Wednesday, July 27, 2011


If you were to ask me, what is love , I would not be able to explain it. I can probably lift definitions from books and the internet and repeat those defs to you.
But here is my ‘experience’ of love for my cat and others! This is what I do, when I am experiencing love.
*If my husband asks for coffee in the morning, I may or may not feel like getting it for him.
Sometimes I even get annoyed that he can’t get it for himself;
However, the moment my kitten mews, I jump out of bed and do its bidding. I experience absolutely no annoyance when I hear its mews. I am in fact glad! When you are in love, you will not be lazy! You will jump through hoops for the one you love….like your kitten.

*When any person ruins my dress (or anything of mine) , the first emotion I experience is irritation or anger. I may or may not show it, I may even smile and say, "Don’t worry. It is okay" but I experience a brief blaze of anger. I may not experience that anger if the destruction is wrought by a child, a baby or someone I like/love but I do experience some sort of negative emotion if the person who wrought the destruction happens to be an adult, especially if it is one whom I like a little bit less! However if my kitten happens to tear even a valuable silk outfit of mine, I do not experience anger. I have even been amused when my kitten has accidently broken something. Love is all-forgiving!

*When I am busy doing something urgent or important, I, like anyone else, don't want to be interrupted….except if the interruption is pleasant such as a tv program, a tea break, a welcome visitor, and so on. However any interruptions from my kitten are welcome. Feeding, cleaning it’s litter-box, filling it’s water bowl, whatever.

I think love is something biological and not something that is rational.

I had a difficult grandmother (if she had ever gone to a psychiatrist, she might have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder I think!) who was impossible to like or live with. She behaved obnoxiously towards almost everyone, considered herself superior to others; she was critical, paranoid and demanding. Yet I loved her! I would fight with her, yell at her, experience intense and explosive anger towards her, but I had  a great need to make her happy and I was ready to do anything to please her. She provoked me often & intensely and I would end up yelling at her; while one part of my mind yelled at her, the other part was simultaneously racing ahead, seeking words which would not hurt her much. Even while fighting with her, at the height of my anger, I took care, not to hurt her feelings and guarded my tongue.
Mind you, when I yelled at others, I never took such care, and would let go completely and bash the person I was yelling at, with all I had!

*Another expression of my love is the kind of thoughts I have towards the people I love. When I am idly daydreaming or thinking, I think of ways to make my loved ones happy. I spend hours, planning and doing things which I think would make them happy…….even if it involved a lot of exertion and expense. When my grandmother was living with me, I spent  a lot time, fantasizing how I would dedicate my life to making her happy…by fulfilling all her wishes to the best of my ability. At these times, I never spared any thought for myself, my needs or other people. Of course, I fantasized more and did less…..but maybe, if I had means, I would have done more.

*I consider myself frugal to the point of being miserly but when it comes to spending on those I like/love, expense does not matter at all! (I do not like spending on myself, but that is me.) Logic simply goes out the window and love pours in through the doors of my heart! Buying things for people, one loves is the most common and visible expression of love I have seen in people. It is touching and interesting to see the normally rational and budget conscious people going overboard when they splurge on the children or pets or people they love and try to rationalize their spending!

*Another manifestation of love would be, Impulsivity.
Let me explain; For those I love, the words "No; I can’t do that" never crosses my mind, however outrageous the demand.(Thank God, no one has made any seriously outrageous demands on me!). My mind jumps to action i.e. planning how to do what the loved one asked and the thought of refusing never crosses my mind. I start thinking about how best to satisfy the loved one’s desire rather than thinking in the usual mode which is : "why is this person asking me to do this? What will I get if I do this? Is it safe for me ? Is it possible for me? Is it too much trouble for me? If I do this for him, will it interfere with me or my interests?" And so on.

*Tolerance and forgiving is another aspect of this sort of  'biological' love.

I do not experience the same sort of tolerance, patience and inclination to forgive, towards people , I do not love. But I seem to have an immense capacity to ‘take shit’ from the people I love! Especially this grandmother of mine. I had an immense capacity to forgive and tolerate my grandmother’s behaviour; However, I cannot tolerate even one hundredth of her sort of behaviour, in someone else! I have this sort of inexplicable patience& tolerance only towards her, while I am much less patient with others! Love is illogical; difficult to explain with rational explainations; Love is blind! And patient and forgiving!
( I ought to remember this when I am baffled by the behaviours of clients I am counselling...their irrational behaviours maybe due to love!)

