Lips don’t lie: The Royal kiss Kate and William shared! the relationships and interactions between musical, cardiovascular, and cerebral rhythms in humans.

 

 

I was chatting with Hidayat Hussain Khan one Tuesday evening. Son of the legendary Ustad Vilayat Khan, and himself a talented sitarist, Hidayat was sharing an interesting anecdote from his father. Every time the legendary artist played, he saw, observed, and felt the surrounding flowers in an eternal bloom, refusing to bow to time and destiny…responding as if to the maestro’s swinging cadence in supreme exaltation.

Music, born millions of years before we arrived has come a long way in its tameless, unhindered flight. In its endless ebb and flow, we sink and swim, happily lost in a trackless ocean. Who am I to doubt Vilayat Khan’s meditative contemplation? I agreed to every word that Hidayat related, delightfully digressing from my own scientific devotions. Yet, not surprisingly, even science seems to have caught up with the unfaltering grace of melody. Research after research finds music as not only an emotional lover of our self, but more importantly, a firm, objective therapy to our physical challenges. So, how does these shapeless conformations tender to our nerves, vessels and bones? Time to update ourselves.

Ever since the Mozart effect brought music right under the microscope, more and more information have poured in detailing the good effects of both classical and not so classical music. Described by French researcher, Dr. Alfred A. Tomatis in his 1991 book ‘Pourquoi Mozart?’, research results indicated that listening to Mozart’s music possibly induced a short-term improvement on the performance of certain kinds of mental tasks, technically known as “spatial-temporal reasoning.”. Further popularized in a book by Don Campbell, and based on an experiment published in Nature the theory went on to suggest that listening to Mozart temporarily boosted scores on one portion of the IQ test. While subsequent meta-analysis downplayed the euphoria, Governor of Georgia, Zell Miller, caught in the happy tide, even proposed a budget to provide every child born in Georgia with a CD of classical music.

Mozart’s effect on epileptic patients is even more compelling. Playing the Sonata K.448 to patients with epilepsy, a distinct decrease in epileptiform activity was noted. According to the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, other than the Sonata K.448, only Greek Composer Yanni’s composition, entitled ‘Acroyali/Standing in Motion’ could show the successful Mozart effect.

Daring research work followed thereafter, with Circulation publishing more evidences in its June 2009 edition delving into the relationships and interactions between musical, cardiovascular, and cerebral rhythms in humans. In a ground breaking trial, heart rate, respiration, blood pressures, middle cerebral artery flow velocity, and skin vasomotion of twenty four individuals were recorded while they listened to Puccini’s “Turandot”, progressive crescendos of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony adagio, more uniform emphasis from a Bach cantata, a 10-second period (ie, similar to Mayer waves) rhythmic phrases from Giuseppe Verdi’s arias “Va pensiero” and “Libiam nei lieti calici”, or simply to silence. For the first time it was found that music could synchronize cardiovascular variability as a result of listening to phrases at a frequency close to that of circulatory oscillations. Astonishing findings pointed out to considerable implications for the use of music as a therapeutic tool.
Several other studies have shown that listening to music can help alleviate chronic pain and reduce the need for pain medication. Other research has documented that music can help lower blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety in heart-disease patients. Neuroscientists also report that music can help people with motor-skill deficits from stroke or diseases like Parkinson’s regain balance and coordinated movement.

Results with preschool children found that those who had taken music lessons showed larger brain electrical responses in a number of sound-recognition tests compared to those with no music training. In other words, the musician advantage goes not only beyond hearing skills, but also affects a number of regions of the brain specific to motor skills, memory and reasoning.

But, what about a possible ‘OM’ effect? Not just as an extension of the Mozart effect, but as a serious scientific endeavor to tap into the fathomless wealth of such a profound utterance? What about using the very savvy, nuclear medicine imaging studies like the positron emission tomography (PET) scan to assess the functional status of a brain while listening to the OM chant? Or for that matter any of the classical ragas?

As Hidayat Khan hinted at the endlessness of the powers of music, one gets tempted to sea dive deeper for the unseen pearls. The inevitable question emerges. Can we in the near future play music to cure diseases? Can we use music as a serious medical pill? If one has to believe in the passion and abundance of research pouring forth – yes we can!

Shakespeare was bang on the target with his now legendary quip on the ill effects of alcohol, “it provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance”. The warning bell notwithstanding, things haven’t changed much in terms of acceptance and appreciation of an issue as sensitive and reluctant as sexual dysfunction. We still drink and we still sulk. But statistics first.

A recent survey of healthy married couples emphasized the prevalence of sexual dysfunction in 40 percent of men and 63 percent of women. Another report documented the increasing incidences of sexual difficulties in men with aging. According to this report, by the time you turn 40, 40 percent acknowledge some level of impaired sexual function, while another 10 percent recognize a waning sexual prowess or interest with each succeeding decade.

It’s a not too hooded secret that sexual dysfunction diminishes the quality of life and could actually be a manifestation of marital discord. However, equally important is the fact that it could be an indication of a serious health issue… medical problems that flaunt and more importantly medical problems that lie beneath the surface.  Depression, for instance, can be a cause and effect of a relentless sexual dysfunction. A vicious catch twenty two situation, compounded by an inability to comprehend and express.  And then the big ones that grab all the attentions. Diabetes, cardiac diseases, chronic kidney failures, atheroslcerosis, hormonal abnormalities…the list not surprisingly is not too short. Despite all the apparent anarchy and chaos from such multiple sources, in almost all cases the reasons are there to be addressed. They are various, but in most situations, neither complex nor cumbrous.

For all clinical purposes, psychological and emotional factors pose the greatest challenge. That quiet, but helpless transition from emotional warmth to a tentative call can easily break the backbone of a desirous moment. Otherwise called performance anxiety, problem creeps in once the focus shifts from a sensual experience to one fraught with anxiety.  Fatigue is another killer. It does the lover no good in exhausting oneself in any specific activity and then turning one’s attention to an intimate moment.

And of course drugs. Excessive alcohol consumption remains the most common offender. As also other recreational substances like marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. A lot has been said about blood pressure medications being the culprit of many an inadequate performance. Not really. Although some antihypertensives have been implicated, systemic review of randomized controlled trials found only a small risk of any clinically evident sexually dysfunction.

So, where’s the challenge? The challenge lies in melting the moody silence between the patient and the physician. The sheltering anchorage of ‘no one needs to know’ has to go. In almost all cases, sexual dysfunction is neither a disease nor a defeat. It is merely a manifestation of a problem that is correctable and reversible. What is essential and nuclear is a nonjudgmental, accepting attitude to foster the right alignment with those who present with such concerns. What is not essential is the temptation to go for the quick fix, herbal, ayurvedic or allopathic. Willingness to express and a deeper understanding of the root cause will soothe much of the hushed agony.

