Monday, June 29, 2009
I am not a trained psychologist, nor am I a very new age, politically correct, sensitive mother. I mean, mother yes, but not the other parts. I too have read quite a few books and visited sites on 'how to', 'what to', 'when to' on bringing up children. I have also read 'coral island' and 'Lord of the flies'. The only thing that really works though is common sense though- for me anyway. But then coming back to what do I know... well, I do know my own childhood. I do know that my brother (and only sibling, three yrs my junior) had major fights. We yelled at each other (that was the least of it) we called each other names ( nothing really vile and mostly to do with a deficiency in intellect 'idiot, moron,stupid' were perennial). I have wept and he has stormed away. We both have threatened each other with dire consequences and (probably, to our parents secret delight with the peace and quiet, not spoken to each other on occasion).
Today, we are both in our forties and have a great big laugh most of the times we meet. Very often, it is about the crazy things we said and did in our childhood. I know for sure that he will be there when and if I need him. As for the so called mean things we said to each other, I cannot even remember what they were, leave alone them leaving eternal scars on my psyche.
I definitely do not have all the answers and can blame all the grey and thinning of my hair on my children and their antics. Yet, I am sure that even they know, that calling the other stupid does not make him so. After all, is it not important to teach children that they are what they think and not what others call them?
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Ever get the feeling that something is just right? Haroun's humans have always wanted a mudhol and came close to getting one a few times, but somehow, it never happened. This time everything just fell into place, like the pieces of a jigsaw. As for me, when a beautiful creature like Haroun, finds a loving home, it's a great high. Just like people in the movies thank their director and their cat, I have my own list..all those who responded and did their bit to spread the word, despite their busy lives (and some of them did not even know me).
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Though I had mentioned the slight limp and the fact that we did not know the exact details of birth or even the birth date, I had given them the approximate age and all what I thought mattered. Not for me the dressing up of the facts or false (but pleasant) information. Since it was the matter of lifetime commitment, I preferred brutal honesty to any window dressing.
By 4.45, I was a mass of nerves. I could not decide whether I should call them on the pretext of checking on the directions to our place. By 4.55, I couldn't wait anymore and I made the call. She apologised and said that they had got delayed getting out and should be here in about 20 mins.
True to their word, they were at my gate and after the initial greetings, rather than prolong the uncertainty, I took them to see him. One look at him, and it was clear that they came, they saw and he conquered.... their hearts.
I may never know how the mother of a would be bride feels as the 'boys side' comes for the traditional "dekkho" (bride selection), but I have some idea. When they decided to take two year old Haroun into their family fold of one dog and one cat, I felt relieved that he would be getting a home where he would be secure and loved. After how he had been found wandering (read posts 'Majestic Mudhol' and "rescue dog" ) I knew that Haroun had finally come home.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
It seemed eerily similar to another childhood, never mind the generation gap. The reactions were diametrically different though. I remember when I was twelve, my father would often tell us to do the exact same thing and we would be mortified at what our friends would say. We would argue with him about how we could afford fresh paper and how it seemed 'cheap' to reuse paper. Funny, what seemed so 'cheap' yesterday, appears so 'classy', so smart now.
My father is no more and will never know that his idea would be considered so laudable today. Who knows how many such ideas are waiting to be resurrected? How many ideas that seemed irrelevant then, seem vital today? Only time will tell!
Saturday, June 20, 2009
The easy fix these days - you go to an orphanage, organise a meal for the kids there, cut a cake while they sing the happy birthday song, eat, and be back home. The orphanages are also ready, as they present you with a bill for that meal. Sounds like a good thing to do, right?
Here is a question though - how do those kids feel, when they watch the birthday prince/ princess, cut a cake and distribute largess and go back to their own world? Whom are we trying to bring cheer to?
