The one with the lesson.  

Warning: Super long post. 

One of the things that my husband and I bonded over when we first got together was our irrational fear of dogs. We both hadn’t had any family members who had dogs and for the longest time, we also didnt have many friends who had dogs. 

It all changed when I got to know my husband, and inherited the most amazing group of friends (family really), with the sweetest, gentlest dogs, all of whom we adore. 

That’s when we knew we really needed  a dog in our lives.  

Then came the question of whether we should adopt or buy one. We knew the right answer really was ‘adopt’. But for us, it was easier said than done. Although we had started to get comfortable with dogs, we didn’t think we were ready to take on a dog that was much larger and therefore harder to handle, and one that had a history (all of these were such unfounded assumptions really). 

We did our research and picked out a kennel (I won’t say which one, and you’ll know why as you read on).

When we visited the kennel, they had a litter of a day old puppies. 

Say hello to Chutney. 

This was taken on 20 September. A day after she was born. Also this should really have been our first clue. A breeder who allowed people to meet puppies who were a day old and so fragile and vulnerable. But hey, what did we know. 

The breeder was ok with us visiting her as often as we wanted and spending as much time as we needed with her. We spent the next two months visiting her whenever we could. 

When she was about a month old.

Each time we visited her, we hated the kennel more and more. For one, apart from the playroom where we spent our visits with her, the rest of the kennel (which we got to see more of over time) looked terrible.  The stench where the dogs were kept was unbearable and the breeding dogs looked tortured. 

Even the way Chutney was handled was unacceptable. She was carried by her EAR sometimes, and was so roughly handled. I didn’t think anyone would handle a full grown dog that way, let alone a tiny little puppy. 

At this point, we hadn’t made full payment, and could have changed our minds. But we were already incredibly in love with her and just wanted to take her away from what I can only describe as a hell hole.  

Finally, on 19 November, we could take her home. We went down to the kennel, and after doing the paper work and paying in full, the breeder’s helper casually carried her over to us and pointed to some rashes on her front. 

He said it was probably because of her 2nd vaccination and that it should clear up in no time. 

Our friends had advised us to bring her to the vet the day we picked her up and that’s really when the nightmare started. 

The little fluffball at the vet. 

The vet we brought her to said she had a terrible yeast and bacterial infection and that this was rather common in puppies from kennels. She prescribed some medicated shampoo and said it should clear up in no time. 

Over the next few days. She got progressively worse. Her skin was covered in yeast. She was scratching constantly. And the worst of it all was that she refused to eat. 

We would sit with her for almost an hour, trying to coax her to eat and she would refuse. Sometimes, hunger got the best of her and she would eat a little bit. But after that, she wouldn’t touch her food for the rest of the day. She also refused to eat any treats and it was almost impossible to toilet-train her because there wasn’t any reward we could give her that she accepted.  

There were days when she would be out of her cage, and just sit in a corner of the house and refuse to come near us. She must have hated us, and why wouldn’t she really? We had taken her away from her parents and siblings, and as far she was concerned, she had gotten more and more sick since the day she had come home with us.   

Trips back to the vet proved futile. She was prescribed stronger medicines. Stronger than anything puppies should have to take. 

This resulted her in her having neurological side effects, where she had a perpetual head-tilt, and couldn’t walk for more than two steps without tripping over and falling.  

Her skin condition deteriorated, and at her worse, this is how she looked. 

She was almost entirely bald and had these painful scabs all over her body, which she scratched till she bled. 

She was so severely underweight because she refused to eat. It was a struggle to get her a tshirt which fit, just so she wouldn’t injure herself further scratching.  

Her first t shirt. It was the smallest size they had, and it was floating on her. 

The doctor had stopped all medication because of the neurological problems and we were just completely helpless. We knew a puppy would be challenging. But this?

Things got a little more bearable when she finally began to recognise us as her family and became so much more loving. Through all of this, she was nothing but sweet-natured.  No matter how much she itched, or was in pain, she loved playing with us and made an effort to show us as much love as she could.

When she was at her skinniest. 

We  started looking around for other vets from whom we could get a second opinion and thats when we found the man who literally saved her. 

Dr Gino, from The Animal Infirmary.