Like human legends some diseases proclaim, proliferate, and prevail eternally. Heart attack, stroke, cancer…the list is growing. These are the mafias of the medical world that dictate terms. They cannon ball huge interests, research papers and industries. But beneath these established dynasties flourish smaller families…existing in between rain drops, unassuming, almost sly – the quintessential king breakers as we say. In our medical world we call them ‘risk factors’. Stress, amongst all these hogs the limelight. It has an identity of its own. Un-objective, undefined and often personal, this is one single factor that wraps around human nature like a frightening charm.

As a manifestation of generalized anxiety disorder or as a consequence of trauma, both emotional and physical (termed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), stress has an obvious psychological connotation to it. However things traverse well and beyond the psychiatric perimeter when stress becomes an inescapable environment. From parental pressures, peer pressures to professional pressures we are one hapless bunch of Home Sapiens condemned to stress.

While stress management rolls out from every web and print magazines, the crux of the problem seems as much an individual event as environmental. In other words, while environment does play a role in creating stress, individuals also exist as either prone or immune to it. And it is here where scientists are flexing their muscles.

The glucocorticoid or cortisol (one of the naturally produced steroid hormones in response to stress) component of stress response has been the darling of all scientific researches. Excess exposure to this hormone coming out of a stress related incident, has far reaching and often ominous effects on human system including (but not restricted to) mood, anxiety and cognitive aberration. In a recent study from Johns Hopkins Hospital, differences specific and peculiar to an individual’s genetic constitution have been shown to be responsible for varied glucocorticoid responses.

A neurotransmitter called Dopamine dominates the other alternative. Research studies from Harvard Medical School affiliate McLean Hospital have identified Dopamine as the primary source of all the ordeals. Scientists here are predicting Dopamine as the triggering factor for the release of Cortisol Releasing Factor (CRF), the main chemical responsible for the flood of emotional and organic responses. More significant are the indications that early childhood exposure to abuse, stress or trauma can bring forth such breakdown of a normal dopamine-CRF interactions.

But then let’s climb down the research ladder and strike the earth. What happens when we are stressed out? The problem is that it doesn’t always come out as a hair tearing event. Manifestations could be far more subtle and hence indulged. It could come as diurnal headaches, inexplicable fatigue, insomnia, restlessness, and dwindling sexual drive. Vague chest tightness, air hunger, sweaty extremities are some of the other physical outlets. These along with emotional and mental aberrations are the sine qua non of a stressful attack. An oscillating distracted mind that is irascible, pessimistic and unsure is most likely stressed out unless otherwise proved.

Are we then genetically destined to be stressed out? The answer is an authentic no. While propensities cannot be denied, there’s every opportunity to come out of it. Medications…yes. However, many many other non-pharmaceutical management options are there. Realizing the disastrous potential of continued stress on the heart and mind, health research has come out with plenty of coping exercises. These range from imperative basics like asking for help, talking to a therapist to self governed  techniques like deep breathing, exercising (yoga actually is far more simple than we think), watching movies, listening to music and relaxation tapes, attending concerts, vacationing, cultivating hobbies (doesn’t have to be playing the cello,  gardening will do) and of course meditating.

The bottom line remains the need for an effective channelization to an area of internal comfort that can blunt the potential trigger and effectively bring down the damaging effects of the springing steroids. Along with these comes a firm realization that true contentment is a fiercely independent character. However, quite like perfection it too needs cultivation.

It wasn’t difficult to look up to him. Despite high shoe heels and a neck straightened as a dollar, my tropical height fell miles short of his towering structure. It’s his aura of wisdom however that instantly and happily humbled the beholder. My first meet with Dr Walter Freeman, world renowned neuroscientist, biologist and philosopher happened under a cloudy Brooklyn sky on the premises of Long Island University. I was keyed up and dressed to the nines. He appeared bright and breezy, the annoying drizzle notwithstanding. He smiled away most of my audacious inquiries as if they were bottles of moonlight. The ones that he chose to respond were pure honey. Later, while devouring Thai food we discussed his works. Amongst all his legendary works on chaotic dynamics, his writings on the fundamental aspects of happiness had pounced on to me like one bright kid – attractive, willing and decidedly daring. Misquoted, misjudged, misunderstood and mislead, the hunger for happiness has been the source of endless misery.

Traditionally happiness had been the prerogative and the propinquity of sonnets, philosophies and scriptures. Years before time could be clocked, religious leaders swore by their gods that happiness was a timeless gift of god. An antsy scientific world went ahead and put it under the microscope. To the dismay of a church loving community even happiness started getting profiled. Hovering around happiness seeking reflected glory and fame are words like satisfaction, contentment, optimism, bondage and ecstasy. While each of them revolves in their own worlds of hormone and health, none of them come close to the halo that surrounds the magnanimity of happiness.

Abraham Lincoln was neither a scientist nor a philosopher, but his statement of happiness might have just passed the test of time when he commented “A man is likely to be just about as happy as he makes his mind up to be.” Cut to 21st century and happiness seems to pour out from genes. Studies from Minnesota University on identical twins indicate that happiness could indeed be genetic. Not necessarily in entirety but one amongst a packet of biology, economics and environmental. However, while unhappiness or melancholy as a subset of depression may have a strong genetic commitment, mood elevation riding piggy back on such ‘fast’ neurotransmitters as serotonin, endorphins and the queen of all, Dopamine, do not in any way decode a happy soul.

Emotion per se was thought to be a function of the limbic system, a group of sub cortical limb structures that includes the amygdala, the hippocampus and the hypothalamus. However emerging studies are focusing more on cortical areas of each hemisphere, with right being considered more spatial than the articulate left hemisphere. Scientific interests rest also on the interhemispheric connection, namely the corpus callosum, that great, unseen, unwalked bridge between the two parts of our brain. Dr Freeman’s works here come as edgy, risk taking but in a strange sublime way tempting to the seekers.

