Friday, December 22, 2006

Just ten minutes

Have you ever experienced the ‘ten more minutes syndrome’? I’m sure you have. There are so many things that we want to do but keep putting off just because we do not have those ten minutes that are required to get them done. I tried making a list of such things and found the list rather long. I then had to shortlist a few that were important to me. I invite all of you to add to this list your own experience and help me compare notes. I do understand that while we endlessly postpone certain things, we never seem to be too busy or tired to attend to some others. I’ve never been able to fully understand why this is so. I leave it to you to come up with answers.

When I started working I was kind of baffled at the thought of cooking for the family, getting three children ready for school and reaching my workplace by public transport at seven in the morning. I managed to do all these things but I never found time to have my breakfast. If only I had ‘ten minutes more’ I’d sigh. The college timing was shifted from 7 o’clock in the morning to 8:00 AM and later to 10:30 AM. Children left home to study and have now settled down in life. I still don’t find time to sit down and have a proper meal in the morning and it is almost certain that I am never going to have the time. I drive to college and my husband has now retired. I still stuff my brunch in a hurry and choke over it. My husband fetches water and gives me a look that says ‘when are you going to learn to be organized? What were you doing since morning?’ I cannot bring myself to admit that I read the newspaper at leisure and worked on my crossword and sudoku. Or that I had a peep into my blog and read my mails. I continue to wish that I had just ‘a little more time’.

I seem to find time to do so many things but I am a bit weird in that I don’t care too much about shopping in general and for myself in particular. I keep postponing and procrastinating and although I can easily pick up the items on my shopper’s list on my way home, I rush back as if I have a two year old crying out for mommy and waiting for me to get home. I don’t seem to have time. Once I reach home and change to a more comfortable attire, nothing in the world can make me get ready to go out again. I wonder if I really managed to put in all those hours doing combined study during my M. Sc. and if the person who attended PT meetings managed the routine bank and post office work was someone else.

I really want to keep a sparkling house with everything in perfect order. I manage to do it once a while. My friends have a way of absenting themselves on those days and landing home when I decide to relax with a book munching peanuts with the empty coffee cup right beside me. I feel like telling them that it was only yesterday that I tidied my kitchen and put away the magazines. With the children away I have to take whole and sole responsibility for a messy house. It may be a good idea to invite friends on the days that I am hit by the cleaning ‘bug’. My friends are rather tolerant and find excuses for me. For my part I always wonder why this is so. It may not be a bad idea to take a few photographs as proof that I am okay and it is they who choose to pop in just when I plan to clean up the house in just ten minutes. I am in awe of people whose house looks swabbed and cleaned throughout the day. I thought of hiring a servant to do it. I gave up the idea because I am very bad at extracting work. I literally apologize when there are extra vessels to wash and advise my servant to ‘do as much as you can’, offering to do the rest myself.

My Christmas break has just begun and I have great plans - the main one being to check on my loft and dispose of all unwanted items that have not been used for the past 14 years. I decide to do so many things during vacations. But summers are ‘hot’ and winters ‘cold’. I remain in the coolest room in summer like a sleepy crocodile and never seem to find time!

Please don’t imagine that I am a lazy person and a real good for nothing. I’d feel lousy if you do. I want to be the perfect mother, wife and teacher. I need ….. Well you’ve guessed it – just ten more minutes!!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Is it not our responsibility?

I happened to listen to an AIDS patient at a training program for teachers conducted by YMCA last week. He was a young man, thirty years old, and, getting over his own agony of being diagnosed as a victim of a dreaded disease, had come forward to warn others about the prevalence of the disease in our society. Having heard that we were teachers dealing with teenagers he had agreed to share his experience and expressed hope that the students whom we dealt with would be counseled by us and they would in turn spread the message among their peer group.

This was not the first time that we had attended a program on AIDS awareness nor were we ignorant about the epidemic levels it is soon expected to reach. What impressed me was the positive attitude of the young man. He admitted to have had a physical relationship with his girl friend in Mumbai and wasn’t too sure about her loyalty to him. He was initially upset and angry with her for being the cause of his anguish but later took it upon himself to ring up and warn her about the possibility of her being a carrier of the undetected virus and to ask her to get herself tested. He also asked his brother now in Mumbai to be careful citing his own example.

It is not very easy to talk to one’s grown up children about the common causes of HIV infection. We tend to imagine that this is someone else’s problem and our sympathies are with the victims. ‘But AIDS in my own family?? Oh! No!! Impossible’. I wish it were impossible. Alas! It is not. It is time for responsible citizens of India to take it upon them to educate the youngsters of today on the circumstances that lead to HIV infection and offer counsel without being judgmental.

