Can you think of one thing that can really tell if you and a prospective partner have a future together or not? Many would say that the crucial thing would be to see if you have compatible friends, or to meet the prospective in-laws and see how that visit goes, or better still, to get both families to meet each other and see who survives the evening.
All good trials, but to really test a relationship, there is just one true test and that is to travel together for at least four days and three nights. Seven nights would be ideal, but three nights at a minimum. Seven nights, so that questions of laundry and the such come up, and even if one can keep up a facade for a couple of nights, seven will surely test it.
Everything from deciding when to go, how long and where, are great ways to get to know each other. Does one say beaches and other say hills? One says scrimp on travel and splurge on good food, and the other says stay in luxury but go easy on food. What about shopping? And time spent in museums, or heritage sites? How about whether you take that GoPro along or avoid electronics altogether? Are either selfie-obsessed? Or take pictures of every food item consumed for your Instagram feed?
What travel reveals about the person’s tastes and preferences are endless, but even more fascinating is the insights you get when sharing a room together for so many nights. You get to truly know their intimate physical selves, and that’s not talking about sexual aspects - just the every day things. Do they like the right side of the bed? Do they brush before bed? What does their morning face look like? What is their real smell like, devoid of all perfumes and other stuff? Do they snore? Do they hog the bed sheets? How are they to travel with as a companion? Are they pleasant, can they stand complexity – what if a train got cancelled or the hotel bungled up the booking or you made a mistake? What is their personality like at 3am after a 10-hour drive to the hotel and you find that you had mistakenly booked for November instead of October?
Nothing reveals more about a person as much as what you can see of them when travelling together. Best done by yourselves, but a couple of friends might not make it bad. If you can survive a week-long trip, chances are you will survive the other tricky things like planning a home together, meeting families or friends and more.
As written for and published in The New Indian Express
It is October 10th today. Happy World Mental Health Day to everyone!
This year, the theme was to be about young people and mental health in a changing world.
Atleast for India, that changing world is so clearly symbolized today with the #MeToo and #TimesUp momentum, that in reclaiming its voice and in its cathartic wake is turning around things for a young generation so tuned into media. For many months and years now, we have only read about abuse and assault, and for the young now to read about #TimesUp, and see the impact it can have in getting people and institutions to be accountable, to know there is no one (hopefully!) too big to fall - what does it do the mental health of young people?
For generations, young people going through molestation, assault and other humiliations on an everyday basis, society was telling them to shut up about it, to learn to get by, to avoid people or get blamed. We were, at best, told how to protect ourselves but hardly ever to confront or to demand that what made us unsafe change. Children carried pins to poke at the pinchers and grabbers in the bus. Kids learned what walls to avoid walking past, where the flashers might lurk. They learned to be in pairs or groups. They had to. If they risked asserting their own, independent forays into the world - they were blamed for whatever happens.
It is not even so long ago - just the other day the bishop of NYC was basically implying that boys above 7 years old were complicit in their assault by members of his clergy! There are documentaries on how in Haryana, people blame the girls for what happened to them.
For all of us who were the young people growing up under the umbrella of such advice and direction from our adults, it has impacted how we deal with power, with violence. This is part of how we have learned own powerlessness and how we have learned to distract ourselves, to discount our hurt, to compensate, to ignore. All the time, our rage and pain, whimper in sad, scared voices, stunting our growth. So many of us lost years and decades to healing wounds that need not have been in the first place. So many of us walked through in depressive spells, not connecting as fully and as safely to the world.
So much loss that we still grieve.
Does this changing world then where #TimesUp, show a different possibility to the young people of today? With all this conversation around #consent, #toxicmasculinity, #bodypositivity, #NotInMyName, #BlackLivesMatter and so much more, are young people of today more #woke ? Can they claim their lives and their world now as they happen, instead of having to go through all that hurt and work through their adulthood to reclaim their selves?
Do we dare dream that the momentum of the #MeToo campaign, in its cleansing avalanche that is destroying so many monuments to #patriarchy and power structures, will leave a clean and bright new field for our young people today? Can they have better mental health, lesser hurt, more opportunity?
Do we dare say that the future looks better?
Ajanta, Mahesh and other InnerSight counsellors and guest contributors are happy to share their thoughts here.