In his article titled “ Happiness doesn’t come in Bottles” he writes “ There is more to brain function than chemistry or electricity. Some pioneer neuroscientists have used the new theory of nonlinear dynamics to build mathematical models of brain function.” He goes onto explain that brains don’t take in information from the environment and store it like a camera or a tape recorder, for later retrieval. There is no “database” of memories in brains, such as we hold in libraries and computer chips. According to him, a stimulus excites the sensory receptors, so that they send a message to the brain. That input triggers a reaction in the brain, by which the brain constructs a pattern of neural activity. The sensory activity that triggered the construction is then washed away, leaving only the construct. That pattern does not “represent” the stimulus. It constitutes the meaning of the stimulus for the person receiving it. He cites the examples of existentialist philosophers from Kierkegaard to Heidegger and Sartre, who had similarly concluded that each of us constructs our self by our own actions, and we know our self as it is revealed to us in our actions.

But the real quirk comes when he calls for bonding as a source of joy. The great humane values of goodwill and trust that form the very fulcrum of humanity. Joy, according to Dr Freeman, comes with activities that we share with people we have learned to trust, be it dancing, singing or clapping. This then enables us to share meaning across the existential barrier that separates each of us from all others. Almost subconsciously, science melts into our society.

Yet and yet, humanity’s most profound emotion remains enigmatic. Despite bonding communities explode with unhappiness; despite loneliness, the man on the mountain top seems inherently happy. We seem beset with a peculiar dichotomy. We can either pursue or acknowledge.

To be or to become – was that the question?

Falling in love is not just possible, but easy too. Just close your eyes and believe!

Rose-tinted happily-ever-after images in fairytales and romantic fiction spoil us for the real thing. Pre-conceived notions and expectations ensure disappointment even with the best. So sharply focused are we on expectations that we sometimes fail to objectively evaluate or appreciate reality. So, if you have been brought up on the raging passions and sky-rocketing Big Os of Mills & Boon, or on stories of a Prince Charming who carries girls away on white steeds, your real life romance has fizzled out even before it got a chance to sizzle.

However, don’t lose heart. This is not to say that love cannot happen. It can and does but only to those of us who believe in it and make the effort to build it for ourselves. Note, not find love, but to build or create it for yourself. Most make the mistake of looking for that ‘one’ man, or that ‘one’ woman, who is perfect for them. There is no such thing as the perfect soulmate — there could be any number of them and so long as they fulfil your basic criteria, all is good. The critical part is recognising one of them who crosses your path and then to fall, or rise, in love. Research has shown that it takes between 90 seconds and four minutes to decide if you are attracted to a person. Fifty-five per cent of your decision is influenced by body language, 38 per cent through tone and style of speaking, and just seven per cent is dependent on what is said. Rest is all a matter of intent and application.

The one thing to remember is that most of the time you need to close your eyes to build your world of romance. Romance is certainly not going to happen with eyes wide open! Romantic love can happen only when you close your eyes to everything, including sometimes, the object of your affection! For, love and romance is more about convincing yourself than anything else. You can fall in love with someone and choose to remain in love for as long as you like. And so long as the object of your affection doesn’t do something unpalatable to break the illusion, nothing would go wrong till you decide to get bored or move on.

Start off with the belief that there can be no one person who is perfect in all respects. We all have good and bad facets, and one person’s evaluation of you could differ dramatically from another’s, depending on body chemistry and shared experiences. We all know people who are fond of us and others who aren’t. If we choose to focus on someone’s not-so-nice side we are bound to build up negative feelings against the person; however, if we choose to ignore the negative for the positive, we will appreciate the same person. The power of imagination is helpful for lovers. Use your imagination to believe you are totally in love with your beloved or spouse. Whip up the passion, feel it, let the rose-tinted glasses fall in place and then turn the love-laden gaze towards your partner. Even if it doesn’t always kick start your heart into overdrive, it will definitely keep the love going strong.

A friend and mother of two has this habit of looking adoringly at her husband, shooting indulgent smiles and stroking his cheek. Believe it or not, the man is in a state of constant adoration for his wife! I refuse to believe that in their decade-long marriage, they haven’t had problems, or haven’t seen the worst of each other. But they have chosen to focus on what they love and express it openly rather than trying to improve what they don’t like. And it works fabulously for them. Most marriages that last are those where the couple has chosen to reaffirm their love by building up spaces and activities where they can share togetherness. Leading researcher on love psychology, Ellen Berscheid, talks of how new lovers magnify each other’s virtues and explain away flaws. It doesn’t need rocket science to explain that continuing to do so would ensure lasting love; indeed, love needs to be blind! And to prove that falling in love is quite easy, New York-based psychologist Prof Arthur Arun asked subjects to find a complete stranger, share intimate details for half an hour and then stare deeply into each other’s eyes for four minutes. This resulted in most of his subjects feeling a deep attraction for each other. Reportedly, two of the couples even got married!

From attraction to obsession to attachment, love takes you through different stages — and though the thrill of the obsessive stage is seductive, it is soon followed by the reassuring warmth of emotional bonding!

Most television soaps keep the romantic lead stuck for long periods in love’s obsessive state. The camera caresses them from every angle as they stay frozen, giving each other prolonged lovelorn looks. Audience hearts stop likewise…freefalling with a collective thud as the screen couple’s loaded gazes break contact!

This is repeated with nauseating frequency, television producers fighting shy of having the couple declare their feelings, as this would result in an assured dip in TRPs. The audience waits for the climactic declaration, and then loses interest! Who is interested in happily-ever-after? The excitement and adrenaline-laden moments all happen before the couple settles down to eternal, stable, boring bliss. And TV believes in doling out the just-before moments by the ladles to a romance-starved audience.

Wouldn’t it be nice if in real life too one could stay stuck forever in love’s obsessive state — where every footfall announces a lover’s visit, each whisper shivers down the spine, and any sound seems sweet as a nightingale’s song! A state of constant edge-of-seat excitement and suspense, not knowing what further delights the next moment will unfold!

This of course is the second stage of falling in love, as enumerated by love researcher Helen Fisher of Rutgers University in New Jersey. The first stage is the phase of attraction, when you first find yourself drawn by and interested in another. In men this is typified by lust, a sexual attraction often fueled by visual interest; in women, it is often the result of a man’s interest in them, or his intellect, power or status. This stage quickly gives way to the obsessive second stage when hormones rage uncontrollably, keeping one on a perpetual high, with senses as though ‘of hemlock… drunk’. Every thought is of the beloved, each waking moment a bated breath, and sleep just an excuse to dream some more!

Science has established the actual chemical changes that take place in the obsessive state of love. The release of Dopamine gives one the same high as being on cocaine or nicotine. Adrenaline that courses through the veins increases heartbeats and is responsible for the restless excitement.  Levels of seratonin take a dip, which is what makes the initial stages of love akin to the symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder  – sleeping less, eating less, obsessively thinking of the lover and a constant living in wait of the next meeting!