The young man mentioned above was well informed about the disease and yet fell victim to it. He was in no way a ‘high risk’ candidate.But he was not spared. We have so many others like him who are National Treasures. Can we afford to let them waste their lives? More and more of our youngsters are leaving home and settling down in unknown places for their studies or career. They are an emotionally vulnerable group and easy targets. All victims may not be positive thinkers. Some may become sadistic and spiteful. Let us make it our responsibility to do our bit to spread awareness among our children. 1st December is WORLD AIDS DAY. Why don’t we all join hands for a good cause?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Young working mothers please don't take offence.Just having fun at your expense.I wrote this 2 years back and though written in the first person not all the instances apply to me.For instance my daughters live in America where domestic help is unthinkable. So those of you who have the facility go ahead and enjoy the pleasure. However, I did undertake to teach a little girl and she stopped coming to me and I heard that the mother 'didn't mind paying any amount of fees' as long as the teacher wrote out her daughter's answers.

I like to call myself a living fossil. I seem to be such a major misfit in today’s world that I decided to take stock of areas that seem totally out of tune to what I perceive as normal. Take for instance my grandson’s upbringing. He is just 2 years old and he is being sent to 3 different places to “study”.

I assure you that I attended school. My dad had a transferable job and those were days when transfers did not coincide with our academic session. My father just barged into a school of his choice filled out a form and before we knew it we were enrolled in the appropriate class. We took care not to fail an exam and that was it. We studied on our own and were praised or punished according to our understanding of the subject. We played every kind of outdoor game, read a whole lot of storybooks, got in and out of trouble and studied just before bed-time often nodding off to sleep without even finishing our home work assignments.

My children had to face slightly more competition and the onus of preparing them for an admission interview in a reputed school fell on me. I trained them as best as I could without compromising on their playtime. I spoke to them in English and made them aware some general information like ‘we see with our eyes and breathe through the nose’. I designed the syllabus myself and we went through the routine twice a day. I must have overstepped my limits because my son decided that it was our milkman and not the cow that gave us milk and my daughter declared that the color of her hair was green at their respective interviews! Nevertheless they managed to get admission in the only school that I had applied. Once admitted we led our lives in peaceful co existence, with my children agreeing to sit with their books at a particular time of the day while I believed that they were studying.

Twenty-five years have gone by and my daughter is tensed about her son’s school admission. The child can barely make himself understood and throws a tantrum when he is woken up and sent to a playschool in the neighborhood. I fail to understand why a child should be sent to school to play. I may sound old fashioned but I was brought up to believe that children went to school to study and played with other kids free of cost in neighboring parks or wherever it suited them. We are six years into the 21st century and perhaps Internet parenting suggested that in order to make children socially acceptable they had to be sent to the most expensive play school to ‘interact’ with other children. I secretly wondered if it was the parent who was in need of social acceptance. In our times we lived in isolated bungalows and jumped over walls and ran across roads to meet our friends. My daughter lives in an apartment complex which houses 118 families and a bunch of kids are always available for interaction at the park in the complex at any given time. We have security guards at the gate to ensure that the children stay within the premises. Yet my daughter pays a tidy sum to avail the right kind of interaction. Luckily the duration of the school is only an hour so what if it starts at 7 in the morning! It is quite another matter that the child’s name was registered for admission to this school even before his first birthday. I tried to reason with my daughter but continued to be silenced by the famous one liner ‘ your times were different’. Unable to witness the child’s trauma I go for a morning walk at 6 o’ clock and return after he leaves for his playschool. Apart from this play school he goes to be coached by a retired Anglo Indian schoolteacher to pick up the “right accent”. She charges a fortune to teach him nursery rhymes that I could have taught him in my free time. But as my daughter says ‘times have changed’ and perhaps my accent that was good enough for the mother was below the standard stipulated for children of the 21st century!

