The circus and its painful secrets

The circus and its painful secrets

Synopsis: Behind the glitter and glamor of circus, there lurks a dark shadow of cruelty to animals that are made to perform for us under duress so I would like to make people aware so that they learn to treat all animals kindly.

promoted-media-optimized_53d2825248bb7

Source: Google photo

When we were children, we loved to go to circus that came to our town once in a blue moon so it was all the more exciting. We went to see the workers putting up huge tents with winches and pulleys on very long poles while the caged animals eagerly waited for their meals and the elephants chewed on sugarcane stalks placidly. The frenetic activities of preparation of the venue, the animals and the circus performers all were a part of the excitement that was to come soon so we waited for the circus to start.

On a given day we ran to get our tickets and to get our favorite seats near the arena with popcorn or peanuts in hand eagerly waiting for the show to start while the clowns did their funny jests to fill the time before the main event by slapping each other in exaggerated ways and farting or back flipping making us all laugh.

When the bright lights were turned on to focus on the trapeze artists who waiting high up to swing and catch each other flying fearlessly through the space were ready in their bright costumes, they took our breath away while they caught expertly their companion, usually very pretty girls by their arms and never missed because missing was not an option for anyone perched so high.

There was a safety net but they used it just to land on it and come down to take their bows from the wildly cheering audience. We marveled at the bright satin skimpy clothes the girls wore showing all their legs in tight-fitting costumes but their act was dangerous so they had to be dressed for it and look pretty at the same time.

You could see the tension in the eyes of the Master of the ceremony who watched very keenly the trapeze artists swinging so fearlessly and relief when they came down to take their bows. We did not know that behind the scene they had practiced very long and hard for their acts until they got it perfect.

The musicians ,the clowns and everybody stopped and looked up holding their breath to see the artists because we all knew how dangerous the performance was and slight mistakes could end up in tragedy but they performed flawlessly and smiled at the audience that clapped their hands furiously.

Then came the elephants that climbed on each other’s back or pushing giants balls and doing many tricks that thrilled us all but we patiently waited for the lions and tigers to appear because to see these wild animals doing various tricks was the highlight of the circus.

They first put up steel fence all around and made sure that the fence pieces tightly held together and only then the lions were released into the fenced arena with their trainer who wore clothes like a matador and always had a whip in his hand to guide the animals into doing what they were trained to do. They showed their teeth and growled making us all fearful but they obeyed the whip and did various tricks to delight the audience.

It was great to see the tigers jump through a fiery loop effortlessly while other tigers waited for their turn. We were relieved when they were finished and were guided into their cages and locked in because these were dangerous animals that did not belong in a circus or anywhere in cages except in the wilderness where they were truly free.

I could see in their wild eyes the fear of the whip and the resignation that they could never go back to the wilderness and be free again. You could see this in the eyes of all wild animals that were forced to perform every night for people who were free and never understood what it was like to live in a 6 foot by 6 foot cage where these poor animals were kept for long periods of time.

I have seen the anger in their eyes when kids poked at them through their cage bars in the public park of El Obeid in Sudan and also saw the desperation and anguish they felt at being caged for all to see them and poke at them at will.

How would you feel if you are in their shoes being poked at and made fun of ? This is how the Romans treated their slaves and prisoners but we still do it and show cruelty to animals today.

So I wanted to write about the dark side of the circus where we only get to see how these animals perform and see all the glitter and the lights shining on the performers in a their tight satin and sequined dresses smiling and bowing to us.

The truth is that it is a very hard profession to be in a circus because it requires years of hard training, falling and getting hurt before they can master their tricks. The women must not gain weight so someone controls their food. The never-ending exercise and training, constantly on the move from one city to the next and living in cramped quarters cannot be fun for them because these poor artists never know what it is to have a decent home, a family and children.

Often children join the circus by running away from their abusive parents or siblings and they make the circus their home and become a member of the circus family. But behind all the glitter there is sadness and only a temporary feeling of elation when the audience applauds them.

I suspect that the animals are mistreated by the trainers until they submit and learn to perform certain tricks. The baby elephant called Appu was beaten into submission by his trainer so that he could learn to sit on a big ball during the Commonwealth games in India but such facts are carefully hidden from the public.

We have all seen videos of elephants breaking loose from their quarters in a circus and causing mayhem because they were so angry being mistreated. They have emotions just like us and show it when they are happy or sad. People underestimate their power when they are angry so panic when an elephant runs loose to cause harm to others.

In the wilderness you may see these animals placidly munching grass or resting but when they are captured and beaten to perform in circus, they become angry and try to escape if they can.

We all have the morbid fascination of seeing wild animals caged or made to perform for us so there are zoos all over the world where animals and birds are kept in strict confinement so that we can see them and the zoo keepers make money from the ticket sales. Often such animals fail to breed because they are sad and want to be free to roam in the wilderness but they die in their cages never to see the plains of Africa from where they were captured. We use these animals for our enjoyment but never feel anything for them except the morbid fascination so we go to the zoo or the circus.

A killer whale called Orca that was kept in huge tank in the Sea World in Florida became so angry and frustrated in its confinement that one day it dragged it’s trainer under water and held her until she died causing a great clamor for its release into the ocean where it belonged. I still do not know if the whale was finally released.

