Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Romancing the past!

Have you ever wondered why every good memory of an event in past seems sweeter than the time you actually experienced it? Why the taste of Maggi noodles that you cooked once in your hostel/dorm seems better than noodles that you have had in finest of restaurants. Though when you cooked and ate it, it was just a pack of well made noodles. Why school time seems to be so fun and devoid of any trials and tribulations, although while in school all you wanted to do was get out. Why that first kiss is revered although it seemed so sloppy and awkward at that time? Take first love for instance, people tend to remember their first loves till death even though most of them opted out of a longer alliance with that person. Why Holi was more colorful and Diwali brighter when thought about in retrospective?

If all that was good, happened in past does this mean that one’s quality of life deteriorates with every passing second? Or is it just a perception?

Do we humans(atleast most of us) have the tendency of romanticizing the past and trivializing the present? Is it the allure of what is gone/lost responsible for the perceived dullness in what we actually have?

OK, enough of questions, the reason why I am asking so many questions is because I see this all around me. I know a man who always criticized his wife for the kind of ‘halwa’ she made comparing it with his own version when he cooked it with his mates in hostel. But alas! when put to the task he could not recreate the magic, even on repeated attempts. Just makes me wonder if the hostel ‘halwa’ tasted better in thought than it actually was. Similarly I know women who even after decades of marriage keep comparing their husbands with the guy whose marriage alliance they or their family rejected. Always fantasizing about how great the life could have been with him if nothing else it must be better than what she currently has. When she thinks like that she is just blocking the part which tells her that life might have been even worse with that guy and the quirks that he would have brought with himself.

Look at how well the anti-wrikle, anti- ageing products do in the market. They are mighty expensive if you compare with your regular lotions, but people still buy them. The 25 year old wants to look like a 20 year old, the 35 year old wants to look 25, The 45 year old wants to be 30 something, so on and so forth. Anti ageing lotions or not, face lifts or not, cosmetic surgery or not, I have yet to meet or see on television an old person who does not look old. Then why are people obsessed with how they looked 5 or 10 years ago, when they know that 5 or 10 years ago they were trying to look even younger or maybe they were so young they wanted to look all grown up.

How about music, movies and books - most of the people I know feel that literature, cinema and music was created beautifully only a few decades ago or maybe a few centuries ago. Strangely what is considered classic today was contemporary in some era and that time the same creation was ridiculed for being a one week wonder or not good enough. If somebody has read about R.D.Burman then they would know that his music was criticized immensely by people of the previous generation and also by the melody kings ruling the industry that time. Who would have thought that people would be humming his tunes even after 50 years of their creation, that many losers would be earning their livelihoods by simply remixing the magic that he originally created.

Also people talk about how the quality of values and morals have deteriorated with time. But is that really so? Was there ever a generation that cared so much for the environment? Was their ever a generation that could elect a black president for a white country or a Sikh PM for a country where Sikhs are hardly a single digit percentage? Was there ever a generation where a woman could dare to come out in the open and complain that she has been violated and the guilty got punished for that? Was there ever a generation where girl students in a technical stream could outnumber the boys ? Was there ever a generation where you could throw a shoe at the head of a state and still get away with it? Was there ever a generation where being racist/casteist/regionist etc was looked down upon? Was there ever a generation that didn’t accept that might is right?

I believe the inertia to change is what causes us to view the new negatively and sugar coat the familiar past. But this is not a new phenomena and it has been here since forever. Will the present ever look good in present or will we acknowledge it only when it turns into past?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Turning Vegetarian!

It’s been 10 complete months of vegetarianism for me. I let go of my meat eating habits in the month of January this year. It’s been a tough ride for me considering my love for non-veg food, but somehow I stayed put at the decision. Subconsciously I had been aware of the benefits of turning vegetarian since a long long time, but it just remained that - awareness. There was no motivation to make this lifestyle choice, especially when the existing option involved lip smacking food. Also my family and in-laws comprise of staunch non vegetarians and at both sides celebration has a common expression – non-veg food. So there was never any social or religious pressure on me to quit. Infact my quitting may have disappointed a few considering now there would be someone paying attention to the vegetarian dishes in the menu that earlier no-one cared to cook and if cooked, no one really cared to eat.

To tell you frankly, the day I decided that I would turn vegetarian, I did not believe that I’d travel so far without faltering. Not that I did not want to succeed, just that I thought I could not J The rationale behind this decision was as follows:

  • Didn’t want to carry the guilt of being responsible for the sorry life of an animal which is bred for eating purposes.
  • Didn’t want to carry the guilt of being responsible for another animals death, only so that it can become part of the food on my plate.
  • Guilt or no guilt - Didn’t really want to participate in another animal’s death so that it could become food for just 1 of my meals.
  • It’s a healthier lifestyle choice – Vegetarianism comes with lower risk of many diseases like - hypertension, heart diseases, stomach ailments, cancers of different types. They say non-veg food is also bad for your overall temperament.
  • Wanted to test myself and see if I can give up something really dear to me.
  • It’s a greener lifestyle choice, 1 less non-vegetarian meant 1 less person to breed CO2 emitting animals for.

