Mars & Venus

Husbands n Wives …

Posted on August 26, 2019. Filed under: Mars & Venus |

Why Do Indian Husbands remain faithful disciples of their wives? -Answer By Dr Iyer, MD

I will tell you my personal story as to why I remain faithful to my wife.
It is just for survival.

Her multitasking always amazed me, especially when it came to chemistry.
It was 8 in the morning. In the kitchen, my wife was checking the viscosity of the sambar, the solubility of chutney and the permeability of coffee, all at the same time.

The huge number of multisized, multilabel bottles and cans on the shelf in front of her, looked like a 17th century alchemist lab with containers of different shapes and sizes labeled in Hebrew and Arabic. Hebrew and Arabic you can learn, but here it was a different challenge. The ‘Horlicks’ bottle contained chili powder, 

The ‘Bournvita’ tin, salt, while the oats tin had turmeric. 
I won’t be surprised if the rat poison cover had pickles in it. But even without the blink of an eye she confidently opens a container labeled Britannia biscuit , puts a little masala powder in one of the cookers, and put it off. No watches to time, no weighing scale to go by.

But then suddenly, there was this call from the department of physics. 

The milkman has come with the milk. Even without a lactometer she predicted that the milk did not meet the required specific gravity to be deemed fit for human consumption, adult, pediatric and our pet cat included.

The simultaneous arrival of the old newspaperwalla needed supervision in weights and measures department, which she did with accuracy eligible to earn an ISO certification.Within the next 20 minutes she noted that the particulate matter in the tap water was alarmingly high (to me it seemed usual) and made sure that no one used it for drinking.

By noon she discovered an unusual biologic phenomena of slowing of the movement of our goldfish in our jerry can sized aquarium and predicted that the prognosis and outcome was poor.

With my postgraduate degree in medicine, I did not find the fish too abnormal but uttered an “yes yes”, more to avoid an argument than anything else. By evening 6 the goldfish died.

She followed the exact norms of environmental safety in disposal of the mortal remains with necessary prayers; identifying that the cause for the mortality was the new brand of fish food, without an autopsy.

The arrival of the gardeners made her take critical decisions in the area of agriculture deciding on which manure would suit the mango tree better.

And the financial wizard happily manages to run the home with a fiscal deficit starting by the end of third week of every month.

It is said that management skills go beyond what you are taught in the B schools., However top grade they are, you need some special senses. I agree. Even if my salary cheque lies deep in my hospital coat pocket she smells it out by the time I park the car.

Phenomenal I say. Isn’t it. Surprising that with all these qualifications, a working day from 6 am till 11 pm, and on call 24 hours a day, Indian housewives are still considered unemployed and have no organized Trade Union.

Administering the department of Home, with two terrorizing kids is another matter I don’t want to discuss here, because, at least one of them is a young ‘Activist’.

Today is the era of re-designation, where the department heads have become Directors, Managers rechristened as Chairman and owners as CEOs.

Without call for a strike, we have decided to elevate and promote the good old, young at heart, all knowing housewife to a “Homemaker.”

She is happy with it!

I have very little knowledge of chemistry, nature science, food and beverage or commerce or arts.
I remain faithful to my wife, and I cling to her just for survival.

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Second Graders on Moms’ …

Posted on August 25, 2019. Filed under: Mars & Venus |

Rita Tetens – Answers of 2nd-Grade School Children 

Why did God make Mothers? . 1. She’s the only one who knows where the scotch tape is. 2. Mostly to clean the house. 3. To help us out of there when we were getting born.

How did God make mothers? 1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us. 2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring. 3. God made my mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.

What ingredients are mothers made of? 1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean. 2. They had to get their start from men’s bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.

Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom? 1. We’re related. 2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people’s mom like me.

What kind of a little girl was your mom? 1. My mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff. 2. I don’t know because I wasn’t there, but my guess would be pretty bossy. 3. They say she used to be nice.

What did mom need to know about dad before she married him? 1. His last name. 2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? 3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores? Does he get drunk on beer?

Why did your mom marry your dad? 1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my mom eats a lot. 2. She got too old to do anything else with him. 3. My grandma says that mom didn’t have her thinking cap on.

Who’s the boss at your house? 1. Mom doesn’t want to be boss, but she has to because dad’s such a goofball. 2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed. 3.. I guess mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

What’s the difference between moms and dads? 1. Moms work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work. 2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them. 3. Dads are taller and stronger, but moms have all the real power that’s who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friends. 4. Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.

What does your mom do in her spare time? 1 Mothers don’t do spare time. 2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

What would it take to make your mom perfect? 1. On the inside, she’s already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery. 2. Diet. You know, her hair… I’d diet, maybe blue.

f you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be? 1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I’d get rid of that. 2. I’d make my mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it not me. 3. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head. 

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My Body Is My Home –

Posted on August 1, 2019. Filed under: Mars & Venus |

From ‘Live Wire’

I have often searched for home, in places and people.