I had waited for around 10 years after marriage to buy an electrified food processor and perhaps another 5 years before getting myself a washing machine. Till then I was happy to ‘process food’ manually and to be frank once the mixer arrived it took me a month to get used to it. I’d switch it on only when my husband was around and unplug it the minute I finished using it. I then decided that my daughter would have all the available kitchen gadgets from the day she set up a home and so she did. She has a food processor, washing machine, a microwave, a vacuum cleaner dish washer and what not! You name it and she has it. But if you think that having them also means that she’s using them you are wrong. She has a maid who took up the job after ensuring that all the above facilities were available and the servant is paid a cool fifteen hundred for her services which include heating up food in the microwave apart from putting these gadgets to good use! My daughter also stocks up all kinds of instant mixes, readymade ginger and garlic paste, pickles, packaged rotis, precooked dals and vegetables. I tried asking her why the servant could not render manual services and with the available gadgets doing their job and a well trained maid to handle them where was the need to stock instant food? There seemed no logic in it. I was silenced by a look that said it all! ‘Who has the time?’ True no one seems to have time. Not even the two-year-old! I had enough of it so I looked around to see if other families were better off.

A young girl in the neighborhood about the same age as my daughter came home the other day to find out if there was an art’s school near by where her school going children could learn to draw and paint on Sunday mornings.

‘Why Sunday mornings?’ I wondered. I did not have to wait for long to be enlightened. The children already went for karate and swimming classes on Saturdays and Sunday evenings were taken up by their music teacher. Bal - Vihar classes were also squeezed in to familiarize them with Hindu mythology and scriptures. In short the kids were busier during the weekends than on schooldays. I felt like asking them to rebel against parental ambition.

“ When do your children play?” I asked.

“ They attend cricket coaching after school three days a week and practice yoga in the mornings.” She replied.

‘ What happened to hop scotch and hide and seek games we played as children?’ I wondered. Those games had become redundant; as had the word building, ghost stories and riddles we took up when there was a power-cut in the locality. Our times were different and our games like us had perhaps become living fossils!
I tried to look for something to do in my free time and decided to teach a few school-going children free of cost in the evenings. Word got around and a mother sent her daughter to be tutored. The child wanted help in English and mathematics and I was glad to have found a student. I made her read the lesson in her English reader explained it to her as best as I could and asked her to answer a few questions based on the lesson.

“But these questions are not given at the end of the chapter.” Protested the child.

“I am asking you these questions to judge whether you have understood the lesson. They will encourage you to think for yourself.” I tried to reason with her. “You may write the answers at home but try to answer in your own words.”

I also asked her to look up the meaning of difficult words using a dictionary.

The next day it was the mother and not the daughter who came to me. I wondered if the child was ill. The mother told me that the little girl was unable to find time to look up meanings of difficult words and frame answers to questions. She wanted to know if I could please write out the answers to the questions given at the end of the chapter and underline difficult words, which she would look up, and note down for the child.

“But” I protested, “Why don’t you let the child work on her own? If we’re going to do her home work for her how will she learn?”

“She has to complete her History project by tomorrow. Her father is helping her to do it ” Said the lady.

I could not understand the logic behind the assignment of a project that the child could not work on without outside help. I wanted to ask her if the child was over worked and was missing out on simple pleasures that one derived by working on one’s own and the joy one felt when original work was appreciated. I felt outdated and unwanted. The world around me had changed beyond recognition, as had the rules of parenting. I felt a misfit in my surroundings.

Suddenly I seemed to remember something. Not long ago when I wanted to admit my daughter to a famous but expensive technical school my mother had made her displeasure known in all possible ways.

“ Why do you want to spend so much money on a daughter’s education?” she had said.
“She will not be supporting you after marriage. You may as well invest in some gold jewelry. After all, even with all that money you spend on her education, you still have to get her married. And you better teach her some housekeeping. As for your son, well his room is a mess at any given time of the day. And the kind of music they listen to is enough to drive one crazy.”

“Your times were different” I had replied. “Whether I buy gold or not I definitely am going to educate her. She will take up a job and invest in gold or diamonds as per her wish. That’s up to her. As for housekeeping she’ll pick it up when the time comes. Why worry now?”

I am sure my mother had then felt like a living fossil then very much the way I do now.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Tag Repeated !

I’ve tried to apply the parameters of an earlier tag to grandparents particularly grandfathers based on what I observed in my own father in law. I hope I’ve done justice to him.

Height of cruelty- Parents troubling a two year old grandson to learn the letters of alphabet and subjecting him to a rigorous routine of preparation for admission to a reputed playschool.

Height of reward- The child throwing a tantrum when the mother comes with a glass of milk but drinks it up like a lamb when grandma/grandpa give it to him. If the mom is the DIL so much the better.

Height of challenge- Answering the seemingly innocent question of grandkid with a straight face and without provoking a stern look of disapproval from the parent.