Visiting children, once a year, is hardly likely to build a bond, establish empathy or make a connection. If you are trying to demonstrate the cause of the lesser fortunate, you have probably succeeded. You ensure that your child feels lucky that she has her ivory tower she can retreat to. As for the other children, this prince/ princess is just a stranger, who comes in beautiful birthday clothes, cuts a lovely cake, and then vanishes into the outside world. All the things that they can only dream of. Maybe, they wonder if it will be ever their turn. Maybe, they long to be able to give extravagantly for once, instead of having to take - in humility and abject gratitude. Maybe they wish to say "not sandwiches again!" . After all, friends do speak their minds! Objects of pity or butts of charity are expected to accept with grace.
Maybe, this seems too strong an opinion, but I think one should spend one's birthday in the company of loved ones. As for those who we think need charity, they need the charity of spirit, time spent with them, love shared with them, all on a regular basis. More than an act, once -in- a- way slave to the conscience, charity has to be a feeling, an emotion that prompts everyday behaviour.
As for the once a year, birthday charity, somethings are best left to the kings of yore.
It’s not about just the environment (that is just the latest buzz), we talk about corruption, but give some money to the havaldar, when we are parked wrongly. We talk about honesty, but lie to the boss, claiming an emergency when there is none, just for some time off. We talk about recycling garbage to save the world, but think nothing of using poison sprays at the first hum of a mosquito or the buzz of a fly. We talk of racism as we buy creams to lighten our skin and advertise for ‘fair brides’.
Admittedly, it is difficult to do away with every bit of wrong in the world, but trying to go that extra mile is what makes the difference. There are some among us who try harder, fight more and longer. As for me, I am almost inspired to follow S’s example. When? As soon as I can convince my household help that shikakai is better than her favourite washing soap!
P.S. Well, I did say it’s much easier to say things, than live them!!!
Recently, I was watching a TV show, where a lady participant presented the celebrity host with a beautifully embroidered piece of linen that she said had been in her family for generations. To his credit, the host tried to persuade her to preserve the piece of family history and pass it on as a heirloom to the next gen, but she stubbornly refused to take it back. She was gratified when he finally accepted it. She is not the only one to give celebrities, gifts, that they do not necessarily need or want. Often we are more willing to do things for others, neighbours, acquaintances and even perfect strangers, than for our families. In this country of ours, we pray for celebrities, their health and happiness, and are willing to immolate ourselves if we perceive something wrong in their lives.
Would the very same people who fast for Amitabh Bachchan's recovery when he is unwell, or conduct 'havans' and poojas for some leader's birthday, do half as much for their own families? Envy / jealousy is a strange thing. We feel bad if someone close to us, near us, succeeds (sibling rivalry, remember?) and yet we are enthralled by the success of those who have no connection to us. I know of people who want to help the old and infirm, but would prefer to live far away from their 'in-laws' (yes, that dreaded word) They praise the liveliness and spirit of other seniors, but wish their own would be content with a corner room, TV and meals.
Why are we so harsh on our own people? Maybe, when we see success in some one close to us, we are reminded that it could be us instead. Maybe, when it is our own we have to take care of, we find it repetitive and get no credit or gratitude for it any way. Maybe, we just want to identify with celebrities and fame and feel validated when we do something for them (very often, even without their knowledge!) Maybe, doing something for someone not connected, gives us the recognition we want.
As important as it is to love thy neighbour, shouldn't charity begin at home? As for the piece of antique embroidered linen, I wonder if the lady asked others in the family if they wanted to have it, before she very generously gave it away. For them, it might have been a piece of their history.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Even today, I find that no one uses the word more generously than the young. 'loved the movie, love your dress, love ice-cream,love the Beatles....' Maybe, with youth,what's not to love?