I have felt rooms, rooftops, the arms of my friend, or the side of the bed – which are only temporary – to be my home.

But it took me several years to recognise that I also looked at my body as a temporary home – something that eventually has to change.

It is heartbreaking that we all look at our bodies that way. Change, of course, is natural but we don’t like to believe it. We all look at our bodies and refuse to accept the fact that it might, more or less, remain the same even as we age.

We almost always hope to change it irrespective of our body’s size, shape or colour. We always want to fix a certain body-type irrespective of how we look because body image issues don’t exist in the body, they exist in our minds.

When I was in the eighth grade, I was fortunate enough to be studying in a school that used to organise sessions with NGOs where people would tell us about body positivity. I didn’t realise that the perpetual grief and the issues I was struggling with had to do with how I was looking at my body, but hearing them speak made me aware of my own negative body-image.

Most schools, or students studying there, are not as lucky as I was.

Issues relating to body image are not even considered a problem unless you are born in a privileged setting. I believe that the way we look at our body affects a huge part of our lives and how we chose to live it.

When I talk about body negativity issues, I wish to cover a myriad issues ranging from body size, body weight, hair, skin tone to something much more internal like having a body as a result of poverty, or hating your body as result of your caste or religion. For me, the sections in society that we chose to ignore are actually the ones that affects us the most.

It is no secret that there is a stereotypical image of an ‘ideal’ Indian woman; the one which we are exposed to on an everyday basis.

This happens through what we see on television shows, advertisements, movies, pictures and social media. Also, the fact that the ‘skin’ colour in crayon boxes is not the skin colour most Indians have also perpetuates the very same stereotype.

While growing up, everything around us is governed by Western beauty standards. It starts early and in our own homes. I have seen mothers fretting over new born babies about the hair on their arms or their skin tone. There are many dadi maa nuskhas to make babies fairer and have less hair on their arms – but only if they are girls.

I have seen people being discriminated on the basis of their skin colour and caste. I have seen underprivileged people cry with joy if their daughter is born traditionally ‘beautiful’ because it would make her social mobility much easier. It might ensure that she leads a better life than them.

As we grow up with such beliefs, we start becoming aware of our body from the age of adolescence.

The patriarchal structure of Indian society teaches women, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds, that their primary goal in life is to settle down and to be able to marry ‘up’.

And in that process, most of us start identifying ourselves – often unconsciously – as objects born to please men. When we look in the mirror, we notice things that a man would notice, and if our features don’t match those standards set for us (with different things being the focus according to the region we belong to), we internalise hate and eventually, whittle our self-esteem.

This affects performance in schools, at home and how we envision ourselves to be when we grow up. I was fortunate enough to understand this at a young age but most girls do not realise this until much later in life, if they do at all!

In India, it is not just about how bodies appear to people but also about how ideal beauty standards are forcefully placed on unconventional body-types.

There is a custom in India of rubbing food ingredients – based on your community or region – on the skin of a new born baby girl to improve her skin tone and decrease growth of body hair. For me, it was uptan or gram powder mixed with turmeric and milk.

This is also a common practice during weddings and there is an entire ceremony dedicated to this.

These seemingly mundane rituals not only affect the person performing but also the young girls observing them. It leads to an unconscious acceptance and desire for a different body that they might not posses.

I have seen many young women, from low-income backgrounds, being silenced when they refuse to get married. They are silenced by being told that they are ugly and that even if they are young, they should get married. In fact, most women are married young so they look youthful to their husbands.

And those who don’t, have to bear the brunt of society.

I have heard several people pass comments on the bride’s age during her wedding and how her age is ‘showing’ as if she was supposed to remain stagnant and 21 for the rest of her life.

Women across India, especially rural India, are married at a young age because beauty is a myth being sold to us. In urban settings, multi-national companies have been known to hire women on the basis of how they look.

Men seldom face this issue.

In the sales industry, a lot of women get rejected because they do not have the ‘looks’ for it. Obviously, careers like modelling or acting are not even considered for women who don’t fall in the ideal size and height range.

On the other hand, the plus size industry is still at a nascent stage in India and more so, access to this industry is heavily determined by one’s privilege.

In our everyday conversations, we may not directly side with ideal body standards but at times we subtly end up practicing it.

We need to help teenagers recognise that over the course of our lives, we internalise these insecurities to the extent that it hampers our growth.

But for all this to happen, we will have to stop looking at our own body as a temporary body and not fantasise constantly about how our body will someday change.

Varisha Tariq is a recent undergraduate from Ashoka University and she likes reading about politics and deconstructing gender and patriarchy

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Pioneer of #Me Too …

Posted on October 15, 2018. Filed under: Mars & Venus, Personalities |

The Wire – As the #MeToo storm rages across the country, provoking anger and outrage, and also for the first time a creeping fear in the hearts of serial sexual predators who operated till now with carefree impunity, one woman is watching the developments with quiet satisfaction.

