“I thought this was expected of me” #IWD #IWD2017

This post is about something that happened in an email conversation with a work “hire” from India, that I started to take assistance from through an online platform over email. She was late in her work commitments and I was trying to remind her to look at her own communication and commitments, to point out her mistake. At some point, she started to refer me as “Sir.. Please” etc. I wrote back saying she shouldn’t refer to me as “Sir” and just keep it professional and address me with a Hi or Hi Ajay. Her response, “I dont know I felt obligated and thought this was expected of me.”

I responded again said, “I am a stranger for you, and I am just a work contact. You shouldn’t feel obligated or assume that a certain behaviour is expected of you. Just because I a man.”

That made me think of the word “Sir” we use in our culture, but most importantly it made me question, why she had to feel like that. I also remembered how my sister would talk about her frustrations of working in the male dominated IT industry, in India.

If I were to talk about this to my daughter, I would tell her:

The world might seem like a place designed by men, for the comfort and privilege of men. But do not let that bog you down, for that might be a reality you will need to fight for and prepare for. Do not feel obligated to feel threatened, or inferior to anyone, let alone people who would make you feel that you are expected to act and behave in a certain way in our society, just because you are a girl.

You will always have the power and control over what you want to do, and how you want to live your life. Do not let anyone talk you down, even if its a person who you love or adore. You have all the right to tell anyone on their face that it is none of their business to tell you how you should act or live your own life. You shouldn’t be ashamed of your life choices, how you dress, how you eat, how you love – because its your own life. You should never feel obligated to sacrifice your dreams, aspirations just because you are a girl. One day you would realise that when you walk with your head high, and back straight, the world would find it not easy to handle or accept. They would probably be puzzled, as to why your eyes are not lowered and your head down while you walk on the streets. They would be puzzled again, when you are able to speak your mind out confidently, and they’d expect you to not be so loud and bold, because they expect women to be submissive. Do not give in to the demands of the society, its a facade.

You should never feel obligated to justify or answer for your choices and decisions either. There will always be people around you, who care and love you for who you are. Be there for them, be with them. May your life be filled with such people.

More soon.

#InternationalWomensDay

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A kid asks: What is empathy?

For all those who have kids do know that they can ask a lot of questions to you. Some are difficult to understand while some difficult to answer.

Empathy, they say, is something similar to putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and trying to understand and feel what they are going through.

But that might be a difficult thing to explain to a kid. I thought I’d give it a try:

One fine evening, while its getting dark you are trying to get home and its raining slowly. You have an umbrella to protect yourself from the rain and walking down the road in your chappal. With the condition of the roads here, you are trying hard to ensure that you avoid stepping on one of those deceptive water-logged chunks, whose depth is unknown.

A car comes honking whose owner seems to be in equal hurry to get home and is speeding. The car drives past you splashing a whole chunk of mud water on you. (Hold that thought)

On the next day, you are driving your dad’s scooter and passing by the same road. The water logging still exists, and you see a couple of school girls heading to school.

Empathy is making sure that you don’t splash mud water on them while driving past because you know and can understand how it feels.