Thursday, November 22, 2012
Saturday, October 20, 2012
This is an interesting contest from Women's web and I could not help participating in it. Nice way to return to the blog world isn't it? Happy reading.
My grand daughter rings me up with complaints about her mother and I realize that I am still expected to reprimand my daughter when need arises! My grandchildren see an ally in me who helps them tackle their own mommy. Finally when my 32 year old son calls me up to say that an advice - to concentrate on one thing at a time - that I had given him when he was in school, came in handy when he faced a crisis at work I realized that my hair may have grayed and I may have put on 15 Kgs of weight but I may never ever retire from my post as a mother!
So from what I see motherhood is a song that begins as a lullaby that she sings for her little one. It gets transformed into a motivational song when the kid is being prepared to face life and becomes an inspirational one when the child settles down. The lyrics may change but the essence remains!
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Monday, May 21, 2012
Thursday, May 03, 2012
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
I came to hear of Nirmal Baba through my domestic help Baby who complained that her 65 year old mother woke the entire family up by switching on the TV and listening to Nirmal Baba’s discourses telecast at 5:00AM in the morning. She woke up at 4:00 in the morning, had a bath in cold water lit a lamp in front of the TV set and sat down to listen to him. She would have tea and a biscuit only after the discourse was over.
I was not impressed and advised my servant to stay away from god men and spiritual gurus. I felt that one ought to face challenges and find solutions instead of wasting time and money as suggested by these men who take advantage of the psychological pressure faced by those in distress. I never heard of Nirmal Baba again till news channels and local newspapers began to report that he had earned more than 109 crores in just 3 months. The money poured in from different sources. Devotees were charged Rs. 2000/- per person for being granted audience and he also asked them to deposit 10% of their salary as a solution to their problems. He maintained two accounts for this purpose. He claims to be paying tax for the amount thus received. Interviews with his one time devotees who now claim for action against him reveal that his solutions make no real sense. He just said whatever came out of his mouth. Like a woman was asked to keep her purse open at dusk while lighting a lamp at the altar in her house as a solution to her financial worries. When she came back to say that her problem persisted he asked her to put money into a costlier purse for better results. He asked some to distribute pencils to poor school going children for success in his examination. A person was asked consume and to distribute ‘kheer’ (Payasam) as a solution to persistent pain in his legs. He actually had blood sugar and his condition worsened. There seems to be no end to these stories. My husband loves watching the same news over and over again. I find it silly.
I now feel like defending these god men. Man claims to be capable of rational thinking. How then can a person lose all discretion and trust these swindlers? If changing one’s purse or distributing pencils was a solution wouldn’t we be a land of multi millionaires? The man was elevated to a divine level by the very same people who are hounding him and asking him to account for the money he collected. He has purchased a five star hotel and has planned to convert it to a chain of hotels, and why not? Money and power are intoxicating tools for corruption. Rare is the person who can resist temptation. For all the social service done by Satya Sai Baba with due respect to him one must say that he too had allowed people with vested interest to handle his money and upon his death people who tried to transport cash from his ashram were detained and questioned. I do not know if arrests were made. I have always respected Satya Sai Baba for his contribution to society. But beyond a point he too lost control or so it seems to me.
Stay away from such fake ‘babas’ is my advice. Life is full of unpredictable turns of fortune and one has to face them as best as one can. Superstitions have never benefitted anyone nor is there an easy way out from life’s woes. In my last post I forgot to wish you all a happy Tamil New Year. A very Happy Nandana year to all of you!
Friday, April 13, 2012
My husband recalls the incident of a child Chinna who lost his mother when the family fled from Burma during World War II and was brought up by his maternal uncle and aunt in Jamshedpur for a while till his father found a job. In fact his older brother and sister also stayed at the uncle’s place but they were aware of a life they had spent in Burma while the youngest was a mere baby. When the children’s father found a job and was in a position to support his family he came to Jamshedpur and took them to Bombay where he worked. The older children had no problem but the youngest fell sick and had to be brought back. The aunt for her part would not touch food after he left and pleaded with her husband that the boy be brought back. Chinna loved his aunt dearly and would call her ‘amma’. She was an aunt by marriage but the bond was such that outsiders believed that he was her own child. He lived with them till their death loved and accepted by his cousins. Chinna was okay with his father too but could never consider moving in with him permanently. Chinna was in his twenties when I got married and I remember him bringing home Tamil magazines that I looked forward to. The family moved out of our township within a year of my marriage and we heard no more of them.