From her residence in Chandigarh, retired IAS officer Rupan Deol Bajaj is delighted that after 30 years, her 17 and Half Year struggle to punish the powerful man who sexually harassed her is resonating in the stories flooding social media.

Her oppressor was the all powerful K.P.S. Gill, Director General of Police in Punjab in 1988, who had a sense of  “untrammelled power and arrogance” in the days when his force was battling terrorism.

“Today the women speaking out have safety in numbers. When I called out the behaviour of Mr Gill, I stood all alone, threatened with death, slander, given punishment postings and a blighted career,” says Bajaj.

“I secured a conviction under the archaic Sections 354 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code; the two sections under which no one had ever filed a case since 1860, when the British first drafted the IPC. These sections are usually clubbed with Section 376 for rape or attempt to rape, but never in isolation’.

“This, because offences that fall under these sections are considered too trivial to even merit a FIR, as I learnt the hard way. But they are an affront to the dignity and honour of a woman and can traumatise her for life. Rape falls under the purview of Section 376′.

“I believe that actions that fall under Sections 354 and 509 of the IPC are universal to the extent that almost all women experience it at least five or six times in their lives’.

“Section 509 deals with words, gestures or actions intended to insult the modesty of a woman and section 354 deals with assault or criminal force with the intention of outraging the modesty of a woman’.

“These are a set of provisions different from physical assault, but which deal with crimes only against women as there is an element of modesty involved. So, all those men who think that unwanted lewd gestures or talking dirty are not offences, need to worry.’

“It was the Supreme Court on October 12, 1995 which upheld the crime against me in this category, describing it as a criminal offence. In doing so, the SC rejected the judgement of the high court which dismissed the case under Section 95 of IPC, a ground that it was too trivial a matter to be considered as an offence’.

“The SC held that Section 95 of the IPC cannot be a shelter in cases relating to outraging the modesty of a women because these are not trivial matters”.

Evening in July 1988, when it all happened.

“This was an official party at the house of the home secretary of Punjab and Mr Gill was present in his uniform. The entire top bureaucracy of Punjab was there and Mr Gill called me to come and sit on the chair next to him. I went and was about to sit, when he pulled the chair close to himself. Sensing something amiss, I went back to the group where I was sitting’.

“After ten minutes, he came and stood so close to me that his legs were four inches from my knees. He made an action with the crook of his finger asking me to stand and said, “You get up. You come along with me.”

“I strongly objected to his behaviour and told him, “Mr. Gill How dare you! You are behaving in an obnoxious manner, go away from here”. Whereupon he repeated his words like a command and said, “You get up! Get up immediately and come along with me.”

“I looked to the other ladies, all of whom looked shocked and speechless. I felt apprehensive and frightened, as he had blocked my way and I could not get up from my chair without my body touching his body. I then immediately drew my chair back about a foot and half and quickly got up and turned to get out of the circle through the space between mine and another lady’s chair. Whereupon he slapped me on the posterior. This was done in the full presence of the ladies and guests’.

“It was only later that I realised that most of the ladies in the circle where I was sitting had got up and left because he had misbehaved with them too. In particular was a young doctor from England. He had done much worse with her and she was crying inside. But neither she, nor her mother who was also present, complained about what happened to her that evening. I knew that they would not stand witness in my defence, when they were not even standing up for themselves. Anything like this happening to a woman is considered shameful, something to keep hidden. Then, and even now’.

“I went straight to the home secretary who was the host and Mr Gill’s boss and said, “What kind of people you have invited?” Gill was without any compunction and stood right there while I complained. By now everyone knew that he had upset the other women too so they put him in his car to be sent home’.

“Years later when the home secretary was called to corroborate the events of the evening, he did not tell the court that I had repeated my complaint in the presence of K.P.S. Gill within minutes of the incident, while Gill was swaying and hearing every word of what I said’.

“You know, I did not actually want to go to the police and fight it in the courts…. I wanted the government to take executive action under conduct rules for moral turpitude against him. But everyone from the then Governor S.S. Ray to chief secretary R.S. Ojha told me that they will not do anything. The chief secretary said to me, “Rupan these things keep happening. You are not diminished. Consider yourself lucky, it could have been worse…”

“The Governor, S.S. Ray, very clearly told me to forget it and go home. He would not do anything. I even went to Sarla Grewal, then secretary in the PMO.  All this made me angrier than ever. I was keeping it from the media too, but one Mumbai-based newspaper, the Indian Post, splashed the story the day after I met Ray’.

“When everything else failed, I went to the police as a last resort, ten days after the incident. V.N. Singh, the inspector general of police, who had seen everything as he was also present at the party that day, took my complaint, gave me a receipt that it had been registered. He then put it in an envelope and sealed it. When I asked him why he had sealed it, he said, “It is my duty to register your complaint, which I have done, but what I do with it after that is entirely up to me. We will investigate only when you get a mandamus from the court.”

“And he very patronisingly told me that his action will somehow save my reputation. I gave a copy of the FIR to the Indian Express because I wanted my version of events to come out instead of the half truths being spoken around. It took me another seven years to get the direction from the SC to prosecute Gill’.