With such excitement-inducing chemicals, is it surprising that one would like to stay in this state forever?  Maybe one should end affairs the moment they start, because the fun is actually already over by the time real romance begins; it is teetering on the edge of the precipice that gives one the highs, much more than the free fall into an abyss!  And as a colleague said wistfully, if this phase just has to end, wouldn’t it be nice to quit a relationship at the stage when romance quits, and fall all over in love again with someone else?! “That would be a nice way to hoodwink the natural progression of things and remain on a romantic high forever,” he grinned cockily.

But life is about moving on, not staying perched in one place. And so, in real life, as well as on the small screen, finally comes the day when romance is declared. By now the chemically-laden activity has settled down and you are able to focus on rest of life as well, apart from each other.

And now comes the critical third stage of love. Some couples discover that there is nothing left once the chemistry is gone; others find a confident, stable love takes over from an uncertain, excited and nervous romance. Hormones settle down and one reaches the next stage of love; Oxytocin, the chemical for warm bonding, takes over. This chemical is released during orgasm and also during childbirth and helps create bonds between a couple, who now transcend from obsession into a deeper and mature partnership.  It is because of this quality of Oxytocin that physical contact, if indulged in a bit too soon in a relationship, can be misleading!

All three stages of love have their own unique characteristics and each prepares us for the next, logically falling in line with Nature’s natural plan of progression and procreation. Of course for those who would rather stay with the thrills and peaks rather than follow a steadier horizontal graph, my colleague’s suggestion of staying forever in the second stage of loving by jumping from one love to another, may be worth a try!

After all, the only thing you stand to lose is your sanity and credibility!

It’s not just good enough to be loved; you must aim at being respected as well!

Being loved is a warm, protective feel that lulls you into a blanket of security, a haven you can withdraw to when you need to recharge and relax. Being respected, on the other hand, is the spur you need to goad you on to greater heights and achievements. Love gives comfort and satisfaction; respect encourages you to break comfort zones and reach for the best within you. Love has the power to make you feel helpless, putty in the hands of the one who loves you. Respect can make you feel truly powerful; knowing someone respects you can give you the strength to move mountains to prove worthy of that regard! Together, these emotions can take you to the top of the world! Each of us aspires to be liked, loved and respected. Love, however, is not something you set out to find; it happens. Finding love is more or less left to Destiny. In order to be liked or respected however, you need to work hard. You cannot demand love, though you can command respect. We are taught to dutifully show respect and love, even if grudgingly, to a parent, child, relative, teacher or spouse, whether or not we think they deserve it. However as we grow up, we learn to sift the wheat from the chaff. Now, respect needs to be earned and well-deserved.So what are the traits that attract likeability and respect?

Respect yourself 

It is no secret that to earn respect from others, you need to respect yourself first. No dithering self-conscious fool with an inferiority complex can hope to gain respect from the outside world. However stride out with a spring in your step, a confident look and the knowledge in your eyes that you deserve to be respected — and watch the world fall in line! Grow into the kind of person you respect and you would have developed all the traits that others have a regard for as well.

Be neither servile nor arrogant

Equally important to self-respect is to respect others. Moving around in the arrogant assumption of your own superiority is bound to put others off. People naturally gravitate towards those who give them due regard. Be neither ingratiatingly obsequious nor arrogantly unmindful of others. The former undermines your own self whereas the latter belittles others.

Cultivate sensitivity towards others 

Take the time to be receptive to those around you in both your personal as well as professional life. Be sensitive to their dreams, their ideas and develop an understanding of their work and interests. Try and understand their reasoning even when they say something you disagree with. Acknowledge their positive traits and achievements and make it a point to praise the same.

Be good, fair and just 

Above all, earn respect by being dedicated to and good at your work. Everyone respects a person with a strong sense of loyalty and commitment to work and in personal life. It is important to follow and demonstrate a sense of fair play and justice. Fight for what is right and support the just cause on behalf of those less fortunate than you.

So long as you stick to your principles and walk upright, respect is bound to follow. But does love follow as well? You can certainly respect a person without loving them, though respect would imply some liking. After all, you can only respect someone with qualities that you like and maybe aspire for, never for a trait that you abhor! Though all agree that love need not follow respect, most seem to believe the obverse —that love implies respect.

Does it really? Do we only love those we respect? Maybe to begin with, especially in relationships that are not bound by blood, one would need to respect at least some traits in the one you fall in love with. But love does and can last beyond respect, though it may not be its happiest state! Love takes one on an emotional ride that continues long after respect may have flown out of the window! The emotion, by its very nature, makes us somewhat helpless, and people go into denial, refusing to believe their partners no longer command their respect. Even later, when all hope is lost and no vestige of respect remains, care still lingers and it’s difficult to become totally indifferent to someone you have loved with all your heart.

You may have bid goodbye to respect; love has changed shape and adapted itself to the new circumstances. But ask someone who has lost respect in the eyes of a loved one even though he is still cared for! He will regret the loss of respect with a searing pain, and no longer be able to take comfort in the embers of love that still remain… To be loved without being respected is a poor substitute for the all-encompassing passion that consumes your very being when it is fired by both love and respect!

 

Some amount of intuitive choice of the right mate is ingrained in us, but the selection of a life partner requires far more strategising than most are willing to invest

Most of us invest far more energy and strategy in choosing things such as a car, a house, or a holiday package than we do in selecting a life partner. Though it is de rigeur to be extra careful about your choice of vegetable, meal, restaurant, shoe or outfit, it is considered indecorous to strategise for the selection of the right spouse! Such a critical decision of life is left to Destiny, or at best, the vagaries of the heart!

Charles Darwin proved more than 150 years ago that animals’ choice of mating partner isn’t random, but a deliberate, well-worked out process that ensures and influences evolutionary patterns. The female of any animal species will not submit to just any male, but will be very selective and attentive to her choice. It is not by chance that even amongst animals, it is the best looking and strongest of the males that get their choice of females. A female looks out for the strongest of the contenders and a male looks for healthy females in order to pass on genes to the next generation.

The process is no different in humans, whatever we may imagine. Women are naturally attracted to healthy, strong men who can be good providers. A successful man, or one who is dynamic and ambitious, and so poised for success, attracts a woman. Men are attracted to women with a waist-hip ratio of about 70 per cent – actually an indicator of high fertility in a woman. All men love breasts and cleavage, and find a rounded, protruding behind attractive – a symbol of fertility since time immemorial. So, a man is naturally attracted to a woman who can bear him children and will in all likelihood, be a good mother.