*My expectations from the people I love is almost zero. I simply want them to be happy and maybe I would like it if they like me. I feel rewarded if they show love towards me (such as my kitten approaching me and rubbing against my legs). But even if my kitten did not approach me, I would still feel love for it.* Love is unconditional.

Like most people, I do have expectations from other people i.e. people whom I do not love but am acquainted with, etc; And if they were not up to my expectations, I would probably have minimal contact with them.
The conditions and expectations from a relationship are more when there is little or no love. If people do not fulfil  expectations, like in a business relationship, etc, Interactions cease and the person may feel nothing when the relationship ends.

*Love also makes one do things which one generally does’nt do. I remember swearing that I will never ever beg anyone, in a humble manner, especially a corrupt person in a high up position. Guess what ? That is exactly what I did! …for love!

My sister wanted her daughter to get into a ‘good’ school in Bangalore but that is impossible without money or connections. But of course, the ‘good’ schools do not demand money openly and parents go through the sham process of buying applications, filling them in and submitting. I went to this school and stood in a line daily for a week in the mornings, hoping to get to talk to the principal of this school in order to beg her to consider my 4 year old niece’s application for admission. I was humble and downright ingratiating (read, ‘kiss ass’) in this principal’s presence and I had no qualms doing that for my little niece!

I cannot imagine being so humble and respectful and ingratiating for myself to some corrupt person! I boil at the very thought of it but I did this for my niece! Love can make one endure the unendurable!

*I also find that I can be a lot more creative and my brain seems to be flooded with ideas when I am doing something for someone I love or when I am especially excited. The ideas, just flow and the energy flows and this happens even if I happen to be tired or hungry or sleepy or whatever! I am sure the neurotransmitters in the brain are triggered by love, in no small way! When I was trying to think of a gift for someone I loved, the ideas for the gift, simply flowed and some of the ideas were pretty creative! I don’t want to boast, but that’s the truth!

However, when I am trying to think of ideas, for someone I am not really into, then I do not have the same flow of creative ideas.


Where have I seen displays of  love and affection? I have seen love and affection in literally thousands of relationsships. Love is not uncommon. Thank God!

I see display of love in several people around me…….husbands and wives, friends, parents and children, pets and their owners, even colleagues at work. The beauty of this sort of pure love is that people, love without expectations. They love someone or something who may not be 'of use' to them....the practical, materialistic approach is not there. There are people who are truly romantic and not the least bit practical(I am not sure if pracitcal is the word I want but I cant think of a better word here) when it comes to loving. I greatly admire this free spontaneous loving ...In today's world, when everyone seems to be so 'shrewd'; when people are more often 'practical' than romantic, 'when people almost always  weigh pros and cons before 'getting into a relationship'..... 'falling in love' without checking, thinking, calculating, seems a rare occurence!
And what moves me  most is the love I see of families for their mentally ill or mentally retarded (developmentally delayed is the latest, politically correct word for mentally retarded) members.

While working with this population, I was initially furious with the ‘crazy’ things people did for their mentally ill or mentally retarded family members. But as I grew older, I started seeing their ‘acts’ as acts of love, though it was so phenomenally impractical, stupid, expensive and caused more problems than it solved.

I remember this case of a young girl in Bangalore who presented in the psychiatry dept with Obsessive compulsive neurosis. She was started on anti depressants and later, she was put on anti-psychotics. There was little or no improvement in her OCN which seemed to go on to become some sort of schizophrenia.

Her mother was dedicated to taking care of her and she devoted her entire for her. The girl was of marriageable age and the mother started talking to me about getting her married. I strongly advised the mother against getting her married ….the girl was completely dependent on her mother, incapable of even eating, dressing and taking her medication, without being told or coaxed to, daily. How could she get married and take on the responsibilities expected of her as a wife and daughter-in-law? The mother was adamant about getting her married and told me that, she will look after her daughter and son-in-law, as long as she lived; that her daughter need not do anything; it is enough for her if her daughter, sits like a "doll in the showcase". (Doll-in-the-showcase is in my language, Kannada; she means to say that it’s okay if her daughter is merely ornamental and not useful i.e. if she did no work")

This lady got her daughter with OCN, married to a close relative of hers.
her daughter and son-in-law lived with her after the wedding and she and her husband supported their daughter and son-in-law . Needless to say, this was a marriage only in appearance; the son-in-law neither helped in the household chores not supported himself or his wife financially. He lived like a guest in this house, with his wife.

