Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back to business!!

Hurray!!!!

My research project is over and the final report has been drafted, approved and sent off to be bound. A little bit of writing work - like what was achieved by this work and how it would benefit society etc - remains. But the strain of poring into the microscope and identifying microorganisms is over. 

Did I enjoy my work? Of course I did. Do I want to take up another project? No, thanks. The next generation can continue from where we left. My house and family need my undivided attention. Husband has been sulking for too long and towards the end he even threatened to throw my laptop into the very river that was the subject of our investigation. I don't blame him. As I have said earlier, I am the only friend he has and it has been 14 years since he retired from service. He has his own opinion on political and social issues and cannot wait for me to get home to listen to his point of view. And apart from the time I served him his meals I would sit down with my laptop either  identifying the specimen that were micro-photographed, feeding data into tables or preparing graphs and charts. Sundays and holidays would be utilized for field work or visits to my Principal Investigator's or Ph. D guide's home for discussion. Summer vacation just came and went. I either went to college or worked at home engrossed in my work as usual. Husband was patient enough but became irritable towards the end.

I now come to my question on the issue.

I am passionate about whatever I do and do go overboard at times. But if our roles were reversed and it was my husband who was busy with some project taken up by him would I feel lonely and left out? I think not. 

Instead of sulking and pouting I would have occupied myself with umpteen chores that now remain unattended in the house. For instance I would have cleared the store room and disposed of the old  news papers and magazines. I would have seen to it that the house was tidied up and looked neat when he returned. And I would certainly not expect him to make tea and snacks for me within ten minutes of entering the house. Lastly, I would find some socially productive work to keep myself busy.

I do not know if I am being uncharitable but if our men folk show lack of understanding ( after all my project work would not continue for the next ten years) it is the woman/women who pamper them who has to accept blame. For my part, I agree that I played a role in making my husband an enabler.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

The international breast feeding week is on and the Home Science Department of our college held a program to emphasise the importance of breast feeding and the benefits it confers to both mother and child. The program brought back memories of the time when I was a young mother. 

Apart from the health benefits the time one gets to spend while breast feeding one's child is very special. It is a very special time ensuring 'one on one' interaction that helps the child bond with the mother. It makes the baby feel secure and wanted. It makes the mother feel like an achiever because this is one area where a dad cannot pitch in and take over.

I do not mean to undermine a dad's role in this area. Lactation is a physiological process and it is the brain that signals it's onset. It is a husband's duty to see to it that his wife gets adequate time with her baby and is in a relaxed state of mind. While it is important to pay attention to the diet of a nursing mother it is equally important to make her feel special.

So, my advise to young mothers and mothers to be is to enjoy the special role that nature has given you. Internet offers tips - good ones at that - but each child is different and nothing can be generalised. Listen to good advise whether it is from your doctor or grandmother but decide on the requirement for your child yourself. The little one is your responsibility - an extension of you and your husband - and deserves the very best.

Happy parenting!









Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Nostalgia.......

Feeling nostalgic today. Had the opportunity to relax and listen to old Tamil movie songs of the 60 and 70s. Songs that I would listen to on my transistor while finishing my record work while Vividh Bharati, Radio Ceylon and listeners' choice from AIR, Tiruchy played my favourite songs. These were songs we would be treated to for an hour after dinner before the Silence Hour in our hostel. How much we would nag the seniors in charge of selecting records to play our favourite numbers!

How I wish that I had never grown up and continued to lead that carefree life for ever.

How I wish I never had to learn the bitter truth and harsh realities that are part of life.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Spread the language of love


Spreading the language of love

Four years back we had the the pleasure of celebrating our granddaughters’ birthdays at Jamshedpur. Megha was turning six and Annika two. We combined their birthday celebrations and arranged for a small party for sixty people including 12 to 15 children. The kids had a blast and my granddaughters must have taken back pleasant memories of their two months stay in India Then came the task of sorting out gifts. There were a number of Cadbury's chocolate gift packs, stuffed toys, dolls and other items. I put away the chocolates telling them that they could have them over the next couple of weeks. My six year old granddaughter then surprised me with her words  -
“Amma” she said, “I want to give away the chocolates to children who do not get to eat them. We keep getting chocolates all the time and do not need more of them”.
Enjoying a game at Bridge School
I felt proud of my little girl and took the two of them to a bridge school run by Anjalidi and they not only shared chocolates and snacks with the 35 girls in the school but spent the whole evening playing with them. On their return to America Megha continued to remember them and once asked me to distribute cold drinks and snacks to her Bridge School friends on her behalf. I gladly obliged. My co sister Geeta heard about the bridge school and gave them a trunk load of utensils and household items that belonged to her mother to be used by them.
Yummy snacks??
   
