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carrying our baggage all over the world ..

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we may leave india but india does not leave us.

here, without comments, i reproduce verbatim an agony request in today's (April 24, 2008) globe and mail published from toronto, canada...

'although i was born and raised in canada, i am from an ethnic background that values family and expects a son to live with his parents and take care of them, even after marriage.

my wife, who is of the same cultural background, initially agreed to this living arrangemnt (with reluctance), but because of conflict with my mother, now wants us to move out.

i have talked to her about various solutions that would help alleviate some of the tension and give both women more space while allowing me to fulfill my duties as the eldest son. my wife has given me an ulitmatum: either i move out with her or she will leave me.

i am very committed to this marriage. however, she has placed me in a very hard position. how do i get my wife to work with me?

this above agony has been posed to the canadian public through the newspaper. i hope to post the answers that are published by the paper, in due time.

thank yo.
Dear Kunjuppu,

The conflict between women truly stresses the man out. If I were in that man's shoes, god forbid, I wouldn't abandon my mother to whom I owe my life.

The wife, if she is ready to leave the husband for whatever reason, the man shouldn't be running after her. The wife is certain she can live without the husband. Can the mother in a foreign land be abandoned for this wife?

I hear that westerners kick out their children when they grow older. And the children reciprocate by not attending to the parents in their old age. However there are exeptions to every rule.


i thought the group will be interested in knowing that we do as indians carry our traditions abroad, even to the next generations, who have had no connections with india.

also, most interesting would be the answers. these will be published in a week. i am quite sure there will lots of it, but the paper will select a few of them.

i am quite sure inputs will come from desis as well as non-desis. surprisingly, the traditional 'indian' expectations might not come from the desis. these are real life situations in the west, and i have come across a few myself.
Dear Sri kunjuppu Ji,

Over my long years of life in the USA, I have come across this issue several times among friends and family.

Western values are not all that different from ours. I have come across scores of Mother-in-law/Daughter-in-law conflicts among the western families also. This seems to be a universal issue. By the way, westerners just do not 'kick out' their youngsters out of their home. The young once become able to get a job are supposed to support themselves and their families. Here family is defined as 'nuclear' and does not include parents who can support themselves and their siblings. But I have seen many many times, when the siblings and parents get in to trouble, either financially or health wise, other children who are doing well supporting those who need help. This is the rule not the exception. We sometimes carry very wrong notions about the western world, especially Americans in this regard.

Coming back to the issue, I have always counseled my friends and relatives not to stay together as a joint family if the MIL/DIL issue starts. Usually the issue starts when the MIL who has plenty of idle time in her hands, expects the DIL to do all the chores around the house when she holds a full time job also. And instead of staying away from the internal affairs of the marriage, the MIL also usually pulls rank with her son and meddles. In almost all these instances, the MIL is the sole cause for the greivance on the part of DIL. This is now an issue not only in the countries abroad, but I am hearing the same issue starting to percolate in India! In fact, I would dare say that the majority of divorces in India in our community occur because of this sole issue.

Once a man is married, he and his wife form a distinct identity as a combined sacred unit. They are half and half in terms of that institution. Starting with dowry, some of our elders have lost sight of this fact and instead of allowing the unit to flourish, interfere in the internal bondings of the couple. This is almost always done due to selfish reasons on the part of the MIL to put a stranglehold on the emotions of the son. And the very son who she brought up with the sole aim of success in this world and spent so much time to carefully pick a successful mate, is now placed at the edge of abyss of conjugal life, because of the ego and dominance of the MIL. While mother is God, some mothers do not act as Gods, unfortunately.

Unless we reconcile our traditional values for a DIL and today's makeup of young women and their expectations, this issue will bound to mushroom.