A Russian circus that came to the Philippines with a shipload of animals abandoned them when Russia fell apart due to political changes there making the  circus owner bankrupt. For many days and weeks no one was in charge of these animals so they starved and some died in their cages. I do not know how many of them were finally rescued and what happened to them.

I heard also the tragic case of a circus that used to come to our town when its ship carrying all the animals floundered and the animals and people died so the company does not exist now.

Once we saw a circus in Port-au-Prince in Haiti that was a Mexican circus but very few people attended because of the high ticket price in a very poor country so the performers were dejected to see the empty seats. The owner tried to make money by sending photographers who took your photo without your consent and asked you to pay for it.

I know that many circus owners have become bankrupt because the times have changed and people are more aware and conscious of the hardship the animals and people in circus face so may be their days are numbered. I hope someday people will stop visiting zoos as well and will put pressure on them to release all the animals and birds to where they belong or into a sanctuary where they can be looked after by veterinarians and fed properly. Some rare animals can be saved from extinction this way.

When I see the dogs caged in small steel cages where they can’t even turn around, I get very upset at this cruelty some people show to animals. Poor dogs are kept in cages under the sun that makes them dehydrated and utterly miserable but no one cares. One elephant was kept in chains for over 50 years in India and was finally released under pressure from the animal activists. The poor animal shed tears of joy when finally released so we know that they too have feelings but we act cruelly towards them. This is our dark side and shameful side.

The monks keep tigers in Thailand so that the tourists can pet them and caress them in exchange for some money but now the truth has come out that these tigers are drugged with opium so they are always drowsy. It is a form of mistreatment so now people are asking the monks to release them into the forest where they belong. Stupid tourists can go somewhere else to spend their money on.

In America some people keep bull dogs in heavy chains to strengthen their necks so they can use these poor animals in dog fights that people bet on illegally. Now some animal lovers have come to the rescue of these animals and put them in shelters where they are treated better.

I feel sorry for the circus people because they do not live a normal life and do not know the joy of staying in one place, raising a family and perhaps get a job somewhere but the truth is that there is no market for their skills outside the circus. They do not make money if the circus does not make money so it is called a precarious living. Heavy drinking, drugs or substance abuse, domestic violence, abuse of their animals, poor living conditions and temporary nature of their existence all makes it an unappealing profession.

As a child I did not know all these things but sooner or later we all learn about the dark side and wonder if it is really worth it to go to circus or zoos where animals are kept and paraded for show so that the owners can make money.

We have to learn to be kind to animals and let them live where they are comfortable. A steel cage is the last thing they want to get into. If I manage to raise some awareness in my readers about the sorry conditions the animals are kept in and do something about it then I will feel that the purpose of my blog is fulfilled.

 

Note :  My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese  languages at the following links as well as my biography:

Mes blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

Blogs in Japanese

My blogs at Wix site

tumblr posts    

Blogger.com

Medium.com

Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русски

Subscribe

 

A prankster is loved

A prankster is loved

Synopsis : The joys of life can be found in simple things that can bring a ray of sunshine in otherwise humdrum life of people . We often forget that basically we are social animals and can learn to enjoy the company of others so I discuss how simple pranks can leave an indelible impression on someone’s life.

142605-143887

Source : Google photo

I just wrote a blog called Why do we make jokes? which is about people always making jokes about others?  Some are called jokesters who can make a living this way using many tricks available to them in TV studios but in general people who are jovial are prone to make jokes for certain occasions to make people laugh.

During the era of kings and queens, there used to be court jesters like Birbal in the court of Mughal Emperor Akbar who tried to cheer up the king if he was feeling a bit under the weather for some reason but they were always careful not to step out of line.

Today I would like to write about the pranksters who love to play pranks on you to cheer you up so you may also call them jokers but they are no stand-up comedians .They can make elaborate pranks to surprise you and cheer up everybody without saying a single word.

My father was such a prankster who showed the lighter side of him full of childish pranks he loved to play on others .People who did not know about his humorous side thought he was a serious accountant who was incapable of any mischief but we knew better and loved him for it.

Once he asked my elder brother to dress him up in dirty rags and with make up to look like a ragged beggar so my brother who is an artist of some repute glued shredded cotton to his face to make him look like a white-haired beggar with white beard and mustache while we as children wondered what he really was up to because he kept it a secret.

But soon it became clear what mischief our father had really on his mind when we all went to our uncle’s house where a celebration was underway and we were invited to a feast. Ma knew all along the jovial side of my father but kept quiet as a part of the conspiracy that day and her younger brother who was a renowned movie actor in those days kept a camera handy to take photos.

Now dressed in rags and carrying a bundle on his shoulder, our father tried to break into the crowd that had gathered for the occasion and asked for alms from my aunt. Now anyone with sharp eyes could see through his fake mustache and cotton beard but our poor aunt didn’t so she started dragging him out by holding his arm while my Ma smiled and the actor uncle kept taking photos and laughing in mirth at the same time. We the kids were having a whale of a time and wondered what would happen next.