 Granted, one of his first pieces of advice was to return her to the kennel. However, when he realised that wasn’t an option, he requested to keep her overnight.  

Some people might say I bawled like a baby when she was hospitalised. But those people aren’t writing this post. So this point shall not be elaborated on. 

They did all sorts of tests on her. The fragile little baby had to ensure being poked and prodded by so many needles. And finally, he determined that she was anemic. He was also of the opinion that this was probably due to poor breeding practices.

Long story short, he gave her iron supplements and it worked wonders. Overnight, she started eating better and was so much more energetic. With all the food she was eating, she started to heal on her own, and her yeast infection all but disappeared.  

She is a healthy 5kg now. And her fur is slowly growing back. 

It has been about 3 months since we brought her home. She hasn’t been on a single walk, because she couldn’t complete her vaccinations due to her health problems. We never got to enjoy her cute, adorable puppy stage because she was so unwell most of the time. We have spent more than a thousand dollars on her vet bills, and this doesn’t even include the money we spent on various brands of dog food, hoping to find one that would appeal to her (she finally settled on orijen, one of the most expensive brands out there. Expensive tastes, that one. She also loves treats now, and eats everything she can get her little paws on)

Despite all of this,we are so lucky to have Chutney because we love her so so so much. I never knew I could love this unconditionally. 

But this episode has been an eye-opener. Some breeders are unethical to the very core, and money is the first order of business. The welfare of the puppies is often the least of their concerns, and the faster they can sell off the puppy, the better for them. 

The amount of money we have spent on Chutney, both in buying her and on her vet costs, could have helped so many strays in animal shelters. 

And those assumptions we made about adopting? So far from the truth. We have met some of our friends’ paw friends, adopted from shelters, and they are far from the ‘difficult to handle’ dogs we imagined them to be. 

Having gone through this entire experience, I wouldn’t ever recommend a breeder to anyone, least of all the one I went to. As mentioned, I will not say the name of the kennel, but if you really want to buy a puppy, and are worried, do ask.

Dogs are the best of God’s creations (followed closely by elephants). They love unconditionally. They love you even when you don’t love yourself very much. They are fiercely loyal. They change your lives. When you allow a dog into your life, you have the surest of guarantees that you’ll have a best friend till the end. They are all incredibly special, regardless of whether they are a designer breed or a mongrel. 

If I could do it all over again, I would give a home to a shelter dog, instead of lining the pockets of a breeder. 

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Don’t.

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It has been about a year since I got married. I could go on and on about how fantastic married life has been, but fantasy isn’t quite the genre of this blog. Heh. I LOVE YOU HUSBAND!

On a serious note, marriage has been, for the lack of a better word, one hell of an experience. One moment, I love my husband so much that I never want to let him out of my sight. The next moment, I want to put him up for adoption. But all said and done, I am mostly happy. I think the real stress of being married comes from outsiders, rather than from within. Which brings me to the topic of this whole post.

Ever since we celebrated our first wedding anniversary, we have been inundated with that dreaded question.

When are you going to have a baby?

Before I continue, I need to include a huge disclaimer. I am OK with having my immediate family members and close friends ask me this question. I would answer them honestly. I would even feel comfortable telling them my reasons. They have been there through my ups and downs, and they have a right to ask these questions. But funnily, the aforementioned people hardly ask us this question. It is the ones who hardly speak to us, the ones who don’t quite matter, who take it upon themselves to ask and give unsolicited advice.

Sometimes, I think people don’t quite grasp what a personal issue this really is, and how the decision to have a child, or not, is that of nobody’s business but the couple’s, and here’s why.

These are all the reasons I can possibly think of, for why a couple does not have a child. Not going to share which of these is mine though. ūüėÄ

They might be struggling with infertility.  Each month, a negative pregnancy test might just be filling them with dread. They might be undergoing really expensive medical procedures that just might give them a shot at having a baby. Every pregnant woman, every baby, just might be a reminder of how they cant get what they really, desperately want.

They might have just had a miscarriage. In which case, every question about why they aren’t pregnant yet might just be the one to push them over the edge.

They might not be able to afford it. This might come across as being utterly surprising, but there are people out there who want to only bring another human into the world if they can give him or her the best. And they might want to wait until they are able to do so. Would it be easy to explain one’s financial situation to another? I would hardly think so.