The arguments are arranged in order of strength, meaning the first point was the strongest motivation and the last one being weakest.

I have since been questioned by people about why I did so and mostly I tell them the truth unless it is more entertaining to lie. More often than not I meet a cynic who tells me that even plants are living beings and I should have mercy on them too. I tell them if my life did not depend upon it, I would. But since it does, hence I can’t show mercy towards them(just like the idiot who asks me this question). Then there is another set of people who find it incredulous that a girl in her right mind would give up something like that for nothing(yes the points above are nothing for them). I just smile at them and tell them to consider it as one of my quirks. Another category of detractors are people who want to prove that despite giving up meat I am still an animal hater/sinner/whatever. These people are generally non-vegetarians themselves and they’d tell me how the lipstick I use has animal fat in it or the leather bag I bought 5 years ago killed an animal or the new stilettos caused a death. That’s right, but I never claimed to turn anything but a vegetarian. Although I could say that there is no match between the frequency of buying a bag or a pair of shoes vs eating non-veg food. The former, one does once in a while(considering there are so many beautiful non-leather products available) but you eat non-veg food several times a week. Since I don’t explain my choices to vindictive people, especially when they are the right choices, I just tell these people how smart they are.

That said, let me tell you that giving up meat is by far the toughest thing I have done in a very long time. It requires enormous amount of self discipline, especially when you have to occasionally cook a non-veg dish for some guests or when you have to feed a chicken drumstick to your 2 year old. Eating out has also lost its sheen for me, since I always end up peering in the non-veg section and the veg section looks so slim(in terms of number of dishes) and pale in comparison.

Everyday when I travel to work(which I do relatively earlier than most people), I see many chickens, that look tired and sick, head over feet, travelling in cramped little cages on a dingy little bicycle or a scooter, probably to their death. I feel so sorry for them but then I feel good that I am not responsible for their condition. Atleast, not anymore!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Angel of Hope

The same world looks new today,

with the promise of happiness and hope.

It tells me that it’ll all be fine,

though it seems like the end of rope.


Years later, when this is in distant past,

we’ll all look back and wonder,

How one little angel crouched hard,

but stood still in the thunder.


The thunder roared and roared again,

she knew it meant to cause a stir.

She looked it in the eye,

wondering why it had chosen her.


But now that it was upon her,

she let it do it’s bit.

It rained and rained for many days,

but she stayed still with sheer grit.


As she crouched, she smiled to herself,

for she knew a thing about thunders.

They can only last a little while,

and that’s all they have to cause blunders.


So she crouched harder knowing that,

her victory lies in patience.

She won the war without force

with just her perseverance.


So three cheers for the angel,

who is still fighting the storm.

For we all know the day is coming,

when all that is left of the thunder,

is the rainbow that it formed.


Happy Birthday Didi!


Thursday, September 9, 2010

yeh hai Mumbai meri jaan....

My family and I made a trip to Mumbai recently. Though this was my second trip to the city but the first one was made when I was a kid and then we had just a couple of days to ‘cover’ the city. We went to all the tourist spots that time – Hanging gardens, Gateway of India, Chowpatti and all such spots, hurrying from one corner of the city to another.

This trip was different in more than one ways – we had planned not to ‘cover’ much, we had also planned to hang out and about, just the way you do in Goa. We wanted to catch the city’s wavelength. Things went as planned and I would like to believe I was able to understand(even if a little) the city’s dynamics.

My husband has lived in Mumbai for some time and he’s in love with that place. This trip was more of nostalgia for him and curiosity for me. Mumbai is an odd vacation destination if I look at the choice of holiday destinations our peers or family members seem to choose. People choose hill stations like Sikkim, Nainital, etc. They choose lazy places like Goa or Kerela or they choose places of great historic importance like Agra. Many of our holidays have been to places like that based on different criteria but this time we chose Mumbai as a spot for our annual break. Most of the people who came to know about this destination seemed surprised at our choice and I can totally understand that. Why would someone living in a large metro city want to go to another large city for a vacation? Social visit/official visit/one night stop-over sounds fine but an entire vacation in a Mumbai in rainy season isn’t easily understandable. Anyways we went ahead, I had heard so many good things about Mumbai especially from my husband that I wanted to go there at least once.

Mumbai turned out to be quite close to what I had heard about it. It is everything that Hollywood/Bollywood movies tell us about it and even more. Being a hardcore Delhi girl I found myself comparing Delhi and Mumbai again and again. I believe this Delhi-Mumbai debate has been there since a very long time and is bound to remain for many centuries. This post isn’t about that at all. The more I saw of Mumbai I more I thought of Delhi as to how similar yet different these two places are. Being in Mumbai made me aware of thing that can be improved in Delhi to make it a better place and it also reminded me of the many blessings that Delhites have got as reward of being its citizens. This post is about it.

