My thoughts about Happiness

What makes me happy? Many things make me happy. When I listen to music, it makes me happy. I am happy when I listen to the songs that my friends think are “not normal.” Chocolates make me happy. My family and friends make me happy. Honestly, everything makes me happy. I am happy even when I am alone. I enjoy being alone and the feelings that I savor while I am alone make me happy. Most of my friends consider having friends around. They say sharing and talking make them feel better and happy. I do not want to disagree, I do agree, but being alone is not always a “bad thing” either. You can do many things when you are alone. Things that your friends consider “weird,” but which make you happy. I feel it is not necessary to have people hover around you 24/7 to make you happy.

Furthermore, whenever I use the famous old quote, “Health is better than Wealth,” I am filled with guilt. I think, maybe, it is because wealth makes me happy. Not always, but it does to some extent. I guarantee everyone feels the same way. Come on, once you have money, you can buy things that you desire. When you get the things that you desire, it makes you happy. It is human nature. I am aware that wealth does not stay with us for a longer period, but it makes us happy when we take pleasure in the little we have. Of course, I am not saying that health does not matter, it does. I am filled with happiness when I am healthy and strong, for I do not have to take those chemicals and pills.

Do I think happiness is achieved? Well it depends. If you choose to remain happy, you will achieve happiness in everything you do. You will see everything around you beautiful, bright, and happy. However, if you choose to be miserable, you will see the whole thing around you blue and sad. It will make you abhor everything. For example, if you see someone smiling, you will dislike him or her for smiling. It sounds very unnatural, but trust me it happens. It happened to me. If you opt to stay unhappy, the world will not favor with you no matter what you do. Therefore, be happy and choose to be happy no matter how hard life gets. Listen to some good music, go see an awesome movie, and laugh even though it is not funny (do not overdo it though; everything has a limit, right!). These are what I feel like the article “The New Science of Happiness” mentioned, “happiness is inherently subjective” (3).

The Fearless Heroes of the Untouchables

While reading the chapter “Fearless” in Vasant Moon’s Growing Up Untouchable in India, I encountered some characters, which, I thought, should be bestowed as “fearless heroes”. As Moon describes in his novel, the Mahars were downtrodden to do low-leveled work. They were disgraced and labeled “untouchables” or “scavengers” (16). These people had lost their own identity. They had no value in the Indian community. Even if everybody was born free and had equal right to freedom, the Mahars were the unlucky ones. They were born “untouchables” and were treated as minority groups. For these people, it was difficult to raise voices against the Brahmins or Hindus, who were powerful and reputed in the society. Therefore, the characters such as Laxamnrao Ogale, Ghadale, and Dasharath Patil could be considered as the fearless personalities within a Mahar community, who fought for the restoration of rights of the Mahars.
All of the above characters were Mahar leaders. They all worked to help the Mahar, who were exploited during those times. However, one of these characters is Dasharath Patil, who actually contributed his life and property for the Mahars. In spite of being affluent, he was not a vain person. In fact, he used up his property and belongings to help poor Mahars, who were assigned to carry dead corpses of animals, and work as servants in Brahmins’ houses. After he summoned for reform in 1930, the social mobility of the Mahars was restricted which brought difficulties in living their life. Therefore, Patil as a benefactor started a market in his own land and bought goods with his own money. Moreover, he did not stop helping the Mahars after coming out of the dangerous nagfani forest (12). He provided those boycotted Mahars with jobs and security. Hence, his fearless activities in the period of cultural hazard in India acknowledged Patil as Bhim, a brave, fearless character in Hindus holy book, Mahabharat.
Besides Dasharath, who was a political and social brave figure, Maniram was also literally a fearless character, who Moon describes in this chapter. Although he did not bring any reforms for the Mahars, his fierce character helped to sustain honor of his caste. He was the only brave wrestler in Mahar community who dared to fight against the popular wrestling community of the nearby village. Even if got defeated, he would retaliate by finding ways to fight and make his enemies succumb.