They might want to adopt a child. I have spoken to people who want to open up their homes and hearts to children who need them, without having to answer to the world about why they are adopting, and not having their own children.

They might just not want a child. Maybe not now. Maybe not ever. No one should have to have a children when they are not prepared for it. It really is their prerogative to make that decision. And that age-old argument about how they would not have existed had their parents thought the same really does not work. Their parents had a choice. They exercised it. They did not have a child just so that said person could come into existence. They had a child because they wanted to.

Each and every one of these reasons is a personal one. Some of it more painful than others. I cannot comprehend why someone would put another person through answering this question, of having to explain themselves. To the person asking, it is but one question, casually pulled out of their arsenal of stupid, pointless questions. But to the person being asked, it could mean much much more.

I have friends who have been trying for years and years. Friends who break down every time they go for a baby shower and people ask them when it is their turn. Friends who have given up because they can no longer afford to try.

And of course, the quintessential Indian labels of ‘Oh you don’t have a child after so many years of marriage? You must be a really unlucky person. Please come for my son’s wedding so that we can ostracise you and make you feel like dirt.’

So really, on behalf of all those to whom this matters,

Don’t.

 

An Idiot’s guide to Singapore Indians

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post on the 5 things that you should never tell/ask a Singapore Indian. That post was written largely in jest.

Today, I would like to rewrite that same post, with a slightly different intention. To create a tiny bit more awareness of Singapore Indians and what makes us tick. Teaching in a predominantly Chinese school has made me realise that most Singaporeans who do not interact with Indians on a regular basis have very many misconceptions about Singapore Indians. So here is an idiot’s guide to us ūüôā

We do not speak Indian or Hindu

Whenever someone asks me if I speak Indian, I have visions of some Indians tumbling out of my mouth as I speak. We are referred to as Indians because our ancestors hail from India. However, the language we speak varies depending on which part of India our roots are in. My ancestors are from Tamil Nadu, and I speak Tamil. Someone who comes from Kerala would be speaking Malayalam, and someone who comes from Punjab would speak Punjabi. However, since mainstream schools in Singapore mainly offer Tamil as a second language, many Indians, regardless of their state of origin, are able to speak in Tamil, in addition to their own mother tongue.

We do not all have accents, nor we do we shake our heads while speaking.

I have had many students ask me over the years why I do not have an ‘Indian Accent’. This is despite them knowing I am a 3rd generation Singaporean. I honestly do not understand why I need to have an accent any more than a 3rd Generation Singapore Chinese needs to have a ‘Chinese Accent.’ Having been born and bred in Singapore, It is perfectly logical that I sound Singaporean, as opposed to anything else.

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Also, we don’t shake our heads when we speak. Whenever people try to imitate Indians, for whatever reason, they end up looking like their necks came loose, and also a bit ridiculous. In fact, I don’t understand how anyone can speak like that. I tried, and ended up just feeling really nauseous.

We aren’t all from India

I particularly get this question from customer service personnel and I find it SO exasperating. Firstly, I am as Singaporean as you are and don’t like you staring at me in shock and attempting to dispute my nationality. I also hate it when I get accused by Indians from India of¬†disowning my heritage.¬†I am a third generation Singaporean. This means that my parents, and my grand-parents are all from Singapore. I have not even had the opportunity to visit India ever before.

Why should I identify with India more than with my own homeland?

Don’t get ¬†me wrong. I am extremely proud of my ancestral homeland. For its rich heritage, for the beautiful architecture, for its revolutionary history, for it being the home of my religion, for the amazing food, and for Rajinikanth.

However, that is no reason for me to not be proud of being a Singaporean, or to not get angry when people accuse me of trying to negate my ancestral roots.

We do not eat curry everyday, and no, it is not unhealthy.

First and foremost,  we actually have quite a few other options when it comes to food not involving curry.

Just saying.