Height of vigilance-Checking the pockets of sleeping grandkids to make sure that they have no sharp or pointed objects in them such as pen knives and razor blades.

Height of dieting – Eating paani puri from a road side vendor when no one is around/ watching.

Height of desperation-Waiting for the office going son/DIL and school going grandchildren to finish using the bathroom before putting it to personal use. Worse when one’s spouse points out ‘Where is the hurry? Why can’t you wait?’ One tends to remember his/her hey days with despair.

Height of competition- Competing with grandkids for newspaper and magazines.

Height of comparison-Comparing the present times with the 1940s and saying ‘We would walk 6 miles to go to school’ or ‘ I would chop a whole lot of firewood on Sundays.’

Height of rivalry- Wanting to listen to Carnatic music at the very moment the grandson wants to listen to pop music. So what if the son/DIL are unable to settle the dispute!!

Height of anger- Angry with the wife for refusing to serve coconut chutney with idlis considering your soaring cholesterol level and throwing a tantrum knowing well that she alone would put up with it.

Height of table manners-Eating up grandchildren’s left over food to save them from their mom’s admonition.

Height of fitness-Getting up at five o’clock in the morning and going for a morning walk expecting the wife to get up just to lock the front door.

Height of choosiness- Choosing to advice one’s grandchildren’s friends on the merits of the earlier system ignoring the signal emitting from their eyes.

Height of dadagiri- Expecting each family member to report all their activities to you and seek your advice thereby respecting your capacity as the oldest family member.

Height of frustration- the grandchild wants to listen to a story just when you decide to take your afternoon nap. Turn to see if your wife can take over and find her already asleep.

Height of provocation – The grandchild hiding your spectacles or walking stick just when you decide to go to the park to meet other senior citizens and catch up on the latest news.

Friends my computer has developed some problem and is threatening to crash any time. I am unable to open my own blog or mail when I want to. I am at the mercy of this technical 'monster' and I still don't know if this post will be published. I deserve this for getting addicted to my blog world. I managed to open this after 3 days of trying. Please bear with me.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Your opinion please!!

This is a rough translation of a story I read in a Tamil magazine and I’ve tried to stick to the story as far as possible. Since I did not have a copy of the story, I may have missed a few points. This story impressed a colleague so much that she asked for a translation to circulate among members of a mahila samity to set them thinking about it. I too tried to ask myself the question raised by my friend. Do children make one forget one’s duty towards parents or do our priorities change? Is it a natural phenomenon? Well, I must admit that I did not like the answers my ‘head’ gave me and found solace in the excuses offered by my heart. I leave the onus on my readers and request them to give me their true opinion.

Gayatri had just finished her work and was about to sit down with a book when the telephone rang.
‘Could it be Mayura?’ she wondered. The very next moment she remembered that it must be around midnight in America and Mayura wouldn’t be calling her at that time. Mayura was her daughter married and living with her husband and children in the United States. The phone call was from a friend of hers asking whether she was free to accompany her to the market. She was in no mood to go and politely refused citing an imaginary headache as an excuse.
Continuing to remember her daughter, Gayatri recalled the initial years that followed Mayura’s marriage. Phone calls were regular and letters had been frequent. Letters had now almost stopped except for the occasional e-mail and e-greetings. She remembered how she had pestered her husband to teach her to use the computer to be able to access her mail. The phone calls were more regular but this time it appeared as if it was it was unusually long since Mayura had called.
‘When was it that Mayura had last called?’ Gayatri wondered. ‘ Oh, yes’ she recalled. ‘ It was on Diwali day. Nearly a month ago. Twenty eight days to be precise.’ She normally rang up once a week or at least once in ten days. While the children kept her busy, her husband was worse than a child and depended on Mayura for every little thing. ‘The poor girl is over worked.’ She thought.
She wondered if the children were okay. It was wintertime and they were prone to cold and throat infection. She remembered that her son in law had plans to go to Germany on an official trip after Diwali. Mayura might be managing every thing on her own. However hard she tried Gayatri could not get Mayura off her mind. She continued to worry about her daughter when she spotted the postman at the gate thrusting something into the letterbox.
‘ Might be an invitation or greeting card’ She thought. ‘Who bothers to write these days?’
She nevertheless went to get the letter. It was from her seventy five year old mother written on a postcard.
‘ Dear Gayatri,’ the letter said, ‘ long since you wrote. I hope all is well with you. I keep worrying about your welfare. I hope Mayura is fine. When is she coming to India? How is your husband?’ and so the letter went on.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Changing Times

