What I learnt from my breakup


Once upon a time , I used to be in a relationship with this girl who lived close to my home in Jaipur. We’d met through a mutual friend and the initial sparks soon grew to a roaring fire. For the purposes of this post, let’s call her Hiromi, and only because it’s a cool Japanese name for girls.

First Love from pincel3d.deviantart.com

I was with Hiromi for about 3.5 years, from the ages of 19 to 22. She was my first love and we truly believed that we’d eventually get married and end up having an awesome “happily-ever-after”. The time we spent together was amazing, and the feeling I got when she would look up at me with complete & absolute adoration in her eyes is something that I cherish to this day [aside: we’ll talk about the “hell-hath-no-fury-like-a-woman-scorned” look in some other post :-) ].

Oh by the way, here’s a photo of the ex-girlfriend.

One day, somehow, I was given to understand that Hiromi’s mother had suddenly started feverishly believing in Hindu astrology. Like all astrology, that’s a load of shit. Yours truly was  summoned and all relevant details (date of birth, place of birth, exact time of birth) recorded. Then, some pandit who called himself a Doctor drew up a kundli (or a birth-chart) and did some sort of analysis. She didn’t actually need a pandit to do that because kundli generating webpages/software are easily available but whatever, I guess even simple lines of code seem more believable when slowly done by a pseudoscientist.

Our two kundlis didn’t match. In fact, they loudly declared that if Hiromi and I  cohabited together, her much stronger (and apparently more aggressive) planets would overshadow mine, resulting in long drawn illness or even my death.

When this little piece of analytical deduction reached Hiromi’s mother, she also loudly declared that the two of us could get married only over her dead body. After a lot of discussion, we decided that over her dead body wasn’t as viable an option as I construed it to be.

Now I come to the most important part of this post. What did I learn? Well, dear reader, if you’re looking for a sappy tear-inducing writeup on puppy love, relationships, tragedy, light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel, etc etc etc, kindly redirect yourself to here or here or here.

My journey was different. It was as follows:

1) I started by reading up like mad on kundlis. I simply had to know as much as possible about these little geometrical shapes that could predict whether me and another person were capable of living together in peace and harmony without any bodily harm, or otherwise.

2) From kundlis I reverse-drilled up to astrology [aside: would “reverse-drilled-up” be the correct opposite to “drilled-down”?]. The more I learnt about astrology, the more I became convinced that it was just a slightly advanced version of hundreds of simple javascript games found on the net: Past Life, Love Compatibility Test, Death Calculator.

3) Astrology led me to the brilliant use of what we now know as the Forer Effect (also called Barnum Effect) and psychologist Bertram R. Forer’s work into the fallacies of personal validation.

4) Further study led me on to cognitive biases (see: list of cognitive biases, though am not sure if this list is exhaustive) and this was exceedingly useful stuff. It was empowering to know that the confidence I felt about completing a certain task was false (a cocktail case of optimism bias, overconfidence bias and positive outcome bias) and that I need to practice or study something to a much greater extent than I was currently doing. This helped bigtime for CAT and other similar MBA entrance tests.

5) These further led me on to logic and logical fallacies. Here’s a list of the most commonly used logical fallacies: one, two.

Combining the studies of logic with my short but mighty useful experience in two startups and very recently, an internship in SABMiller, I understand that logic should not be used to win an argument or to prove a point. It is most effective when used to correct the direction taken by a group working together and to drive it forward with greater clarity and understanding.

If that was the outcome of a breakup, I feel it just might be worth it.

Abbe chamar hai kya?

I’ve recently gotten into this nasty habit of using the word “chamar” as a derogatory term for anyone who I consider uncouth or lacking in basic manners. As I am currently at home recovering from an eye surgery,  one of the familial types overheard me call my younger brother Joji the same and I was promptly told to stfu.

Now you must understand where I’m coming from. I’m a pukka Jat from the bastion of us Jats, Haryana.

That’s us.

Jats protesting water cutUs again.

Umm, yeah okay, that’s us too!

Somewhere, I must have heard someone say that and it stuck. Jats use chamar as a cuss word all the time. In fact, Jat forums have bloody threads dedicated to chamar jokes (see this, and this, and this) and anecdotes.

Anyway, coming to the point of this little post. I accept that I was wrong in using the name of a caste as a swear word and I have stopped doing so.

PS: Here’s the fun part. Jat jokes abound all over the net. We’re known as simple minded yokels who are quick to take offense where none was meant :-) We on the other hand think we’re one of the smartest races on Earth and jokes made by us usually talk of outwitting the village baniya or a slick city dweller.

What is it to feel like a Mother?

Tiger Cub resting on Mother from http://browse.deviantart.com/?qh=&section=&q=tiger+mom#/d37mjji

I went to meet a friend yesterday and she has a baby girl. Something ran in my head and I asked her “What is it to feel like a mother?”

She didn’t say anything then, but an hour after I had left sent an SMS “What are the parameters on which on which one judges that one is/feels like a mom?”

Hmm, I absolutely love this friend. She always asks very interesting questions, maybe because she has a knack for picking up on times when I misspeak.

I should have asked her specifics, like how much of your freedom do you feel has been curbed due to the presence of a child? What major lifestyle changes have you noticed after the arrival of the kid, and so on and so forth.

Coming to the point, why the question? My image of a mother is based on Mama. When we were younger, Mama was strict, always in control and kept an eagle eye on us at all times. She was very mindful of the language we used, our behaviour towards relatives, guests & seniors and would not tolerate any untoward manners. She was authoritative  & in-control at all times, and one look from her would send us scampering.

My friend is very similar, in that she takes the child’s behaviour very seriously. However, that’s where the similarity ends. The friend is a woman of a much different generation than my mother, a lot closer to my generation actually. She’s more lenient with the child, spends time doing things that she likes and has a life of her own which isn’t necessarily intertwined with the family (not so with Mama, almost everything she did was with us and Papa).

So I guess this is the difference: Mama did everything with her children and husband while the friend has a family life, a professional life and a third life which hardly overlaps with the other two. When I asked whether she feels like a mother, I was asking the friend how does she manage her three different roles without any overlaps, since this was something new to me.

Of course, now that we’ve grown up, Mama has a lot more free time. She’s currently hooked to a popular social network and happily tells us to go take a hike when we ask her for stuff we took for granted in years gone by :-)

The first post – a reason to blog

You could consider this the “About Me”. My name is Siddharth Deswal and I want to be able to write very well. To this end, I’ve starting blogs at various times in the past but never stuck with them due to lack of a “topic”.

This time, all I’ll write about is me: my life, my thoughts and my experiences. Let’s hope this one sticks.