“Even as I ran around trying to persuade the government to take action, there was the constant fear that this should not come out in the open. I did not want media coverage. This is the social conditioning we all grow up with. The die is cast once you write it all down in the FIR. Even my highly educated mother dissuaded me from registering a FIR. I was asked to cry over it privately and move on’.

“Once I drafted the FIR and gave it to the police and the media, I felt liberated and unburdened from the fear of the world coming to know about it. I was an empowered woman but the system and society were conspiring to disempower me. My family and I received death threats. People would call up and say you will disappear and no one will hear of you again. Remember, this was the Punjab of the ’80s when mysterious disappearances were the order of the day’.

“I am so gratified to see so many women coming out to talk about their trauma. Many are doing so years after they were harassed. Make no mistake, this is the most difficult and courageous thing for a woman to do and no one can doubt her when she finally decides to speak’.

Donald Trump is saying, “This is a scary time for men.” I say this is a scary time only for those who were at it with impunity for years. Women, who are 50% of the population are believing the #Me Too stories  because similar things have happened to most of them at some point of time or the other. It resonates with their own experiences. Majority of men in the society are good, but we also know this to be true’.

“My case has set a precedent which will benefit them all. For a change women are being believed. They should not back down at all, and if M.J. Akbar and others say they will take them to court, let them fight it collectively; but they must not compromise’.

“Firstly, the court has defined ‘modesty’ for the first time in my case as it applies to these two sections of IPC. Secondly, the court has laid down that to prove such matters, one witness is enough and the victim herself is the best witness, as long as she is being truthful. Thirdly, in every crime, the prosecution has to prove the intention of the accused. But here it was held that there is no need to prove intention, but just his knowledge of having acted indecently is sufficient to prosecute a person. Fourthly, the court set a time limit of six months in which to complete the trial, so as to ensure that the victim is not deliberately tired out in long-drawn litigation’.

“The difference now is that none of these women need to take the men to court. Their having had the courage to speak on social media is enough for everyone to believe them. It is the single most important validation of  the truth.  If the accused man goes to court, then my precedent gives them ample ammunition to fight it there”.

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The #MeToo Movement …

Posted on October 9, 2018. Filed under: Mars & Venus |

List of Definitions from The Wire —

The following is an alphabetical list of terms that have been used in conversations surrounding the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, together with their definitions.

Abuse – “… when one person hurts another person, physically, emotionally, psychologically and/or financially” ; “Abuse is a learned behaviour; it is not caused by anger, mental problems, drugs or alcohol, or other common excuses”

Boys’ club – A group of men, often at comparable hierarchical positions within an organisation, that seeks to retain and/or distribute authority along gender lines, at its discretion and while seeking to keep women ‘out’ (also see enabler)

Bullying – “An imbalance of power which is used to either defame, harass, intimidate or upset another person” / “Repeated, persistent and aggressive behaviour intended to cause fear, distress or harm to another person’s body, emotions, self-esteem or reputation”.

Complicity – To participate in an activity in a way that improves the chances of the activity’s intended outcomes being achieved; to “facilitate the commission of a violation” of consent, personal agency and/or personal dignity; can be intentional or unintentional

Consent – When one person agrees to the propositions of intimacy of another; consent must be freely given, with full knowledge of the circumstances (see misconception of fact) and the option and ability to opt out whenever they so choose

Consent given under misconception of fact – Consent given when the person believes the circumstances to be what they are actually not (e.g. see stealthing); intent of misconception has to be proven from the beginning and failure to keep a promise does not qualify; covered by Section 90 of the Indian Penal Code

Domestic violence – “Abusive or violent behaviour in a domestic setting”; “Domestic violence is not physical violence alone [but] any behaviour the purpose of which is to gain power and control over a spouse, partner, girl/boyfriend or intimate family member” (also see reproductive coercion)

Enabler – A person who enables another person’s, especially a predator’s, actions by creating opportunities for their behaviour to persist and/or by helping reduce the risk of their suffering the consequences of their actions

Gaslighting – To psychologically manipulate someone in order to make them doubt their own memories and sense of reality

ICC – The Internal Complaints Committee, a body directed to be setup in all ministries, departments, corporations and cooperative societies with 10 or more employees, by the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, and with a specific composition (see to ensure its independence and reliability; the ICC is responsible for addressing complaints of sexual harassment at the workplace, undertaking inquiries and resolving complaints by recommending suitable courses of action to the employer.

Male entitlement – “A man’s belief that he is inherently deserving of” social privileges, as afforded by a patriarchal value-system, because of his gender.