100% correct. people in the west are just as humans as us. your examples, i have seen them too. in a few cases, the old people are indeed invited to come and live with the daughter or son, but it is out of choice (they have other alternatives like old age homes) and not out of tradition or sense of duty.

re mil dil relationship, it is set up for failure. has been for ages. nowadays, with only one son in many cases, the mil dil is a disaster in waiting. where there are exceptions, these are gifts from God. or the dil is keeping her mouth and desires bolted down. the mil seldom does.

when parents are healthy and in these days, appear to hold their health into their 80s, it is best that they maintain their own household, indepdendence and build relationship with the dil over time. time is the great builder of affection and regard. it cannot be imposed over one day's ceremony and commanded to be practised immediately. humans are not like that.
This is an age old problem. But then this kind of joint family always lead to tensions. When my son got married, we fixed an accommodation to which he moved with his wife right from day one. Our DILs have never stayed with us except for short visits. The joint family system was suitable for an agricultural society. But as India moves to an industrial society we have to change ourselves. (See Toffler)

Myself and my wife stay alone. We may have to move to an old age home or Ashram as we grow older. We have excellent relationship with our children and daughter in laws because we are independent and do not interfere.

The system of Vanaprastha was evolved to overcome these kind of problems.
Dear Sri Nachhinarkiniyan, Sri KRS and Sri Kunjuppu

(disclaimer: The following is on Indian conditions, when both man and woman are employed. I am not the old person mentioned herein!)

Is this an age old problem or old age problem. To me it appears that it is an old age problem. The problem arises because the elder is old.

The presence of the parents of the man is needed in the families where both the man and wife are employed. It is the parents, either of them or both, who live with the son and DIL who take care of the house -

1. The parents drop the child to and pick up the child from school. If there is a school bus or autorickshaw arranged, it is these who board and receive the child and give food.

2. The parents make payment of the school fees periodically standing in the school/ bank queue

3. It is the parents who pay up the telephone bills, electricity bills, corporation tax, water tax and such utility payments.

4. It is the parents who receive all and sundry courier mails - these days the bank statements, credit card statements, mutual fund mailers, corporate mails for various investments, telephone bills and every such item comes by only courier and the courier man takes an acknowledgement. Every courier comes at his own time. They all dont come at the same time. Therefore the old person is not able to even retire. He/she has to attend to all and sundry calling bells. Those days every mail would come by post and there would be only one or two deliveries a day. Even that they would drop in a box if it is provided. the courier fellows need an acknowledgement and they wont drop in the mail box.

4. The parents have to be available for all calls from the Cable TV, newspaper and such service personnel and make the payments, remaining in the house.

5. The parents have to be in the house to receive the servant maid, attend to her (give her a cup of coffee, otherwise, she wont come the next day!) and ensure that she carries out the instructions of the DIL, who has gone to office.

6. To make the bookings for gas cylinders when it is over.

7. If from moderate household, himself/ herself attend to purchase from the ration shop, or otherwise organise through the servant maid for such purchase and supervise the same.

8. To receive the provisions ordered by the DIL from the provision shop (when there is door delivery) and make payment for the same.

9. To answer all phone calls that come to the house, including wrong numbers. Sometimes, if the son or DIL leave the cell phone by forgetfulness, answer those calls also and keep a list of callers.

10. To attend to all the maintenance engineers visiting to service water coolers, refregirators, water purifiers, washing machine, air-conditioner and what not.

11. To attend all marriages and such social functions, death and obsequeis and such social functions on behalf of the family.

12. When anyone falls sick, others can attend to their work without taking leave from office, because the elder at the house would attend to the sick at least for some small and sundry needs.

There may be many more. I am not sure. The absence of the elders in the house will make us realise their value. We often think that they have cared for us only when we were young. Certainly not so. They continue to serve us whole-heartedly with a sense of devotion till their inability to do so or death. But for them most of us would not have had peaceful working in the office. We would have had to do most of these cores or at least keep thinking of these pending works even while in the office.

There are DILs who try to ease out the elder after the child completes school education, as at this point the MIL is more dependent than the other way. Each coin has two sides, Sri KRS.

All of us have to understand that we all can only co-exist.

It is our duty to attend to the elders when they are old and/ or sick. Performing this duty brings immense peace of mind, sense of satisfaction for living this life purposefully, and earns the utmost punniyam. It is more than doing the karmas for the parents after their death. Is there any use in doing the karmas for 13 days and every year after the death of the elders, without taking care of them when they are alive? If anyone would do that, probably the departed soul may reach heaven, but certainly the son/ daughter who did not take care of the elder will not reach heaven.

The taking care of the elder should equally apply for the man's and woman's parents.