So, even without our realizing it, there is some sort of sexual strategy naturally ingrained in our DNA! The heart may know no reason, but our instinct certainly does! It is another matter, however, that sometimes we close our mind and heart to the signals that instinct may hand out and make the mistake of imagining things will work out once we start living together.

What to look for!

In order to identify the perfect mate for you, it is important to understand yourself. Before embarking on this critical quest, you need to have a clear idea of the kind of life you wish to lead. Are you looking for someone who can be a counterfoil for your dynamic energy and restlessness, someone who can keep you grounded and build a steady home for you? Are you looking for someone who can give you the required impetus, some encouragement and that one push to help you on in life? Are you looking at bettering your material circumstances or shoring up your emotional fronts? Are you attracted by a life that takes you round the globe or would you rather strike root in one place? Once you understand what your triggers are, it is easier to identify people who would make good potential partners for you. How frustrating it would be if you are forced to kill your dreams or are stifled in a relationship that requires you to take paths contrary to your urges!

Communication is essential. Common areas of differences and clashes should be discussed with a potential partner and understood before launching onto a life together. Areas such as religion, finances, children, career, living within a joint family or independently are key issues that may lead to clashes. Do not turn a deaf ear to anything negative you may hear about your potential partner at this stage, nor turn a blind eye to any flaw you can see clearly.

Sometimes a process of elimination is a great way of working backwards towards a choice. The logic you employ for elimination reveals a lot about you and helps arrive at great conclusions about what you really want! Identify values and characteristics that hold the utmost importance for you. Can you live with a partner who is dishonest or has no sense of integrity? Can you tolerate living with someone who has no sense of humour? Someone to whom a job is just a way of earning a living? Someone changeable? Someone who is cruel or uncharitable? Someone who may be honest but will not stand up for another? Cold and calculating?

Do not be rushed into a choice. This is probably the most critical decision you are likely to make in your life and you cannot be pushed to decide either way. It takes a long time to understand another human being, particularly because during the initial phases of a relationship, one is on one’s best behavior. For your part, be as open and honest as you can from the beginning. Do not play down your own needs and requirements, and be clear about where you draw the lines.

To me the most important points to consider in the choice of life partner would be…

  • Basic values and core beliefs
  • A match in level of intelligence and emotional needs
  • Ability to arouse respect
  • Level of ambition and style of living
  • Vision and dreams about the future and level of commitment to make the marriage work!

This list is by no means the last word on the matter! Do help add any more points you consider essential

With his zest for life and hunger for knowledge, actor Shammi Kapoor never let ill-health or old age get to him…His was a life lived well!

I was talking to Saira Banu as she sat next to Dilip Kumar at the wedding reception organized by actor Aamir Khan for nephew Imran and Avantika. All at once there was a stir and we saw Aamir come towards us with a determined look in his eyes and a grin on his face, as if bearing a trophy. As people between us moved to make way, we saw he was wheeling Shammi Kapoor towards Dilip Kumar.

For a minute Dilip looked blankly at Shammi who was laughing at him with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. Almost as if on stage, presenting the legendary thespian to the veteran actor, Aamir said loudly, “Yousuf sahib, Shammi uncle!”  Recognition dawned in Dilip Kumar’s eyes along with a beaming smile. “Shammi!” he exclaimed reaching out for his hands. “Tu hain!! (Oh, it’s you!) Tu dikhda nahi ajkal…(I don’t see enough of you these days!) How are you?”

Pretending hurt, Shammiji quipped in Punjabi, “Tu mainu pehchanda hi nahin, main kiss tarah da howunga! (When you do not recognize me anymore, how can I possibly be!)”

Having delivered that tongue-in-cheek dialogue, in the manner of all actors, Shammi looked around and saw me as the sole, appreciative audience in proximity. As his eyes curiously flicked at me, I folded my hands in a reverent salute to an actor I have seen since childhood entertaining audiences with a surfeit of energy and joi de vivre, at times shaking like a jelly, at others jumping around with unbounded energy, and always dancing with abandon. Yahoo! Now, he sat bound to a wheelchair, and yet that energy and electric charm reached out. Shammiji folded his hands with a smile and gracious nod, in response.

Dilip and Shammi settled down to converse and reminisce, spending a major part of the evening together in the pleasing environs of Taj Lands End lawns. They very clearly enjoyed each other’s company, clasping hands and talking in Punjabi. They spoke of Shashi Kapoor who was in and out of hospital those days.

That was the one and only time I met Shammi, the man we associate with the gusty, full-throated “Yahoo” cry so strongly that many, including magnate Anand Mahindra, were convinced he had a stake in the American internet corporation, Yahoo. However, other members of my editorial team met him often and spoke to him on phone even more frequently, seeking his quotes for various stories. What amazed me was that Shammi kept himself abreast of happenings and always had an opinion to share.

Shammi was able to charm each and every one of my female colleagues, who reported back starry-eyed after talking to him. “He was so patient and charming,” gushed one. “Unlike other stars, he didn’t once show a hint of impatience or hurry through the answers. In fact he was very enthusiastic and there is a certain childlike quality about him that charms.” I could see she had fallen well and truly for the legendary Kapoor charm. “He was naughty, mischievous as well as flirtatious,” reported another colleague. At my raised eyebrows, she rushed to clarify, “And so gentlemanly and dignified!”

Amazingly, Shammi Kapoor was able to carve for himself a space in the internet niche, where most of us followed much later! He spent hours understanding computers and the internet and kept abreast of developments till the end. He was also a voracious reader and is known to have devoured an entire book in one sitting; he didn’t have the patience to take a break. His favourite heroes were from Ayn Rand’s books — Howard Roark (Fountainhead) and John Galt  (Atlas Shrugged) with their morality of rational self-interest.

In her book The Kapoors, author Madhu Jain does justice to Shamsher Raj Kapoor — the shy, painfully thin child-turned strapping, tall and stout youngster- turned Junglee Romantic-turned Casanova-turned Seeker of Knowledge-turned Net Freak-turned Calm Patriarch of the Kapoor clan — “all passion spent.”

In the same book, Shammi explains his relationship with and fascination for the internet. “There has to be growth, movement. You know, time hangs heavy. What happens when you are no longer the star? All those people around you will disappear, and then time will be waiting for you. You take a drink. You think…that time will move faster. But it does not. … I found technology instead. The Internet opened up. The globe shrank.” The internet helped him deal with his “sense of grief and emptiness” As Shammi explained to Madhu, “It got me away from the depression of death – my parents, my wife, my brother…I have always had a fear of death. And thoughts of rebirth kept coming to my mind. There has been so much death in my family.”