Mansplaining – To explain something to a person in a patronising or condescending manner and without regard for the person’s knowledgeability, expertise or credibility; usually done by a man to a woman

Molesting – To have non-consensual sexual contact with a person; often used as a synonym of sexual assault (see consent)

Negative questioning – “A negative question is one that is worded in such a way as to require a ‘no’ response for an affirmative answer and a ‘yes’ response for a negative answer”; “can also be used to ask for confirmation of a negative belief”used to manipulate consent

Negging – Making a negative comment that is disguised as a positive comment

Pinkwashing – When a person or organisation forwards LGBTQIA+ friendly messaging in order to downplay negative behaviour on the person’s or organisation’s part

Policing – To enforce restrictions upon others that seek to limit what they can or can’t say, can or can’t do, etc., often as a way to control them by making them ashamed of their beliefs

Predator – A person seeking to have sexual intercourse with another person through the use of abusive, or generally disrespectful, behaviour

PTSD – Post-traumatic stress disorder, “a mental health condition triggered by a terrifying event – either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.”

Rape – Any form of sexual penetration to which one person (typically women) of the two involved has not consented

Reproductive coercion – “Reproductive coercion is a form of domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, where behaviour concerning reproductive health is used to maintain power, control and domination within a relationship and over a partner through an unwanted pregnancy” (source:

Sexual assault – “A range of criminal acts that are sexual in nature, from unwanted kissing and touching to groping and rape. A broader version of this is ‘sexual violence’, which can include acts that are not necessarily ‘criminal’, such as false promises, insistent pressure, abusive comments or reputational threats to coerce sex acts.”

Sexual harassment – “Sexual harassment includes requests for sexual favours, sexual advances or other sexual conduct when (1) submission is either explicitly or implicitly a condition affecting decisions; (2) the behaviour is sufficiently severe or pervasive as to create an intimidating, hostile or repugnant environment; or (3) the behaviour persists despite objection by the person to whom the conduct is directed”

Shadow-banning – When a person is banned fully or partially from a forum such that their posts and/or responses to others’ comments aren’t visible, effectively silencing them (a synonym of thread-banning in the context of Twitter)

Stalking – “A repetitive pattern of unwanted, harassing or threatening behaviour committed by one person against another. Acts include: telephone harassment, being followed, receiving unwanted gifts, and other similar forms of intrusive behavior”

Stealthing – When a man agrees to wear a condom during sexual intercourse but doesn’t actually do it

Triggering – The provocation of “an intense emotional and psychological reaction” by reminders of a past traumatic event.

Victim-blaming – Blaming the victim for being the cause of their victimhood, instead of blaming the perpetrator

Virtue-signalling – To loudly advertise one’s own virtues, often disguised as anger or outrage, and as a camouflage for essentially talking about how one is a good person.

Vishakha Guidelines – A set of procedural guidelines instituted by the Supreme Court of India in Vishakha and others v. State of Rajasthan, 1997, that define sexual harassment at the workplace and provide safeguards against it; superseded by the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (also see ICC)

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Love Story – Viet Nam War …

Posted on May 22, 2018. Filed under: Mars & Venus, Searching for Success |

“A Family Reunion,” by Repps Hudson –  a freelance writer and adjunct instructor of journalism and international affairs who lives in University City, Mo.

One day in March 1975, I was covering a story in the Kansas City Power and Light building for The Kansas City Star. But my mind was far away, in South Vietnam, which I knew from constant news reports was under siege as the North Vietnam Army launched its final assault to topple the South Vietnamese regime.


Maps on the evening news showed the northern provinces of South Vietnam turning red as Hanoi’s hardcore troops moved south, rolling through the country that more than 58,000 Americans had died to defend.


I had become so depressed from that drumbeat of news that I walked out onto the fire escape 20-some stories above the Kansas City streets and took a long look over the rail before backing away and deciding to seek psychiatric help.


My worries were personal: My 25-year-old wife, Le thi Nhung, six months pregnant with our first (and only) child, had left Kansas City in October 1974 to return to her family in Vietnam, north of Saigon in Binh Duong Province.


Our marriage was in so much trouble we could not seem to resolve it. The cultural misunderstandings between us were enormous. In great sadness, she had boarded a plane for the West Coast, then on to Saigon, vowing never to return.


We hadn’t agreed to divorce, just to live half a world apart. We hadn’t decided what would happen when it was time for her to give birth in June.


We had met when I was a 21-year-old second lieutenant with the First Infantry Division at our base camp at Lai Khe, on Highway 13, which ran from Saigon north to the Cambodian border. The climate around Lai Khe was unusually cool, and it was one of the best bases in South Vietnam. It was in an old French rubber plantation and had a Vietnamese village inside the perimeter wire.


Nhung was from that village. Her father, a supporter of the South Vietnamese government, had been kidnapped and murdered in the early 1960s by the Vietcong, she believed. She was clearly on the side of the Americans. She  worked in the officers and noncommissioned officers club in our company area. She could speak English and was stunning in her form-fitting ao dai.


Far from my home in a farming community near Kansas City, I was taken by her almost instantly. We talked often, whenever my rifle company was back from operations up and down Highway 13, known to us G.I.s as Thunder Road.