We did not have to wait long. Soon someone recognized him and shrieked OMG it is the Mister himself and everybody broke into peals of laughter and then someone brought in a bucket full of colored water and doused my father with it that drenched him red including his bundle he carried on his shoulder but that bundle carried his change of clothes when his identity was revealed.

It was his finest kurta of pure silk and with gold buttons and his dhoti that got a bit stained but everybody was enjoying the prank like this because it was so unexpected of him to think of it. Women were so excited that they ran to a nearby jeweler and asked him to make a silver medal plated with gold with my father’s name inscribed on it and pinned it on him in an elaborate ceremony that evening.

I was may be 10 years old but the memory of that day is vivid. I brought his medal among other things to the Philippines where I now live and had it framed with his photo, two medals and his Parker pen to always remind me how great a person our dad was. I miss him terribly.

Our daughter is also very naughty and full of mischief so one day she got hold of a colleague’s office computer keyboard and changed many keys so the poor chap wondered where was letter A or letter C in his board and was thoroughly confused while everyone laughed . Our daughter can keep a straight face for a while. She was the life of that office that kept people on their toes not knowing what mischief she was cooking up next.

When we were students in college, the urge to play pranks on our unsuspecting college mates remained strong so one day we saw a new arrival judging from his bewildered looks and tons of luggage so I brought him straight to the lady’s dorm where my co-conspirators were only too happy to join the prank and brought the luggage of the poor chap upstairs saying that he will share the room with them. Now thoroughly confused the fellow did not know what to do seeing all the bras and panties while the girls were having a great time until the dorm manager showed up and chased us all away.

So making pranks was a pastime of our younger days but our father beat us all with his elaborate prank that day that people cannot forget. We all have a bit of naughtiness in us that we show on occasions to lighten up the mood of everyone around.

But once in a while a prank backfired like the time when I raised my hand promptly when asked who the cadets were on fast during the Ramadan that only Muslims observe. This was during the roll call of the compulsory paramilitary training we all had to undergo as college students.

Now I thought that perhaps I too will be excused that day along with our Muslim college mates but the sharp-eyed commander caught me and asked me since when I was on a fast ( being a Hindu) during Ramadan to which I could not answer so he made me go round the football field 14 times holding the heavy Enfield gun up high making all the students laugh and jeer saying oh he is so naughty. Today he got caught for his pranks.

But I remember all the pranks fondly because it was a part of our youth we all have left behind long ago that is fast becoming obscure. It made us laugh and enjoy our student life of endless chemistry lab work or field work in agronomy.

Now harmless pranks we all got into never really hurt anyone, rather it made our bond stronger although our classmates have all scattered never to be found again. I decided to write about it because life can be boring and stressful unless we do something to cheer us up once in a while.

There are festivals and other social events that can break up the monotony of living and inject a dose of happiness albeit temporary into our lives when we let our guards down and just enjoy the occasion.

Ask a Spaniard why he loves being chased by a crazy bull and he will tell you that it is fun and exciting never mind if the bull rips up his clothes. We all love the flow of adrenaline in us during such times because it excites us.

Recently our two grandchildren came to visit us for the first time so I gave them a chase around our garden that they loved and shrieked in joy because they loved being chased but I had to quit after a while because they as children had more energy than me.

I think there is a definite place for laughter in our lives because a strict person who never laughs is a melancholy person people will always avoid.

Long ago I saw a movie the title of which I cannot remember now in which there was a very strict padre who did not like young people in his village to hug and kiss and get into romance. He was always castigating them for flirting and made life very difficult for a very young couple who were in love quoting scriptures all the time until the girl fell sick and died. Even then the padre did not relent and said that she was thus punished for her immoral behavior so the enraged boyfriend cut off the ear of the padre in absolute anger.

That is perhaps an extreme example of how some people can become so lifeless and humorless that they deprive themselves simple joys of life through laughter and merry-making.

We now live in the era of fast technological innovations that has made us more introvert to the extent that children play with their cell phones during the family dinner checking constantly the Facebook to see if they have a new message while the parents try to draw their attention to other matters. They cry if their cell phones are taken away just for a day as if their whole life depends on that stupid gadget.

We did not have such gadget when we were young so on the whole we enjoyed each other’s company playing, making harmless mischief and pranks. But times have changed to the extent that people no longer seek human interaction that was so important during our time and as a result have become lonelier. We are after all social animals just like the Apes so the social bond that is created through interaction makes us stronger as a community but we see the result of isolation when a next door neighbor is in trouble but no one comes to his or her rescue.

It can be argued that the new innovations of the modern era has put the latest technology in the hands of ordinary people so they can chat with someone in another part of the world instantly but they never say hello to the nearest neighbor and ignore them. People may have hundreds of Facebook or Instagram friends but they are not real friends. I call them electronic “friends” who send you their photos everyday but never ask how you are doing.

Were we better off without such gadgets? It is true that we did not have hundreds of electronic friends but a few we did have remained friends over the years. Can these Facebook addicts claim the same?

So I think we should all try to lighten up once in a while and feel the joy in making someone laugh. I feel happy when someone makes me laugh. I know that I made our two grandchildren happy by simply chasing them around the garden so we humans do not really need anything special to make us cheer up and laugh.