What struck me most was the mother’s initial comment to me when I opposed the idea of getting her daughter married: her comment that her daughter need do nothing but dress up and sit and she would look after her for life.(‘Dress up and sit’ is again a literal translation from my language and I hope you readers get what she meant) This love is biological and nothing to do with rationale.

Families who live with and care for the mentally ill in their families, do love their disabled members; Yet, they suffer from burn out after a while. I have come across several families in India who are so burnt out after years of caring for the mentally ill or severely epileptic or severely retarded or alcoholic and the love & goodness of these caring family members has eroded over time. I have had parents, siblings and spouses openly saying they wished their ill child/spouse/whoever was dead, right in their face! But I know that they speak harshly with the exhaustion of caring and not out of hate. Love is there but it is gradually fading or the love appears and disappears depending on their level of exhaustion at a given point in time. As you realize, by reading this, often, love cannot survive in the face of difficulties. The difficulties may be of various types…financial, social, emotional, etc.

I have also seen 'true' love eroded by various other mundane factors, which is a reality of life.....Relationships which were once happy and romantic are worn out by the difficult and the mundane factors of living...children, economic and other pressures, in-laws, growing apart in interests as they grow/change over time
The tragic love stories are much more unforgettable, romantic and poignant than happy ending stories.
Tell me which story moves you more:

...a story of two young lovers, madly in love, and one young lover is killed by the other's harsh relatives ....both died young and beautiful or were torn apart at the height of their love!


...a story of two lovers, who got married, had kids, lived a long and boring life, started quarrelling their love fizzled out, they drifted apart and finally divorced.....and they changed from youthful and beautiful to  fat and old and developed health problems like incontinence!


Now, just as I am trying to wind up this essay, I  discovered one odd thing about myself………..I do not have the need to hang out with the people I love all the time.

Hmm? Isn’t that strange…..I say I love my grandmother but do not want to hang out with her all the time….or my niece….or my husband….

I would much rather hang out with people who are witty, easy to get along with, are good conversationalists; who talk of things I am interested in; people who are not self-centered, boring or annoying.

I realize I love my grandmother but if I hang out with her all the time, I would go crazy! Same goes for most people I ‘love’. Maybe, that why I say that my love is biological and not rational.

So maybe I do not feel love for all the people like my husband, grandmother and niece but something else? Or is there something deficient in my love? I dunno. But I am sure I do not want to hang out with anyone forever. I want my space. I want to be with different people.

(Of course, I do have fantasies in which all my relatives and friends live close by and meet often instead of being scattered all over the world. But that is about it.)

Before I shut up, here are a few of my favourite love stories which made me cry and cry and cry!
Tristan and Isolde
Salim and Anarkali
Hundreds of Indian movies' love stories have moved me during my younger years: Two I can recall now are :
Marocharitra(Telgu movie, I saw 3 times, and cried each time!)
Bobby(with Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia)

A whole lot of movies in Tamil, Telgu, Kannada and Hindi moved me . Several Kamal Haasan's romantic Tamil movies of the 70s and 80s really moved me a lot.

I have had the pleasure of reading hundreds of book with love interests; Love in books which moved me, which I can recall now, as I am writing this are:
Eric Segal’s Love story
Colleen Mccullough's Thornbirds

There was also a wonderful love story in the book section of an old (1980?) reader's digest, whose name and author I cannot remember. It was very very moving...the love a teenage boy felt for his school teacher, a young lady, who is only a little older than him. She leaves his school and he threw a bouquet of wild flowers into her train carriage when she left. Oh my God! I have read this story a dozen times and cried every time!