Great Things about Mumbai:

  • Great mix of people – On streets I could see Parsis, Marathis, Tamilians, Malayaalis, People from U.P, Biharis, Punjabis, North eastern, Foreigners(can’t say which countries they were from), etc. In a crowd that was coming out of the local train station, it was difficult to make out if one type was more dominant, everything seemed so evened out.
  • Always on the go attitude – People were always moving - come rain or shine.
  • Sense of security - I travelled on footrest of the local train at 11:30 in the night wearing a knee length dress. No nasty comments, no second glances and definitely did not hear any silly noises. Saw many girls travelling from work at the same hour in a very casual manner, could not see any fear on anxiety on their faces.
  • Fair priced public transport: To stress on this I’d just say that we took a taxi to go somewhere and the taxi fare was close to 12 rupees. I don’t see that happening even for a cycle rickshaw in Delhi leave apart an automotive mode of transport. Once our taxi fare was 39 rupees and after paying 40 bucks we started to get off when the taxi driver stopped us to payback 1Rs. I just cannot imagine that happening around here, where rickshaw, autowallahs or maybe cabbies have a great affinity for round figure fares that suit them.
  • Lack of pretentiousness: Yes, the Mumbai middle class was not pretending to be any other higher class. People were comfortable in their simple clothes and footwear and yet if you overheard their conversations you’d catch some intelligent stuff. It just seemed that people did not feel pressured to dress up while going to a shopping mall. Shopping jaane ka, saaman khareedne ka, dressing up kiss liye ? J So simple and practical. Here I don’t want to get into the details of what I think about Delhi middle class and their delusions about not being middle class, will do that maybe in another post.
  • Smooth traffic: there is a lot of traffic in Mumbai and it’s not that all people on roads are saints and always let the other guy pass. I did not see any ego contest on Mumbai roads for my entire vacation, and mind it we were on roads most of the time. If two guys rushed together for an empty spot on the road, it was understandable that only one would get it, so the guy who could not get it simply moved on, there were no display of anger or influence. Who cares and who has the time?!
  • People's pride in being Mumbaikars: Mumbaikars seemed to be so proud of their city and value its merits. They have insight to look into the depths and see the freedom and livelihood that the city has given them. It was so good to see that. If you’ve been to Mumbai you must know that if one wants to whine there is lots of stuff to whine about and blame the government for – like narrow and pothole ridden roads(the latter being a blessing of a long monsoon season every year), huge crowd everywhere, beggars at every redlight and even in streets, lack of sanitation in so many areas etc etc. If Delhi would have had even half of the problems that Mumbai has I can imagine that most of the population of the city would have consisted of whiners who just kept on whining.

Things about Delhi that Delhites should learn to value:

  • Broad and smooth roads
  • General level of sanitation in most of the city
  • Metro trains – AC, comfortable and clean and yet way cheaper than the Mumbai local.
  • Vicinity of middle class residential areas to areas of commercial importance.
  • Overall governance of the city – this has little to do with Mumbai, since Mumbai itself seemed pretty well governed, but when I go to smaller cities I always remember the kind of confidence the sight of a Delhi cop instills in me when in trouble. I don’t see that in eyes of people in such small cities. Wonder why we never value a cop’s efforts and the fact that he is working in a low salary and no appreciation situation.

I thought about it deeply and most of Delhi’s real troubles are people troubles. The traffic is bad, because people misbehave. The sense of security in women or otherwise is lacking again because people misbehave. The lack of pride is not because there aren’t are reasons to be proud, but because the people don’t have it in them to look at the bright side. The common wealth games are currently a common topic of government badgering. Granted we are not in a perfect situation, but what are people doing to salvage the situation. Are they volunteering for any service? None of the superstar whiners I know do much beyond using their throat and tongue to talk.

If you can’t help the situation don’t worsen it.

I love being in Delhi but I wish I had more reasons to love Delhites.


That’s all for now.

Salaam Mumbai!

Monday, August 9, 2010

No Regrets!

More often than not , when a celebrity with a pretty much messed up life is asked about regrets, he/she will always say that they have no regrets and the experiences in their life have made them the people they are today. But this is not limited to celebrities, I often hear people around me say that they have had no regrets in life. For a very long time(mid teens to mid twenties) I really liked the sound of this phrase – ‘No Regrets!’ Wow! Makes you sound so profound, so strong, so right! Not only the sound of it, I thought that it is possible for people to feel no regrets for the bad choices they have made in their lives. But lately I find myself questioning this statement and doubting the truthfulness of people who say it.

What is it to regret something? I looked up the dictionary and it says - to feel sorrow or remorse for a fault, act, loss, disappointment, etc.