All we need is a prankster who is a child at heart who brings joy to everyone like my father. There is a child hidden in all of us waiting for the opportunity to make mischief so go ahead and pull a prank on someone. He will love you for it.

 

Note :  My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese  languages at the following links as well as my biography:

Mes blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

Blogs in Japanese

My blogs at Wix site

tumblr posts    

Blogger.com

Medium.com

Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русски

Subscribe

Why do we make jokes?

Why do we make jokes?

Synopsis:  We all love to laugh at jokes and feel good but often fail to realize the purpose of the jokes we hear which may be hidden or not so hidden. If the purpose is to put down others through jokes then it cannot be a good thing and should be condemned.

maxresdefault (2)

Source : Google photo

Have you ever wondered why people make jokes about other people? I have often thought about it and have come to the conclusion that a joke is a form of social disapproval of a person who may not be popular or represents an ethnic group that people tend to denigrate. We joke about people we do not approve as a person politically, morally or otherwise so the TV programs where stand-up comedians make jokes are popular.

We love to laugh at other’s expense because it is a non-violent way of protest that can cut deep specially if the object of the jokes has onion skin and easily gets annoyed. The comedians make a lot of money telling jokes and become famous household names until their dark secrets are revealed and “Me too” women start to come out exposing them as frauds.

One such comedian made millions of dollars simply by bluster because he had a funny face and short height that played in his favor but he knew no jokes so he hired people to write jokes for him and read from the cue cards displayed behind the camera. People knew but did not care because he made people laugh even if he was a total fraud.

People make jokes on all sorts of things and often point out pressing social issues like sex abuse, gun violence, domestic issues, discrimination and such so we can see that the jokes often serve a purpose in shining a light on the dark side of human nature and make people aware of what is going on, what is wrong with our society and what we can do about it.

But when jokes are made as a form of social disapproval of a person because he wears a turban or has facial hair or dresses differently then it shows bigotry and intolerance which cannot be good. This bigotry comes from the sense of superiority over others which has its roots in racism. It is the same reason racial profiling is practiced by the whites who suspect people who are not white therefore subject to scrutiny.

We as children often joked about the Sikhs in India who are very nice people and jovial in nature so they do not take jokes about them seriously although they must be wondering why jokes are made about them. One joke we used to say was something like this.

Why the Sikhs forget what time it is at noon? It is because they wear turban which heats up at noon time making them forget things like time. It is a cruel joke that is full of racist overtones but my Sikh classmates took it casually and never retorted back so eventually we stopped, realizing how stupid the joke was. We learned such jokes from adults who showed their prejudice through jokes about Sikhs. It did not matter to them that Sikhs were as good as any and one became the president of India.

Another joke I heard in our village when we were children was from a teenager who kept on repeating this joke that we too memorized to the chagrin of others.

He said that “ Bangal is not human but a strange animal that jumps up a tree but has no tail.

We call the East Pakistan ( now Bangladesh ) Bengalis as Bangals who have a different dialect and speak with an accent that Indian Bengalis find funny so they make fun of them. Now to say that they are not human and are a strange animal that jumps up a tree etc. is downright racist but no one corrected that boy who said such things.

We heard the pejorative words like Mero and Khottas that describe the trading class of Marwaris in India who dominate the business sector in Bengal and the uneducated people from Bihar are called Khottas which is a slang. It clearly showed their prejudices which they showed through their jokes.

There are joke books sold on the sidewalks of India that are full of deprecating jokes that one can buy for pennies because there is a market for obscene jokes so there are  full-time joke writers who make a living this way and some may even end up writing jokes for comedians who read them from cue cards held behind the camera.

This obsession with jokes to make people laugh at the expense of others often denigrating them with cruel and racist jokes shows the dark side of our nature that children learn from and become racist themselves later on. If you grow up in the company of such people hearing such jokes often then you too start forming your own opinion about others in a negative way.

Once we saw a girl in a fast food restaurant here in the Philippines who was entertaining her classmates with jokes about someone who was probably known to everyone with very elaborate facial expressions and mimicking the person’s habits and accent that made everybody roar in laughter but disturbing everyone else dining there. It was such a relief when she left and the place became quieter.

Let us face it. We mimic people we do not like or find very strange. I did it myself as a student but in retrospect I think it was wrong to make fun of someone behind his back but that realization came when I was much older and mature. The comedians do it every day because that is how they make their living but does it make it right?

If you joke about people who are racist and suggest ways to overcome racism then perhaps it serves a purpose or if you joke about a very corrupt and immoral politician and expose him for what he is then may be it too serves a purpose of naming and shaming a bad person but when a joke is made on someone just because he looks different or has accent then I think it shows pure prejudice that serves no one.

How many times you have heard jokes about the Pollacks (Polish immigrants) or the Dagos or the Irish in the United States? How often you hear jokes about the” Cathliks and Jews” in rural America where they are so vocal about their dislikes of them?  Now add to their list the Sikhs ,the Mexicans, the Chinese, the Muslims who wear turbans and have facial hair etc. then you will know the extent of their prejudices they express through their jokes if not outright disdain for such groups. This comes mainly from ignorance they learn from their parents and peers. Believe me when I say that ignorance is also a learned process just like knowledge.