I have enjoyed a whole lot of delightful romances written by Georgette Heyer such as

The convenient marriage
The corinthian
Devil's cub
The masqueraders
April Lady
These old shades
The grand Sophy
I grew up on Mills & Boon books, i.e. a publication of romances but now I cant bear them at all! Maybe I have changed in some way(grown up? Aged? Matured? Become cynical?) and so cannot tolerate the Mills & Boon which I once devoured with such rapt interest!
I also cannot bear the books of that humongous and humongously mediocre romance writer, Barbara Cartland today!
Now a days, I am less into romance and more into crime fiction & humour, be it television, books or movies.(However, if crime has a bit of romance in it, that is a nice bonus!) The romance in crime fiction is as engrossing as the romance in the out and out romantic stories..(dear reader, I am aware I started talking of love and have now slid to crime fiction, please bear with me!).
I have enjoyed the romantic peccadilloes of Archy McNally of the Lawrence Sanders series! I have enjoyed reading the sparse bits about the love lifes of characters in several crime fiction novels. The very very briefly mentioned love life of some characters in some novels of Alistair Maclean such as The satan bug, is an example. I was also much moved by the brief romance-like emotion experienced by Sudden aka James Green in Gold seeker, a western by Oliver Strange.

I have enjoyed and spent hours thinking about hundreds, nay thousands of love stories between people in several serials(soaps, crime, family dramas, etc) both Indian and English. The sexual chemistry and love/tension between characters, even the police personnel in crime television serials are captivating.
Needless to say, I find the sad ending love stories more moving and haunting than the happy ending ones.( But in real life, the happy endings are preferable! Believe you me!) Buniyaad, an old serial in India is one. There are literally hundreds of television and cinema romances I have mooned over!

But these days ( I am in my 40s now) I find romantic movies a wee bit boring and have no patience to listen to the gossip about my friend’s romantic relationships …..Love stories(except the Georgette Heyer ones) sort of bore me now…..
Does it mean that Love is dead to me?
No. It's not that. I am just not interested in others love life. I am happy with my love life but I have no patience for others love life. Sorry folks. It’s not you. It’s me!

Let me add one last bit about what I hate about romantic love...It is the pseudo romantics
 To me they are  people who are are  calculative and who check out everything and then 'fall in love' if 'all is okay'! I hate these pseudo romantics. I have seen quite a few of them in India.
 As you guys know, we have arranged marriages in India. I have seen women and men  who 'fell in love' with someone at work or college who happened to be the exact same caste, sub-caste, religion, whatever ! The practical advantages of  falling in love with a guy/gal in your own community are : They face little opposition from parents; the girl is saved from paying the dowry ( I have seen love marriages where dowry was demanded by te egroom's parents! and the  groom was sitting mum when his parents demanded!); etc.
I prefer that people are honest and admit  they are looking for someone who fit their criteria than pretend they 'fell in love', after they find someone who fit their criteria.
 I respect the fact that in India and other conservative countries, arranged marriages are the norm and people grow to love only after marriage.  But I prefer people admit that theirs is an arranged marriage and take their time to grow to love  instead of pretending to be in love (or is it true...some sort of an unconscious and powerful process of the mind?) as soon as the engagement is fixed!
Of the people I have observed around me, I find that the males tend to genuinely fall in love(at least for the girl's looks....however shallow this seems to be!) while females are  less romantic and more practical(females I know seem to be concerned about his job and earnings and less likely to fall in love spontaneously, without regard to the practical aspect) in their approach. What do you think?

One more thing: Please do not think I am a sucker for all  the Indian romantic movies! I find them absolute rubbish....especially the ones showing a rich girl falling for a poor guy... or a 'city' guy falling for a 'village girl' real life, they have will have no common interests to share or anything in common to talk about..... how long can this love be sustained...three days tops! (The Kannada movies I have seen have such impossible rubbish...the worst are the ones where the girl falls for a naive(read stupid//retarded/) guy or a guy falls for an 'innocent'(read immature/childish/developmentally delayed) girl. Of course these movies were in the  80s and hopefully they are no longer produced. Another piece of nonsense romance in Indian movies is the belle falling for a bully after being harassed by him, instead of kicking him in the balls.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"while one part of my mind yelled at her, the other part was simultaneously racing ahead, seeking words which would not hurt her much. " - I really like how you've put this thought to words!

Last walk at Sunnybrook park by the stables

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