was a luxury in 1975, and STD, not to speak of mobile phones, was unheard of at that time!) to my recently-acquired wife, informing her about my posting. On receiving the news, the two parental families went into a huddle, jointly searched for the place and could locate the small town only in an enlarged map of Uttar Pradesh! It is located about 85 KM from Agra. The wife joined me a little while after I reported at the place.

(By the way, when I received my Posting Order, my friends told me that at Etah, I would get one potato for breakfast, two potatoes for lunch and three for supper! A lot of potatoes are grown and sold cheap at Etah. However when I did join there, we got not only good and cheap potatoes but good and cheap fish as well. Local people preferred fish with fewer fishbones as these are easier to eat. So fish with more fishbones were sold cheap. It is known that the more fishbones a fish has, the tastier it is! For example, Hilsa, full of fishbones, is very very tasty - and more costly.)

(At that time, Etah District was infamous for docoits. During our stay, one notorious dacoit named Amar Singh was killed by the police in an encounter. He was stripped and his naked body was placed atop a tree for people to see him. Throughout the day, a stream of crowd thronged the place to see the body of the dreaded docoit, who had spread terror in the hinterland of the district. I too had gone to see his body .)

The building in which we were staying, accommodated a couple of more families. Kukky, who had at that time, probably just entered her teenage, was the daughter of our neighbour. The wife and this pig-tailed school-going girl became buddies and confidantes in no time. And coming to know that I have no sister, Kukky started addressing me as bhaiya (brother) and tying a Rakhi on my wrist on Rakhi Purnima every year.

I was transferred from Etah after 3 years but the relation continued even after that and for the last 33 years, she has been sending Rakhis to me every year, regularly and uninterruptedly.

She was a school-girl when I was at Etah and I still call her ‘school-girl’. Literally, she continues to be a school-girl because after finishing her education, she has been running a school! She started it as a Kindergarten which has by now grown into a High School with about 2000 students including her own son. In spite of her protests, I still call her a school-girl.

In 2002, when I was working at Hyderabad, we had visited her and her school housed in a well-planned and impressive building with a beautiful lawn and garden.

After I retired in 2009, she told me that had my place been at or near Etah, she would have requested me to be her Financial Advisor as she badly needed a reliable person for this.


This is the story of another Rakhi-sister of mine with whom I came in contact, also when I was at Etah. We were returning from Delhi by bus to Etah. It was a six-hour journey. Such journeys were common in those days. At the Inter-State Bus Stand at Delhi, this girl, whom I shall now call Anjana, was introduced to us by her brother (not known to us). She was traveling alone in the same bus. He requested us to take care of her in case of need. We agreed. During those 6 hours, the wife and the girl became very friendly and we exchanged our addresses. She belonged to Dehradun. Afterwards, the lady and the girl wrote to each other regularly and in the process, she started sending Rakhis to me every year.

When my transfer from Etah became due, she invited us to visit Dehradun and stay with them for a few days. By that time, Daughter I had already arrived. The three of us visited them and stayed with them for about 4 days. The family included her father, (She had lost her mother early.), her elder brother and her younger sister. We found them to be very loving people. They were very good hosts and took good care of us, particularly the baby. Her younger sister used to take us for a walk daily after dinner. She suggested to us to visit Missouri which is nearby and accompanied us during the trip. Till now, we remember our comfortable stay with this well-knit family.

Our contact continued even after we left Etah. Then she got married and may be, on account of her increasing responsibilities as a daughter-in-law, the correspondence dwindled, Rakhis became irregular and then stopped arriving. We also decided not to bother her anymore.

In 2001, I was posted to Lucknow. During our stay there, we once visited Nainital for a few days. At Nainital, we were told that Dehradun was not far away. The sweet old memories about Anjana and her family got reawakened, we decided to visit her house at Dehradun and meet her parental family. At Dehradun, we found their house after a little search. Only her brother was there. He remembered our visit and was happy to see us again. From him, we came to know that Anjana’s daughter’s marriage was to be solemnized in a few days. We collected her address, telephone number etc. and left.

Back at Lucknow, we sent a small gift for her daughter on the occasion of her wedding, furnishing our address and telephone number. We waited for a few days for her to call back. She did not. To make sure that the packet had reached her, I called her residence. She was not available and the lady who received my call, promised to convey the message to her. We waited for the return call. It did not come. So I called again, a little worried whether the packet was lost somewhere. The same person received the call, informed us that she had conveyed my message to Anjana and that the packet had indeed been received by her. She again promised to tell Anjana that I had called.

I am still waiting for her call.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Real Men Cry and The Best Man

Here is a sequel to my earlier post about moist eyes at the time of bidding farewell to the darling daughter after her wedding.

It is a reproduction of the matter from another newspaper-clipping which I have pasted, along with the other paper-cutting, on the inside cover of the wedding album of Daughter I.

Hidden inside the woman,

Is a little girl;

Your little girl.

You’ve watched her grow,

From pigtails to jeans, to sarees.

She’s made the last twenty-one years ,

Seem like twenty-one weeks.

And now,

Another man is laying claim,

To her attention.

You don’t know whether you are happy,

Or jealous.

This is the time,

To reinforce your position as,

The Best Man in her life.

!!! :)))))))) :((((((((((

Friday, 12 August 2011

Real Men Cry

A son is a son, till he gets a wife;
A daughter is a daughter for life.
I do not know when and where I had read these lines but my two daughters have proved this to me. Here I must hasten to add that I have not had the scope for personally experiencing whether the first line is true.
In olden days, when girls were not leaving their homes till marriage, they were weeping bitterly while leaving for their husbands’ homes after marriage. So much so that in Odia language, there is a rich stock of lyrics called kandana geet (weeping songs) containing how girls cry at the time of parting for their bridal homes. These were genuine expressions of sadness at having to leave the protected life and environment in parental homes and going to an unknown place, the husband’s home, full of strangers and an uncharted sea. They were not mentally-equipped to face unknown people. However now a days, more often than not, girls have to leave their parental homes in early teens for their education and later, have to live away to take up jobs. So, at the time of marriage, girls no longer weep or cry though they may be feeling a little sad and sobbing a little, at having to leave the loving parental family and having to loosen the umbilical chord. Hence kandana geet has become only a nostalgic part of the history of folk lore in Odia literature..
When the ceremonies accompanying Daughter I’s wedding were over and the time came for bidding her good bye, my eyes became moist.
Sometime after that, I came across an advertisement put up by a well-known Textile House manufacturing design-sarees. It contained a couple of beautiful pictures of a wedding scene and a few lines which are reproduced below:
Like a million
You knew
From the moment
She was born,
It was to happen.
Like a million
You thought,
You would be
For it
It’s okay,
Real men cry.

My eyes became moist once again, reading it.
I went through the same experience at the wedding of Daughter II, although I had really thought that I was prepared for it.