How can one spend a lifetime without feeling this even once? Saying that you have no regrets means that you don’t acknowledge the mistakes in your life. It means that if given a chance you’d lead your life in exactly the same way that you have lead till now. You will fall at the same places, trust the same worthless people, hurt the precious ones, rue over minor failures, miss the good but small things in life while working, all this and more even if you knew better at that time. I find it hard to believe that any logical person would want to repeat the same mistake? If you knew there was a ditch on a road, would you want to fall into it to know the experience of falling or would you be careful on that road and want to experience falling(if at all) on some other unknown path?

Makes me wonder if this ‘No Regrets’ attitude is just a tough façade over a weak interior. Such a person must find it difficult to admit it to himself/herself first and then to people that he/she just messed up. To own up and admit to oneself that the decision backfired, that the said words were spiteful and bad must be way tougher than saying “I regret having done that”. Does admitting to regret something make you a weaker person? Not in my opinion. Infact I think if ‘regret’ is something it is - first acceptance of a mistake, then it is an apology to self about having made that choice despite the ‘voice in head’ saying otherwise and lastly it is a resolve to make things better and not repeat the mistake again. None of these three things are qualities of a weak person, but qualities of a person willing to grow internally as an individual instead of focusing on projecting himself/herself better.

That said, do you have regrets in life?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Attention! Please I need it………

Have you ever come across a person who knows everything?....
Let me rephrase that, have you ever come across a person who has done everything, been everywhere, experienced anything that you happen to discuss with him/her or with anyone else. You discuss a disease and they have had or atleast have a relative who suffers from it, if you have migraine they suffer from a much more painful version of it. If you discuss a place they have been to it and the places you talk about might range from a non descript village in eastern UP to the most exotic locations in South America. You talk about a contest, say the Smelliest Sock contest and they have been its winners multiple times. You want a tattoo they’ll personally be in touch with many famous tattoo artists, you name a cocktail and they have tasted it. You name a movie, say “Attack of the killer tomatoes” or “Truck Driver Suraj” and they would have seen it and would also have DVD RIPs of both. You talk of someone’s hard luck and they will turn out to be the most unfortunate souls on the planet and the next day if you were discussing a lucky bastard they’ll flip the coin and start to count the numerous times they have struck gold. If your 2 year old can count till 3 then their 1 year old is already solving differential equations, if you can cook one dish well then they have 500+ secret recipies :)

While it is possible for a person to have had so many experiences in his/her life but I doubt the authenticity of their claims because they generally have to shout out that they know all that stuff and they tend to use their (imaginary) experiences to first become a part of and then the centre of the conversation. I have had the fortune(or mis-) to know a few of such people both socially and professionally and it took me a while to understand that this behavior is more associated with them not being secure in their own skins. They need to add more value to their persona to get noticed or should I say acknowledged.

But this attention seeking is not limited to bragging alone, more often than not I see people dressing in a way that screams the title of this post. Fancy a girl wearing a transparent(very) white shirt with red bra underneath (this is so true), or a lacy thong(purple was it?) underneath a low waist jeans to work. How about a guy with long flowing hair so against the rest of his personality or the guy with a good physique who feels pressured to wear chest and biceps hugging t-shirts? Have you ever heard to women frequenting their bank lockers to extract the right diamond jewellary set to go with their white crepe suit that they would wear while mourning someone’s death. :) Who would want to miss the opportunity to flash their financial status where so many people are going to gather up?

If you’re working then there are bound to be people at your workplace who send mails at the drop of a hat. They send mails if something is not working, then send mails if something is working, they send mails to demean people , they send mails to appreciate people. They just have to send mails lest someone forget all about them.

Then there is power backed attention seeking where the big bore is the person with power and he/she subjects people to their attention seeking flashes! It may be your boss who no-one really respects and he knows it and therefore to establish his own value he calls meetings every few hours where he blasts people and tells them how worthless they are or how he worked when he was in their place. It could be in an elderly in the family who gets worked up after watching a movie like ‘Bhagbaan’ and then tells every single person younger than him how the family values have gone to dump for the current generation and what a god son/brother/ blah/blah he has been.

It could also be that pseudo-rich guy who refuses to pay up his traffic violation fine and threatens the poor cop with his imaginary influential friends. Say if you’re so rich and powerful what is 500 bucks to you?

While such people are a general nuisance to the society but I’d urge you all(only if you’re not one of ‘em) to have sympathy with them and their condition. Smile at their boring anecdotes, praise the jewellary sets, appear awestruck at their stories of influence and do some deep breathing exercises while you endure all that. While they succeed in making 5-10 minutes of your day truly miserable but look how miserable all the days in their lives must be………

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Helpless.....

You fell down and I just heard the news.

Couldn’t breath for some time and then for sometime rued,

how unjust life is and the fortunate ones few.

Why you fell the first time and why the next time too?


How I stand here and just feel bad,

no help to you in my getting so mad.

Willfully entangled in the web of my life,

as if not wanting to end this useless strife.

How I wish I were there to hold out my hand,

to help you grab it, and get up and run fast again..

and run fast again.....

and run fast again........

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What’s with women and window shopping?!