I strongly believe that it is my elders' blessings (while they needed my support and I extended it) that has kept me in good progeny, prosperity and shreyas.


another thought on taking care of the old...

the mother daughter bond is the strongest bond between two humans. so i have read somewhere. does it not make sense then, that the elders spend their last years with the daughter?

the sons in law are usually generous or indifferent enough that they do not mind the presence of the inlaws in the house. between the daughter and mother, even if there is disagreements, it is not viewed with such intensity and forgiveness/forgetfulness comes quicker than a typical mil sil altercation.

also, the presence of the parents, could probably make the wife to feel better towards the husband. so it is a win win situation all along.

i think it is only our fixation about our sons, sons' duties and pride, that is preventing this. :(

i know of a few families where the sons are abroad or unable to take care of the parents. the daughters have stepped in and have done more than needful to bring peace and comfort. :)
Dear Sri Appaiah Ji,

I could not agree with you more. Since Sri Kunjuppu Ji was referring to one issue only, I addressed that particular issue.

Regarding the other side of the coin, I see more and more Indian working couple 'importing' their parents for help during pregnancy and afterwards help to the USA. I see both side parents coming here. Now, the majority of these cases end up being very good, with the elders providing the needed guidance and assistance and the DILs also properly looking after their in-laws and/or parents.

But again, there a small percentage, which end up treating the elders essentially as hired labor. I have heard some elders complaining about this. Because they can not or do not want to drive here, this country becomes a prison for them. And if the youngsters do not respect this, then problem starts.

In our culture our parents and forefathers are so important to us. We stand on their shoulders and of course, without their blessings, we are nothing.

I was mainly referring to certain instances where a few elders unfortunately do not perform their Dharma towards their youngsters. They fail to understand and adjust to modern times.

A few youngsters on the other hand seem to value their elders only for the free labor and do not care for anything else about them.

Both extremes exist today and will become more and more common, if our age old value system is not emphasised and followed in terms of today's life.


quote=appaiah;12712]Dear Sri Nachhinarkiniyan, Sri KRS and Sri Kunjuppu

(disclaimer: The following is on Indian conditions, when both man and woman are employed. I am not the old person mentioned herein!)

There are DILs who try to ease out the elder after the child completes school education, as at this point the MIL is more dependent than the other way. Each coin has two sides, Sri KRS.

The taking care of the elder should equally apply for the man's and woman's parents.

I strongly believe that it is my elders' blessings (while they needed my support and I extended it) that has kept me in good progeny, prosperity and shreyas.


Carrying our baggage all over the world.

Dear Sri Kunjuppu,

You have started a very interesting and useful topic. But the views posted seem to be mostly from our people living abroad. I would like to post my views as one living in India.I and my wife continue to live in a joint family with my only son, DIL and two wonderful grand daughters in India. Though well qualified my son and DIL did not want to migrate outside our motherland. We do have difference of opinion on many things both significant and insignificant. But,we accepted the fact that we are intelligent individuals and there is no use of carrying our differences always in life.The credit should go to my DIL who comes from a big joint family from Thanjavur who continue to be Agriculturists . Fortunately others have accepted me (the eldest person) as head of our little family and the final decision will be taken by me. Life does not follow text book rules or disciplines. The success and failure depends on our acceptability of changing circumstances and environments. We must understand that views of younger generation should be respected so long they do not alter our core values. As retired person I make myself useful to the family first as the saying goes "charity begins at home". Apart from usefulness little household duties keep us busy. Since both my son and DIL are employed they feel more comfortable when their little children are in the safe hands of their grand parents. We also as elders feel equally comfortable with the thought that there are dear ones who are concerned about our welfare and health.

Today we see an unfortunate situation in our Country that most of the educated children (of Brahmin community) prefer to migrate to USA and other Western Countries in search of more money and modern comfort, leaving their aged parents to lead a lonely life in their homes. Ultimately these children also get married and settle down in foreign countries of their choice. Nothing wrong with this. Except that the aged parents have to shuttle between India and abroad as per the needs of their children. They find that at the age when they should lead a settled life they have to face uncertainty of unsettled life. I think this problem will continue for one or two generations more. Then their descendants will come to India in search of their "roots".