In September 1968, I rotated back to the States and left Nhung behind. I was assigned to the Sixth Army Reserve Headquarters in Seattle. From there, I wrote her constantly, but she did not reply. She told me later she was afraid of being  hurt. But I was determined. When my two-year active-duty commitment was over, I flew to Saigon so we could marry.


While we waited on her passport and visa, I landed a job as an office boy at The Associated Press in downtown Saigon and worked alongside such stars of the bureau as Peter Arnett, Horst Faas, Nick Ut, Dick Pyle, George McArthur and George Esper. This was how I happened to be working for The Star when South Vietnam was about to fall in spring 1975.


By the time Nhung was with her family and I out of touch with her (phone calls were impossible, and there was no internet), I was a city desk reporter.


I could not keep my mind on my work, since my wife was in a war zone, pregnant with our child. My parents, who lived on our family farm near Norborne, Mo., 75 miles northeast of Kansas City, were likewise frantically worried about Nhung; the future of their unborn grandchild was at risk. What if the Communists took over, sealed the borders and punished anyone, like Nhung, who was sympathetic to the Saigon government?


We tried everything to reach her. My mother, eyes constantly on TV reports, would see a young woman from behind and believe that was her daughter-in-law. She cried and prayed so much through late March and early April.


Finally, my mother wrote to George Esper, a good-hearted man who helped to send many Vietnamese abroad in the final days because they had worked for Americans and, he believed, were vulnerable.


Being farmers, my parents had little money. As a junior reporter, I too had little. Still, somehow my parents managed to send several thousand dollars to Nhung so she could pay the necessary bribes and buy a one-way ticket to the States.


I was at the farm Friday evening, April 11 – just 19 days before Saigon fell –  upstairs in my bedroom when the phone rang downstairs. My mother answered it and began crying. I could hear her shouting at me. She was so happy. She yelled upstairs: “She’s back in the United States. She’s coming home.”


After Nhung arrived at the farm, The Star sent a reporter and a photographer to write a story about one of the early refugees from the last days of that long war. I remember what Nhung said: “Human life in Vietnam is not worth more than an ant.”


Our daughter was born in early June. It was a normal delivery.

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Storks – Faithful Love …

Posted on April 17, 2018. Filed under: Mars & Venus |

A faithful male flying thousands of miles each year to join his handicapped female who cannot fly — the story of two storks in Croatia, Klepetan and Malena, is one of love and devotion beating the odds.

By late March, Klepetan was back in the tiny village of Brodski Varos in eastern Croatia for the 16th year in a row, after leaving his winter home in southern Africa.

There he again met the love of his life, white stork Malena — “Little One” in Croatian — who was waiting to start having more babies, to add to the 62 the pair already have.

The faithful couple’s long-distance relationship has made them celebrities in Croatia. Local school caretaker Stjepan Vokic, a 71-year-old widower, adopted Malena in 1993 when he found her near a pond, injured by a shot from hunters.

She spends winters in a storage building in what Vokic calls an “improvised Africa” with a nest, heating and aquarium. In spring Vokic makes a gigantic nest for Malena on the building’s roof.

Klepetan, the father stork, teaches his baby storks to fly before migrating with them in early August to southern Africa.

Meanwhile, Malena stays with Vokic, who bathes her and puts cream on her feet to stop them drying out, as she is away from her wetland habitat.”I also take her fishing since I can’t take her to Africa. We even watch TV together,” Vokic told AFP.

“If I had left her in the pond foxes would have eaten her. But I changed her fate, so now I’m responsible for her life.”Klepetan, named after a knocking sound storks make with their beaks, wears a tracking ring.

His final migratory destination has been traced to near Cape Town, some 14,500 kilometres (9,000 miles) from Malena. It takes him a little over a month.

Croatia is home to some 1,500 pairs of white storks. Cigoc, in central Croatia, was proclaimed the first European stork village in 1994.

More than 210 birds live there in nests on the roofs and lamp posts. Their number is more than double the village’s human population.

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Valentine’s Day History …

Posted on February 18, 2018. Filed under: Mars & Venus, Personalities |

From Apple News – This article was originally published on The Conversation by Lisa Bitel, Professor of History & Religion, University of Southern California – Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Valentine’s Day originated as a liturgical feast to celebrate the decapitation of a third-century Christian martyr, or perhaps two. So, how did we get from beheading to betrothing on Valentine’s Day?

Early origins of St. Valentine
Ancient sources reveal that there were several St. Valentines who died on Feb. 14. Two of them were executed during the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius Gothicus in 269-270 A.D., at a time when persecution of Christians was common.

How do we know this? Because an order of Belgian monks spent three centuries collecting evidence for the lives of saints from manuscript archives around the known world.

They were called Bollandists after Jean Bolland, a Jesuit scholar who began publishing the massive 68-folio volumes of “Acta Sanctorum,” or “Lives of the Saints,” beginning in 1643.

Since then, successive generations of monks continued the work until the last volume was published in 1940. The Brothers dug up every scrap of information about every saint on the liturgical calendar and printed the texts arranged according to the saint’s feast day.