Thus, these fearless characters described in the chapter were actually the heroes of the Mahar community.

How to look Happy?

It amazed me when one of my friends in AUW asked, “Why are you always sad?” When I first heard her question, I couldn’t answer at instant because I did not know what kind of answer she was expecting. Some days later, another friend of mine told me that I look “like a robot”. When I first heard that, I could not stop myself from giggling. I asked her about the reason for saying that. She said that I never seem happy. She said that I look like as if I am not happy at all. At first I didn’t think about both of the compliments, but one day I really wished to know by myself if I was really unhappy. I looked myself on the mirror and tried to find out if the feeling of sadness is obvious on my face.

I had never thought about the meaning of happiness in my entire life. Till the day my friends commented on my expression, I had never thought that people can read my face. I did not know what kind of happiness I was searching for. Some days ago, in the library, I found a book called The Art of Happiness by HH Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler. I was curious to find out the happiness that my friends were trying to search on my face. I thought, after reading the book I might be able to learn something regarding happiness so that I would always be the epitome of happiest person in front of others.

When I first read the book, it didn’t hold my interest. For me, it seemed to be written for old people who are sick of their lives. Anyhow, the interview of Dalai Lama by the writer was somehow interesting. The book mostly talked about the meaning of happiness in Buddhism. At the end, I came across with some important skills to adapt with for a happy life. For example, I learned that happiness is achieved when there is no suffering, but as it is impossible to escape from suffering, we can’t be happy each day. Similarly, we can identify whether we are happier than other people or not by comparing ourselves with those who have been suffering through poverty. If we compare ourselves with them, we could identify who is happier. Furthermore, it is always helpful to train our mind to think positive and adapt the human nature around us.

After reading the book I really didn’t get what I was looking for, but it really helped me to enhance my knowledge regarding happiness. However, when I got to read the article about the 20 ways for happiness distributed in our Reading and Writing class, I found the thing that I had been searching for, the thing without which I looked like a person with no happiness. The thing that was missing in my face was ‘Smile’. Yeah! Now I’m damn sure that those friends will never ask me whether I’m happy or not.Thanks to Miss. Fatema for providing us that article, it really helped me.

Response to “My Family”

 “My Family” by Garrison Keillor, is really one of the lovely poems I have ever read. The desires, hopes, dreams and sacrifices we make for our near and dear ones can be felt in this poem. As John had dream of going to Oregon, everyone dreams and hopes to be somewhere at one point of life. The happenings in John and Ruth’s life are a kind of practical in a sense that it happen in most of the people’s lives. Without dreams, life is worthless. It is never wrong to see dreams and have faith in the fulfillment of our dreams. But often, the people we love become our weakness or barrier in the way to achieve our goal. For instance in this poem, John wants to go to Oregon, but due to his wife’s tiredness they stopped their journey. As time passes, they are accustomed to the environment and the people there and Ruth also doesn’t show willingness to go to Oregon. The desire of John to reach and settle in Oregon remains only unfulfilled desire.  He sacrifices his dreams just for the sake of his wife. He has dreamt of this place where he wants to live and to be with his wife. His dreams are incomplete without Ruth’s presence. This shows how the people we love stop us from achieving our goal. Though not intentional, Ruth becomes barrier in John’s path to meet his dream.

After reading this poem I reminisced about my past when I had to sacrifice my dream for my loved ones. Though it is not a big issue but I guess it has great impact on me. While choosing my high school, all my school friends had decided to study in same college together. But due to some family matters, I couldn’t study with my friends in same college and they thought that I betrayed them. I extremely wanted to be with my school friends but family came in between. However, I am happy now because I got to know many other friends and my life wouldn’t have been like this if I was in any other colleges. While coming to AUW as well, the ones whom I love didn’t want me to let go. It was really difficult to make them ready to see me leaving them. I guess our dreams and our love always intersect each other and if one is chosen the other somehow is affected. Looking at myself today, I believe, I have taken the right decision. Though miles of distance are in between, our heart is still connected and I am heading towards my dream as well.   If I had chose to sacrifice my study that time, I wouldn’t have been as happier as I am today.  I am finally leading my way where I have a dream of being successful and being with my loved ones.

