Personal & Professional Compatibility ~ Tamilian Doctors Gita & Arjun Rajagopalan

by on March 5, 2012

A marriage that may have been conspired by the heavens, but got crystallized on this earth by two people who believe in individuality & togetherness, and who represent love, commitment & harmony. Dr Gita Arjun (60) & Dr Arjun Rajagopalan (60), a Tamilian doctor couple from Chennai; best friends for 42 years, they tied the knot 37 years ago and have kept alive romance and excitement in their marriage. She is an obstetrician and the medical director of the E V Kalyani Medical Centre and Dr Arjun is a surgeon and a trustee of Sundaram Medical Foundation. Intelligent, articulate, dedicated, sensitive and fun-loving – many similar traits spiced with differences makes each one unique. She moves headlong into the interview with her dynamic enthusiasm while he remains reticent in the beginning, but once the ice is broken, you can see that here is indeed a couple who breathe new life into the term ‘soulmates’. Their HEALTHY LIFESTYLE shows us how this IDEAL COUPLE have remained strong in both mind and spirit.

 

Ideal couple Gita ~ Arjun Rajagopalan

Jigyasa and Pratibha: We have heard much about both of you being an ideal couple. So do tell us, are marriages made in heaven?
Dr. Gita: Well, destiny seems to have played its role in our lives! We were both born in the same hospital with a gap of nine months, in the same room, and in the hands of the same obstetrician. My mother came to Dr. E V Kalyani, who was incidentally Arjun’s paternal aunt, after she lost five pregnancies and that is how I survived. And well, Gita clearly came into being for Arjuna!

 

J&P: When did you first meet?
She: We met in our second year of college at the Madras Medical College and got along fine right from the start. We were both very competitive and I found him to be extremely bright and that mattered to me.

 

J&P: So when you decided to marry, how did your families react?
She: I am a Mudaliar (non-Brahmin) and he is an Iyengar (a Brahmin), hence there was some resistance, more from his side of the family. My parents approved of him but my mother was concerned that his parents would not permit the marriage. However, both of us were willing to wait as long as it took.

 

J&P: Have you always lived in Chennai?
He: I have always lived in Chennai. She grew up in Indore and Delhi, and after our marriage, we went to the USA to complete our medical residencies for six years. Since then, we have been living in Chennai.

 

Gita Arjun - soulfood and soulmates

J&P: Do you think that both of you being professionals right from the start helped your marriage or is it tough?
He: Being in the same profession helps because there is deep involvement in each other’s professional life. A doctor will understand his doctor wife’s long hours.

 

She: It is true that many men cannot handle the success of their wives, but in my case it was different. In fact, not just Arjun, but my mother-in-law had been extremely supportive as well.

 

J&P: That is so wonderful! What makes it happen?
She (with a smile): Arjun makes it happen. He is a good husband and a caring and involved father.

 

J&P: Have your children joined your footsteps professionally?
She: Oh no, they both have their own identity. Our son Ashvin is extremely creative, runs the Ashvita art gallery, and two restaurants – he marches to the beat of a different drummer! Our daughter Kavita is very focused on educating the underprivileged and worked with Teach for India.

 

Gita Arjun and family

J&P: Having lived independently for so many years in the beginning, how did you cope with the joint family system when you returned?
He: In the USA, we had to depend on each other to cope with the demands of residency and the physical, mental, and emotional pressures of handling eighteen hour work days in a completely different culture. I think it was the best thing that happened to us; it paved the way for us to learn to adjust.

 

She: After six years, when we came back to live in a joint family, we were already molded by each other and we were a bonded unit.

 

J&P: That’s a fresh perspective. One would think that if you have remained independent for so long, then it is difficult to adjust!
She: I don’t think so. I think it helps. When you get married as a young couple, your emotional, mental and financial aspects are yet to develop fully. At that time, you need space with each other to explore and identify your strengths rather than coping with pressure from in-laws. You must first work out your own spaces.

 

J&P: Is that what you would advise young couples to do?
She: Oh yes, we actually asked our son and his wife to live by themselves when they were married. I think it really helped both of them. They have formed a strong connection with each other.

 

He: It is not right for the potential or professional growth of any individual to be thwarted. I remember how my mother used to resent the fact that she was not allowed to work but she broke the cycle by remaining supportive as a mother-in-law.

 

She: That is so true. I believe that we have to be supportive of our children without standing in the way of their relationship.

 

He: Whatever our feelings might be, we have to let them be.

 

J&P: One change you would like to see in each other!
She: You can’t change anybody. The problem with many young couples is that each one thinks that the other will change once they are married. But can you really change anyone? I still remember, what used to irk me is his fetish for cleanliness. On a Sunday when we could sleep late, he would start vacuuming the apartment early in the morning! But over the years he went from crazy neat and I went from crazy untidy until we found a middle ground.

 

He: Gita must always have her way! But at work, she is a thorough professional.

 

She: He is much more forgiving than I am. But Arjun says that I compartmentalize and move on easily.

 

J&P: Share a tip for youngsters on love, marriage and commitment.
She: Keep your eyes open when you fall in love. Be open with each other always. For us, however much we may disagree, we are finally able to see each other’s point of view. Also, we have our differences and arguments, but never in the presence our children. What takes us through is our sense of humour. We can talk, laugh and enjoy each other’s company thoroughly.

 

He: Stay healthy and fit together. From 1975, we have been taking our exercises seriously. We stay fit and enjoy trekking whenever we get a chance.

 

She: Compatibility is important – never marry a man who is less smart than you. Also work at enjoying shared interests and shared spaces. As for us, we share a common love for reading and travelling. We also share aesthetic sensibilities (values) and enjoy keeping a beautiful home. Our philosophies are very similar and we are eclectic readers. He calls himself a Zen Buddhist and practices the inner calmness which is much needed for my restless energy. We also enjoy healthy eating habits.

 

He: She is a good cook, and such is her enthusiasm, that in the midst of our residencies, she went for baking and cake decoration classes during our stay in the USA.

 

She: I love cooking though I must confess that I did not know how to cook when I first went there.

 

He: And she was lucky because whatever she cooked, I ate it and said it was great.

 

J&P: Any memorable incident!
She: When I first saw an iceberg lettuce (remember this was 1975), I bought it thinking it was cabbage. I pulled out ‘Samaithu Paar’ – a cookbook I used often – and attempted cabbage poriyal which never happened because lettuce shrinks as soon as you start cooking it. Anyways I added some dal and made it into a Kootu. I still remember how he enjoyed that Kootu. That’s how he is always – uncomplaining! He is indeed gentle with me.

 

J&P: Thank you for sharing your views with us. They seem to be something that youngsters can also relate with!
She: That’s true. I call them the 5 Cs of a successful relationship – courtesy, communication, compromise, caring and commitment.

 

J&P: How would you define communication?
She: The capacity to discuss and listen to each other’s point of view without saying hurtful words. To be able to laugh with each other and to say ‘I love you’ in many ways. We have never gone to bed over a fight.

 

J&P: Compromise & commitment?
She: Meeting each other half way. I believe that this trait is a strength in women because they are better negotiators than men. And commitment must be not to the individual, but to the relationship by consciously wanting to make the relationship work.

 

J&P: Wisdom in a nutshell! Thank you so much for sharing your views.

 

Photo Courtesy: Dr Gita.

 

First published in March 2012 in Harmony – Celebrate Age Magazine for the column – Soul Food and Soul Mates. Part-2 of this post is the delicious recipe of Healthy Tomato Soup from the kitchen of Gita & Arjun Rajagopalan – the 9th couple featured in this column.

 

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