The Valentine martyrs
The volume encompassing Feb. 14 contains the stories of a handful of “Valentini,” including the earliest three of whom died in the third century.

The earliest Valentinus is said to have died in Africa, along with 24 soldiers. Unfortunately, even the Bollandists could not find any more information about him. As the monks knew, sometimes all that the saints left behind was a name and day of death.

We know only a little more about the other two Valentines.

According to a late medieval legend reprinted in the “Acta,” which was accompanied by Bollandist critique about its historical value, a Roman priest named Valentinus was arrested during the reign of Emperor Gothicus and put into the custody of an aristocrat named Asterius.

As the story goes, Asterius made the mistake of letting the preacher talk. Father Valentinus went on and on about Christ leading pagansout of the shadow of darkness and into the light of truth and salvation. Asterius made a bargain with Valentinus: If the Christian could cure Asterius’s foster-daughter of blindness, he would convert. Valentinus put his hands over the girl’s eyes and chanted:

“Lord Jesus Christ, en-lighten your handmaid, because you are God, the True Light.”

Easy as that. The child could see, according to the medieval legend. Asterius and his whole family were baptized. Unfortunately, when Emperor Gothicus heard the news, he ordered them all to be executed. But Valentinus was the only one to be beheaded. A pious widow, though, made off with his body and had it buried at the site of his martyrdom on the Via Flaminia, the ancient highway stretching from Rome to present-day Rimini. Later, a chapel was built over the saint’s remains.

St. Valentine was not a romantic
The third third-century Valentinus was a bishop of Terni in the province of Umbria, Italy.

According to his equally dodgy legend, Terni’s bishop got into a situation like the other Valentinus by debating a potential convert and afterward healing his son. The rest of story is quite similar as well: He too was beheaded on the orders of Emperor Gothicus and his body buried along the Via Flaminia.

It is likely, as the Bollandists suggested, that there weren’t actually two decapitated Valentines, but that two different versions of one saint’s legend appeared in both Rome and Terni.

Nonetheless, African, Roman or Umbrian, none of the Valentines seems to have been a romantic.

Indeed, medieval legends, repeated in modern media, had St. Valentine performing Christian marriage rituals or passing notes between Christian lovers jailed by Gothicus. Still other stories romantically involved him with the blind girl whom he allegedly healed. Yet none of these medieval tales had any basis in third-century history, as the Bollandists pointed out.

In any case, historical veracity did not count for much with medieval Christians. What they cared about were stories of miracles and martyrdoms and the physical remains or relics of the saint. To be sure, many different churches and monasteries around medieval Europe claimed to have bits of a St. Valentinus’ skull in their treasuries.

Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome, for example, still displays a whole skull. According to the Bollandists, other churches across Europe also claim to own slivers and bits of one or the other St. Valentinus’ body: For example, San Anton Church in Madrid, Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin, the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Prague, Saint Mary’s Assumption in Chelmno, Poland, as well as churches in Malta, Birmingham, Glasgow, and on the Greek isle of Lesbos, among others.

For believers, relics of the martyrs signified the saints’ continuing their invisible presence among communities of pious Christians. In 11th-century Brittany, for instance, one bishop used what was purported to be Valentine’s head to halt fires, prevent epidemics and cure all sorts of illnesses, including demonic possession.

As far as we know, though, the saint’s bones did nothing special for lovers.

Unlikely pagan origins
Many scholars have deconstructed Valentine and his day in books, articles and blog postings. Some suggest that the modern holiday is a Christian cover-up of the more ancient Roman celebration of Lupercalia in mid-February.

Lupercalia originated as a ritual in a rural masculine cult involving the sacrifice of goats and dogs and evolved later into an urban carnival. During the festivities half-naked young men ran through the streets of Rome, streaking people with thongs cut from the skins of newly killed goats. Pregnant women thought it brought them healthy babies. In 496 A.D., however, Pope Gelasius supposedly denounced the rowdy festival.

Still, there is no evidence that the pope purposely replaced Lupercalia with the more sedate cult of the martyred St. Valentine or any other Christian celebration.

Chaucer and the love birds
The love connection probably appeared more than a thousand years after the martyrs’ death, when Geoffrey Chaucer, author of “The Canterbury Tales” decreed the February feast of St. Valentinus to the mating of birds. He wrote in his “Parlement of Foules”:

“For this was on seynt Volantynys day. Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.”

It seems that, in Chaucer’s day, English birds paired off to produce eggs in February. Soon, nature-minded European nobility began sending love notes during bird-mating season. For example, the French Duke of Orléans, who spent some years as a prisoner in the Tower of London, wrote to his wife in February 1415 that he was “already sick of love” — by which he meant lovesick. And he called her his “very gentle Valentine.”

English audiences embraced the idea of February mating. Shakespeare’s lovestruck Ophelia spoke of herself as Hamlet’s Valentine.