Also, traditionally, curry is not an unhealthy dish. Turmeric, one of the important ingredients in curry has been proven to reduce the risk of cancer and heart attacks, as well as help with digestion. It also has strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Most curries also contain cumin, cardamon, ginger and garlic. These¬†also have¬†anti-bacterial properties. Studies show that garlic, cinnamon and cumin can destroy up to 80 per cent of meat-borne bacteria, while ginger can slow bacterial growth by 25 per cent. The only types of curries that are unhealthy are the ones that contain a lot of cream or coconut milk, and these aren’t the types we consume regularly, but rather only on occasion.

Deepavali is not our new year (Only applicable for Hindu Indians. Incidentally, not every Indian is a Hindu. As with every race, we could be Muslims, Christians, Buddhists etc.)

While we very much appreciate the well-wishes, Deepavali is  not indicative of the transition to a New Year. Our New Year is actually dependent on the Hindu Calendar and is celebrately differently in the various parts of India. Typically, it falls around April each year.

Yes we have names that are difficult to pronounce…

For non-Indians. We think our names are actually rather pleasant and easy to pronounce.

And no, you may not shorten our names. Ask us how to pronounce it, and we’ll teach you. If we are in a good mood, we might even teach you short forms that actually make sense instead of being offensive. We are also not all open to the idea of adopting English names to make life easier for everyone else around us. It is our identity and we would like to stick to it thank you very much.

e.g. Suresh is not Shoelace.

Kalai is not Ka-laaai.

Kannan is not Ka-naan

I know of people whose names have been mispronounced to the point where it is offensive, and this mutilation of their names is unfortunately stuck with them for a long long time. Many of us, after a while, stop bothering to correct people, for it is too much of a hassle. But honestly, no one should have to answer to a severe contortion of their names.

We are not halal

It really is quite weird to have to tell people that I, a person, am not halal. With reference to food and drinks, the term refers to food that is permissible for Muslims to consume. So a person cannot be halal. Also, not all non-Chinese have to eat halal food. If an Indian is Muslim, then yes, he or she would consume halal food. However, if an Indian is a Hindu or Christian, they would be subject to restrictions imposed by their own way of life.

We aren’t smelly, nor are we kidnappers

I have encountered people who are shocked that I smell nice. This makes me wonder what they have been taught about Indians for them to be surprised that we actually do not smell like garbage trucks. Just like everyone else, we shower twice a day, sometimes more, we use perfumes, deodorants and all of that stuff. I also have people who have openly confessed that they were brought up being told that if they do not eat, the apu neh neh will catch them and take them away. Most of us actually have real jobs, and they do not involve kidnapping children who refuse to eat their meals. Please stop misappropriating our existence to feed your children.

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A day in the life of a teacher.

Disclaimer:  I have been spending a lot of time thinking about my 7 years as a teacher, and this post is a reflection of that. I in no way am implying that teaching is the most difficult of professions, nor am I saying it is the hardest. Every job has its challenges. However, having been a teacher for all of my working life, I can only speak on behalf of this fraternity. 

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By and large, I think teachers are a very misunderstood lot of people. On the surface, a job as a teacher seems to offer many perks. A good salary, long holidays, short days, good bonuses and so on and so forth. Every time I tell someone I am a teacher, I more often than not hear the phrase “Shiok ah, the holidays?” I also get questions about what I do with all my time when school ends at 2 or 3 pm. This particular post is triggered by a student who asked me why I am so busy that I could not reply her¬†when she sent me a WhatsApp message at 9 pm, asking me a question. Or perhaps, it is a response to ALL such messages I have received over the years.

So here is a day in the life of a teacher (based on my past few years), not so that people can appreciate our difficulties, but just so that there is SOME awareness.

7.00am: By most people’s estimate, this is a god forsaken time of the day. The sun doesn’t shine, the birds don’t sing, you get the gist. However, I have already been awake for more than an hour. It doesn’t matter if I am a morning person, or whether I feel like killing everyone in sight. I need to put myself together and head down to¬†the parade square to take attendance for my form class in a few minutes. I just need to make sure I have combed my hair, and don’t look deranged. We have very realistic¬†expectations around here.

7.25am: Half the buggers are not here yet. I close my eyes for a second, praying that they will all be there when I open my eyes. I open my eyes.¬†Yeay! Full house! Oh wait no, that’s the class beside mine. Drats. Now it is going to be more obvious that I am a terrible teacher whose students never heed her call for punctuality.