Remember the letter you wrote someone you met in the summer holidays and promised eternal friendship? It was most likely signed with lots of love. As we grew older we lost touch with that friend and also with the word 'love'. Maybe, we discovered that love was too precious to be bandied around. It involved making a lifetime commitment to one person. At times it involved going through a difficult pregnancy and painful labour. Very often, it meant sleepless nights with a sick child or an unwell parent. It could be the serious job applications, that had no place for any emotion, that distanced us from that word. What ever the reason, we signed our letters and mail with regards, affection, with sincerity and even smiley faces!
Recently, I was in touch with a lady in connection with a story I was writing, and she replied to my regards with love and a footnote that said 'The world needs it'. Couldn't argue with that and yet I still hesitate to sign off with love. I have noticed that with age, we are not so free with the word, as we used to be. Age makes us more reserved, more cynical, less open to possibilities, fearful of rejection and loss and less forgiving. So maybe, the best time to send the word (and mean it) around, is all the time. Let age/maturity not inhibit us in these times of rage and race, polarisation and globalisation. Are we brave enough?
We are eager to move to entirely new continents, so we can expatiate on how there are so many irritants back home, starting from comparisons between the long lines at the bank tellers, (before the ATM) , to the short ones abroad and claim that it is an irritant. (Yes, he definitely deserves the whine crown, but that should be a separate post.) We revel in it and feel martyred as we discuss the real or percieved suffering.
Then again, we are talking about incredible India, so never be surprised, should be the motto. So, now we have an official forum to complain on. Couple of months back, the Faridabad Municipal Corporation laid new roads in his area and the residents were very happy about it. But two weeks later, BSNL dug up the newly laid roads to install new cables which annoyed all the residents. A resident used the the Government of India online Grievance forum at http://www.pgportal.gov.in/ to highlight his concern. To his surprise, BSNL and Municipal Corporation of Faridabad were served a show cause notice and the guy received a copy of the notice in one week. Government has asked the MC and BSNL about the goof up as it's clear that both the government departments were not in sync at all. So use this grievance forum and educate others who don't know about this facility.
Maybe our country is the ultimate example of "Ask and you shall be answered". So maybe, we have to ask a lot more often. Maybe, we have to ask more persistently and even loudly. Things will work ; and if they do not , we can always add one more thing on our crib list.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
As I grew older, I realized that there is no place like home. Never mind what happened elsewhere, I could come home and be myself. There were no pretences, no airs. I did not need to try to fit in; I just naturally did.
Some of us never grow up though.We just substitute the anyplace for foreign land and home for our country. Maybe it is the belief that being in a foreign land gives us extra respect at home (ever seen the pride of NRI parents?) . It is as if we cannot believe in ourselves until some foreign company or institute stamps approval. (even A.R. Rahman's stock has gone up since 'Jai ho'.)
The head line today screamed "Bashed up Indian eyes Singapore". The front page of The Times of India also carried a story of the same person victimised in Australia (earlier related posts -'wizards in oz' and 'race matters'). After telling his story, he goes on to say that he plans to move to Singapore or some such place. (Till there is some problem there, maybe) While I am all for globalization and free movement across borders, I just wonder why we do not think of staying in India. This was a big problem (brain drain) earlier, till the westerners themselves declared that India was the place to be. So today, it has become a little more respectable to stay on in this country. We needed their validation, before we could validate it ourselves.
To anyone who might wonder what I would do in such a scenario- I have studied abroad-never was a victim of racism though. ( I never did stick to only desi friends either) Even before I was ever a victim, I was back home ( nothing holy, just wanted to be more with my family-very selfish, I know!) I also realize that some cannot come back for very real and valid reasons (like having entire families there, marrying someone from there, or financial and medical constraints or maybe they just like it there). They are willing to take what comes their way and fight if needed (Kudos to them,) But why think of another place/another country, even before you come home to nurse your wounds ?
On the whole , I think we do not have any pride in being Indian and feel that we are missing out on something if we are here. Otherwise, shouldn't running home be your first thought (if you choose not to fight) when the big bully picks on you?
