That One True Girlfriend For Every Girl

We all have friends in every stage of our life. With time, we may change the type of people we befriend, but we always—no matter what—have friends. Our friends make us strong; they make us believe in ourselves, laugh off our mistakes; and most importantly, they keep us positive and hopeful. We may be a group of 3, 4, or even 10 best friends who always hang out together and share everything. But I believe that no matter how many people make up a gang, there is always a single person with whom we connect the most. This one person is always there for you, can always find out when you are lying about your feelings, and always says just the right things to make you feel better. This one best friend will be your pillar of strength and support for the rest of your life.

A few months after I got married, my mom sent me a video about the importance of girl best friends in a woman’s life. It could be your mom, sister, mother-in-law, daughter, cousin, or that one close friend in your gang. I liked the video for the way it conveyed the message and also agreed with it. But it was only later, after I had my baby, that I really realized what it meant to have a friend who always has your back. Gowri was my senior in college. We were roommates during my second year and that’s how we became friends. Since then, she has been my go-to person for my every moment of happiness and tears.

After I got married, I moved to the US with my husband. Transitioning from working long hours to becoming a full-time home-maker took a long time to adjust. She was there during every emotional outburst I went through. Motherhood brought along more challenges with it. My husband and I struggled along trying to be “the better parents,” and I constantly kept asking myself if was doing enough for my baby. While each day passed with new challenges, worries, and my endless cribbing to my husband about my self-doubts, I received a gift on my first Mother’s Day from Gowri. It was a gift pack from Bed, Bath and Beyond along with a card that said I was an amazing mother, and that I should take a day to relax and appreciate what I am doing for my baby. I still tear up remembering how I felt the moment I read it. It was then that I realized what the video my mother had sent ages ago truly meant.

Having someone so consciously and effortlessly understand every emotional turmoil you go through and give you a big jolt of hope right when you need it is amazingly gratifying. Only your girl best friend can do that. That card did not nullify all my self-doubts as a mother, but it made me believe that I was doing my best every day.

Finding a life partner is important, and so is finding your best friend, because no matter what, your girl knows how to make you smile. Everyday as we run through our busy lives, forcing ourselves to do our best in each of our work and family roles, our sanity depends mainly on our best friend who always has our back. Find that one person who relentlessly loves you for who you are, trusts in you, reminds you that you are the best, and almost always has time for you.


Of Clothes and Culture

Of late, people are learning and attempting to express themselves through their clothes. These days, clothes are more than mere covers for our body. They express people’s personality, determine their status, and also define their authority. For some people, clothes also reflect their state of mind.

But there was a time when people din’t have as many choices as we do now. For example, my grandmother would have been able to choose from a pattu paavadai, a dhavani, or a saree.  Chudidars and jeans were of course off limits. During those years, clothes reflected one’s culture and region. Ever since people have adopted the clothing styles of other countries, there have been major issues relating it to the loss of our culture and values, especially when it comes to women’s clothing.

I have heard a lot of people complain about how people wearing western clothes have corrupted our Indian culture and disrespected our values. I liked to dismiss those thoughts as ramblings of immature minds. But, as these accusations increase and spread, I wonder if these people actually understand the Indian values themselves.

Our culture is prided for our family system, the way we love and cherish our families. Children are taught to respect their elders; siblings are taught to stand by each other at all times; parents are expected to teach their children about love, affection, forgiveness; and children are expected to take care of their elderly parents. To me, these are some of the important values of our Indian culture. Our culture focuses more on teaching us to be better children, siblings, and parents, i.e, better humans.

So to all the people out there criticizing those who wear western clothes, I ask this: When do we really fear we have lost our culture?

When a father buys a pair of jeans for his daughter or when a father rapes his own daughter?

When a wife buys a drink for her husband or when a wife divorces her husband because he met with an accident and can no longer earn?

When a boy does not mind what his girlfriend wears or when a boy judges a girl only by what she wears?

When a father and son shop together for a pair of dashing leather pants or when the son kicks his father out because the father is an additional liability?

When a woman chooses to wear a saree because she likes it or when the woman chooses a saree because the men on the road are less likely to tease her in it?

When a girl returns home early from a cocktail party so that she can tell her mom all about the party or when she returns home early because she is wearing a short dress and her city is unsafe after dusk?

When a brother picks up his sister from college because he genuinely cares for her or when he has to pick her up as she can’t travel in a bus wearing a tight-fitting jeans and t-shirt?

We have been so focused on the external beauty of things that we have forgotten what it really means to be Indian. We have little time for our family; we teach our children to score better, earn better; we tell our parents to find themselves a good old-age home; we judge our women on what they wear; we tease the men who dress traditionally; we scoff when someone talks about our culture; and we praise anything that is not Indian.

Our issue is that we have begun to associate clothes with one’s personality. Is a women respectable only when she wears a saree or chidudhar? What if she prefers to wear jeans because they are convenient during travel? What if a boy goes out wearing shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt with headphones around his neck? Is he obviously a rich man’s pampered son?

Why can’t we understand that clothes speak only so much about our culture? Why don’t we understand that we as individuals have changed, our principles have changed, the things that matter to us have changed? When there is so much wrong with a society, I guess its easier to blame the lamest and the easiest factor- the changing clothes.