A child who grows up ignorant about other people learns it from others he grows up with who teach him bias, hate, prejudice and disdain and passes it on to the next generation. That is why racism still persists in many parts of the world.

We are very vulnerable as children when our brain is  like a lump of soft clay where impressions are easily made and stays there when that lump hardens later. This is why the religious indoctrination starts very early in a child’s life. He can absorb good things as well as the bad things and a time comes when the bad things overwhelm the good things he has learned because the bad has an evil and dominating power over a weak person who is very vulnerable.

The prejudice is a learned process. If you repeat to someone some evil things over and over again for days and months and years then it starts to take root in the subconscious mind and affects the person in a negative way. If you  tell a lie and repeat it over and over again then some people if not all will start believing such lies.

This is the bread and butter of politicians who resort to this proven technique to gain their supporters who may elect him someday to a higher office. No one bothers to check if the politician is telling the truth or lies except the news media that can be easily discredited as fake news if they tell the truth.

I have seen the prejudice, the bias and the ignorance about others in  most countries I have visited or lived in and have encountered people who will try to convince you that they are right because that is what they have learned from their elders. Their jokes, their phobia, their apprehensions about others who are not like them, their ignorance of other cultures and people, their innate reticence to accept anything at face value, their pride in their own everything are all a learning process  and it starts early in the childhood.

So the question to ask here is why people show disapproval of others through jokes? It is because they believe that they are upholding certain social values as self-appointed guardians of their society. This social disapproval can often take a violent form and can have dire consequences as we have seen in India where a boyfriend- girlfriend relationship is often met with ridicule at best or eve teasing or even rape at worst.

Let us all admit that we do not joke about someone we revere as a person. Have you heard jokes about Jesus or Mama Mary anywhere? Have you heard jokes about Nelson Mandela except in the inner circles of white policemen who jailed him? Does anyone denigrate Mother Theresa or Pope John Paul II ? It is because people have a lot of respect for them so they do not make jokes about them. We use joke as an outlet to vent our negative feelings about a person because we feel a sense of superiority over them.

Did you notice that all TV comedians use a sidekick in their shows who will never disagree with the host and will always support the jokes no matter how absurd it is? In real life people who tell jokes also use sidekicks. It may be his office mates or school mates or someone else because they feel the need for someone who will agree with them no matter what.  This is the reason the teen ager in the village was telling us the racist jokes because we were children and did not disagree with him just because we did not know any better. This was the support he was looking for that he was not sure of getting from adults.

So a jokester is out of place if people do not laugh at his jokes and someone may even stop him by saying that his jokes are out of place and he should shut up or find some other audience. So a jokester looks for people with similar mindset or he has a secret button in his desk that he can press to turn on a recorded laugh when no one is laughing.

I have seen this charade when the presidential candidates debate each other on live TV where someone favoring one candidate or the other presses the secret button that lights up a sign saying “Applaud” which is the cue for the audience. Such tricks are a part of the TV program that no one complains about because the audience is carefully screened before admittance to weed out the trouble makers. In Nixon’s case they used the Applaud button too often to show favor to him but he still lost to Kennedy who was charismatic and handsome to boot.

This is the same trick the stand-up comedians use in their shows because no one likes a trouble maker to disrupt their litany of cheap jokes. If the audience is not amused then there is always the secret button of recorded laughter. I wonder if they really fool the wider audience.

I must now conclude that it is ok to make a joke and make people laugh as long as it does not smack of racism or putting someone down just because he looks different or has an accent. To teach the audience prejudice and bias through jokes is never a good thing and should not be tolerated anywhere. We know that children are most vulnerable and will learn bad things from you if you repeat them often enough because they have not learned to discern.

I learned my lessons early enough and can’t come up with any joke except one or two so people may think of me as humorless. My sister says so but I don’t care. I would rather be a decent person who does not denigrate people through jokes than one who does. Wouldn’t you?

 

Note :  My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese  languages at the following links as well as my biography:

Mes blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

Blogs in Japanese

My blogs at Wix site

tumblr posts    

Blogger.com

Medium.com

Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русски

Subscribe

 

Who is a soul mate?

Who is a soul mate?

Synopsis : We all look for someone we can call our soul mate who understands us and helps us become a better person but most never find their soul mates. I look at the qualities of a true soul mate and how to identify him or her.

3825-2

Source: Google photo

The word soul mate often pops up in my mind and I start to think on this word and what it really means. I also know that it means different things to different people. Some say that a good person attracts a good person and bad attracts the bad. So Bonnie and Clyde were soul mates in a very negative sense because they were bad and their life ended badly for them because they chose the life of crime.

I also know that a bad person can have a very destructive influence on a good person but rarely the opposite is true meaning a good person often fails to reform a bad one resulting in very bad relationship.

I know of several cases where a very bad woman married to a very good person was the cause of death of her husband and also know of cases where a bad person married to a good woman  caused a lot of grief and the marriage ended badly for them.