I often hear this question. Needless to say it comes from men/guys who had to accompany their moms, wives, girlfriends or friends they were hoping would convert to girlfriends - while they went shopping.
Why do women indulge in window shopping? When I start to think about it I can come up with a lot of reasons –
  1. Window shopping provides one with the option of appreciating beautiful things without the pressure of making a decision about buying it or not.
  2. It allows you to scout for that perfect table or that pair of shoes you saw someone wear on television. Once you find it, you can buy it J
  3. It acts as a source of ideas – a trip to a decent home décor store gives you ideas about what all you could do with your house, a visit to the luxury boutique gives you enough ideas about that dress you wanted to get stitched for your cousin’s wedding.
  4. It allows you to see things(appreciatively) that you know you are never gonna be able to afford.
  5. It’s the perfect way to pass time while waiting for someone.
  6. It gives you a chance to reaffirm that there is so much expensive crap out there that people actually buy and then you thank goodness that you’re not one of them J
  7. Acts as a source of inspiration - to save more/earn more so that one day you can afford/buy that object of desire.
There can be many more reasons justifying window shopping but you know what?! No justification is needed!
If gazing at women irrespective of your relationship status counts as window shopping then men themselves indulge in it all the time. In the market , on the street, in the restaurant, on the escalator, at the beach – if there is a pretty little thing, they have to check her out. For them it seems to be as instinctive as breathing in and out. They’d be happy in their relationships or aware that they are not going to pursue someone or they would know that the hot girl would not notice if they passed her by, 1 million times, yet they choose to check her out - at times discreetly or at other times quite obviously.
If you go back and visit the women’s reasons for window shopping and replace things(like table, shoe) with - girl/match/woman, replace buying with having/marrying/befriending and replace window shopping with bird watching, all of them would still continue to make perfect sense.
What say?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Khap or Khapp?

Lately there have been many murders or honor killings especially in the state of Haryana ordered by the Khap panchayats and since I did not know much about the concept of Khap I set upon a little research about the same and here is the simplistic definition that I found –

Khap is a cluster of villages united by caste and geography.It is as old as 14th century started by upper caste jats to consolidate their power and position.The main rule is that all boys and girls within a khap are considered siblings.[ http://www.azadindia.org/social-issues/khap-panchayat-in-india.html]

I do not know about the accuracy of this statement but it definitely creates a image that quite closely defines the urban image of current khap panchayats. When I hear about a pre-historic order passed by such organizations I visualize a set of 5 really old, obstinate and have never been out of their ‘khap’ guys, who have always believed in the ‘my way or death highway’ principle. I suspect most of these men would be ‘wife beaters’, not educated beyond whatever the educational institutions of their Khaps have to offer – Matriculation??? and never have done anything productive in their lives, just have been meddling in other people’s lives like demi-gods??!! Hirlaious isn’t it – demi-gods who can’t walk without their latthhs(strong- tall wooden sticks), who smoke hukkahs for time pass, whose own life is probably a pile of crap. What role models!!! I understand the general fabric of the public that they rule(yes, rule!!) is like or even worse than them but I still feel that those people can do better. They deserve better representatives and role models, if nothing else then atleast younger and a more educated lot.
What about the governments? Why have they been so supportive of such antique institutes which end up challenging what the constitution of this country says? Vote banks!? Maybe.

What’s wrong with the same gotra marriage? And what’s wrong with inter-caste marriages? I think this Khap dudes are pretty against both such kinds and in addition they are not suckers for love marriages either. So heaven forbid but if one happens to be part of a khap and that person’s family believes in the khap’s diktat then he/she can’t really fall for a person in his/her village or the 83 villages close to it(ha! Ha! Ha! It is really amusing!). One can’t really fall in love with someone from another caste which means any liaison in the gotra neutral world is not going to end up in a marriage unless you are selective enough to prune out the same caste people who are not same gotra and then design to fall for them. And even if you are lucky enough for that to happen you’re still doomed since the khap guys mantra is ‘there aint gonna be no love marriage’.

Since this is about love and marriages such cases get picked by media and hence reach people like you and me. I am sure these guys come up with equally or maybe even more ridiculous rulings for the rest of the mundane things and are able to make hell out of people’s lives in various dimensions and not just once. Such multi-tasking dudes aren’t they 

I don’t see use of force as a way of getting rid of such institutions coz then it would not be different from what we’d be trying to get rid of. Also I see lot of protests and the government losing a lot of votes or maybe losing power altogether. But a slow and steady way of educating the young ones, helping them in being more open minded and helping them understand that what might have made sense in 14th century might have just made sense in 14th century only.

Till that happens, my sympathies are with all the people who are part of such khaps if they are against the Khap’s ideologies and even if they are for it. I think the latter category needs to know about what all a human being can do and achieve instead of worrying about trivialities of who marries whom or whether a woman is wearing 2 feet long veil or not.


