Friday Fathers

Are you a Friday Father?

Are you a Friday Father?

Not too long ago, when the internet and telecom boom enveloped us all, consultants, marketing folks and bankers began to travel more than ever. The Monday through Friday work at client sites away from home increased, and a new species, ‘Friday fathers’ was born.

Friday fathers are visitors who get to come to a familiar bed after sleeping in different hotels, only to leave again on Monday mornings. While the families enjoy the fruits that the labor and career of Friday fathers bring, all the luxury comes with a pretty high price tag. The financial cost of all the “stuff” can seem dislocated from the true cost, which is, time away from home.

When these modern day hunters and gatherers come back home on Fridays, the only outward signs of distress they show are the results of jet lag. Never mind the two hour delay in boarding at the airport or the wailing infant in the six hour flight back. They generally do not crib if they are asked to buy liquor at an airport duty free shop, en-route home, for a house full of friends and family. Friday fathers are expected to keep a cheerful appearance when the limo drops them at home and the wives and kids are waiting for a hug, and guests are already digging into the hors d’oeuvres. When someone asks them how their trip went, these tired but selfless souls are supposed to come up with a witty answer whether the inquirer is listening or has already sauntered away for another glass of wine.

Sometimes upon arrival, there are no guests in the house, and the families are waiting anxiously only to whisk away the Friday fathers to attend some social gathering. Some Friday fathers do arrive home to quality family time, warm hugs, and homemade food and to cute expectant faces. But these Friday fathers make the mistake of pleasing the family too hard and make their arrival home a kind of Christmas celebration, getting gifts for the kids on the way back from their trips. The grand entrance home is always a big event. What kid does not like Santa Claus coming every Friday evening?

At other times Friday fathers are given that “special” treatment that makes them feel like guests in their own homes. They long for the kids to ask them a solution to a problem or hear demands from their wives which make them feel important but since the family has learned to fare all right by themselves for five days, the wives and kids leave the Friday fathers alone, making them feel unneeded. They are also given greeting-card-style sugar coated niceties that visitors get. It feels like the family has conspired secretly to give the raised part of the soufflé or the more tender part of the meat to the weekend visitors, only to make them feel extra special where they just want to feel normal.

On Friday nights it is also a struggle to coax the little kids out of their acquired beds as they have become so used to snuggling with moms on week nights. Saturdays fly away in birthday parties or soccer games, because some stay-at-home bosses think family bonding is better than sitting around on the weekend. Sometimes Friday Fathers seek out the golf course as a way to relieve the work week stress but by the time they come home, the wives are ready to go for yoga classes or there could be another weekend outing already planned. There is hardly a time for them to chill at home with the entire family. They do however; get the privilege of taking the kids to birthday parties where they end up enjoying cheese pizzas in between yawning and beaming at their kids.

With those happy memories, of a very hectic weekend, Friday Fathers are too-soon back at the grindstone, preparing for their next client meeting and yet another trip to the airport where the employees now greet them by their names. Back on Monday evenings, it is usually a Skype good-night from the family along with a summary of the day.

The lives of Fridays Fathers provide their families with both opportunity for success, and grand amenities. It is a sacrifice that demands time away from home. Even with a chaotic and busy weekend at home, they do enjoy the warm hearth and a kitchen with familiar smells; kids running around, and the house in a cozy mess. All this is unlike the chemical smells of hotel rooms and commonplace formalities of board meetings which rejuvenates them. The pressures of the work week melt away with the soothing complaints of their wives and innocent demands of children. The taste of cookies cut unevenly and the chicken served without any garnish gives a satisfaction that the perfection of restaurants can never compare with.


George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four was published in 1949. The novel talks about official deception, secret surveillance and manipulation of recorded history. In the novel, all of this happens in another realm. Orwell seems to be prescient about today’s society. Our realm is being constantly monitored by either the government or Google or many others.  Our movies like Divergent and Hunger Games show constant surveillance and official deception, and our politicians are relentlessly manipulating language and using propaganda to mislead people.

In Orwell’s novel, all citizens of Oceania are monitored by cameras and we, by Google. The company knows the brand of our computers, shows a picture of the cars that are parked in our driveways and tells us what we should be searching based on the ONE word that we type.

London, representative of Oceania, the closely monitored city in Orwell’s novel, is considered the most spied-on city in the world with its omnipresent surveillance cameras.  North Korea’s patriotic indoctrination camps, considerable media control and strict monitoring of its citizens’ activities are unbelievable examples of regime control in the contemporary world.  The Big Brother phrase introduced in Orwell’s novel is blown out of proportion by some countries in which the leaders seek power solely for their own sake.