I believe that a soul mate exists for every person somewhere who is just the right person for you but the problem is how to find him or her in this big world. This person is not limited to any geographical area, ethnicity or religion, caste or creed, skin color , race and other things that differentiate people from one another so literally your soul mate may come from anywhere in the world .

Once you meet him or her, then something will tell you that this person is the right one for you in a positive way. He or she will uplift you, encourage you always to do what is right without pressuring you, will make you spiritually a better person without incessant Bible thumping or quotes from Koran, will always standby you in your hour of need, will always take care of you and be absolutely loyal and steadfast in his or her love for you.

These are very high and almost unattainable goals for anyone so most people go through life without ever finding their soul mate who has all these qualities mentioned above and just accept their mates without the word soul attached to it. If you ask an Indian woman if she has found her soul mate, she will most likely answer that she had an arranged marriage so her mate was imposed on her so she is used to him now although he falls short of the qualities a true soul mate has. In many countries, millions of people still get married this way and never find their true soul mates. They simply accept it as their fate or destiny and take a fatalistic attitude to life.

In other countries where men and women are free to choose their mates will also tell you that their mates turn out not to be what they expected so even after a marriage of many years they part ways causing grief to both and the children. Instead of being an asset, they end up being the liability in their relationship resulting in divorce.

Now many so-called liberated women choose not to get married but live with their mates until the sparks start flying so they can walk away without legal or other issues that can cripple a married couple for life financially, emotionally or even spiritually. Others who claim to be practical in all matters of life and death opt for pre nuptials that spell out in clear terms who gets what just in case they come to loggerheads over trivial matters in the course of their marriage.

So there are no perfect solutions in either case so what can people do? How do you find and meet the soul mate and how does he or she find you in this crowded world where more often people seem to be not what they are pretending to be resulting in frictions later on that can have its consequences.

One way is to get to know the person before saying I do but the problem is that most people keep a part of themselves hidden even from themselves let alone a potential mate. He may have a weakness that makes him vulnerable in a certain situation or she may have a trauma from a childhood experience that she hides from everybody. Often it is sexual in nature that can cause deep anxiety or mistrust in others that they find very hard to overcome.

Now the Internet comes to the aid of those who are seeking their soul mates so there are dating services that match a person with you if you mention all the expectations but we are very good at concealing our dark side and put up only what we wish others to see in us so many women and men who meet their mates through the Internet find themselves disappointed once they meet face to face.

We all fail to understand that the physical attraction has a limited shelf life so to speak so even the most beautiful women start to look haggard after a while because of stress in their relationship, poor eating or sleeping habits or job related stress that makes them eat unhealthy food and pile up enormous fat on them. Their mates then start looking for someone better causing more mischief.

At a certain age we tend to be idealistic and honest but these values start deteriorating the moment we accept dowry from the hapless parents of the girl we want to marry that is the first nail in the coffin of honesty and character. Later you start accepting bribes or favors to do your job in the office that represents the second nail. It all goes downhill from there so one day you wake up to find yourself a different person than when you were so idealistic and honest.

The wife notices these things and starts to think of you less favorably than before if she is a good girl because she finds herself married to a characterless and dishonest person that he has become and no longer her prince charming. If she happens to be also dishonest, immoral and without character then perhaps they find common grounds like Bonnie and Clyde but such people always end up badly.

Bad people do not uplift each other but do the opposite by dragging each other down in life so the children suffer the most in such cases. Often they run away from home to escape the horrible home atmosphere where they quarrel over petty matters and drinking, gambling and domestic violence become routine.

One girl who ran away from home and survived in the streets of New York as a prostitute was rescued by an honest and well-meaning taxi driver in the movie Taxi driver who sent her home away from crime and violence of the streets.

The other extreme is also worth mention here where an aggressive Bible thumping woman grabs a young idealistic and honest person, marries him and tries to mold him into a religious zealot by constantly quoting the Bible. It gets worse when they have a kid so now she works full-time also on the kid as well. This creates endless tension between the in-laws who may want their grandkids to be different but find themselves helpless to wean the kid away from such fanaticism that is being drilled into him daily by his mother. The father just gives up to maintain peace and often escapes to clubs where his drinking buddies from high school are waiting.

There are numerous examples of such couples who carry on with their life but secretly wish they had more character to stand up to the tyranny of their mates and had found their true soul mate somewhere.

I often see a parallel here with the nature that does not tolerate a vacuum and quickly fills it. If the alpha male of a lion’s pride dies or is injured, he loses his position and is quickly replaced by a younger and stronger lion. We as humans also become very vulnerable when a vacuum is created where a person with weak character and of irresolute nature is quickly pounced upon by another who takes advantage of the nature of the person and marries him or her even if they are not the ideal mates.

I know a case where a very bad woman grabbed a very handsome medical doctor who had a bright future in a good job and literally forced him to marry her because he was irresolute and weak in character. The outcome of this marriage was pre-ordained because the fellow died of brain hemorrhage .He just could not take any more the abusive nature of the woman.

The same thing happened to another fellow who died of alcoholism due to his bad marriage to a horrible woman. We too abhor the vacuum so someone steps in to take advantage of the situation.