Being birds on this predatory planet, they have to make the best of their options. I speak of the lapwings, called titvi locally ( and Titori in the north). These birds lay their eggs on the ground and the grass, shrubs and stones etc provide the camouflage (though the plastic stuff outdoes the natural, these days, in any open plot of land). Talk of unsafe homes! The dogs, the snakes, the cats and the humans, all are the danger and this before the chicks hatch. Once they hatch, it gets worse as there are kites and owls and other birds eyeing the tender morsels. Even having eyes in the back of the head might not help (as any parent who has taken a couple of kids to the mall knows) when you have four little chicks, trying to get some nourishment going in all different directions. Other birds nest in relatively safer places where the nights are relatively safer. No such luck for these birds. A scavenging stray dog is as much a problem in the day as at night. An eagle eyed kite is replaced by a sharp eyed owl. Little wonder they would rise up screeching and swooping at the predator. Love for your little ones sometimes takes the form of loud squawks and screams (Yes, my sons will second this most feelingly).
The little one is next to the black blob.
I remember when I was a new mother for the first time, the sleeplessness almost drove me out of my mind. That did not prevent me from having another go at motherhood. All of us parents have been through our share of sleep deprivation,and discuss it with anyone who cares to listen (along with all the other things that we do for our kids and how they drive our lives!). Here are a couple of " bird brains" who do it and just keep at it, with no mother's day and father's day celebrations guaranteed. Actually they do not even expect all to survive till maturity. Last year, they flew away with just one, at the end of three months, after laying four eggs. This year, so far, there are two survivors of the four hatchlings. If you think they may not be feeling as much as we do, come to their ground and watch them take you on! You, who are several times their size. Love does make one do strange things. And parenting is all about love!
Monday, June 15, 2009
After all the 'will we? won't we?' , the betting and the nail biting, we can all sleep without the tension of who will take home the cup. There will be as many theories as to why we lost, as the number of people who watched.
As for my two bits, I feel that we have the IPL to thank for this. How? When you are playing for(in IPL) and against( as nations) the same people (some anyway, if not all) you lose that edge ... Also, the money comes, regardless of how you play for the nation. If it sounds too simple an explanation..all I can say is that simple things are at the root of everything we do. Think about it. I am open to being convinced otherwise too!
We can always console ourselves by saying that we win some and lose some... Well, now we will not be losing sleep anyway!
Last evening I saw him again, and despite the limp and the small cuts and general air of neglect , he still looked majestic. Slender to start with, he looked emaciated and was missing all the signs of being a humanised dog. Wondering how he would react to me, I offered him some bread and eggs which he accepted with great dignity. Not for him the grabbing, gobbling behaviour of a starving pariah. He licked the eggs delicately and nibbled at the bread. That he was hungry was obvious, from the enquiring look for more.
After some hectic consultation with family, (these are the times I bless the cell phone) we decided that we could not leave him on the street and I invited him to follow me home. Pausing to consider the implications he sighed and then followed me trustingly.
With two dogs at home, I have all the ....collars and leashes were the least of my worries. We put him in the parking and while he seemed to settle in, he would call out periodically to check my whereabouts. I ended up sleeping in the guest room just above him, so as to call out reassurances.
Haven't slept much last night, wondering who could have abandoned such a lovely creature as also considering his future. I am hoping he gets adopted into a loving home, as he has a lot to give. The liquid eyes say it all!
Sunday, June 14, 2009
As the level of magic grows they will make people disappear. So, who are these magicians? Some people in Australia( Or those are the ones we hear,see, read about) And who is disappearing?The Indian youngsters who are in Australia for a better education/ career/ life!People who are there to study and pay good money to do so. People who now fear for their safety. People who might have to abandon the education they have paid for but learnt a lesson for free - that, colour matters! Even in this day and age! Even in the rat race, Race matters!
Friday, June 12, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Jon Mathews age 59, decided to bet his life (literally)when he was diagnosed with Cancer in 2006 and told that that he had just a few months to live. He placed three bets that he would be alive in June 2008,June 2009 and June 2010. He has collected the first two bets and will collect the third one, in June 2010.