I come from a large family. My father's father had eight children of whom my father was the eldest. My father and my chithappas lived with the grandfather who was a widower in his later years, in a joint family. My mother for all practical purpose was the head of the household. She took very good care of my grand father who was like a Gyani and he gave all his Vedanthic wisdom to my mother and not to his children for he did not think they were good paathram. The profession of each of my grandfather's children took them to different places and the family was no longer a joint one. However my grandfather stayed with my father and a new joint family started with my brothers' family grew up in the same household. Again the employment took each of us away to different places and my parents lived with my eldest brother and breathed their last. In large family there is the generation gap between the sister-in-laws themselves let alone with the mother-in-law but what has made our family unique is the greatest respect we have for the elders. The lack of this is the root cause of all the problems.

My mother once told me that the relationship between the father and the son continues for 1000 janmas while the relationship between the husband and wife is for only half a janma!

I believe in the ancient wisdom and whenever I become a beneficiary I feel blessed. For some others old people are stupid. It all depends on how one looks at it.
dear brahmanyan,

when i saw this query posed in toronto globe, my immediate reaction was to share it in this and a couple of other likeminded forums. i had no clue as to what type of reaction this would get, except some vague feeling, that perhaps the participants might join a guessing game, as to how the western public would react to this young man's dilemma and come up with imagined replies.

but i found that here, as elsewhere, the reactions have been on a more introspective kind. which is ok. all wonderful.

i have been abroad for over 35 years. only son. the agony and guilt i went through, only i alone know. i can share it with my sister, because she is kind and empathetic. no one else understand my situation.

parents of my generation, were distinctly uncomfortable staying prolonged period in the west. it was a gilded cage and bored them to death. the ever presence isolated house, with its sealed windows, constant hum of the a/c or the heater, with its accompanying creaks and whispers, was like a museum to them.

they longed for the open windows, the people passing by, the dust, the heat and above all the warmth (of the weather and the people). my parents would not stay with me.

it is my biggest regret that through my dad's long illness that i was not able to contribute physical help to my mother. but life is a bag of regrets, and this is my biggest. fortunately i had a good support system of relatives, who pitched in, and never made me feel guilty or that i was failing in my duty. i was very lucky in this. but i was also fortunate to spend his last month with him, and do the last rites elaborately.

when dad died, i insisted on mum coming to stay with me and forced a foreign passport on her. she stayed the bare minimum and always said that her intention was to die in india. while she shuttled between these two worlds, she never complained, but i knew her heart was not in it. again on a visit to india, just as she desired, she died after a short illness. again, i was fortunate to be around her last few days and for the rites.

in contrast, today's parents are of a different mettle. my brother in law/sister have both their children in the u.s. they revel in taking trips. my bil has an international drivers licence, and is very mobile when he visits his children. he rents a car and off my sis/bil go away for drives and shopping by themselves without depending on their progeny. the world has changed. the key is mobility, i have found.

another thought here. about our children. my children grew up here and i have no intention of interfering with their choice of mates. we have given them some broad parameters to look out, and hope they would be sensible in the choice re not only looks, but compatibility, financial security and above all ability to give/take in managing a household. but there is no guarantee in life or marriage.

then there are a few of our own kind, whose parents seek brides/grooms (mostly brides) in india. the children have been brought up in the west. these children, if i were an indian father of the bride, i would be very wary. yes they are very traditional in their attitude. but it is the tradtion of the 60s, 70 and 80s that their parents knew. these have not caught on to the changing mores of india. also, these boys are more a misfit here in the west, and in the few marriages that i have seen, yet to find one happy union. the poor girls from india are the suffererers, for they come with high hopes of a modern life, and find that the supposed liberal in-laws are worse than the worst of their kind in india. such disappointment and heart aches.

there is no right or wrong in any life instances such as these. if joint household works for one, all the more glory. it is a gift to be cherished and nourished. if it does not, then it is best to cut the losses, and do the needful so that the family ties, may be bent for a short while, but not permanently broken.

i have not given much thought yet to what the responses for the globe article will be. but it should be interesting for us, for this will give us a window as to how a western society views our household arrangements and filial obligations.