A similar sentiment is expressed in the “Share the Language of Love” campaign jointly hosted by Johnson’s Baby in collaboration with Goonj – an NGO that echoes similar sentiments. The objective of the campaign is to motivate parents to donate their children’s utilized articles with children from underprivileged families so that they too may experience the joys of childhood. This in turn would help children to appreciate the privileges that they enjoy and also realize that children that are not as privileged as them also deserve to enjoy the experience of owning items that that their parents cannot get for them.

The idea of sharing and caring not only does wonders to the donor as well as the receiver – I say it from experience – but also sends positive vibes to society in general. The organizers of the campaign have collection centers where the items may be deposited. Those who are interested may just give a missed call to 1800 267 6767/1800 267 2222 and they will be guided to the nearest collection center where they can give away stuff that were purchased with great care for their own children who have now grown up and/or have no use for them. If a small gesture like this can bring a smile on a child’s face why not we join hands and support the campaign.

I am no very much into blogging these days with a research project demanding my time and attention. But the idea behind the campaign was appealing and I could not help remembering that Megha echoed the very same sentiments four years back! I hope she remains so always.

     




Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

This mother’s day I wish to pay my heartfelt tribute to all those women including my mother who have shaped my life.  I have already written about my mother in earlier posts but whatever I write seems inadequate. She has had a very strong and positive role in my life and I have no hesitation in tracing every little success that came my way and each one leads me to her. From the time she taught me to read and write till occasions that left me depressed her presence alone instilled a confidence that was difficult to explain. Never verbose or vocal, she led by example and one could never compromise on morals and ethics – neither when she was alive nor after her death. She taught me to accept the ups and downs in my life with equanimity and under her guiding influence I learnt valuable lessons – the most important one being that good and bad times are a part of life and neither last forever.

My mother’s sisters also mothered me in their own way. Following my father’s death they would invite us children for vacations and treat us to movies and exhibitions the way my dad would have. Her older sister had no children of her own but how can I forget the kindness and concern she showed when she came to assist me when my son was born. I was in hospital following my delivery and in a foul mood because my husband was taking a long time to come. He was to come straight from his office so I did not expect my aunt to turn up. But she did. She did not know the route and could manage just a few words of Hindi. A flask of coffee in one hand and idlis in the other she took the town bus, got down at the blood bank as per my father in law’s direction, followed the crowd that was proceeding to the hospital, asked for the maternity ward and was by my bed even before my husband. All because she knew that I would be hungry and that she did not want me to eat the hotel food that my husband may get since he was coming straight from his workplace.

Kamakshi mami, my maternal aunt by marriage about whom I have written in this post was also a second mother to me. She taught me the virtue of being selfless again leading by example. Her own children were around the same age as my brothers. I cannot recall a single incident where she subjected us to indifference or showed any preferential treatment for her own children. It was her influence that helped me overcome minor irritants and hiccups as a young bride in Jamshedpur.

My mother in law also made me feel at home in my acquired family and would tell me so much about her people that I learnt to love them even before I had met them. She also did not differentiate between daughter and daughter in law and thanks to her, today I can proudly claim that I equally love both my sister and sister in law.
   
Finally, my mother in law’s friend Thailam mami, who was a pillar of strength when my mother in law was sick and I was at a loss not knowing how to deal with her mood swings and hunger pangs. I could walk into her house at six in the morning and return with a bowl of rasam or sambhar for my mother in law who was normally a picky eater but screamed for food like a six month old on account of her diabetic condition. Thailam mami not only assured me that I could feel free to approach her anytime and would come over during her free time and reassure my mother in law that she would be well very soon. But for her support and guidance l could not have coped with my responsibilities well enough.           
       

  Motherhood is not about raising children it is more about teaching them valuable lessons of sharing and caring. This is done, not by preaching from a pedestal but by showering love and affection on those around us.

A very happy mother’s day to all mothers!   

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Being taken for a ride???

I have been out of sorts lately. I don't seem to be my usual self. Reason? I have suddenly realised that however generous one would like to be, pressure tactics employed by people are annoying. I don't know if I am right or wrong. But recent experiences have made me lose faith in those around me. Am I being used? I ask myself. I think I am. When this thought crosses my mind I do not feel like being considerate or kind to those in need. What then am I supposed to do? I tried being mean but ended up hurting myself more than the person I wished to hurt. It just does not work in my case. Let me explain.