Can All Dreams Bring Happiness???

We should have dreams or goals in order to live. Dreams help us to reach to the destination; they help us to move forward. Without dreams, life becomes hopeless and meaningless. Among all dreams, we should hold some of them, whereas give up others. It is because all dreams can bring satisfaction but can’t bring happiness.

If our dreams are related to our happiness and self-satisfaction, we should stick with them. For example, think about career. If your dream is to become a scientist, you should hold it. You should work hard to fulfill it. It is flagrant that you will face difficulties. In fact, in order to achieve something in life, everybody encounters obstacles. Only those people who are adamant to fulfill their dreams succeed to reach to their destination; others fall apart. Hence, if you are stubborn to become a scientist, you will definitely become successful. You will be satisfied and happy. But can career always make us happy? I don’t think so. Think about the daughters of the novel The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. Their dream was not to have a life like their Chinese mothers who were housewives. They wanted to become self independent; they wished to have a profession like their fathers. They never preferred to become a housewife. Hence, they were successful; they accomplished their dreams. Nevertheless, were they happy? They weren’t because they had hard times with their boyfriends or husbands. For example, Ying-ying had a good job, but her marriage life was imbalance. Thus, she wasn’t happy at all. For this reason, I believe in order to be happy our surroundings have to be in balance.

Moreover, I think sometimes we should give up some of our dreams. For example, in the poem “My Family” by Garrison Keillor, Garrison’s great grandfather gave up his dream of building a house in Oregon, a state that was like a star to him. He also dreamt to live in that house with his beloved wife. He was a traveler, whereas his wife wasn’t. As a result, after three weeks of starting journey to Oregon, she became tired. He understood that his dearest wife wouldn’t be able to continue the journey to Oregon. Besides, he couldn’t live without her even though he built a beautiful house in Oregon. Thus, he relinquished his dream and built house in Wobegon instead of Oregon. Although, he couldn’t accomplish his dream, he had a happy life. He lived happily with his wife until his death. Therefore, I believe dreams and happiness are slightly related to each other. We should hold those dreams that will retain happiness till our end.

“Untouchability” in Nepal

The novel, Growing Up as Untouchables in India by Vacant Moon, describes about the untouchability custom practiced in India during the British Invasion. In the novel, Moon has described about how people in Hindu Religion are divided according to their castes and ethnicities. The Brahmins are considered to be the highest caste and the dalits are considered as the lowest caste. Their castes are divided according to their occupations that are the kind of work they perform for survival. Similarly, their rights and the opportunities are also divided according to their castes.

It would probably not be any surprise to know that this kind of caste system exists in Nepal as well. As Hinduism is the predominant religion in Nepal, the caste system is still practiced in a larger extent. In Nepal, Brahmins are the ones who read the Vedas, the holy book of Hinduism and are considered the purest people. Similarly, the Dalits are the lowest castes. Moreover, there is hierarchical caste system which defines the people’s identity and the limitations of their rights. In the cases of Dalits, they are not supposed to enter the temples and other religious places. In the past, people do not even used to drink the water touched by them. They were not allowed to go to the schools in which the higher castes people used to study. People used to call them “Achut Jat” and were considered third class citizens.

Nevertheless, the Nepalese Government has been trying to alleviate the practice of untouchability in much larger extent. They have implemented rules and regulations against these practices. Nowadays, the practices have become illegal. However, in some remote places it is still practiced. The Government has provided many extra opportunities for the so-called untouchables. They can get several incentives provided by the government these days. People are now becoming educated; as a result, these practices have been decreasing. It is a bad custom that has to be completely eradicated from the society.