In the following centuries, Englishmen and women began using Feb. 14 as an excuse to pen verses to their love objects. Industrialization made it easier with mass-produced illustrated cards adorned with smarmy poetry. Then along came Cadbury, Hershey’s, and other chocolate manufacturers marketing sweets for one’s sweetheart on Valentine’s Day.

Today, shops everywhere in England and the US decorate their windows with hearts and banners proclaiming the annual Day of Love. Merchants stock their shelves with candy, jewelry and Cupid-related trinkets begging “Be My Valentine.” For most lovers, this request does not require beheading.

Invisible Valentines
It seems that the erstwhile saint behind the holiday of love remains as elusive as love itself. Still, as St. Augustine, the great fifth-century theologian and philosopher argued in his treatise on “Faith in Invisible Things,” someone does not have to be standing before our eyes for us to love them.

And much like love itself, St. Valentine and his reputation as the patron saint of love are not matters of verifiable history, but of faith.

And finally we have not even covered Al Capone’s St Valentines Day Massacre …

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Falling in Love …

Posted on June 12, 2017. Filed under: Guide Posts, Mars & Venus, Searching for Success |

During a seminar, a woman asks, “How do I know if I married the right person?” There was this guy sitting next to her, so the guy asks, “Is that your husband?” Taken aback she asks, “How did you guess?” He goes onto explain.

’Every relationship has a cycle. In the beginning, you fell in love with your spouse. You anticipated their call, wanted their touch, and liked their idiosyncrasies.

Falling in love with your spouse wasn’t hard. In fact, it was a completely natural and spontaneous experience. You didn’t have to DO anything. That’s why it’s called “falling” in love. Because it’s happening TO YOU.

People in love sometimes say, “I was swept off my feet.” Think about the imagery of that expression. It implies that you were just standing there; doing nothing, and then something came along and happened TO YOU.

Falling in love is easy. It’s a passive and spontaneous experience.

But after a few years of marriage, the euphoria of love fades. It’s the natural cycle of EVERY relationship. Slowly but surely, phone calls become a bother (if they come at all), touch is not always welcome (when it happens) and your spouse’s idiosyncrasies, instead of being cute, drive you nuts.

The symptoms of this stage vary with every relationship but if you think about your marriage you will notice a dramatic difference between the initial stage when you were in love and a much duller or even angrier subsequent stage. At this point, you or your spouse might start asking, “Did I marry the right person?”

As you and your spouse reflect on the euphoria of the love you once had, you may begin to desire that experience with someone else. This is when marriages breakdown.

People blame their spouse for their unhappiness and look outside their marriage for fulfillment. Extramarital fulfillment comes in all shapes and sizes. Infidelity is the most obvious. But sometimes people turn to work, a hobby, a friendship, excessive TV or abusive substances.

But the answer to this dilemma does NOT lie outside your marriage. It lies within it. I’m not saying that you couldn’t fall in love with someone else. You could. And TEMPORARILY you’d feel better.


SUSTAINING love is not a passive or spontaneous experience. It’ll NEVER just happen to you. You can’t “find” LASTING love. You have to “make” it day in and day out.

That’s why we have the expression “the labor of love.” Because it takes time, effort, and energy. And most importantly, it takes WISDOM.

You have to know WHAT TO DO to make your marriage work. Make no mistake about it. Love is NOT a mystery. There are specific things you can do (with or without your spouse) to succeed with your marriage.

Just as there are physical laws of the universe (such as gravity), there are also laws for relationships. Just as the right diet and exercise program makes you physically stronger, certain habits in your relationship WILL make your marriage stronger. It’s  direct cause and effect.

If you know and apply the laws, the results are predictable. You can “make” love. Love in marriage is indeed a “decision”. Not just a feeling. “No one falls in love by choice, it is by CHANCE. No one stays in love by chance, it is by CHOICE.’

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‘Red’ Skeleton! Any One Remembers him? …

Posted on February 9, 2017. Filed under: Mars & Venus |

Twice a week we go to a nice restaurant, have a little beverage, good food and companionship She goes on Tuesdays; I go on Fridays.

We also sleep in separate beds. Hers is in California , and mine is in Texas .

I take my wife everywhere…. but she keeps finding her way back.

I asked my wife where she wanted to go for our anniversary. ‘Somewhere I haven’t been in a long time!’ she said. So I suggested the kitchen.We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops.

She has an electric blender, electric toaster and electric bread maker. She said ‘There are too many gadgets, and no place to sit down!’   So I bought her an electric chair.

My wife told me the car wasn’t running well because there was water in the carburetor. I asked where the car was. She told me, ‘In the lake.’

She got a mud pack, and looked great for two days. Then the mud fell off.

She ran after the garbage truck, yelling, ‘Am I too late for the garbage?’ The driver said, ‘No, jump in!’

Remember: Marriage is the number one cause of divorce. I married Miss Right. I just didn’t know her first name was Always.

I haven’t spoken to my wife in 18 months. I don’t like to interrupt her.

 The last fight was my fault though. My wife asked, ‘What’s on the TV?’ I said, ‘Dust!’
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