So we come back to the question of finding the perfect soul mate and how to find him or her. People say that the eyes of a person are  the windows to his soul so if you look deeply into the eyes of a person, you may often find the real person lurking behind the façade. You may or may not be impressed by what you find. It is nevertheless a difficult proposition because some people hide very well their true nature and show only what they want you to see.

But most people are not very good at hiding their true nature and often slip up during pressure or under some circumstances. It reminds me of the movie I saw the other night called The desert queen that was based on a true life story of a very beautiful British woman who was quite educated and fell in love with a handsome British man in the desert of Arabia who turned out to be an inveterate gambler so her father did not approve the marriage proposal. He jumped off a cliff when he could not marry and she remained a spinster dedicating her life to unite all the Bedouin tribes of Arabia under one king called Faisal and earned her the nickname as the Desert Queen. At least a bad marriage was prevented by her father and she went on to do something historic just like Lawrence of Arabia.

So the soul mate remains elusive to most people because their path does not cross with yours except in cases of a few lucky ones. There are millions of men and women who cannot find their mates let alone soul mates so remain single. I will not get into the discussion of why some people remain single because that alone is a loaded topic that has no place here in this blog.

I just wish you all who are looking for your soul mate succeed in your effort to find him or her who will help you become a better person. Only such a person deserves to be called a soul mate.

 

Note :  My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese  languages at the following links as well as my biography:

Mes blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

Blogs in Japanese

My blogs at Wix site

tumblr posts    

Blogger.com

Medium.com

Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русски

Subscribe

 

Dignity and self-respect:

Dignity and self-respect:

Synopsis :  Dignity and self-respect are wonderful values that everyone should strive for because it defines the character of the person that sets him apart from others  who do not have  it.

rosa-020316

Source : Google photo of Rosa Parks (Craig Petersvikings.com )

When the Japanese zeros appeared all of a sudden in the sky above Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, people panicked and ran for shelter where they could. They could not believe what they were seeing that people were attacking America and rained down bombs the like of which they had never seen before and had no experience of how to deal with the situation.

They picked up their pitiful and obsolete guns to fire at the Zeros very ineffectually but made no impression. The whole shipyards and docks where naval ships and destroyers were moored went up in flames and were totally destroyed in a short time such was the power of the sudden attack. It brought a great shock in Washington when they learned that their entire Pacific Fleet of ships and planes were in tatters so there was no defense left for them to stop the Japanese if they so desired.

The Japanese admiral Yamamoto was pressed by his staff to push ahead and destroy the land based military targets in California also to really cripple the enemy but he said that he has completed his task and will head back to Japan. The reaction in Washington was swift when the USA declared war on Japan the very next day and started to prepare for it.

One of the decisions taken by the government in Washington that day was to arrest all American citizens of Japanese descent and place them in concentration camps hastily put up in desolate areas of California and elsewhere that was an infamy seldom repeated in any country where their own citizens were thus treated.

Most of the Japanese people who lived in the United States were living in decent homes and had proper means of livelihood and led a peaceful if not prosperous lives so they were very surprised when one morning the military police came to arrest them and told them to leave everything behind except a small suitcase. They were hastily picked up but were not told why they were being arrested and where they were being taken to or for how long. Their protests that they were American citizens fell on deaf ears so silently they picked up a few belongings and climbed onto waiting trucks to embark on an unknown future. The women and children shed tears at this injustice but they did not cry out loud and tried to comfort each other by hugging and consoling but their nightmare was just starting.

They were treated harshly, photographed and documented, taken finger prints of and pushed into tents in the sweltering heat of Manzanar and many such camps where they were to live for an unknown length of time. The Japanese Americans took it calmly and did not fight back. They were very clean people so even in camps they kept their tents and all areas around it spotlessly clean.

When their clothes got tattered, they patiently repaired them and washed if it was possible. Most of all they kept their dignity silently. They never lost their self-respect even under the harshest condition they were forced to live under due to no fault of their own. They redefined the word dignity and self-respect.

Their houses were vandalized and looted by the hoodlums energized by the propaganda that all Japanese Americans were suspects because they may have aided the enemy somehow that led to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Their frenzy of hate was fueled by the military that treated the Japanese Americans high handedly but they kept their dignity and self-respect.

It is known that the dignity and self-respect starts to vanish where people face harsh conditions under which they have to survive due to war or other calamities. You will see this in very poor people who will do anything to get food and shelter and will fight each other often spilling the food in the dirt in the process. They will lie, cheat and hide their identity to get food packages and water because to them survival at any cost becomes the motto.

That is why it was all the more admirable the way the Japanese Americans kept their cool and dignity even when their lives were turned upside down in an instant. They come from a rich culture that is thousands of years old where self-respect and dignity becomes a part of the DNA, where they would rather commit suicide than to face shame and injustice.

None of the Japanese Generals pleaded for mercy even when they were about to be executed by the victors later and calmly put the rope around their neck accepting their fate with greatest dignity possible.

I am often surprised at this lack of basic decency in people in many countries. In America you will often see people old and not so old who will approach you and start talking to you about something that you do not understand or care about. They will offend you with their foul smell, rotten teeth and poor clothes; will wink at you in an exaggerated manner and talk about somebody you do not know in a vulgar way.