The company which took on the bet says that they have never done such a thing but decided to go ahead as it would give Jon additional incentive to battle his illness. They also say that they are only too happy to make this particular payment.
So what is Jon doing with his winnings? He plans to give it to charity!
We all know (unless you were in some jungle for the last couple of years) that Harbhajan Singh was bang in the center of a racism controversy himself. While no one may have lost lives in that controversy, it did nothing for the Indian Image as ' Non-racists, Non-discriminating ' people. One could argue that what is allegedly happening in Australia is a matter of life and death as there is a threat to lives and not abstract issue like social or emotional abuse. Then again there are those who will say that emotional and social abuse cam make life on earth a living hell.
So, while being sensitive to every one's feelings, can we please splash less controversial pictures and people all over the place? Or else it will look like the pot is calling the kettle black!
P.S. While Mr. Amitabh Bachchan is refusing an honorary degree in protest of the racial attacks, Harbhajan Singh is promoting the cause of education in Australia as the brand ambassador of 'Planet Education' !
Gold rings, for the new born!! The Tamil government, in a bid to promote Tamil culture , has announced that all babies born in government / corporation hospitals on Karunanidhi's 86th birthday today, will be given gold rings.
As an avid supporter of all cultures (Isn't that what makes us so much more interesting? ..the differences?) I agree that local names have a unique flavor! That they may mean something entirely different in another place adds spice to it ( I am told that 'Usha' which signifies the dawn for us, means dog in Amharic).
While we say viva la difference ( Or whatever it is in french!!) can we also say kudos to the Tamil govt for coming up with such a bright idea? Especially as no one has ever thought of such incentive before.. or else would Karunanidhi's own son have been named 'Stalin'? After all I do not think that the Russians and the Tamils are remotely culturally akin!
When Shakespeare said "What is in a name?" he had no clue that there were gold rings to be had for some .
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Well, it has to do with wisdom. It has to do with growing older ( you notice, I avoid the word old). Apart from the brain which has hopefully grown and gained with age, other parts want to join the wisdom club.
The teeth for instance. The wisdom teeth appear when you least want them. . Just as you heave a sigh of relief at having paid off the huge orthodontist bills for aligning your children's teeth, you begin to feel the dull throbbing. ( it is almost miraculous how the two events synchronise) . The throbbing grows into a swelling and you bear an uncanny resemblance to Popeye, the sailor ( as the children gleefully point out to their friends).
As if the pain and the humiliation were not enough, you end up biting the tongue in the same spot (proving to all and sundry that you could do with many more dollops of wisdom). That is of course an example of 'stupid dumbness' which lead to the quiet dumbness. Speaking is agony as the tongue rubs against the tooth every time and eating is pure torture.
Why don't I do something about it? Well since I am told that silence is a way to spiritual happiness, I thought I'd give it a try. As the only way I can keep quiet in under threat of pain and punishment, I am holding back on the treatment. Also, I am hoping to lose a few kilos and as the maxim goes " No pain, No Loss".
Monday, June 1, 2009
Advertising guru David Ogilvy says "I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information..."
Those who put this advert on air not only know their Management basics well, they also take David Ogilvy seriously. After all heart bypass surgeries and angioplasties are hardly entertaining ( hopefully not for the doctors performing them and certainly not for the patients undergoing them) So what would you think if you heard them being advertised on a popular radio station? "Heart surgeries at Rs. 99,999/ ( they seem to know the marketing funda of odd pricing as well!) and angioplasties at Rs.30,999/." What they seem to have forgotten to tack on is the line that will have the buyers queueing up- 'Offer valid only till supplies last. Rush now!' After all who can resist a good bargain!
As for me, I am waiting for the day they advertise 'Buy one , get one surgery free'. I know how to drive a hard bargain!