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.