7.30am: The national anthem has just ended. I always have this nagging suspicion I¬†got bersatu and bersaru confused again. No time to ponder over that. I start walking down the row. The dude with the birds nest hairstyle still hasn’t cut his hair. I glare at him and try to telepathically convey my displeasure. He is oblivious and greets me with a proud grin, like he has achieved world peace with his weird hair. I expand some precious energy¬†persuading him of the advantages of getting a hair cut, namely that he would not have to deal with wildlife breeding in his head. Not sure if I got through to him. He has glazed expression when I am done. Perhaps he is not a morning person too. I feel you buddy.

7.45 am: Heading for my first lesson. I suffer through an awkward Gooooooooooooooooood Moooooooooooooooorning, where¬†we all know the morning isn’t good, but have to pretend it is anyway. I start the ¬†lesson with the most dreaded task of collecting homework assignments. I wonder in my head what the magic number of the day will be i.e. the number of students who do not submit their work. If I am accurate, maybe I will take 4D. Juuuust kidding. I am a responsible civil servant. I do not gamble.

10.00 am: I have finished about 4 periods of lessons and am starving. It is the students’ recess. I refuse to undertake the treacherous task of heading down to the canteen and risk having to answer questions such as “Teacher have you marked the test?”, “Teacher how many marks did I¬†get?” I rummage through the cupboards and gobble down some junk food.

1.00pm: Lessons for the day have ended. I stumble into the staff room, while feeling like someone took a chainsaw and went at my throat.

1.30 pm: I start preparing for lessons for tomorrow. With 4 classes, all from different levels/streams, this is an endeavor that easily takes up about 2 hours of my time.

3.30 pm: I have a meeting. I have been told it will only take half an hour. I grab a cup of coffee, and head for the meeting, feeling optimistic.

5.30 pm: We are still on agenda item 1. I have lost all sense of time and place. I can only focus on one thing. To introduce copious amounts of caffeine into my blood stream so that I don’t concuss. I am afraid to doze off, because I might dream. Of the piles of marking waiting for me.

5.45 pm: I head back to my table to finish up some admin work.¬†I take a budget form and stare at it¬†mystified. I don’t know what to do. I keep it aside, planning to return to it tomorrow. For some reason, I can’t get over the¬†strong sense of¬†deja vu that is creeping up on me.

6.00 pm: I start marking. Only problem is, I cant decide which of my 39423 stacks of assignments to start with. I pick one at random.

6.30 pm: I cant think no more. I fiddle around with my red pen. I twirl it…and oops. It is in the dustbin. I feel rather sad at the thought of the tragically short lifespan of the pen. I reassure myself that it’s sacrifice has not been in vain. I pack up to head back home.

Not to rest, but so that more work can be done. In fact, the evenings are sometimes the worst, for that is when we have an uninterrupted stretch of time to focus on marking or preparing for lessons. Weekends are no better I have spent entire weekends doing nothing but marking, because it is impossible to do so on weekdays, where we have to deal with CCAs, and committee work, and all of the other administrative tasks.

In addition to this, the much talked about holidays. At the end of the day, I am so uncomfortable with this period of time being called holidays even, because when you consider that a typical work day for teachers stretches from 9 to 12 hours, and spills over to weekends, these 2 to 3 weeks are simply off in lieu that we have earned over the term. While it is true that we get 2 to 3 weeks of protected time per holiday, much of this time in June is spent on extra lessons, marking and preparing for the semester ahead. I know of teachers who are back in school so frequently for CCA camps and the likes, that it feels like they never had a break to begin with.

Over the years, I have had students demand for my personal time. I have students who insist that I MUST stay back after school to see them for extra sessions, or reply to their text messages at night or on weekends. I have had a student who said I am a civil SERVANT and hence need to live up to my role.

Despite this,¬†teachers remain teachers for one reason. They believe that they can affect change. They believe that they can somehow impact the lives of the students. This doesn’t come easy however, and while we don’t need recognition, we need people, be it students, or parents, or non-teachers to remember that we have a life too. We have families who want to spend time with us. Many young teachers have children who crave for their attention.

Most importantly, we need some time for ourselves, just so we can breathe.

 

 

My freedom ends where yours begins.