Indeed Shammi’s zest for life was incredible and despite his physical ailments– he almost died of lung collapse and kidney failure in 2003—he kept his spirit young and his thirst for knowledge alive. One cannot help but think that’s the way to grow old! Shammi was surrounded by and looked after well by his loved ones. Perhaps that’s what gave him the time and luxury to indulge his passions and live life to the hilt till the very end. His never-say-die spirit never abated; it just found newer passions to address itself to. One can debate that he could have lived longer, but never that he could have led a fuller life!

Wonder how many of us will be able to say this for ourselves at the end of our lives? Is a certain amount of selfishness and self-indulgence necessary to live a full life as we like it? What is it about old age that scares us? And, are we doing anything to address those fears? I put up this question on facebook and the immediate response was amazing. We will deal with the subject in next week’s O-zone.

Do send in your response to the question tovinita.nangia@timesgroup.com

 

 

The forbidden and the unusual can seem irresistible at times. But consider the repercussions before you get tempted!

Why are those 10 minutes of sleep…b4 u actually need to get up, so precious?!…. was my sister’s facebook status.

Agreeing wholeheartedly, I commented, “Because you are stealing them…Always exciting to do what one is not supposed to do…!”

Isnt it true? Forbidden fruit always tastes sweeter, that’s what got Adam and Eve into huge trouble. Problem is that while they were denied just that one experience and even then couldn’t resist having a taste, we have temptations galore! We encounter nays and don’ts at every turn; some imposed by law, some by society, others by those close to us, and yes, some restrictions we impose on ourselves!

And now it seems it’s not just the forbidden that tempts us, but even the out-of-the-ordinary things that help break the monotony of everyday life.

The world of Adam and Eve was a spanking new one with untold treasures yet to be discovered; we live in a jaded world where anything out of the ordinary excites and rejuvenates while the ordinary, everyday stuff bores. And that’s how you have people like New York Congressman Anthony Weiner and Oscar winning film director Quentin Tarantino, who are in the news not for something as mundane as having an affair, but for acts that make fellow beings sit up — somewhat in disgust, somewhat in amusement somewhat in wonder, and yes, even envy!

While public personalities like golf legend Tiger Woods met their nemesis by having multiple affairs and IMF Chief Strauss-Kahn pounced on a hotel maid and N.D. Tiwari was caught with sex workers, nothing as ordinary would do for Weiner! He got his kick by tweeting sexually explicit photos and messages of himself in an aroused state to young girls before and during his marriage! Technically, he didn’t have an extra-marital affair but to most, what he did was somehow far worse!

Not to be outdone in affaires extraordinaire, Tarantino has now hit the headlines with his toe fetish. An Indian girl has revealed how the talented filmmaker sucked on her toes while pleasuring himself. Most men, though they may jeer at Tarantino, would have been curious about and fascinated by his twinkle toe act!
As Mark Oppenheimer writes in Huffington Post, “There was something not weird, but too familiar about Weiner. His style might not be for everyone (to put it politely), but the impulse to be something other than what we are in our daily, monogamous lives, the thrill that comes from the illicit rather than the predictable, is something I imagine many couples can identify with. With his online flirtations and soft-porn photos, he did what a lot of us might do if we were lonely and determined to not really cheat.”

Defying the law, flouting traffic rules, drinking yourself senseless, destroying public property, ringing a bell and running away – all these activities seem so exciting when teenage hormones are raging. Unfortunately for some, those hormones never do quite settle down. And Mr Hyde is always waiting just a breath away to emerge and exhibit a vastly different persona and morality from that of Dr Jekyll.

Everyone is faced with the same temptations at some point or the other, and all of us have a Mr Hyde lurking within us. The difference is that while some give in to forbidden pleasures and excitement, others consider repercussions and hold on steadfast against temptation. Minor temptations such as 10 minutes of extra sleep, chocolates, rich chocolate pastries or that extra helping of food cannot harm anyone as much as temptations that have the potential to turn into public scandals and take down loved ones along with us. The worst fear of succumbing to temptations is when you end up hurting loved ones or harming yourselves.

One can never really know one’s vulnerability unless actually faced with temptation. Each of us knows our strengths and weaknesses in normal conditions; but it would help to consider what exactly we are capable of doing in our vulnerable moments.We have no idea what are our friends, colleagues and neighbours capable of doing in unusual circumstances? Do loneliness and depression lead us into doing things we would never do under normal conditions? What is the worst thing that the colleague seated in the next cabin has done? Has he sexted sexy pictures of himself to women? Is he a closet gay? Is he a stalker?! Or the friend you share lunch with every day. Do you know what she is up to when nobody observes her? After all would Weiner’s friends and relatives have ever suspected he was sexting lewd photographs of himself to young girls on social networking sites?

It is only by unearthing the Hyde within us and understanding him that we can strengthen Jekyll to maintain his strength and will power under all circumstances. It is only by knowing the extent to which we can fall that we can determine and establish the heights we can reach.

So go on, give in to the temptation of that extra 10 minutes of eye-shut …it may even help you keep Mr Hyde under check, lest greater temptations lead you astray…

Share the last temptation you gave in to here….

 

Its only when we love and indulge our selves that we are able to love others and give of ourselves more abundantly 

“For 28 years of my life, I was in a limbo,allowing my mother-in-law to take over my life completely. She controlled every aspect and I was a humble nobody who danced to her tune. Today, I realise how much of my life I wasted. Now my first allegiance is to myself,” said an aunt recently.

This, coming from a woman whom we consider very self-sufficient and independent, was a bit of a shock. Her strident voice and self-assured ways today dont indicate someone who can be dominated or ordered around! Was it possible to change so much in one lifetime and,is the pre-requisite of a happy life, owing first allegiance to yourself? It seems to have worked for her!

One often comes across two extremes of people — those who are totally self-centred and cannot look beyond themselves, and the total self-sacrificing kinds, who put themselves through hardship to serve others! Both extremes are equally unpalatable.One needs to walk the median to be normal.

Our culture teaches us the virtue of thinking of others before you think of yourself. Altruism over selfishness. Western culture is more inclined towards putting yourself before others. Loyalty and duty is one thing, but altruism is denying oneself to serve another.Each stage of life has different demands on us. Most mothers will happily tell you the virtue of putting kids before their own selves. Many give up hard-earned careers to look after their children,priding themselves on their sacrifice.

But somewhere the sacrificing parents are indulging their whims more for their own satisfaction than because it is really needed. Their sacrifice makes them feel good. In a way we indulge our own selves when we are good to others. It gives us immense satisfaction to perceive ourselves as good human beings who care more about others.