There is another case of a seven year old girl Ammu who came to work as a domestic help for a family known to me. A few years later she lost her eyesight partially following small pox. By then Ammu had become an indispensable member of the family and managed the running of the household and extraction of work from the servants. With her around one could stop worrying about routine matters. The children of the household loved her dearly and the master and mistress almost forgot that she was just a domestic help. Her own brother and sister in law found the arrangement suitable and led their own life peacefully. She would visit them occasionally but would return with a whole lot of complaints about them. She found her sister in law unrefined and her niece and nephew ill mannered.
It was then that differences cropped up. Ammu once took the liberty of approaching the master for spending money that the mistress normally gave her. This was unaccounted petty cash that was given to her to run the household. With this money she would buy vegetables and fruits from roadside vendors, pay for the gas cylinder and buy trinkets for herself and the master’s 11 year old daughter. It was her spending money and she used it prudently. She found nothing wrong in asking the master for money when she ran out of cash. She had lived with them for more than 20 years and had never felt that her role would ever be questioned. The mistress thought otherwise. She felt that Ammu ought to have approached her instead of the master.
“Even the children do not ask their father for money directly” she said. “How could you even think of doing so?”
Initially Ammu did not read much into her words but there was a subtle change in her attitude. She found fault with everything Ammu did and stopped talking unless absolutely necessary. Finally she packed Ammu off to her brother’s place saying that since two of her three children were married and a daughter in law had arrived on the scene, they could manage without her.
As expected Ammu did not get on well with her brother’s family and came back after a month. Things were never the same but considering her selfless service to the family they found her accommodation in a home for destitute women and I hear that she is happy over there.
This brings me back to the question I asked earlier. Chinna and Ammu were able to gel with their adopted families. May be not exactly adopted but both were treated well by the family they lived with. Chinna was loved by his foster family and so was Ammu. In Ammu’s case the difference could have been sorted out but it appeared that there was no real intention of resolving the issue. It was not as if her mistress felt threatened or insecure by her presence. The only reason I can think of is the class difference that marks out a servant from the master. Had she been a relative like Chinna her lapse may have been overlooked. I feel that treating a servant like a family member is not the same as accepting her as one.
I may be generalizing the issue and each case of adoption may be different. Like in a TV program where the real mother and adopted mother were fighting a custody battle, it was the adopted mother who said that it was well past the child’s ‘milk’ time and even if she did not get the child back she would request the real mother not to let the child go hungry.
“He cannot wait till I mix the milk powder in hot water, cool it and pour it into the bottle and give him. We can sort out our differences later. Please give him his milk first” she said.
And I was left wondering if it was fair to give the child for adoption and place a claim for the same child without a thought for the woman who brought him up like her own. Who was the real mother, I wondered? Was it the one who worried about the child’s hunger pangs or the one who was reclaiming the child after initially abandoning him?
I guess there is more than one correct response to this question.
Sunday, April 01, 2012
Thursday, March 08, 2012
Women’s web has given me an opportunity to pat my own back by recounting an achievement that I consider worth celebrating. I admit to feeling a little hesitant because years of mental tuning have made me think that it may not be politically correct to do so. After all, what could I have done on my own? My husband and children too need to be given due credit. So I leave it to my readers to decide how much of the credit part actually belongs to me.
Let me start with the time when I started looking for a job. I had applied for the post of a Science teacher in a local school and the Principal shot a question on me regarding the balancing of a chemical equation.
“Potassium di chromate” he bellowed sensing my insecurity. “How would you write the formula for Potassium di chromate, eh?”
“KCrO4” I mumbled, glad to remember that K stood for potassium and Cr for chromium.
It was 10 years since I had graduated from college and very much out of touch with my books. I needed the job very much and hoped that the principal would understand.
“KCrO4?“ The sadist of a Principal asked. “I’ll call a student from class VII and he would be able to tell you that it is K2Cr2O7.”
“Sir, I am not very much in touch but given a chance I’ll pick up soon.” I hated myself for having had to say so. I had been a good student all along and it was humiliating to fumble for answers.
“Do some revision before aspiring to teach in our school”. The interview was over.
