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Celebrations, Pretensions and Disengagement in Relationships

Raksha Bandhan celebrations are over. But pretensions have not. Thankfully, not everyone pretends. But this isn't just about Raksha Bandhan at all - it's happening across all occasions and festivals.

The young domestic help who comes and cleans my home every morning had a bright smile today. She said, proudly, “My brother took me to a shop and asked me to choose three salwar suit materials. This happens only once a year. So, I bought three materials and each cost a thousand rupees. And he also bought me two sarees and gave me some money. This happens only once a year but I feel so happy.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not a one-incident rant. I have spoken to several people before putting out this post. Everyone had a list of material gifts they mentioned with delight, nothing to say about sweet, childhood memories with their brother. I find that very odd.

I am not being judgmental about anyone. But increasingly, I get the feeling that we are becoming a ‘what-can-I-get-from-the-other-person-because-it-is-my-right’ community. That doesn’t feel right to me, especially not in family relationships.

That reminds me of a peculiar work place culture I was struggling to understand ten years ago. I am still struggling to understand it. The women – highly educated, financially independent and liberal in their outlook – constantly ‘negotiated’ what they wanted from their partner for their ‘date anniversary’ and ‘wedding anniversary’ and if it didn’t cost their partner at least 50K, that would be the end of the relationship or so the threats implied. When women put such numeric values on their sense of worth, I feel we, as women, demean ourselves, beyond words.

What appalls me now and then is that this yardstick is fast becoming the norm across all relationships. What you give or rather how much you can give becomes the barometer of a relationship’s progression thereon. 

I am all for celebrating beliefs, traditions and festive occasions that bring people closer and together. But I am definitely opposed to the increasing pretensions that are flooding our lives through mediums that include Facebook, WhatsApp and so on.

How do I know people are pretending? Lets put it this way – we define our relationships with people based on their actions and interactions with us.

Suppose my interactions with you are consistently nasty, mean, judgmental and sarcastic in real life but I send you the sweetest greetings on Facebook or WhatsApp, which one would appear more real to you? Which one do you choose to trust?

Whom would you trust - the ‘online’ me or the ‘offline’ me? What is the actual purpose of sending out such ‘social’ messages – a kind of social marketing of how good/expert one is? But the question is also this: for how long, does one person 'fool' the other on networks? 

Increasingly, I see people whom I know very well in real life pretend to be what they are not to those in their social networks. When pretense becomes a way of life, what follows is disengagement. This is because those who know each other in person would recognize what is happening. 

It’s not too different in family relationships, workplace relationships or in friendships between friends. Two people who live together or work with each other or are related to each don't even say 'Hello' or "How do you feel?" in real life but they send out the sweetest messages on Facebook, WhatsApp - what's the false exhibition for? I haven't been able to figure it out - why do people act like fakes?

But the fact remains that this bout of pretension is long-lasting and far more damaging than natural disasters like the tsunami. Sadly, it is spreading, fast.

All of this takes me back to a golden era when a ten rupee note or a handful of freshly minted coins from a grandparent was treasured like gold – not because of the number it stood for, but because of the sanctity of the relationship with the giver.

Where have those days gone? Wish I had the answers. Do you? 


Asha said…
Needless to say that you have echoed my thoughts dear Swapna. Even i find people very fake and pretentious on social media that includes blog world too.

Yes, even my servant said the same today, when i asked her did you tie rakhi? she said yes and my bro gave me money. True the world has become materialistic from minimalistic. Emotions are only through emoticons.

It is at these times, i find succour in nostalgia. thank you swapna, this post gives hope that there are still genuine people like you in this world
jk said…
NGDCs .. Maybe people having good enough strength as per Nigudha Samkhyam Astrology may benefit with the 3rd house of Fashion, Show - Offs, Pretensions, Masks etc etc .. Maybe the ones with weak 3rd house may not benefit from that much .. Even Generally with some trial and error mechanisms with different times also may show some benefitting from such aspects and some others may not .. maybe they are all aspects of Dialectical Dianetics with this world ..


Ajith said…
There is nothing wrong in what your servant feel . I remember Vishu was my favourite festival as a child since i get money from elders.Also now also if some one gives you gift clothes for a festival u feeel happy rit.So its human nature. But i dont understand the idiots of the so call financially independent women who expect 50K gifts from their partners !!!.Sooner or later its bound to break
Dear Asha,

As always, we seem to be on the same wavelength on this topic too...every time I read your comment, I feel reassured too and nudged out of a growing sense of sadness 'Is it just me who feels this way?' - you get the drift...:)

@JK: It's one choice more than nature...
Hi Ajit, I understand what you are saying. Your feeling of joy relating to Vishu probably has more to do with how you felt as a child. It has a lot to do with memories, feelings than with the actual monetary value...ami wrong?

As adults, we tend to lose that child like, positive energy. We become 'smarter' in weighing and calculating the value of money more than the value of the gesture, the effort or even the sincerity underlying the gift.

Key point is: Relationships are nowadays more influenced by money than by feelings, memories or the beauty and sanctity of relationships.

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