Saturday, October 30, 2010

Age no bar

My mother -in-law called was recently invited to a 'satsang', literally translated meaning 'company of the virtuous'. Since it was a neighbour, she was surprised to know that I had no invitation to the same . She went and on her return told me that the hosts did not invite me as 'uski umar nahin hui hai na', meaning 'she is not at that age yet'. I am not into satsangs, but then, neither is my mother-in-law. So is this age discrimination? Just like we are always ready to take the word of an adult over a child, or think that adults know more than the children who question them.

We get upset when we do not see age appropriate behaviour. A sixty year old is not sitting and reading a religious text, when a child openly rebels against some tradition he sees no sense in.. a sixty eight year old travelling around the world for pleasure...

What is age appropriate behaviour? Going to kindergarten at age three plus, starting college at eighteen, getting a job within five to six years of that, getting married, having children, retiring from work at sixty and so on.... while these are very broad expectations, we have more minute details that we expect to follow. Mothers have to give up the last morsel of their food if their child likes it. Youngsters are expected to touch the feet of elders, daughters -in-law should adopt the traditions and customs of the husbands family overnight. Sons in law should be treated with kid gloves .. the list is endless.

A lady I know lives on her own while her son and his family live just half a kilometre away with his mother in law.. and the world and it's uncle is really concerned about why his mother is living on her own! After all it is her right to live with the son. Never mind the fact that this independent lady wants to be on her own. She is able and works as a volunteer for a good cause. She has friends who accompany her to movies, lunches and dinners, picnics and even excursions and trips overseas. "Yet one of the most common questions put to me is why I do not live with my son and daughter-in-law. They look disappointed or sceptical when I assure them that there is no problem .. it's just choice.. till I can manage. I guess I am not following the standard expectations.I would have been unhappy had I given in to standard expectations. I am expected to live with my son, go to temples and read holy books. I could do all these, but why should I limit myself to these?"

'Satsang' or dance party, why should age be the deciding factor? As they say, age is just a number and as for expectations of others.. the less we worry about them, the happier we will be!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Rapunzel complex

I wonder if Rapunzel, who let down her hair for the prince and lived happily ever after, was ever tempted to cut her hair. Now that she had escaped from her lonely tower and settled into wedded bliss (since I assume that 'living in' was probably not an option in fairy tales, but that should be the subject of another post) with age and greying. Imagine having to color hair that long!! By the time you did the tips, the roots would probably be ready for the next round. If she were fond of the low maintenance life, she must have cut it, or at least thought about it and turned it over in her mind.

I am not very patient with all that needs to be done for beauty. Which means that the world has to like me or leave me just the way I am. This also means that while I think about getting that great haircut often, I have worn my hair long for most of my adult life. Yes, long is less work... because you can let it dry any which way, you can have it go a couple of days without worrying about style, you can just bundle it up or braid it when you have no time for a quick shampoo before a party. I know people think that long hair is difficult to manage, but if like me, you do not worry about the grey (recently a friend of mine commented that it was all the grey matter inside, spilling out. Going by the amount of grey and that theory, I should have none inside the head by now) then, long hair is simple to manage. Let me point out the ways..
1. No regular haircuts needed to keep the look intact.
2. You sweep it up roughly and then pin it with one of the umpteen clips available in the market these days.
3. No styling post washing.
4. No setting needed.
and so on .. the benefits are many .. and to top it people think you take so much care, to which you can nod and take credit. So you can make sheer laziness look like lot of effort (love that part).

I am told that middle age means that you feel like shorter (read more here) hair.. so far I have resisted the urge and my inertia has helped.... who knows what Rapunzel did?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Clinton lost the WHAT??!

Where do you search for it? Is there a lost and found for nuclear buttons....OK, so it was not a button, but the authentication codes.. same difference.
Bill Clinton, a two time president of the US of A, misplaced ' THE' codes.

So for all of us harried people, lesser mortals so to speak, there is a lesson in there. To never get harried.. So what if you misplace your car keys, or the doctor's prescription, the TV remote, or your cell phone, your spectacles.. after all it is not affecting the future of humanity the way of a nuclear bomb!

Come to think of it, maybe if it had stayed lost, the threat of nuclear war can not be brandished at the drop of a hat. What's so bad about that??

Thursday, October 21, 2010

She stands and waits.. she may do something other than what he wishes. Thirteen years ago when they got married, he coaxed her into giving up her job, promising her a glamorous life style, better opportunities and a safer place to nurture a family. She quit and moved. Then there were the children and given that as a merchant mariner he was away for long periods, it made sense to not have a full time job.. the kids and home would be better with her full focus, is it not?.... he asked her.

She agreed, though she thought that she could manage, but he was right... after all the kids were young. The kids started school and she broached the issue again.. Didn't they need help with their homework? and what of the after school activities.. they needed someone to ferry them, right? It sort of seemed to make sense, though she dreamt of what she would do when they were a little older and started full time school.