I cried myself to sleep that night. Time would make me realize that this failure was indeed a stepping stone for success. I applied for my present job soon afterwards and was placed first on the merit list. A few months after I joined college as Lab assistant I asked my Head of the department how and why she chose me when several fresh graduates had also applied. She explained that my academic qualifications and high percentage had convinced the panelists that I would pick up from where I had left although they had sensed that I was out of touch. And this is how I proved that their trust in me was not misplaced.
Fifteen years after I finished graduation I was accepted for a post graduate program in a local college. In the interim period the syllabus had changed and areas that were only touched upon in my undergrad course had assumed importance. I had three young children and an aged father in law and schizophrenic brother in law to look after. To add to my misery I was not eligible for study leave which meant that I would have to attend two colleges as well as my family. The two years that followed were the best in my life. My children rose to the occasion. I would leave home at seven in the morning after having prepared food for the family. I would be eight in the evening before I returned. I would study at a friend’s place after college because I knew that I would not be able to study at home. Daughters would get ready for school, pack lunch for my husband and themselves and help my son with his home work. They learnt to serve food, clear up the kitchen, fold clothes and even to prepare dosas if the batter was ready. My son who was just seven years old would happily adjust and by the time I returned home he’d have gone to sleep after dinner. And to top it, their school performance did not suffer.
What did I gain by all this you may ask? Well, I managed to top my batch and break a twenty one year old record and I hear that my record remains unbroken till date. It is now 23 years since my results were announced. My children have settled down in life. And above other things, my daughters say that they were motivated to rise to the occasion and learnt house keeping skills as an additional incentive.
As for my husband, he knew more Botany than me because I would discuss expected questions with him and he would rattle off the names of authors and books to the extent of making his friends ask whether he was also planning to answer an exam along with me. I realized that I had taken things too far when my son who was in grade II drew the chemical structure of Gibberellins (a growth hormone) on the living room floor.
I cannot think of any other achievement than this that is worth a celebration. I celebrate it because
- It brought us close to each other as a family.
- It made me realize that success is achieved by collective effort and cooperation. An individual’s input has to be supplemented by family support.
- Age is not a limiting factor when it comes to learning.
- Husband can drive me nuts but I still think he is the best I can hope to have!
Sunday, March 04, 2012
In the course of looking up for material for my presentation in the seminar I came across the term anti anthropomorphism among tribals of Nilgiri districts and a preference for a cosmic religion. Anthropomorphism pertains to attributing human traits to gods as we see in the commonly accepted and practiced form of Hinduism. Yes, we do have saguna and nirguna forms of meditation and the explanation given is that it is easier to concentrate on a deity with a form in the initial stages and one could graduate to worshipping the formless cosmic energy (call it God) later. I do agree. As children we did look for illustrations in our lessons and only when we reached higher classes could we understand lessons on a conceptual basis.
Attributing a form to our gods makes us recognize gods by certain traits. Lord Rama is visualized as bearing a bow and arrow, Lord Krishna with a flute and Lord Ganesh with an elephant face. Worshippers of nature and the elements like the tribals of Jharkhand worship the Sal tree during Sarhul and Karam tree during Karma Puja. I remember being confused when my Christian friends would question our wisdom in worshipping the sun and the sacred basil saying that they were creations of god and need not be worshipped. I could not defend myself then nor do I want to now because religion to me is a way of life and god is not a formidable task master waiting to punish his children for their mistakes. Nature worship needs to be seen as man’s way of conserving biodiversity. Heaven and hell do not await us after death. We experience hell when we suffer and heaven when we get the fruit of our labor in this very life.
Coming to anthropomorphism, I have just one problem with it. When we give our gods a human form don’t we also imagine that they have human qualities? Don’t we ask for wish fulfillment and offer to break coconuts or feed the poor in lieu of the boon that is granted? Don’t we think that god’s need to be pleased with offerings for favors? Don’t we fear the worst if for some reason one is not able to fulfill a promise he/she made to god. To my mind God understands everything including our unjust demands and if a particular incident that is not acceptable does happen, with the passage of time we do realize that whatever happened was for good. I have seen this happen umpteen times in my own life.
Feeding the poor, distributing blankets in winter, donating for a good cause need to be done spontaneously with an inner desire to give back to society a little of what society gave to us. The God factor is good as long as it helps us lead a purposeful, honest life with concern for the world around us. If one’s faith in God enables a balanced approach to life, enabling one to treat success and failure as part of our learning purpose, it hardly matters if our God has a form or not. But when I see God being used to flaunt one’s power, to cover up one’s mistakes to look down upon fellow men I cannot help wondering if such people are truly God fearing? Aren’t those among us who are true to their conscience better advocates of the God factor?