I was always sympathetic towards my servants and my ex-maid Rajamma was no exception. She rang me up saying that her granddaughter was getting married and I gave her Rupees 10,000/- and asked her to get something for the granddaughter and keep the rest for her personal expenses. I normally give her some 500/- to 1000/- rupees when she goes out of town. She left for the south to attend the marriage. As luck would have it, she  fractured her hip bone and had to spend around 80,000/- for an operation and expected me to help. I had my own needs to take care of. My house had to be repaired, my grandchildren were visiting me and I had to go without pay for two of the four months that I had spent in America since I was short of paid leave. My own brother in law was in hospital in Chennai and needed financial help for a major operation. I  politely refused. 

That started it. Unknown people claiming to be her son in law, nephew and what not started calling me explaining her predicament and my reply remained the same. 'Sorry'. She then sent a woman known to her, along with a granddaughter living in Jamshedpur asking for money. Teary eyed, the granddaughter pleaded that I give at least 20,000/- rupees as loan and she would ask her father to repay it. By now, my husband had become adamant saying that we were not moneylenders and if we had been in a position to help we would have done it after the first phone call. 'No' meant 'NO'. The girl left, disappointed. 

That very night Rajamma called me asking me to ask one or the other of my friends to lend her money saying that her daughter had spent the money set aside for her daughter's marriage for her treatment and  with the marriage scheduled in December there was little time to arrange for money at short notice.

I was in a dilemma. There was truth in what she was saying but with a daughter in law working in a Nationalised bank why could she not arrange for loan? I began to wonder if I was doing the wrong thing by refusing to help. I also realised that if I gave in there would be future occasions when I would be thus pressurised. I did give in and hand over 15,000/- rupees to her son who was attending the wedding and informed Rajamma about it but I haven't yet heard from Rajamma as to whether he gave it or not although 2 weeks have gone by. There were umpteen phone calls made before I gave the money not one after receiving it. 


A day after I gave the money I told my husband about it and he had predicted that I would hear no more from her and how right he was! Tell me now if I am wrong in feeling upset and annoyed. This is just one incident. There are more. But I leave them for a later post.  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Of this and that

My vacation is almost over and in less than a fortnight I'll be back in India. It has been a pleasant stay - interacting with grandchildren, getting to know them better and generally relaxing. The only sore area was the fact that we were dependent on others to be taken around. Except for a fortnight spent before my second daughter shifted to her own house, we had no shopping areas near the places we stayed and were pretty much on house arrest during the week and if it weren't for two sets of grandchildren who were having their summer vacations we would have had nothing to do. 

We got to spend around three weeks with my son after a gap of more than 10 years. His visits to India just for two weeks including travel time and on his last visit he had spent just four days at home since he had to finalize the purchase of an apartment in Bangalore. On earlier visits to the US he was either studying or we had a lot of baby sitting to do so we visited him during a weekend and rushed back. It was a pleasure to relive the time when he was in India and also to see that he had not changed in the years gone by. I have given an account of an imaginary conversation with him in this post. This should explain why I miss the lively conversations and light - hearted banter that I used to enjoy with my children before they flew the nest.

Returning to my niche is something I look forward to. But I am also going to sorely miss my children and grandchildren. I sometimes wish we could return to the time when they were small, school goers and I did not have to worry about my blood pressure and arthritis. I remember my mother saying something to this effect during one of her visits to Jamshedpur. I had not understood her words then. I do now. And this makes me long for the days when I was my mother's daughter. She was a person I could turn to in my moments of distress and trust on her to give an unbiased advice and assure me that all would be well.

 'Bad times don't last forever' was her famous refrain. 

Unfortunately good times too do not last forever. So perhaps the best thing to do would be to enjoy the moment without worrying about the past and future.

Returning to a house that had been locked for more than 4 months and setting it in order is bad enough. I have to deal with some repair work too. The day we were leaving, around 4:30 in the morning, a part of the bathroom terrace (about 2 meters in diameter) fell off - plaster, concrete, cement - and we had no time to attend to it. In the process it had crashed into the washbasin and shattered it. We are lucky that it did not crash on our heads. I keep wondering if there has been further damage and now that we have to return I keep worrying about how it may be fixed. I hear that it has been raining heavily in Jamshedpur  which means that the seepage in the wall might have increased and repair work may not be immediately possible. 

So as you see though I know that I need to enjoy the moment I cannot help worrying about these little and not so little problems. Selfish I may sound but I cannot help wanting to return to my childhood when I had the older generation to take care of such things.

Be it as it may, let me enjoy the remaining week of my stay in America and enjoy Deepavali with my children and grandchildren which is again a pleasure that I hope to get after 13 years.

A happy Deepavali to all of you.

@ Dipali: Sorry for stealing your blog name.