As this novel is based in the untouchability practices and the reforms that have been made in India to eradicate it, I am looking forward to reading it further. While reading it I can compare how it has been similar and how it has been different from Nepal.

Digya Shrestha

Untouchables in My Society

As far as I have read the autobiography of Vasant Moon, named Growing Up As Untouchables In India, it reminded me of the incidents and prejudices I have encountered in West Bengal, India. There are several castes in the society by which people’s job and social status is determined. I can remember the names of different castes. Brahmins are the top caste and they are supposed to be pundits and operate religious activities. They are respected by everyone and considered as scholars. After that, the caste is Kshatriya. People of this caste are considered as warriors. Though they are not involved with war now, they also have a respectful position in the society. The lower castes in the society are Vaissha and Shudra, who are supposed to serve the society and do odd jobs like maids, scavengers, sweepers, and laborers. Though things there have changed to a great extent, still it exists. I had seen separate hand pumps and temples for the lower castes as they are untouchables. Some extreme Brahmins used to take bath and wash their clothes if they touched or were touched by any lower caste people. Marriages between two different castes are impossible and if it happened, it used to be a great shame for the higher caste family. Even if the lower caste people become rich by hardship, they are not accepted to the upper castes.

Seeing all these social norms and prejudices, I used to sigh with relief that my social structure is not like this. But when I observed my society more closely, I questioned myself, “Is my society really free from any hierarchy?” The answer is, “NO.” The two castes in my society are the rich and the poor. Though there isn’t anything like untouchables, the social status and jobs are kind of determined by these two words. The poor are likely to do odd jobs and serve the rich. Marriages between rich and poor rarely happen and even if it happens for any circumstances, it is a shame for the rich. Thankfully, the conditions are not that extreme. At least the rich don’t take bath or sweep their home if the poor entered. Moreover, there are opportunities for the poor to change their condition and social status. Thus they can be accepted to the rich. So, eventually, no society I guess has got equality in it. Every society has this rich and poor division more or less, which I think can never be diminished totally.

About Giving Up

            In the poem “My Family,” Garrison Keillor tells a story about his great-grandfather’s unfulfilled dream – move to Oregon, a place where there are mountains and oceans. Since Keillor’s great-grandmother was too tired to go there, his great-grandfather stopped traveling and kept his dream in the depth of his heart.

            Similar to Keillor’s great-grandfather, in the journey of our lives, we also have our own dreams and goals, some of which may relate to families, careers, or some achievements that can show the values of our lives. However, we can’t realize all the dreams we have since there are some limitations and obstacles on the way of our journey. Those restrictions can be so strong that we can’t pass them with our efforts; on the other hand, they also can be very weak in some way, but we are still willing to give our dreams up because of something else that is more important to us. For Keillor’s great-grandfather, I think that the more important thing to him was his wife. When his wife said stop, he could abandon her and continue his journey, but he didn’t; he chose to give up pursuing the dream of Oregon and hide it inside forever.     

            This poem reminds me a lesson taught by the headmaster of my high school. She told me that everyone will have to make some important choices in his or her life. For example, you need to choose which university to attend, the work to do, and the person to marry. “Since your life is very short, you are not able to fulfill all your dreams and hopes within 100 or mostly less than 100 years; however, you can choose some important ones and use your whole life to achieve them.” I still remember the look she had when she told me this. I understand that I won’t realize all my dreams, so I have to consider what is more important to me. On the journey of my life, I have gotten something, and I will continue to get more. Also, I have lost something, and I must lose something more in the future, as gaining is often accompanied by losing. Therefore, I may give up some dreams as what Keillor’s great-grandfather did. I hope the action of giving up can be worthy, and I won’t regret doing anything. I’m sure Keillor’s great-grandfather didn’t regret in the end, as he got his wife’s company, which was more valuable than the dream he gave up; in addition, it was also a reward for his giving up.