incidentally, the mother involved in that story, per the article, settled here for a long time and probably has had a career too. the two youngsters are born and brought up in canada. so, any sympathy for the mother, may be tempered by the fact, that the mother herself is in all probability a blend of the east and west. mothers, everywhere, are the same in their affections for their sons. but sometimes it gets out of control, and smothers the very child that it should cradle. sad.

thank you for your kind note.
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To Everyone,
All issues we as humans face depends on the environment we live in.
e.g. The environment in US/Europe/Japan/other developed nations provide infrastructure and social conditions for independent living. The mistake we make often - when we discuss issues by comparison, we compare apples with oranges and try to come to conclusions. We have to compare,if at all - Apple with apples. e.g Brahmins should never compare themselves with the lives of people at the lower end of society in US. Instead should compare with the elite families of US/any other nation.

I have to repeat - we in India (Bharath) once had a good set-up. We do not have one today. Widespread presence of adharma(selfish outlook) in our citizens, especially the elite (brahmins), both young and old has led to conflict.

I came to US as a student. I has to live a roommate who was 84 years old (ex-harvard mechanical engineer). He was enrolled in a social science program. We obviously had a lot of time discussing social issues. This topic - joint familiy- was one of them.
We need to build good infrastructure to support old people. The retirement homes here in US are so good that any old person would be very happy there. The retirement homes are basically hotel suites - old people live with lots of friends, excellent food and health care.

My solution for ML/DL other Joint family issues will be to stay separate but in the neighbourhoods. Say one block away. This would enable them to come together quickly whenever they want to.

I also have to mention this - organizing a family is about the same as organizing a country. All of us should learn to accept and live by civic rules. Unfortunately Indians have become tolerant to rowdyism be it family/ society. "Ethics" is key -we have lost it.
http://timesofindia .indiatimes. com/Chennai/ TN_has_most_ elderly_living_ alone/articlesho w/2989068. cms

CHENNAI: Growing old is a lonely business anywhere, but more so in Tamil Nadu than elsewhere in the country. The state has the highest number and proportion of elderly people living on their own, especially [FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif][FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif]elderly[/FONT][/FONT] women.

Roughly one out of every 14 people aged over 60 in Tamil Nadu (7.5% to be precise) lives all by himself or herself. Compare that with the national average of 4% or one in 25. For old women, the situation is even worse. More than one in every nine (11.5%) has no companionship or support at home against the national average of 5.5%.%. Women comprise more than three-quarters (78%) of the elderly people living all alone in the state. Of the four lakh elderly people living alone in the state, 3 lakh are women, the highest in the country. After [FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif][FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif]Tamil [/FONT][FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif]Nadu[/FONT][/FONT], it is Andhra Pradesh that has the highest number and proportion of elderly men and women leading lonely lives. There are 3.8 lakh elderly people living alone in Andhra Pradesh, and of this nearly 3 lakh are women.

In fact, across all regions in the south, the average number of elderly women living alone for every 1,000 elderly men living alone is much higher than the all-India figure of 2,300. In this category, Karnataka has the highest ratio in this regard followed by Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, Goa and Maharashtra, indicating that the pattern is a pan-Deccan phenomenon rather than just a [FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif][FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif]south [/FONT][FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif]Indian[/FONT][/FONT] one. However, the proportion of homes with elderly people in Tamil Nadu is the same as the all-India average. In most states, there are more elderly women than men while in Tamil Nadu they are almost equal. When it comes to the overall sex ratio of the 60+ population, Tamil Nadu's figure is lower than even the all-India average, way below states like Orissa, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. That's quite unlike the pattern of the other southern states, which have many more elderly women than men.

Tamil Nadu has the highest proportion of elderly (10%) next to Kerala, which has 11%. It is third when it comes to the absolute number of elderly people, nearly 60 lakh, after Uttar Pradesh with 1.2 crore and Maharashtra with nearly 86 lakh. Even among the metros, Chennai has the second highest proportion of elderly (8%), next only to [FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif][FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif]Kolkata[/FONT][/FONT] (10%).

The statistics indicate a growing need to cater to the special needs of the elderly in Tamil Nadu, given the fact that so many of them have nobody to take care of them at home
The problems faced by the old people has been discussed so often now. I have been attending seminars on this issue from 1987. A number of organizations have also been formed. One of the problems is that the attitude towards the old differs from community to community.