It has been a pet theory of mine (earning me many raised eyebrows and disbelief ), that we love our children because they are a part of us and dependent on us,making us feel loved and needed. All love is ultimately about ourselves. I love someone because he or she makes me feel good about myself.How many instances have you heard of people loving those who detest them?

And so, believe it or not, most of what we do in life is ultimately geared towards giving oneself maximum satisfaction.Whether you are a devoted, self-sacrificing mother, a cheating spouse, a loyal friend, a successful CEO or a devoted husband, your first allegiance is to yourself. You do what you do because it either gives you happiness or the great satisfaction of knowing you are a loving,sacrificing soul, or as in the case of a cheating spouse, deserving and smart enough to have your cake and eat it too! In the end, it is all about, I, me, myself!

All of us are complicated,multidimensional personalities whose desires tug us in various directions. What defines our personality and character is the balance we strike in resolving these conflicts and arriving at a median that promotes maximum harmony in our own being. So we all arrive at an optimal trade-off point,which may vary from time to time.

The one common truth however is that the trade-off point ensures that each personality sits at a point that serves its own self best in terms of our own self-image and actualisation of our life goals. So certainly, our first allegiance is to ourselves. For, it is only when we are true to ourselves that we can be true to others. In whatever ways you may compromise to please others, ultimately what decides your happiness quotient is the compromise you made with yourself, your principles and your sense of well-being.

There is nothing wrong with owing yourself first allegiance. So long as all of us have a good self-image, greater good is bound to follow. That is where a good upbringing and influences are important.None of us would deliberately want to be bad spouses, mothers, friends or children. To satisfy our own self-image we would strive to be good at everything. And that would lead to the good of all. Even Christ said, love your neighbour as yourself; he never did say love him better than yourself! So go on, stretch your arm and pluck the first happiness for yourself; it will only help spread happiness all around.

 

 

As boundless as a mother’s love is for her child, she gets much more in return. It’s a love that has her soar the skies and, sometimes, plumb the depths…

The clincher to decide the top three beauties at the recent Pantaloons Femina Miss India 2011 pageant this year was, “A child learns a lot from his mother; what does a mother learn from her child?”

PFMI World Kanishtha had answered, “Mothers can learn to live their dreams from their children.” PFMI Earth Hasleen spoke of how mothers can learn to do things uninhibitedly like children. And PFMI International Ankita Shorey said a mother learns unconditional love from her child.

It is not as if a child teaches the mother anything consciously. Nor does this mean that a mother observes her child and learns new tricks. The point is that the experience of motherhood allows one to tap hitherto undiscovered strengths and weaknesses within oneself. As such, Ankita’s response was the most appropriate , because it is not from the child that a mother learns, but from within herself. By observing and understanding her own response to this tiny, helpless being she has created, whose very life is in her hands, a woman learns so much not just about herself but about others and rest of the world as well.

Patience, love, forgiveness and a spirit of sacrifice are the most important emotions motherhood teaches. Most new mothers are surprised at the amount of patience they find for their babies. Plumbing the depths and soaring the heights of love to understand your own capacity for loving is something you learn easier as a mother than in any other relationship. In any other role, love has its limitations but a mother’s love is boundless.

Have you observed how new moms cannot stop talking about their ‘cute’ babies or how crazy they are about their kids? All kids are cute and all mothers bonkers over them, but try telling a new mom that! To her it’s almost like nobody ever before, nor anyone after her is likely to have a kid! This behaviour is nothing but the mother expressing aloud her own surprise at the amount of love, patience and spirit of sacrifice she is experiencing within herself!

In a romantic relationship, at play are huge expectations and a fair amount of give and take. You want to extract as much pleasure out of this relationship as you give your partner, if not more. The relationship also comes with an exit clause, the possibility of it waning and fading out. As such, a huge amount of insecurity surrounds it, keeping you on your toes around a valued lover.

On the other hand with a child, a mother gives love and care with no expectations. It is a tale of just giving, expecting nothing in return. There is complete security in this one tie, at least till such a stage that the child grows to be an adult. Its very helplessness and dependence on the mother arouses her acute protective maternal instincts. Any mother will tell you of the feeling of complete love that envelops her when the child she is suckling, looks up at her in absolute adoration and trust. There is no love in the world that can come anywhere near what she feels at that moment, no moment that can come nearer perfection. Maternal love is a primal urge that animals are not immune to either. The way a tigress protects her young is legendary, but the same is true of all species. The male animal may father the child and walk away, later even prove to be a threat to the young ones, but a mother feeds and protects her child with her life if need be. Her brand of love is universally accepted and lauded as the most unselfish and selfless.

It is in moments when her child is in danger that a mother realises the inner reserves of strength she possesses; she is capable of taking on anyone and anything in order to protect her child. A child alone can get a mother to ascend to the peak of happiness or plummet to the nadir of grief; extremes of emotion that would remain largely untapped and unfelt otherwise.
The true power of love is revealed to us when we can love selflessly and without any signs of ego. And once a mother experiences such an emotion with her child, she has unleashed a deep understanding of love and the role it plays in our lives and the Universe. In fact, in that sense, motherhood is as close a spiritual experience as one could hope to achieve within the framework of daily living. And the entire process of having and caring for a child is as creative and satisfying as anything can get. If a mother achieves nothing else in life, she has still achieved this…motherhood.

On the other hand, the love of a child for the mother may not be as unselfish. Recognising the depth of a mother’s love, a child learns fast to use it for his own benefit. But love begets love, and so long as the child realises that the mother’s love for him is unconditional, he is bound to respond to the best of his capability and capacity.

As an Irish proverb goes, “A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest.”

 

 

As kisses go, this one was no sizzler. It was a happy, somewhat embarrassed quick peck, rather than a passionate smooch that scorches and simmers. The second attempt to make up for the blink-and-you-have-missed-it kiss wasn’t any better, with the patrons looking more amused than bemused as they executed another butterfly flutter.

In fact, nourished as we are on a diet of passionate smooches and 22-kisses-a-movie promises, the lip-lock between Prince William and his bride, the newly anointed Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, was a royal disappointment! Admittedly the pressure to perform on the two was immense, with two billion around the world gathered to witness their first snog as a royal couple. What else did you expect of the British, snickered a colleague. They are so cold they are known to make love with their socks on! But still, you do expect much more from a couple who has had almost a decade to perfect the art!

The saving grace was that in admirable contrast to Prince Charles’s stiff cold-lipped greeting of his shy bride Princess Diana 30 years ago, son William was warmer and more human. Still, a somewhat sad-looking, shy Di arching her graceful long neck to reach for Charles’s reluctant royal lips is a far more picture-worthy and touching moment than the coming together of the new royals who, after all, looked like any other young couple in love!