untouchable colony in my hometown

We are reading the autobiography of Vasant Moon, a scholar person from India. He describes about his childhood in mahar community and how he became success in life in spite of being from untouchable caste. His description about his colony reminds me about the untouchable colony in my hometown and the girls, who were my friends. The community is not far from my home. It is beside of our locality. However, they are not considered equal to us or treated with respect. As they live a huge number of people in a small place and outside of the slum there are a bad ponds full of garbage, it seems very dirty, unhealthy and of course, untouchable. From childhood we have known that they are not acceptable in society like normal people, as their lifestyles are different from us. They follow Hindu religion and their physical structure and languages are different from others. Both men and women are tall and black. Though someone looks like normal Bangladeshi people, his or her voice and tone says that he or she is from the slum. We call them “doom” and their colony is called Doom Para. They do lower class jobs such as sweeper, cleaner, night guard, day labor and dead body dissector. One thing is very much obvious among their society that both men and women do work and contribute in family. As children know those things from childhood, they develop a fare and hatred about them. Moreover, they used to keep pigs as pet in their colony, which seems so much dirty to us. However, I entered in their colony once or twice in my childhood and did not observe anything as I thought to pass the place as early as possible. I did not have any classmate from the colony as I read in private school, but in government school, there were a good number of them. However, they are not so much conscious about education, early marriage and other superstitious beliefs. So it seems that they are still living in past. May be ignorance of society makes them more unconscious. They prefer to get married early and do lower class job rather than studying. When I went to high school, I got a friend from the place. She did not look like them, but her speaking style singed something. I went to their home in the “doom Para” one day and was surprised to see such a neat and clean home with modern facilities. I had not thought that her sweeper parents could build that kind of jobs. As I grew up; I removed the fare about them and had a good relation with the girl’s family. However, though she was the one who passed primary school and entered in high school, she left school after she got married in eighth grade. I was surprised to hear that, her husband was a dead body dissector, which is the best job among them and he needed to drink alcohol for that job. I thought that how could she live with the gruesome drunker man who cut the dead body. I last went to their home when she had a baby boy. She and her family were happy to see me. Moreover, It seemed to me that the colony is being developed. May be one day they will not be discriminated by the society.

My little confusion…

Dreams, hopes, aims, and goals are the main foundations of our life without which we may not have successful life. I dream a lot both day and night. However, my dreams are usually limited to my temporary desire. To be candid, I’ve never dreamt about my future career. I just tried to grab some of the important opportunities that are found on my way, and I just went wherever my fate has taken me. I still wonder where my fate will take me and how long will I stay on this watery planet. However, after reading some poems related to our dreams and hopes, I started pondering about my dreams and hopes. I tried to compare and contrast some of the poems and I got stuck in between two of them, “Dreams” and “My Family”.

According to the poem “Dreams” written by Langston Hughes, we should have dreams, and we should work towards achieving our dreams. It says that if we don’t have dreams or if we let go our dreams, our life will become like a “broken-wing bird” (3), or like a “barren field” (3), which means we won’t have successful or colorful life in the future. Rather, it will become meaningless and absurd.

However, in the poem “My Family” written by Garrison Keillor, Keillor’s great grandma’s husband, John, gives up his dreams for his wife’s happiness. Although, he kept his dreams alive inside his heart, he stopped working towards achieving his dreams. His dreams remained unrevealed until it’s too late to be disclosed.

Even though, John didn’t work towards achieving his dreams, it’s not mentioned that he had an unsuccessful life. In fact, it seems he had spent a good and long life with his beloved wife. For example, John and his wife lived forty years together in a farm where they made their own home (36-40).

Therefore, my confusion is, if we don’t hold to our dreams or if we don’t dream and stop working towards achieving it, will our life become vulnerable and worthless just like it’s mentioned in the poem “Dreams” or will it be “beautiful” as mentioned in the poem “My Family”?

What do you, my dear friends, think??