The problem also gets complicated because of our age old joint family system. We in India have the Joint Hindu Family system.


Our TV serials and many magazines actively promote the Joint family as many businesses in India are joint Family controlled. Brahmins were the pioneers in the nuclear family system.

S/sri. Appiah and KRS had given a picture of what is happening in Brahmin Families in India and U.S. Both these schemes miss the main point and represent exploitation of the older generation.

There is no readymade solution which could be applied to all or even to a community. What is essential is the retention of self respect and dignity of the older people. Treating them as individuals and respecting their views.

Again I have seen a number of old age homes in India and was associated with some of them earlier. It is wrong to dismiss them as non traditional. They are suitable for many people and not all the residents are unhappy.

The quality of the old age homes have improved and we do have some old age homes which are modelled after the old age homes of Florida. I am thinking of visiting some of them to check up on their claims.

Chinmaya Mission and some of the other Hindu organizations have colonies where old people could settle down. They are good.

Do what is good for the old people and not what you think is socially acceptable.
i think the single profound change in our lifestyle was due to the hindu marriage act 1955, which basically revamped legally our view and treatment of our women.

it emancipated them in the eyes of the law, and the good law abiding citizens that we are, we took to it immediately. it became the norm of the family to treat the girl the same way as the boy, and give them the same equal opportunity. this was and is the right thing to do.

the benefits of the female emancipation are far too many to mention here, and out of scope of this brief note. but personally to me, the incidental treatment of widows by providing an avenue for them to be self supportive, and live in dignity, was the one that i cherish the most.

another edict per the marriage act, was that in matters of division of wealth, the daughter gets the same as the son, by default. this can be only overruled by personal written will and even that can be contested in the courts of law. we have indeed come a long way legally.

however, socially, when it came to marriage, we still stuck to our traditional practices of not only arranged/horoscoped marriages, but also to the nasty habit of imposing the entire wedding expense (dowry, jewellery, saris, mandapams, food, seer, seedhanams) to the girl's side. so, the girl, in reality, is still not truly, equal to the guy, even though she may be just as educated, and a comparable wage earner. add insult to the above injury, the girl very soon became a wage provider directly or indirectly to her new in-laws and nary a body thought that this was abuse. :(

so, in these modern times, is it not surprising, when our girls, look around, and examine the marriage material within our own caste and compare it with what is available in the market? from a sheer fairness viewpoint, i think, the boys should offer minimum 50% of ALL expenses, including dowry, jewellery, , thaali, saris, mandapams, food, seer, seedhanam, vadhiyar and what not. everything grand total divided by two. this is the right thing to do. maybe, then our girls, will look more favourably at our boys?

there is another benefit of this. the girl's father does not pauper himself of his savings. he gets to keep a substantial portion for his old age. financial security is the key to a contended old age, whether one lives with his children or otherwise. it is a fact, that money begets respect. it begets confidence. and last but not least, a sense of security. it dismays me at the huge expenses that we incur at our weddings, most often, when we can least afford to do so. this appears to be more prevalent in our borderline and lower middle class, who face more challenges than our well off compatriots, and who can least afford to do the big spending.

when will common sense prvail itself?
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The Tamil Brahmins were the pioneers in the nuclear family system. They were forced to come out of the joint Family system when they left their villages for jobs outside. Unlike other communities Brahmins believed in taking their wives with them. So the nuclear family was started. In the early days the children were left with the grand parents. But later on as the grand parents got older this was also given up. In most cases this was done by the generation which is old now. Of course there were families like mine where it started much earlier.

Now this generation which is in the forefront in all the seminars blame the younger generation for neglecting their parents. But then how did they treat their parents. The parents were forced in their old age to leave the village and migrate to big cities. This migration was a trauma for the older people and they never got over it.

This generation now faces the same problem with children going abroad. The migration is a trauma.

Migration from Thiruvidaimaruthur to Madras for older people is no different from migration from Madras to Toronto.

Older people have been exploited for ages. It is time that we stop this exploitation.