It was the right time now, she thought and promised her friend part time assistance with an NGO which helped young children read and write. No, he shook his head.. my parents visit often and my mom will get bored when she is at home alone, especially when I am away....... but what about me, sitting alone for the past thirteen years.. she wanted to scream.

I am there to take care of you, sweetheart.. why do you need to work? you just enjoy the spoils of my global trips .. you are so pretty.. just stay that way... he said.

Edited to add- A friend read this post and said suggested I make a story out of this episode that happened at my yoga class. The incident so far is as was narrated by the lady in question. So what would you do if you were living in urban India today, were educated and equipped with more facets than just the maternal instinct (which most women are, even if they choose to prioritise according to circumstances)?

Here is a bit of fiction for this ending...

Can I go to the beauty salon? she asked..... of course, you must.. just pamper yourself, he said indulgently. As she pulled out of the driveway, she smiled in anticipation.. she was meeting 'him' .. Don't you worry.. I shall be pampered. I only wish I had begun this long ago ...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Creatures of habit

Unseasonal rains... Pune has been seeing some of those for the past few days... never mind my friends who swear it is because I bought a few umbrellas on the off season clearance... :) This means that every evening the skies just open up and then the deluge. And deluge it is, mostly for a short time during which the roads are flooded and anyone on them is drenched to the skin. The greenery looks lush and beautiful after,but I digress.
Every evening, without fail, we walk our dogs ... or they walk us. We are as used to the walk as they are and the routine never varies. Grab the keys, shout for the dogs (who are hovering around us around walk time anyway and are out the door way before us), lock the door, grab the leash, grab a dog each and set off...
Imagine a scenario where the clouds look ominous and you hope to finish walking two big , walk addicted dogs before it pours. So last evening, when the clouds gathered, beautiful, heavy and threatening all at the same time, my husband just rushed around getting the windows shut and the place in order ( We live in a bunglow) before the walk. As he rushed around, he called out to the dogs and me (in that order) and grabbed the keys to the door. He was out the door and locked the place and grabbed the leash, all in super hero time. Very impressive... The dogs too rushed around joyously, impatiently... one next to me and the other inside the house... Super hero had locked up the very dog he was to walk! And so engrossed was he in the routine, he did not realize it initially.. When I got my dog, the vet told me that they do well on routine as they are creatures of habit. So used are we to their habits, we are becoming creatures of habit ourselves... I hope the day when we have to walk without the dogs is far away, but for now, I saw an expression on my husband's face that reminded me of another animal.. sheep..

So, here is the question, can you walk the dog, if the dog is missing? :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Just for the asking....

Book stores... one of my favourite places to be. Today I was at one and as usual ended up with more books ( eleven, to be exact) than I should have, at one go. The books are not really the subject of this post. While I was at the billing counter, the person put them in bright bags ( which I like for the small trivia that they have on them, but which I dislike for being plastic.. I am not militant about environmental issues, but I try not to add to the mess...)

Knowing that it will be just one more bag waiting at home to be put to good use, I asked the person why they do not have paper bags . "You want paper bag, ma'am?" he asked and pulled out some paper bags made out of newspaper. They had a label that proclaimed that the eco friendly bags were made by the Nirmalya trust, which helps the physically challenged.

So sometimes, all you have to do is ask!

P.S.I was surprised to see the brown paper bags that Big Bazaar is bagging it's veggies in, when I visited recently after a long gap.

Monday, October 18, 2010


I occasionally take on projects that are neither popular or easy. Saving strays does not make me very popular with my neighbors.. they do not say anything specific to me, but as we cross paths while on a walk or at the local store, I will hear things like, 'those strays are really making a mess' or ' couldn't sleep last night because those strays barked thru the night'.
Over the past few years I have developed a thick skin and just let those bounce off me, and pretend to understand their issues. Actually, I do sort of understand their issues, I have no love for dirty streets or sleep deprivation myself. Yet, what can those strays do?

There are no easy answers. the long term solution is to spay/ neuter them( admittedly, not easy) or stop taking up all the space as if it belongs to us humans alone .Even if we do want all the space, we can at least be gracious and compassionate about it. Let them live without pain and without being hounded all the time. ( ironic that we are the ones 'HOUNDING' them)

Anyhow, to came back to the reason for this post, I now have a small black dog that I feed and sort of take care of.( I use that term loosely, because he just flinches away even when I try to pet him.. I suppose humanity flinging stones and swinging sticks at you will make you suspicious) So now to treat his wounds, I am feeding him a steroid wrapped in a piece of food and then just fling the haldi in the general direction of his wound. Some of it sticks and most of it falls on the ground... oh well.. I am hoping I will get him to accept me and then try and find him a home.. hope the powers that be are on my side. My own dogs will be happy to see him go as they know that they are sharing the attention now.

I just hope he does not stay untamed for too long..
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