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Have been away for long. Was very busy helping out with the proof reading /editing /compiling the abstracts for the Odia department seminar in our college. Finally the seminar is over and the souvenir has been released. Should hopefully find some time to write before my departmental seminar starts staring at my face. Yes, we have our own national seminar coming up and the dates are 27th and 28th march 2012. We are a department of 5 people whereas my friend nalini was running her department alone. So I expect to be less stressed in my own seminar. Valuable lessons learnt from mistakes committed during the organazing of the odia seminar will hopefully come handy.
Between you and me, husband is threatening to divorce me if I mention the word seminar in his hearing. Poor man has been bored to death. Remember I am his soul cum sole mate! I am not worried though. After all I am his "only You" and however much he rolls his eyes he needs me around. After all the TV or sofa sets cannot talkor for that matter listen!
Sunday, January 01, 2012
Have you ever tried to settle children’s quarrel? I did and failed miserably when my brother’s children picked up a quarrel and dragged me into it. This happened 10 years ago but I feel amused when I recall the incident. By then my daughters were married and my son was in college. I was terribly out of touch with children in their pre teens.
The three of them belong to two sets of parents. The two girls Shruti and Shweta are sisters and little Vishnu is their cousin. My brothers live close by and there is a regular interaction between the two families. The family had come together to attend my mother’s funeral and the rites connected to her death were being performed. It so happened that Shweta the younger of the two sisters had been sleeping when the older one went off to play with Vishnu and a few other friends. Naturally Shweta was upset on being left out. By the time she got ready to join them the other two returned home. It was already 11 in the morning and it was very hot outside. Shweta wanted them to accompany her but the other two were done for the morning. The conversation that followed was something like this –
Shweta: Why didn’t you take me along?
Shruti: You were sleeping.
Shweta: You should have woken me up.
Vishnu: We did. But you didn’t get up.
Shweta: Did you shake me up?
Shruti: We called out to you but you did not get up.
Shweta: That means you didn’t wake me up. I would have woken up if you had shaken me.
Then she announced –
I am going out with athai (me) none of you will come.
Vishnu: Why? Athai belongs to all of us. You alone cannot go out with her.
Shweta: Oh, yes I can. Because you both went to play without me.
Shruti: Athai would never agree to it. She would either take all of us out or none of us.
I began to panic. I was being dragged into their quarrel for nothing. What do I do now?
Me: It is very hot outside. I am not going anywhere.
Shweta looks a bit disappointed. Her face then brightens up.
“We’ll go out in the evening. Won’t we athai?”
Vishnu: What time athai?
Shweta: You are NOT coming with us.
Vishnu: We went out to play without you in the morning. But we are going out in the evening. Morning and evening are different.
Shweta: They are not. You guys were mean to leave me out. And Athai will never take you both along.
I wondered if I had a say in the matter. Was there a way I could resolve the issue without taking sides? Should I feign a headache and refuse to go out? But Shweta had set her heart on going out with me and expected me to take her side since she had been ‘wronged’.
I made the mistake of trying to arbitrate.
Me: I’ll take Shweta out and get a cone ice cream each for all of you. You can be friends after that.
Shruti: We’re staying home so Vishnu and I get two ice creams each.
Shruti: Because you are going out and we’re staying home.
Shweta: You guys left me out and went out to play. So I get two ice creams. And I hope the ice cream melts by the time we get home.
Vishnu: That’s not fair. You can’t go out and have two ice creams too.
A fresh round of argument follows and no solution in sight.
I felt that the mothers alone could tackle the situation so I called for them.
Shweta’s mom S…. pitched in.
S….: Who woke up late this morning.
Vishnu and Shruti: Shweta.
S….. : How do we punish her?
It was okay for Vishnu and Shruti to quarrel with Shweta but they certainly don’t want her to be punished by an adult.
Shruti: It’s alright. Shweta can go out with athai. We’ll stay home.
Shweta mellows down.
Shweta: You both can come along. It would be so much fun. Athai can you take all of us out this evening? We’ll play ‘dashing cars’ for a while and come home.
I was left wondering if the children had actually quarreled or if I was imagining things.