It is now agreed by all the older people that daughters are more helpful to the parents than the sons. They are more loving and take care of the parents.
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it is a delight always to read your postings :)

i also think, that another reason why old age was not such an issue in the earlier generation, atleast in my family, was that the family size was so large, that there was a residual son, staying behind with the parents. it was either the youngest or the one least ambitious.

my own extended family started migration since the 1920s onwards to malaya, burma and (ofcourse) the north, including what is now pakistan (karachi, lahore etc.).

i am 57+, and in my youth, i remember the emotional scenes at madras central at sons/daughters leaving on the grand trunk express to delhi. i could never figure this out, as to me delhi was mentally nearby. toronto was not.

but these days, delhi is still 40 hours by the most used transport ie train, whereas toronto is less than 24 hours from chennai. such is change.

our smaller families, the empowerment of women and the basic insecurities of old age, in my view, as all components of a misery, which is probably fuelled by relatives and friends, who have nothing else better to do.

contentment to me,is the key, and this is helped by good health, financial security, modesty and humility. as i look upon my own encroaching winter years, i do a daily comparison to my own mummy/daddy (yes in my youth we had moved from the respectful father/mother, amma/appa) and one fervent wish, is to be close, but close enough for their comfort, so that they can live and flourish.

after all, me and my wife, brought our children into this world. they did not ask to come here. so,whatever we give them, i feel, we owe. it is only just that we do not expect anything in return. if it comes, there is, if it does not, there never was. neither should make a difference.
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Dear Kunjuppu,

Just a small comment on the title of the thread "Carrying our baggage all over the world". Not only we Tamil Brahmins but anyone in the whole wide world carry baggage unique to them. Unlike most who carry such baggages, we do carry something much more positive and fantastic! Hope you keep this also in perspective.


some clarification from me may be due to you? let me explain.

my intiating first post on this thread was an agony query in the toronto globe and mail, which i thought i would share with this and some other like minded groups.

there is no indication that the appealer here is even hindu. he could be from anywhere, but i have a gut feeling that he is from the indian subcontinent.

the chinese have similar values to us, and so it could be any one of them too. though i doubt it, re this particular query. i have no firm basis for this.

my focus was more on how the newspaper will react to this, and thus indirectly the western liberal society that is canada, to a situation, that is clearly of the ancient world values.

tomorrow's edition will have the responses, and i hope to publish it here. that would complete the cycle, and put an end to this thread.

the way toronto globe does it, is to ask the readers to comment, and they would select a few of the mails. plus they have one expert who will give his advice. i have here again, a gut feeling as to how the answers would go. but then, i may be surprised.

so in the context of my posting, i do beg your pardon, if you construed a negative connotation to the word baggage. please treat the word as neutral without any negative attributes as none was intended. i hope that is ok with you.

i do agree with you 100% re brahmin heritage, but when i started this thread, i did not have brahmins in my mind. just possibly another someone from the indian subcontinent, and the 'we' in the title, was an inclusive we to mean all us all brown skin folks from akhand bharat. :)

hope this satisfies.
Hello everyone!

This youtube presentation of our people in the U.S. is not merely of the Tamil Brahmins but of the whole Hindu Community. What our American compatriots have been doing have been something to marvel!


the response from the public

i have re-posted the agony query at the bottom of this note. it was originally published in the toronto globe and mail, april 28th.

the response from the public, of which three were a representative sample reflected their ethnic backgrounds. one from a muslim and other a sri lankan tamil, judging by their names. they can relate to this situation better than the third respondent - who looks like a westerner.

here is the url for your benefit. it also provides reader responses... :)


'although i was born and raised in canada, i am from an ethnic background that values family and expects a son to live with his parents and take care of them, even after marriage.

my wife, who is of the same cultural background, initially agreed to this living arrangemnt (with reluctance), but because of conflict with my mother, now wants us to move out.

i have talked to her about various solutions that would help alleviate some of the tension and give both women more space while allowing me to fulfill my duties as the eldest son. my wife has given me an ulitmatum: either i move out with her or she will leave me.

i am very committed to this marriage. however, she has placed me in a very hard position. how do i get my wife to work with me?

Dear Kunjuppu,

"Karthur aagnayaa praapyathe phalam"

I am a bit philosophical about these but I am not saying that people should not try finding solutions. However the outcome will always be the same which is either you are happy or you are unhappy.

All I am saying is that there is no universal solution. It is a case of case by case!

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