When I worked on clinical trials in my earlier healthcare career, I learnt about statistical terms like Randomization and Masking. Important concepts, which help maintain the integrity of any scientific study by eliminating bias during the conduct of a trial. Those involved in designing and conducting such studies, use such tools to plan in excruciating detail to ensure different kinds of conscious and unconscious biases are taken care of, for better accuracy of results. But the question always remains – is it possible to eliminate all kinds of bias completely?

Isn’t it part of our human nature to have some bias/preference/opinion/prejudice…etc?

I considered myself fairly objective and open to different perspectives. However, I realized just like everyone else, I have my own set of prejudices and preconceived notions which I acknowledge time to time. Over time, I try my best to not let my preconceived notions get the better of me. A long way to go, but at least it is a start.

Many many moons ago, when I just started college, I was introduced to various students from different schools and different boards of education. A lot of my new classmates were either toppers of their respective schools and state/district boards. In my mind, a star performer appeared in a certain manner – mild mannered, extremely studious, indulged in only intellectual conversations, sat in the first row and a perfect goody-two shoes. So imagine my surprise, when I met someone who didn’t check any of these boxes and claimed to be a topper. I scoffed. I mean the way the person spoke, dressed, exhibited fun carefree lifestyle choices, nothing matched the above. But I was mistaken and am embarrassed to admit, I judged too quick. This was my first lesson to not have such rigid ideas and judge a book by its cover.

We have been conditioned to think and believe in certain ways and put everything under specific labels and boxes. So anytime we see something a little different, we assume if it does not follow the predetermined track that we have ascertained to be absolute gold standard, it has to be wrong.

Recently, few of us were discussing privilege. During the conversation, it came up that those born with privilege, could never ever understand hard work, and if they were successful, it was not because of their grit or ingenuity, but because success was handed over to them. They probably never deserved it. Some even questioned their character. Suddenly, wealth got equated with lesser morals.

So it made me question, is it a crime to be born privileged? Isn’t it an unfair assumption to think a slightly better off person is not hardworking or is less deserving? Should young adults/kids be made to feel guilty for being blessed with good fortune? To some extent, aren’t most of us part of a cycle where there may be someone who has more than us, and at the same time, there may exist someone little less fortunate than us? If we had the option to create opportunities for our kids, without breaking the law or sabotaging someone else, won’t we do it? Would you give up on the opportunity to cash a winning lottery that secures yours and your family’s future? Yet, when we come across someone more affluent, the fundamental assumption is that, they are non-deserving spoilt brats, who lack character, and get everything served on a platter without any perseverance or hard work. We are quick to diminish any of their accomplishments, and achievements, if any, are met with petty cynicism.

One must always acknowledge privilege and be grateful for it, but should one be apologetic for it? I realized how even progressive, educated individuals are blind to such prejudices. I wonder if there is another statistical tool to remove such preconception!

Almost all parents, work towards providing a better future for their children. While I was growing up, my parents made plenty of sacrifices to provide a good life for me – a safe and healthy childhood, robust education, an appreciation for financial and future stability and all the various life experiences I have had. I am beyond blessed, that through my family I have had the wonderful opportunity to be exposed to different cultures and appreciate every bit of it. Maybe that was my privilege and it shaped me as as the person that I am. As a parent, I will pay it forward and try to do even better for my family.

I would love for my child to grow up with the same values, understand the significance of hard work, imbibe positivity from her environment, appreciate and value opportunities that come along her way. On some days I will show her tough love, enforce discipline and explain the meaning of consequences. And on some other days, I may shower her with too much love, gifts or wonderful experiences that I may have not had while growing up. My point is, when it comes to parenting and providing for children, it is not a standard one size fits all. There are times, when you are strict and other times, when you spoil them rotten. Privilege or no privilege, ultimately it is the time that you invest in your child in terms of teaching core values such as kindness, compassion, honesty, integrity, humility, sportsmanship, taking pride in work, maintaining relationships, and many more such qualities that defines their success.

So, despite what others say or make you feel, if your conscience feels right, You do You, don’t let someone else’s bias influence you.

Déjà vu

Every once in a while history repeats itself and takes us by surprise. Few days ago, my kid and I got into a fight, which led to her announcing that she will go camping by herself. It was equivalent of saying, she will leave the house and go away. It upset me tremendously, but drew a chuckle from my husband. Needless to say I was not amused by his reaction and demanded an explanation. He remembered this anecdote my parents told him about me….

Many years ago, when I was around the same age as my kid, I had an argument with my mother and grandmother. I am not sure, but it could be related to some serious issues such as having a slightly more desirable menu for lunch or enforcing television rights. Anyways as always, the women held their ground and were unwilling to negotiate. So in my anger, I threatened to leave home at that instance. Big words from a tiny human! I thought my loaded sentence would bring them to their knees. Instead, both my mother and grandmother guffawed . This was definitely not the reaction I expected. I was infuriated with this insult. I repeated the sentence, a little louder, slower and slightly more emphatically. My mother and grandmother decided to call my bluff and told me to go ahead.

I did not think I would have to act on my threat. But now it became a matter of pride. After all I was a person of my word. If my own family didn’t take me seriously, how could I expect Micki, Pinky, Ruku and the rest of the group to elect me as the leader of the gang. I was left with no choice. I grabbed my school bag (it was the only bag I had, and I had watched enough movies to know that every time you stage a walk out, you must always carry a bag). My mother and grandmother sniggered some more.

Main sach mein jaa rahi hoon” (I am really going to leave).

Haan haan, jaao; dhyaan se jaana” (Yes yes, go ahead; go carefully).

I stomped my foot and headed towards the door. I noticed the door was locked, I was short and the latch was high. Maybe I could wriggle out of this…

My mother noticed the same and probably thought like me. She unlocked the door for me and asked me to carry on. Dammit! There was no turning back now. I was in it too deep. So I walked down the long flight of stairs, wondering how this was not playing out as shown in those Bollywood movies. I swear, every one of those scenes had the family members running after the upset party, begging and pleading them to change their mind and stay back. What the hell was wrong here?

While I was contemplating my next steps, my grandmother and mother went to the balcony and noticed a waste collector, sorting out some trash. My grandmother called out to him and requested him to look out for a little girl, who was about to step out of the building and yell at her as loudly as possible. The man was extremely thrilled to be part of this wicked character building plan.

As I stepped out of my building, I saw this burly middle aged man looking in my direction and yelling at me at the top of his lungs, while my grandmother and mother watched from the balcony above.

“YEH CHHOTA BACCHA AKELE KYU GHOOM RAHA HAIN? BHAAGO YAHAN SE, CHUPCHAP GHAR JAO!!! (Why is this little kid roaming around on her own? Get back to your house right now!!!)”

I froze for 5 seconds, gulped some air and then turned around immediately. I ran back home, bawling inconsolably. All adults exchanged thumbs up. My mother and grandmother waited at the door with open arms. I let them know I had decided to stay.

Years passed, I never heard the end of it. I even questioned their parenting skills –

What if that man or someone else kidnapped me?

We were quite sure, you would not have reached too far or anyone would have bothered to kidnap you. Besides we were willing to take the risk!”.

Well, what can I say, I never ever tried leaving home again, even in jest.

Coming back to our fight in present times, after I made my husband tighten the window frames. I suggested my daughter camp out in our backyard by herself.

You can go camping in the backyard, just watch out for the deer poop and spiders“.

Wait a minute, there are spiders outside in the wild?


And deer poop?


Aren’t you scared a deer may take me away?

We are willing to take that risk!

Uhh, yeah.. no.. I changed my mind about camping. I ‘d rather stay home.”