However, William’s kiss was no display of British coldness, but of royal decorum. Stepping back from the first kiss, delivered with his hands clasped together tellingly in front of him, William is supposed to have murmured “I love you” to his bride. Or so say lip readers, the latest tool of paparazzi. The lascivious crowd exhorted, “More, more, we want more…kiss again!” Lip readers decipher the prince’s next words thus, “‘Let’s give them another one. l love you. One more kiss, one more kiss, okay.” And the couple leaned in to yet another ‘lip-sealed’ sedate peck. But this time they couldn’t conceal the amusement in their eyes or the happy smile on their lips. Kate giggled, William grinned.

The crowd shouted in ecstasy as the storybook walk of ‘one of them’ from commoner to princess was sealed with a kiss, so what if it was a sealed-lip kiss!

The tightly pursed mouths and conscious restraint clearly signified the beginning of a more responsible relationship, one that takes into account the burden of responsibility that future monarchy imposes on young William and Kate. No more can they cavort in public. Perhaps that is why the young couple took nine years to formalise their relationship; the only thing that changes with the vows is that their embraces and public dalliances are henceforth subject to public approval or disapproval as behaviour befitting the future king and queen. In fact, the couple didn’t seal their wedding with a kiss at Westminster Abbey as the Church of England forbids it in holy sites. With this wedding, Diana’s son has formally and consciously stepped into the royal frame set up for him since birth.

Back in 1981, when the crowds clamoured for a Charles and Diana kiss on the balcony after they married, Charles reportedly murmured to Di, “I am not going to do that caper. They are trying to get us to kiss.” And she is supposed to have responded, “Well, how about it?” Their body language showed a miserable-looking Charles’s extreme reluctance, portending a disastrous marriage.

The body language of young William and Kate was diametrically opposite. Happy, totally in love, shy, exchanging loving glances and sharing a clear connect – body experts talk of their ‘total confidence’ and how they looked into each other’s eyes while taking their vows. The young couple was regally composed with an irrepressible happiness shining through. Just like the kiss that will, for a long time to come, be a defining image of their wedding day.

Why must love be an all-encompassing self-destructive emotion? How about enjoying the emotion piecemeal and letting the resultant energy fuel the rest of your life?

There must be something about me that attracts friends to share their innermost secrets, romances and even naughty trysts with me! Or maybe it is because they know what they tell me will never come back to harm them in any manner.

What I do know is that each one of my friends who believe themselves to be in love, go through great emotional upheavals, and are more often unhappy and distracted, rather than ecstatic and peaceful. Unlike young boys and girls who share details of intimate , passionate interludes, these older men and women wish to share the pain and discomfort of adult love and exchange some advice. What is it about love that brings them so much grief?

In sharp contrast, youngsters seem so much more at ease in and out of relationships. They are able to put aside their love life to focus on studies and career. To them, romance and love are a part of life, to be shelved when more immediate needs call for attention. If a love relationship doesn’t work out, they are perfectly capable of getting up, dusting their palms and walking on to a new tie.

The older generation however, still stuck in the Paro-Devdas mode, seems to not be able to do the same with as much elan. Our stakes are higher, emotions run deeper and commitment more set in cement. The young have inspired us to explore and enter relationships, but we have not been able to learn the technique of shrugging off a relationship if it doesn’t work.

What is it that youngsters do right and we don’t ? One surely is, safety in numbers. Younger people in love, rather than secluding themselves from rest of the world, become more inclusive and meet up in groups, thus enjoying a lot of peer support. An older couple, typically builds a world for themselves, shutting out others, this being the generation that still sees a need to be clandestine and furtive about their love lives.

But more important are the expectations that we have from a relationship. When in love, we focus all our energies and attention on the loved one, and successfully suffocate the relationship slowly but surely.

Must love be such an all-encompassing emotion? Must it mean owning each and every aspect of the loved one? The days of that kind of obsessive loving are over…today take what you care for, make the most of the beautiful moments and avoid delving too deep into the rest. Once you know you cannot have everything, you give up that quest and settle down to enjoy what you do have.

Why must love follow the pattern of the proverbial dance of love and fear between the moth and the flame? The fatal attraction that leads you inexorably towards destruction? An all-consuming passion that destroys those affected totally!

What did Devdas-Paro , Heer-Ranjha , Romeo-Juliet and umpteen other star-crossed lovers achieve except to be immortalized as symbols of passionate, self-destructive love?

To replace the self-destructive moth-flame analogy, why cannot love be nurturing — as manure to a plant, oxygen to lungs, rain on parched desert land, like the warmth of a blazing flame on frozen feet, tingling them back to life? Like a cool touch on a fevered brow, like putting up tired feet after a hard day at work, the anticipation at the beginning of a great holiday or a good book read or a good film seen!

Why destroy all these ephemeral pleasures in the hope of an elusive, unreal, everlasting love? In quest of an unproven bigger pleasure, why become possessive and suffocate your relationship? The mistake we make is that we tend to try and fulfil ourselves and the innate loneliness in our innermost recesses through this one love relationship — a sheer impossibility. We use it as a window through which we expect to fulfil all our dreams and expectations. The point is that if we place the burden of all our expectations on that one relationship, we are bound to smother it.

And so, instead of bemoaning what we cannot get out of a love relationship, it would be far better to celebrate what we do get! So what if he cannot give you all his love and you have to share it with others? The point is, can you do without what you do get? If so, why risk even that bit for all? So what if you are two completely different people whose views on most worldly matters don’t match? The point is, where they do match, is the magic enough to carry you through the rest of the non-sparkly times?

In a sea of chaos, if one person’s company actually helps give you some moments of calm and happiness, does it really matter if he or she is not wholly and truly devoted to you…? If the relationship or interaction helps energise you to deal with the rest of life, why not focus on just that, and let the rest remain undisturbed?

Rather than allow love to take over your life as a deeply emotional and disturbingly intense entity , limit the intensity to the little time you spend together and use the resultant energy to fuel the rest of your life! And you will find that there is a lot more happiness and fulfilment to be found in life than love alone. To use Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s golden words, aur bhi gam hain zamaane mein mohabbat ke siwa, raahtein aur bhi hain…!

Nobody today can owe 100 per cent allegiance to you or your concerns. Love, rather than a wholesome commitment, can be had piecemeal but it can surely help empower the rest of your life and help you live it more intensely . If you can love like that, you will not have too far to look for fulfilment!

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