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Finding Common Ground
Diversity and Inclusion is a buzzword today in corporate life. But it should start at home. do we practice these with our parents, spouses, children, or our in-laws?
Mr. V. Ramamurti (now Appa) came into my life 28 years back. When I was courting his daughter, Jayashri Ramamurti (Jayu).
There were many reasons why Jayu and I were unsuitable in the minds of Appa and his relatives.
He was a Tamil Brahmin. I was a Malayali Menon. He was god-fearing and believed in temple visits and rituals. I was cynical about both to say the least. He was a strict vegetarian and I would eat anything (crocodile meat being my ultimate achievement).
When Jayu first told him about me, he threatened to jump from the window (9th floor. Not ground floor, mind you!).
Finally it took a lot of back-end negotiations through the emissary of Jayu’s sister to convince him to explore the alliance. He agreed to meet me as Jayu’s friend.
My two day visit was full of cordiality, but he refused to even acknowledge our romance once. Finally, five minutes before I was to leave, I took matters into my own hands, and apologised to him for falling in love with his daughter without his consent. The master stroke worked and RamG came out with 100%.
Jayashri and I finally got married. And Uncle became Appa.
Appa moved in with us 24 years back when my daughter Ananya was born. And he stayed on. (You can read the full version in my bestseller, From Ouch to Oops)
Life required major adjustments. Initially we stopped cooking non-veg at home. I acted like a martyr who had been forced to give up his faith at gun-point.
Jayu, caught between the warring factions(the war was never expressed. Appa and I were always polite with each other), decided we could order-in non-veg. After the kids were born, even cooking of non-veg started.
Every Diwali morning, I had to get up at 5.30, have an oil bath without shampoo and wear a ‘Veshti’. We had to then visit the temple. I agreed with minor protests. After all, it is a small adjustment for me. But a big deal for Appa and hence Jayu.
Now, I realise that while I thought I was the one making the adjustments, it was much more for him (30 years older)
Having non-veg being cooked at home would have been a huge sacrifice. Having a son-in-law who wasn’t praying every day or visiting temples would have been very difficult.
But both of us realised how similar most of our values were. We chose to look at those rather than the few things we disagreed on.
Today, Appa is my biggest supporter. He goes through all my videos and blogs. Before every important talk, I bow down to him to take his blessings. If he has a problem with social media, I am his rescuer.
Each human has our distinct genetics, upbringing and experiences that make us unique. Life would be so much easier, less stressful, and filled with happiness if we accept this rather than trying to change the other person. Don’t you agree?
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