And by the way Khapp means noise in Punjabi :)

Friday, April 30, 2010

The special occasion called Saree

My mother wore Saree every single day for most part of her life. No we don’t belong to a community that mandates Saree as an attire for married women. Yet, she chose to dress in iteveryday for close to 30 years. She still drapes a Saree with as much ease and grace but no longer on a daily basis. I guess with age and health issues she has chosen other items of clothing over saree. Infact many women of her generation wore Sarees everyday of their adult lives, I know so many women who even slept in their Sarees because of the societal norms and then later out of habit.

I am an adult, oh yes, have been one for some time now and on certain days I chose to drape a saree to work. On those days when I start from home I am prepared for a day of raised eyebrows, of compliments, of oblique comments about having too much time at hand, or question like – “so what’s the occasion?”. No, no occasion yaar! the same occasion that your mother has been celebrating for 40 years now. The same occasion that my mom celebrated despite leading a far tougher life than mine. For her - a day of such occasion involved raising 3 children, hosting a constant flurry of stay-at-home guests, a day where she needed to do so many things manually- for which I just press a switch today. But a day where her movement, her efficiency and her grace was never restricted by this dress called saree.

I often hear feminist-ic women complain about how saree is the most uncomfortable dress around. I personally know women who claim that they get a headache whenever they drape a saree(but then why do it?). There are also girls(or rather women pretending to be little girls) who boast that they need one mother to drape a saree and two friends to help carry it. Yes you can’t go mountain climbing wearing a saree, even beach volleyball is a bad idea, but I guess every dress has a place to which it can or cannot be worn. Would you wear that little black dress to a place of worship or that ragged pair of jeans to your own wedding? Would you wear your denim shorts to an awards night or would you wear lingerie to fetch veggies?? Then why so much expectation from a saree?

Hey! If you’re clumsy and trip over your own dress then it’s not entirely your dress’ fault.

Also if you don’t like a dress but someone else looks great in it please don’t resent her, it’s a choice you made and hey! that jeans doesn’t look that bad on you afterall J.

To the last category of people who are lazy, I’d say – go back to lazing, that suits you quite well.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It bothered me when..

recently one of my colleagues commented in a gathering that I have stopped laughing(as much as I used to earlier) ever since my daughter was born.

This statement just shook me up. I realized that this was true and it disturbed me even further.

My daughter is the brightest spot in my life’s canvas. Every day she gives me abundant reasons to laugh with joy, to smile, to feel happy and content. Every evening I drive like a maniac(a civil one J) to get to her, to hear her say “Hello mama!” and then take her for a stroll. That’s is the part of the day that I look forward to the most. She’s just two but I cannot imagine life without her and it’s even difficult to remember how it was before she was born.

I just could not deduce the relation between the less laughing bit and her birth. But then some deeper thinking laid the doubts to rest. I asked myself these questions - Is laughing the quotient of level of happiness in one’s life? Or is it the only expression of a happy person?

Granted, my life has become a lot more complicated after being a mother, there are a lot of logistics that need to be taken care of, there is this constant guilt of leaving a little kid outside of my care, there are work pressures and snide comments coming from people who have themselves not been parents or from those who are parents but not the “involved” kinds. But, everything wasn’t really smooth as silk before I became a mom. A totally different set of things stressed me out then. I smile to myself when I think about them. How priorities change with time?! Meeting up with irrelevant people, catching the latest movie, going to Sarojini for shopping, completing a novel every week, etc seem so irrelevant now. I’d be lying if I said that I do not miss them at all, but now that I cannot have then as often as earlier I fail to rue about them.

Maybe with age, responsibilities and shifting priorities one is not able to express their state of mind as they could when they were younger and less responsible for themselves and others. I still love rain as much as I used to when I was a child. Earlier I could celebrate it by dancing in it, now I do it by sitting in my balcony and sipping a hot cup of tea while watching the rain drops rush down. To someone whose known me since my childhood it would seem that rain has become just another change in weather for me. But I know how far from truth that is.

Same emotions. Different Expressions. It’s that simple.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ooooo!! I like to talk in the looooo!!

This post of mine is dedicated to all those women in the world who think that restrooms are an appropriate place to have long conversations!! Why only women?! Well, because I don’t really know if they have such characters in the gentlemen’s toilets too. In case there are such people in the XY category, then I would like to extend this dedication to them also :)

Of the various toilet talkers there is this one category of people, who only have one-to-one conversations but only via the mirror. These women always enter the restrooms in groups and all of them have some touching up to do. They will tall take up equi-distant spots in front of the mirror and talk to each other via the mirror. During their entire stay not once will they look directly at each other, no sir! They will discuss their make up, their hair cuts, their new perfume brands, the perfume brands of people they don’t like, the latest sale premiere, the hottest guy, and many other such relevant things – but all via the silver reflector. These women hardly ever notice other people in the rest room and even if they do, they make sure that they make that person know that she is not worth their notice :)

Then there is this other category, they always enter the restroom in pairs. One of the persons is the story teller and the other is a listener or should I say one of them has a sob story and the other is an agony aunt. My gawd!!! One keeps on whining and the other keeps on consoling or encouraging or just keeps on repeating - “sab theek ho jaayega!”. The lady in trouble is perennially in trouble sometimes it is the boyfriend, sometimes it’s the boss, some you always find complaining about their in-laws and others keep cribbing about insensitive landlords. But where to talk about such reverend subjects? Let’s go to the toilet!

