Friday, 29 September 2017

It’s Kindness And Not Alcohol That Matters For Bonding

(This article in no way denounces alcohol consumers, it is just to highlight that human values like kindness, open mindedness empathy, sensitivity are often put on a back burner in the process of bonding and making relationships. It is usual to give undue importance to appearances and be carried away by the superficial attitudes at display) !

What on Earth shall I wear for the birthday party? Shall I sport my usual trousers paired with a formal shirt? Will I look outdated and uncool and will people form opinions about me based on the outfit I am wearing? What if I am labelled a misfit? An ultimate party embarrassment? Will I cut a sorry figure and be a bad example for my daughter? Why do I have poor sartorial judgement? These were some questions that swarmed my consciousness as I got ready to attend a neighbour’s child birthday party just two months after I landed in London.

New to London, I was yet to explore the myriad shops and malls adorning the city like beautiful accessories complementing a woman’s looks. I continued donning the apparels bought from India which were simply party-contrary. Even going to the nearest grocery store saw me reaching out for a formal dress. My wardrobe would warm the hearts of the office goers, offering them an array of formal wear to pick. Whereas I myself would be dejected at the sight of a drab me in an official suit.

‘It has only been a couple of months since my arrival here and I am not sure about any shops offering quality products along with great deals. It will take one more month to get familiar with everything in London. The host will understand me especially when both of us share similar roots deep down in India’, I reassured myself while my toddler made funny faces at me mocking my confusion.

Decking up my daughter with all the finery while I chose a humble outfit for myself made me happy for her. Her excitement made me smile and forget my anxieties at least momentarily. My daughter can embrace new surroundings and absolute strangers with ease. She gets along with new faces as though she has known them for ages! Whereas I think the other one is an alien from a different planet altogether. However, sharing my life with my daughter has rubbed some of her qualities onto me. As I behaved with my hosts like how my daughter would, little did I know of a problem awaiting me like a lion waiting to pounce on its prey!

Birthday celebrations in India are ubiquitous and I have never been unfamiliar to the excitement and euphoria surrounding any party accompanied by its usual cacophony and colour! However, little did I know that alcohol and non-vegetarian food would pose a moral dilemma for me. Not a meat eater and a staunch teetotaller, I began to wonder if I was being a spoilsport and started blaming myself for being such a ‘party-dampener’. Having never known the smell of alcohol let alone consume it, I was clueless of my next move.

Everybody around me was comfortably sipping and enjoying the drink while I looked like a cat on a hot tin roof dithering and confused. Do I join the gang and booze away to chatter and freedom like the others did? Freedom from restrictions and thoughts that stopped me from enjoying the party, freedom from self-doubts and negativity that held me back from realising what I can actually be. Can this glass of what several people consider as elixir also be an antidote to whatever invisible force that was holding me back and pushing me behind from doing what my heart desired. ‘Gel in, Vidya, the voice in my head screamed. ‘Grab the glass, you will feel welcomed. 

I wanted to feel welcome and didn’t intend to be a party embarrassment. As I stood there without a glass in my hand and not indulging in any non-vegetarian fare, I was not taking any moral high ground and making judgements on those who thoroughly relished their moments. I respected their choice to be and do what they believed in just like how I felt about my own beliefs and decisions. My own family members and friends drank and made merry and I have accepted them wholeheartedly. I have also seen a couple of them losing their lives to cases like ‘hyper-drunken mania’. So, can’t life situations reciprocate my earlier acts of kindness? Why should I be rejected for upholding my convictions?

As I dithered, a sudden flash of awakening struck the deepest point of my being. What guarantee do I have that I will be accepted by them just because I decide to flaunt the intoxicating solution in my hand and then clanging the glass amidst boisterous cheers? So, I decided to live my beliefs and values that I have so far been adhering to. Deciding to say no to drinks and a non-veg menu, I wore my attitude on my sleeve, to be true to myself and yet be comfortable. Instead of choosing alcohol that I was unfamiliar with, I choose kindness, courtesy, joy and laughter to bond. Presto, it worked! And I learnt my important lesson. It’s not alcohol that is needed for bonding, rather it is universal human values like kindness, love, respect, confidence and compassion which the society recognises and values!

If you are honest, kind and enjoy chatting as well as relating with people while being comfortable and confident in your own self, you have indeed arrived and been accepted! More important than sharing a drink with a fellow party attender is the kindness and joy you exude in another’s presence that matters. The fact that you welcome and rejoice his/her company is not just reassurance for the other person but is in fact the only essential for bonding and making relationships!

1 comment:

  1. Nice post. Well written. Yeah, we tend to be cats on the wall when we need to gel with the crowd. But good that you stayed away from drinks and stuck to kindness and enthusiasm.

    - Anitha