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Last year, when Amos Yee first became infamous, due to his comments against LKY and Christianity, public opinion was pretty much split. Many thought that his actions cannot be condoned and that he deserved to be punished by law. On contrast, there were many advocates of freedom of speech who thought he was entitled to express his opinions and that he was a smart, articulate young man who brought up many valid arguments.

A year on, today, he posted this on Facebook. This picture was then followed¬†by a picture of him attempting to do prayers in the mosque, and claiming that he wasn’t quite fitting in.

Is this OK? Is this freedom of speech? Forget Amos Yee. I am appalled by the people who condone this behavior, and think that it is OK, simply because everyone should be allowed to say whatever it is they want, regardless of the defamatory nature of the content. What kind of a society are we creating for our children, where we seek to blindly emulate the western ideals of freedom of speech, without any limitations.

Over the decades, we have been inspired by individuals such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Benazir Bhutto, Aung San Suu Kyi, and many others, who have fought for various forms of freedom, be it in terms of freedom of speech, freedom from slavery, freedom from oppressive political systems and freedom from racial discrimination.

When will people realize that  the struggle for freedom of speech did not happen just so that it can be used by imbeciles to justify their utter lack of ability to process their thoughts, and to rationalize racist, homophobic, xenophobic, downright offensive views.

It is not a means to an end. Freedom of speech exists to protects individuals from corrupt and oppressive governments, ensures their basic civil liberties as a citizen of a country, and safeguards their basic human right to safety and security. It allows for constructive debate, and serves to support democracy. Even America has deemed it necessary to curtail freedom in areas where they perceive a risk to national security. Why do we insist on absolute freedom of speech with no regard to the intention behind said speech?

 

By allowing someone to make racist remarks, or insensitive remarks about one’s religion, we are allowing that very same freedom of speech to allow society to regress¬†back into a state of anarchy and disorder. Just as you claim you have the right to say whatever you want about my race or religion, I have the right to get offended and to react. In the midst of everyone ensuring that they have access to this freedom of speech, who is going to protect my right to living in a society that is free from strife brought about by this hate speech?

Everyone who claims that Amos Yee is right, and that he deserves the freedom to do or say whatever he wants, think about this.

Is this how you intend to educate your children in the future? When you teach them to express their opinions, are you going to tell them it is OK to, in the process, insult entire racial and religious groups? Are you going to tell your children that it is OK to be irresponsible in speech, because it is all about them and their views, and not about the thoughts and feelings of their fellow country men?

If your answer to any of this is yes, then good luck to you. Because your children will grow up in a world where you cannot expect anyone to give a damn about their thoughts, feelings, emotions, safety and security. They will grow up in a world where having the ability to shoot off their mouths will be more important than having a heart and values. They will grow up in a world where racist, oppressive fools will rule countries, because everyone would have been taught to do or say whatever they want, regardless.

Marriage

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Saw this image a few days ago and it really struck a cord. Before I got married, I knew marriage was going to be difficult. I just never knew how difficult it was going to be. But I have learnt a little, about how to cope with it. A little.

Never compare.

Facebook contributed significantly to my worldview of marriage. Don’t get me wrong. I never consciously set out to glean marriage advice from Facebook. But somehow, subconciously, I allowed the many hours I have spent Facebook surfing to cloud my perception of marriage. My conclusions about marriage based on Facebook were these…

1) Married couples are always happy.

2) Married couples are always out having romantic dates/adventures.

3) Married couples always GET each other.

While much of this is true, a more realistic portrayal of marriage would be this…

1) Married couples are always generally happy, except for when they are squabbling over the most mundane of issues, like whose turn it is to do the laundry, who gets more of the blanket, who accidentally kicked whom in their sleep, who made the ants and the cockroaches come (true story), who gets to choose the movie and so on and so forth.

2) Married couples are always out having romantic dates/adventures, when they can manage to drag themselves out of the bed on a Saturday morning after the longest week at work and when they have enough left over after paying the bills.

3) Married couples always GET each other, after a million fights over the same issue, and after one party has explained to the other, for the 39th time, how they feel about something.

Much of this is exaggeration of course, but in the last 6 months, I have learnt that the biggest threat to a marriage is to compare one’s marriage to that of another’s.