Someone once noted that we will either master words or be mastered by those who do. Political manipulation of language is another Orwellian concept that has been mastered. “War is peace” is a slogan drilled into the citizens of Oceania to make them feel that being in a constant state of war is being in peace.  Nineteen Eighty Four could just be the inspiration for our lined up preemptive attacks on other countries.  1984-war-is-peace

An important example of language manipulation in our own country is this:  Believing in the sanctity of heterosexual marriage is a mark of backwardness, while favoring legalization of same-sex marriage is a mark of broadmindedness.

Misinformation, denial of truth and misleading propaganda are deep subjects with universal archetypes in today’s somewhat Orwellian world.

The Chai-ism

The Chai-chantation

Chai, the Hindi word for tea, was introduced to India by the British in the early 1900s and gained popularity in the 1950s as a recreational drink for the masses. Today, India is the largest producer of chai and 70% of it is consumed domestically. This recreational drink wove its strong and addicting yarns into the social fabric of India. Chai now works mostly like a talisman for Indians all over the world.


Clive Limpkin/ The Image Bank/Getty Images

Psychology of an Indian in relation to Chai

Indians take Chai very seriously. It is not just another drink; it is a statement that one makes to guests, both in its presentation and the mood that it is served. It is a difference between hospitality and insult. Acting like a balm, chai heals physically and psychologically. When an Indian addicted to chai (mostly everyone is) doesn’t get it on time (which is almost all the time) – it can engender serious mood swings, increased palpitations and can also sever relations.images (1)Almost every Indian has heard this statement at some point in his or her life: “we went to their house and they didn’t even offer tea!” This is a very serious allegation one can make about anyone and an equally drastic reaction by the complainant is totally acceptable in the chai drinking Indian society.

When is chai needed by an Indian?

The ever- powerful, all- inspiring chai drives almost each and every Indian to move, groove, approve and remove and is a constant accompaniment at all the times that we are logical, ethical, melancholy or unwell.

Although most Indians drink chai in the morning and in the afternoon, there is no set time or occasion for this blood pumping liquid.  Hot, freshly brewed chai with herbs is a must for Indians after a funeral, during a meeting, at the end of a long sermon or after a painful childbirth. Warmth seeps into the body just by holding a hot cup of chai on chilly evenings. Indians also drink hot tea to beat the heat in summer months …something like a Zen effect.  Anecdotes such as a family getting together to be with a dying member of the family and the dying member suddenly getting up and asking for chai are infrequent but not unheard of  in Indian society.

What a cup can mean for Indians?

A cup of good chai can transport an Indian to his or her own heaven. Chai can lead to tears of joy or feel like rain drops on dry, barren landscape. This scalding cup of nectar brings a family together, welcomes guests appropriately and is a known catalyst that seals and settles deals and disputes amicably. A second cup is better than the first and the third better than the second; the laws of diminishing marginal utility fail to impact this patriotic drink.

 Antique Rose Chintz Bone China Cup Saucer_75762641_kulhars-and-pot


 The regality of it all

Whether daintily drinking from exquisite bone china cups sitting in a fancy drawing  room or slurping from a clay cup standing on crowded train stations, chai never fails to influence Indians.   If one ever needs to impress the parents of an Indian girl or boy, invite them over for tea and serve it with great politesse asking them to have more. Chances of a positive outcome will be greater.

Images : google.com


I came home from listening to the young girl who had left everything, her job as a merchandising manager, her life among the Guccis and Pradas and all things higher up in the ‘most desirable list.’

She renounced the world. Just like that! I wanted to know what made her do so I went to listen to her. The one thing that she said among many struck a chord with me. “We have to stop needing people or objects to make us feel happy.”


We are bonded to the world around us. More is better. More expensive is better. Showing off is better. Indulgence seems to be the key to happiness. Complete immersion into the materialistic world is the norm.materialism2

We are not unaware of our desires of fancy things; neither do we have the will power to leave that wonderland completely. While not all of us have the strength or the higher calling to renounce worldly pleasures, it is within all of us to set our boundaries and work a system where objects give us happiness to only a certain extent. More pleasure should be derived by our inner self, by setting some boundaries to our desires and by being at peace with ourselves.

It definitely is not easy but worth a try!

What Italy Taught Us

The cobblestone road that let millions  walk on its uneven, hand-laid stones for centuries also allowed us to tread on them. The feeling was surreal.  Michelangelo, Casanova, Bernini, the Popes, prisoners, lovers, criminals and sages had left invisible footprints on them.

Inhaling deeply and feeling the charisma of old world charm around us, we walked in a narrow alley close to the Trevi Fountain in Rome. Out of nowhere came an SUV, speeding towards us. Our first thought was that someone had made a mistake and was driving where driving wasn’t allowed. We quickly aligned ourselves with the stone walls to avoid being hit, but to our dismay a Vespa came from the opposite direction and both the vehicles crossed each other simultaneously and managed to not even touch us. We were relieved and fascinated. Struck by the smallness of the alley, the carefree attitude of the drivers and our own acceptance of the whole scenario, we walked on. We were loving the MAYHEM.