I still have some respect for the kind of people mentioned above, but these other ones are even worse. They are the cellphone talkers. The person on the other-side of the phone isn’t even aware that he/she is being dragged inside a noisy ladies room or maybe they are aware and unwilling, yet they can’t do much about it. When I see a girl sitting on the slab of the restroom, smiling and tugging at her hair and talking flirtatiously with somebody on the other side, I wonder why she wants to spoil a beautiful moment like this in such stink? Why she wants the sweet nothings she’s hearing on the phone to gel with the sound of someone flushing the toilet? Don’t the random plopping sounds embarrass her as she talks to someone special?

Then finally there is this wonderful variety of people who like to talk on the phone when they are themselves in action. I have no words to describe what I feel towards such people and the level of amazement I feel at their ability to talk in same tone while their body is busy extricating. I can’t help wondering what the person on the other side thinks.

I am glad I don’t find answers to all of my questions.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

and BTW, I think you should loose some weight….

So those of you who have ever heard this line used in your own context would know the pain that any other person who is subject of such advice has to go through. I have struggled with weight all my life. I don’t think I am fat-fat(but then it is solely my opinion) but I have always been heavier for whatever was the fashionable weight for that time or my age. While in school there was no dearth of skinny girls and I always had a Punjabi girl physique so I was never in the ‘slim’ bracket. Then I got to college and the girls got skinnier, but not me. When I went to hostel while while doing my PG, I saw girls eat like hungry elephants and yet had concave shaped abdomens and I, despite being my thinnest best was still heavier than them. Sniff!!

I am a mother of a kid who looks like mother of a kid(if you know what I mean) and somehow advice/comments on weight and it’s management come free, almost like the pollutants that come free with the oxygen that we breathe in. Somehow people think that it’s OK to comment on someone’s weight. That it’s not rude and it’s not politically incorrect. I have heard comments upon my weight from people who are/were – really short/stick thin (thin that looks awful)/had biiiiiiiiiiig butt/ was bald or almost getting there/ had really bad skin(the kind that makes you throw up if you concentrate on some spot for too long)/ wore specs as thick as the berlin wall/ had noses that could make Pinocchio’s nose look really small/had really small eyes(the kinds where it’s hard to make out if they are open or closed)/ had squinty eyes(could never make out if that person was talking to me)/ had a very girlie voice for a man(Tendulkar’s voice sounds like Raza Murad as compared with him)/ had a really funny voice for a woman(Usha Uthup!)/ stammered/ had hair flowing from their ears/ had moustaches and beard(I am talking about a woman)/ had really bad body odor/ had really funny gait(walked like a mouse along the wall)/ had hideous sense of fashion.

Yet all these people with their own set of imperfections thought it was ok to tell me that losing weight would be a good thing for me. As if I didn’t know that I weigh more than I should and as if losing weight was something I could easily do but was lazy enough not to do it.

I guess they thought their own physical imperfections unlike mine could not be topic of discussion in a group, and that I didn't notice their beard or that nose and even if I did I’d be sensitive enough not to talk about that. :)

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Good Parent!

Many parents(not all) always think about the best for their child. Some want their children to be good individuals, others want them to be successful, some focus their energies on making then healthy while others make sure that they look great always. Most of the parents I know try a little bit of all of the above, so that their children turn out to be good, successful, healthy and fine looking individuals. I believe that is the best strategy to take, taking care of only one facet of the child’s life would not really help her/him in the future. As I think of all the parents I know(and I know a lot of ‘em - this being the most populous country in the world) I see how the definition of ‘best’ changes from individual to individual.

Goodness -

I see some people taking special care that their child goes to a place of worship and fears God. I see children telling the truth to their prodding moms because ‘Bhagwan ji’ was watching when he took out his new toy to show off to his friend. Children also study and pray hard when they know that the Bhagwan chap’s purpose is to make sure that they behave in accordance with what’s right or wrong from their parents perspective. This is their way of instilling good values in their child – fear. Sources of fear may wary from God to the night watchman to a Dog or to a black cat or to whatever that is that scares the child. Please mind that these parents use these things to make the child do what they believe is best for her/him when she/he is not willing to do it.

Goodness also involves teaching the child how to defend herself/himself. I totally agree that being a wimp is not ‘good’. But then how do you teach your child to defend herself/himself without losing dignity and becoming the aggressor in return. Once I saw a woman in my apartment building consoling her crying child by telling him all the innovative names(like Kaala Bandar J) that he could call his tormentors or how handy little stones can be some times. Ha! Ha! Ha!