For example, when we fight, I catch myself wondering if its normal. I am surrounded by couples who seem so happy, that they make me feel like our fights imply that we are somehow dysfunctional. However, a dear friend recently pointed out to me that everyone has their own versions of normal. What is normal to someone could be entirely abnormal to someone else, and the moment we judge our lives based on that of others, that’s when the real problem starts.

I have also learnt that it is important to be really careful about who you allow into your marriage. Everyone needs an outlet to rant and to vent. However, some people are going to give you advice that is not ideal, or perhaps even damaging. Some people are going to judge. And some people will want to tell you how to deal with your marriage. At the end of the day, only you and your spouse know all the intricacies associated with your personalities and your life. Any advice that anyone offers, needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, because really, this is the ONE area where you need to trust that you know best. But there will be people who genuinely just want to be there to listen, and to share their own experiences. Talking to them will make you feel better, and that’s when you will know that you have made the right decision in confiding in someone.

I have learnt this much in 6 months, and I think this much will last me a long time to come. Marriage can be a difficult journey, but it can also be the happiest one, if you allow it to be. In times when I question my decision to get married, when I question my decision on whom I married, I asked myself who I want to be with during the darkest moments of my life. For as long as my answer is Naren (And I have this nagging suspicion it always will be), I know I am good. ūüôā

The terrorists have won.

Had a lesson with my students today on terrorism. Inevitably, the topic of ISIS came up, and we talked about the attacks on Lahore, Pakistan. A student then shared an article that he had just read, about the difference in responses to the attacks on Brussels, and that on Lahore. The article apparently highlighted the fact that the world reacted to Brussels with tweets and changes of profile pictures, and that celebrities and politicians took to social media to condemn the attacks. In contrast, apparently the Lahore attacks didn’t¬†garner as much of an online support, with only a few world leaders commenting on the attacks.

Another student then asked this question with utter disbelief.

“Why does it matter who prays for whom on social media? What difference does it make to the lives lost?”

I have always thought it does matter. It is a sign that the world is standing united with the victims and their friends and family. It is a sign that every life is precious and must be respected. It is a sign that every attack is equally vicious and destructive and must be condemned. It is a sign that everyone knows and understands that these monsters have no race and no religion and are a disgrace to the entire human race.

However, it is inevitable that people choose to respond to different attacks differently, especially those who are not directly affected. I might be appalled by an attack on a country I have never visited and have no connection to. However, I would be completely devastated if the same happened to a country where I have friends and family. The thought of having come so close to losing a loved one might trigger a much stronger reaction. This, in my humble opinion is human nature. Why do we insist on a fair reaction? How fair can a world made out of biased and emotional individuals be?

By highlighting these disparities, by making an issue out of social media posts, by putting people on the defensive, we are doing exactly what the terrorists want. They want divisiveness. They want a world that is chaotic and in turmoil. They want a world with clear barriers. A world that they can infiltrate with ease and conquer.

Why do we give in to them?

The article criticized Obama for being very hush hush on the topic of Lahore, as compared to when Belgium was struck. However, during the Brussels attacks, he was in Cuba, refused to cut his trip short, and even managed to play a game of baseball. When he was asked why, this is how he responded.

“It’s always a challenge when you have a terrorist attack anywhere in the world, particularly in this age of 24/7 news coverage,’ said the president. ‘You want to be respectful and understand the gravity of the situation, but the whole premise of terrorism is to try to disrupt people’s ordinary lives.”

This made perfect sense to me, and further highlighted the stupidity of people who keep looking for conflicts where none exist.

By 2020, Islam will ¬†be the world’s largest religion. Every time we make terrorism out to be an issue of Islam vs the rest of the world, we are instigating more¬†tension and conflict. Every time we imply that the rest of the world is¬†somehow against Islamic countries, and that we don’t value them as much as we do other countries, we allow for radicalization to take place.

For those who believe that ISIS is Islamic, what about the attacks on the football pitch in Baghdad?

Not convincing enough? What about the fact that one of the biggest terrorists in the world is a guy whiter than white bread?

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ISIS is doing a fantastic job sowing discord in the world. Let us not help them achieve their objectives faster. It is always only about us versus the monsters.