Amid the fumes of the vehicles, the chatter of the tourists and the insistent calls of the vendors, we sat down for our first meal in Italy, on tables that spilled into the narrow alleys. We were surprised as to how little space do we actually need and how we are used to spreading out in the US. When our meal came, we noticed the difference in portion sizes. Are we served like we are giants back home? The portions were small but when we were done, we felt they were just enough for us. Not a morsel wasted or stuffed. Food was flavorful and did not come with any sides. Adequate seemed to be the norm. Another norm was bottled water. “Still or sparkling,” we were asked everywhere. Tap water wasn’t a choice.

Also noticeable was the presence of fear of the boss. The man at the reception in the Venice hotel was scared to death to call the hotel manager when we asked to change our rooms. Our dissatisfaction and his reluctance reached a point where we asked to call the police. Back here, the hotels (as expensive as the Venice one), would want to take care of their guests and the

reputation of the hotel. Over there, we were told to —-off! Yes! That exact phrase. We had paid in full months ago so we could not go elsewhere. Besides it was ten in the night and we were hungry and the manager, who finally came cursing, blamed us for making her miss a dinner with her friends. Customer service wasn’t exactly what we are used to.

There is not much fear of getting sued I think, as a result, not a cone in the bathroom of the Vatican Museum where the cleaner poured mugs and mugs of water from a bucket on the floor to clean while we were waiting in line. We used one stall while she cleaned the other one.

The best was being used to people bumping into us and us into them. But Hey! There are throngs of people visiting the city at any given time and this is bound to happen. It is okay and in fact we were relieved to know that people didn’t mind it as much as they do here.  After all, it is not easy to peel one’s eyes away from such astounding architecture.

The most memorable things about the city – the architecture, the paintings, the murals and the frescos, were not necessarily kept under closed windows. We noticed open windows in museums and palaces to let in fresh air. Very few historical buildings were air conditioned.  Sound pollution, dust and normal wear and tear due to weather related conditions probably are not given so much attention as we do here. Of course, the authorities know best but we couldn’t help wondering.

It was quite refreshing to visit a place where not everything is governed by extraneous laws, unnecessary polish and a helluva lot of unneeded space. What did come as a blow was the rudeness of a few. But a few things can’t ruin the everlasting beauty and grandeur of the place.

Owen Flanagan of Duke University, a leading consciousness researcher, writes that “Evidence strongly suggests that humans in all cultures come to cast their own identity in some sort of narrative form. We are inveterate storytellers.”


Although the written form of stories displaced the oral centuries ago, the writer in every age has used his or her narrator to portray some of his or her own expressions, idiosyncrasies, flaws, anger, frustration and sadness.

When the story you’re reading is from the point-of-view of a character in the novel (often the protagonist), you’re reading first-person narration. This first-person narrator makes frequent use of the pronoun “I,” and gives a direct peek into his or her narrator’s feelings which could also be the writer’s.


Examples of famous first person narration in literature are Scout in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird or  Bilbo Baggins, in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

A writer can make the narrator complicate things in a story like there is the  interior monologue of the Underground Man in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s ‘Notes from the Underground’ and the dramatic monologue of Jean-Baptiste in Albert Camus’s ‘The Fall.’

There’s even the strange, plural first-person narration in Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily.”

There is also a narrator watching all the action from the sidelines. This narrator is peripheral and not the main character. The peripheral narrator stands at a safe distance and gives us the details about the protagonists and antagonists like  Nick  Carraway in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, ‘The Great Gatsby.’


A first person narration can give access into the character’s thoughts and feelings but a third person narrator can go places and give the readers the details of everyone else in the story.

It’s also super important to remember that when a first-person is narrating the story, they do not disclose everything, at least not right away.When we can’t trust our narrator, we call them unreliable.


A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE … by Maya Angelou

enough money within her control to move out and rent a place of her own, even if she never wants to or needs to…

something perfect to wear if the employer or date of her dreams wants to see her in an hour…

a youth she’s content to leave behind….

a past juicy enough that she’s looking forward to retelling it in her old age….

a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra…

one friend who always makes her laugh… and one who lets her cry…

a good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in her family…

eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems, and a recipe for a meal that will
make her guests feel honored…

a feeling of control over her destiny…

how to fall in love without losing herself..

how to quit a job, break up with a lover and confront a friend without ruining the friendship…

when to try harder… and WHEN TO WALK AWAY…

that she can’t change the length of her calves, the width of her hips, or the nature of her parents..

that her childhood may not have been perfect…but it’s over…

what she would and wouldn’t do for love or more…

how to live alone… even if she doesn’t like it…

whom she can trust, whom she can’t, and why she shouldn’t take it personally…

where to go…be it to her best friend’s kitchen table or a charming Inn in the woods
when her soul needs soothing…

What she can and can’t accomplish in a day, a month…and a year…



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