I have also seen fathers of young boys telling then about other uses of a bat or a hockey stick. What kind of role models do such parents make, when they tell their children that short term solutions are the only ways to solve a problem. How do you think parents of people, who drive rash and misbehave with fellow drivers behaved when they were driving? I see most of such road rage-ers inheriting their road rage expressions from their fathers(since majorly men were the drivers of cars in the past generation ). Ironic isn’t it, we all see it but fail to find a pattern and then turn into someone we have despised all our lives.

Health -
I see parents introducing their kids to aerated drinks and to potato chips. The mother who was filling up her lil toddler’s feeding bottle with Coke must have had his best interests in her mind. Or the mother who was coaxing her child to finish off that pack of Lays salted chips must also be meaning well. There are parents who wake up early, really early in the morning and drive to far off places so that they can get some unhygienic cholesterol laden milk fresh from a buffalo’s udder for their young children. I know many of you would not agree with me on this one. You’ll argue that it is pure or that a lil fat in the milk would do no harm to the child, many of you may think that they actually may need it. I agree if your child is playing(outdoors) with his/her friends daily for at least a couple of hours then he/she can definitely deal with the fat in the milk, but I reserve my comment about the level of hygiene of the doodh waala or the adulteration techniques he has already mastered.

I see new mothers in an unsaid competition with their peers about who is going to make their child the chubbiest. Chubby children look cute, but that’s about it. What is the point in giving food to that lil body when it is not needed. Might as well involve the child’s mind in some stimulating activities instead of pouring all the maternal love in different bowls of food. I know many Punjabi mothers who think health means some form of butter, desi ghee or some other thing related to dairy. My own grand-mom thought that paranthas were effective(in what???!!!!!) only if you ate a lil mound of butter with it J. In her time and days when life was hardly mechanized and children walked few miles every day to attend school, this philosophy made sense, but not anymore. But whose gonna break this news???

Success –

What is success?? I think we all should ask ourselves that. How to measure success? There are some very popular criteria for that - including money and fame. But then these are relative criteria and not absolute ones. Living in a slum, if you make 500rs everyday selling vegetables you must be a success. But come out of the slum and go to a middle class colony and 15000 rs sound almost like the monthly grocery bill of a family. Something in the vicinity of 1-2lakhs a month means you’re doing OK and something above that might start to mean that you’re flourishing. Now let’s go to high society with the same monthly income of say 10lakh a month and suddenly it seems paltry, too less. When does it become enough? And when does it graduate to too much? We see the Ambani brothers fighting over money they can’t spend in a lifetime and I somehow miss the point behind all of it. Or is there a point? Why are we humans so obsessed with leaving a legacy or measuring up to someone else’s standards?

Sorry, I tend to digress, maybe this will be topic of another post.

Coming back to the children that we are raising, we tell them to score well. Very few parents I know are OK if their child knows the concepts well but is not able to score good marks in the exams, but on the contrary I see many beaming faces if the child is a top scorer in the class but did that by cracking the exam pattern or by cramming. I see parents scouting for people who sell “projects”/”assignments” and then buying the fancy variety so that their kid gets the best grade. I wonder why they do it? Why don’t they sit with the child and prepare a simple thing that the child ends up understanding fully but he or she may not get full marks for it. Every day I meet people in line of my work or who work with my friends. They only survive because of the jargon they know, they have absolutely no idea about what goes on behind the scenes or how anything gets done. I salute survival instincts of such people, coz not only they survive but they also do well in terms of money. But if you peep inside their mind you’ll see that every day is a struggle to come up with the right things to say, a race to be the first to pin the blame on someone or to find the right delegate for the actual work. I wouldn’t want such a life for my child, even if it came with some perks. I’d rather have my child deserve what she gets than have things otherwise. I read somewhere, if making wodden chairs is all you know to do, then you might as well make the best wodden chairs that anyone ever sat on. I can’t disagree with that.

There are other aspects of success too. In this country if there is an excess of professionals in an area then it has to be the software industry. I am myself a face in this huge crowd, but now that I am part of it I don’t understand why parents want their children to be part of something that everyone is doing? I mean everyone. Why don’t we value exclusivity and the benefits that come with it Why do we teach our children that it is better to be part of a long queue than start a new queue and maybe hop to another one when it gets too long. J

Appearance -

I don’t have much to say about this one. Though whenever I see a mommy whose children are under-dressed for cold climate(not because of lack of funds) or when I see a mommy whose children are wearing polyester clothing in sweltering Delhi heat, I feel a sudden rush of sympathy and motherly love for that child and deep despise for the mother. But then I look away and forget all about it, unless of course I am writing a blog post on it J

There’s much more I feel about this subject, though I am relatively new parent and I am not even sure what kind of parent I am. I know I am far from perfect but I am willing to learn from my mistakes and definitely from the mistakes of countless others like me.

This post is not meant to demean any parent who means well, but I am just trying to say that meaning well is not enough.

A child’s future depends on it.