There was a young woman in Washington who shared my taxi there one day and declared that she had just gotten engaged showing her finger where she had a ring. She was a total stranger. What surprised me was when she got off and the black taxi driver started denigrating her in most vulgar words calling her bitch and other such names. Where was the self-respect in the young woman and where was it in the driver? How could anyone share with strangers something personal as an engagement showing her rings to anyone? Where was the dignity?

Does poverty automatically mean that you have no self-respect and dignity? Couldn’t people learn something from the Japanese?

I see this in children in Africa where they will fight each other for a scrap of food because they lose all discipline and self-respect when someone offers them food. It happened to us in Mali when we offered meat and rice to the village children one day during Christmas. There was enough for everybody but they could not wait, pushed and shoved each other so that the food fell onto the dirt that they started picking up and eating. We were appalled and shocked.

But when such behavior is found in adults then you wonder if they have any self-respect and decency. When self-respect is deeply ingrained in the culture of people, it shows the way they stand erect in the face of adversity and never give up. The Japanese people showed a deep resilience even after the atom bomb was dropped on them killing hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, young and old and mourned their losses with unbelievable bravery.

It was the same way the Vietnamese people stood up to the French and Americans for decades, suffered in their hands and silently buried their dead with prayers  but fought on with stronger determination that eventually gained them complete victory and freedom.

The legendary heroine in Vietnam was immortalized in a book called Kim Van Kieu where Kim prostituted herself to feed her family like so many women during the war. They had pride and self-respect even when they sold themselves. When the Americans visited the memorial shrine in My Lai where hundreds of innocent men, women and children were massacred by the troops in the most infamous incident of the war, they found people there who had lost their loved ones who forgave the visitors. It takes great courage and dignity to forgive the perpetrators of such crimes.

I have lived in many countries and have noted that in many places people behaved in a manner that can only be described as undignified and callous .In Algeria people openly suggested that my bank transactions would go smoothly only if I allowed them to use my apartment for their sexual adventures. They had no self-respect or dignity at all .Frankly they should have been ashamed of their behavior but they weren’t.

So I think that people have to learn from their childhood the meaning of self-respect from their parents in their family. It comes from education but not always. When I gave a ride to my village people in Mali, they always left a basket of fruits or a chicken at our door because they had self-respect and would not take a free ride although they were so poor and uneducated people.

When I worked with the farmers in Algeria often late in the day, they would put eggs or a loaf of bread and a chunk of cheese in my hood at the back of my djellaba ( an Arab gown of camel-hair) out of gratitude. They were so poor that they wore tattered clothes and shoes but they had dignity. They shared their frugal meal with me delightfully.

We were taught since childhood not to accept anything from anyone unless our parents gave their nod. They taught us what it means to have self-respect. It meant never to bow to anyone and ask for anything. It meant that frugality they practiced and taught us was nothing to denigrate because it allowed them to live within their means and still meet their daily needs. It meant going without the things they considered luxuries in order to pay for our school fees. It meant cheaper clothes and shoes that our Ma always washed and polished just like the Japanese mothers in the concentration camps in the USA.

They taught us values that are priceless because you do not learn such things in schools. But now it seems that such values are disappearing judging from greedy children who misbehave when they see something given away for free. It shows in adults who fall in line again and again to get the aid packages dishonestly because the donors cannot remember their faces. It shows in people who bring plastic bags and secretly fill it with food that is given out for people to eat there.

Once we were invited to a village wedding feast in India but our Ma cautioned us to eat before going there because she said that village folks are rough and tough and will shove us aside to get to the food so exactly that is what happened shocking us. We were brought up differently and patiently waited for us to be seated and offered food but it did not happen.

So I often think about this topic of self-respect and dignity and why some people have it while others don’t. What does it take for one to learn that self-respect does not have much to do with poverty as such because it is a value that one can learn from the parents if they practice it?

I think that honesty is at the root of all good behaviors. If you are honest, it means you have a conscience that tells you what is wrong and what is right all the time but this honesty is a learned experience. You can’t grow up honest in a den of thieves and dishonest people.

Recently nearly 900000 students taking the high school exam in the northern State of Uttar Pradesh in India dropped out because they could not cheat due to the CCTV cameras installed in examination centers. This sort of massive cheating in Board exam was unheard of during our time showing a deterioration of moral values in young people now.  Such dishonesty is a learned experience so the question to ask here is who is teaching these young kids to be so dishonest?

A country cannot move forward through dishonesty and immorality because it is degenerative by nature and destroys the social fabric necessary to make a country strong and proud. Dishonesty makes room for corruption that is like termites eating away at the foundation of a nation.

So honesty, frugality, self-respect and dignity are all wonderful values that determine the nature and the character of people so collectively they make a nation great.

Once an Englishman asked Swami Vivekananda why couldn’t he find a decent tailor to make civilized clothes for him to which he answered “ Sir , in your culture a tailor defines the person  but in our culture it is the character of the man that defines him and never his clothes.”  I couldn’t agree more.

 

Note :  My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese  languages at the following links as well as my biography:

Mes blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

Blogs in Japanese

My blogs at Wix site

tumblr posts    

Blogger.com

Medium.com

Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русски

Subscribe