Rajni was worried about her granddaughter Riya’s marriage. Riya was her son Raghu’s daughter. Unfortunately Raghu and his wife Uma had met with a fatal accident and Riya who was then a mere toddler became her responsibility. She was now professionally qualified and ran a consultancy service of her own. Marriage negotiations were tedious and eligible bachelors had a price tag to their names. The more they earned, the greater was their demand! It did not matter if the girl had a career of her own, professional or otherwise. Girls were not to be left behind. Compromises and adjustments were considered outdated concepts. The very suggestion appalled the Gen X kids. Difficult it was but as her guardians they had to do whatever it was in her best interest. Her husband Rajan was in touch with a suitable family and wanted to invite them to ‘see’ his granddaughter.

“NO WAY!” protested Riya, “ I’m NOT a cow to be inspected by strangers! At best the boy and I could meet at a restaurant for coffee and get to know each other with no commitments from my side. I reserve the right to reject him if I don’t take to him. Is that clear?”

Rajni sighed. Times had changed and education had made girls vocal and bold. Yet there was something missing. Her mind raced back to the time when Rajan had come to ‘see’ her from Bangalore. The memory brought a smile to her face. How very different was her own experience! The episode flashed back as she thought of the D-day….

Rajni was hardly able to suppress a smile. The ‘boy’ looked so serious. He had accompanied his parents to ‘see’ her. His mother seemed okay. She had a kind face and gentle eyes. She seemed to be of a friendly disposition. The father hardly spoke. Rajni was thirteen years of age and the oldest among five sisters. Her father had negotiated with a magistrate in far off Bangalore and had invited him over along with his wife and son to approve of his daughter. Rajan was a civil engineer about thirteen years her senior and had a government job. Those were days when dowry was neither offered nor accepted. A family’s status was determined according to the recommendations of friends and well wishers rather than their bank balance and a girl was ‘shown’ and ‘seen’ only after careful consideration by both families and rejection of the girl was very rare.

The ‘girl seeing’ ritual was carefully planned and she was given appropriate instructions.
“Don’t look up straight into the boy’s eyes,” her mother said, “elders will do the talking. You may answer questions but only to the point.”

They may ask you to sing,” her grand mother added “practice singing a few bhajans and don’t you start off on your own. Wait for your father to grant you permission.”

You may be asked to serve tea and snacks,” said her aunt “ that would be their way of judging your housekeeping skills. Be careful not to make a mess of it. Of course I’ll be there to assist you but it should appear as if you are used to doing it.”

“ If you are asked about your culinary skills tell them that you are in the learning process and assure them that you would willingly pick up their methods after marriage”

There had been so many instructions that Rajni got confused. She wanted the whole process to get over as soon as possible. The D-day finally arrived and the groom accompanied by his parents knocked at their door a whole week before the scheduled time! It was Rajni who had opened the door. Her father, accompanied by her siblings had gone to attend a marriage ceremony in a neighboring village. She had to stay back due to a cold and her mother had remained with her. The visiting trio introduced themselves and asked for her father.

Her mother came rushing out and invited them inside. She hurriedly sent for her aunt and directed her to get Rajni ready. She sent a boy from the neighborhood to inform her father.

“Please do not panic” the boy’s mother said “ and no formalities please. We came for wedding in these parts and suddenly decided to come over to your place. It was not possible for my son to avail leave next week. I hope you don’t mind.”

“Not at all” her mother said “please make yourself comfortable”

“Ma’am” said the boy “ Do I have your permission to speak to your daughter?”

Now this was unexpected and her mother did not know how to respond. She turned to her mother in law who was quick to intervene.

“We normally don’t allow our girls to talk to the groom before marriage. Such things may be okay in Bangalore but we belong to a more conservative society. Moreover you have not yet conveyed your approval of the match.”

The boy’s father spoke for the first time.

“We would not have come all the way from Bangalore unless we were pleased with your proposal,” he said “With your permission my son would like to talk to your grand daughter right here in the presence of elders.”

“ In that case it seems alright.” Grandma grudgingly agreed, “Though I don’t understand what he would want to ask her. She is only a child and may not be able to respond. Let him ask me and I will clarify his doubts.”

“I will get to you later grandma” laughed Rajan, “ let me talk to my future wife first”

Without bothering to wait for the old lady’s response he directed his question to Rajni.

“Do you go to school?” he asked.
‘How unromantic’ thought Rajni ‘hardly like the hero in a movie she had watched a few months ago.’

She looked up straight into his eyes but remembering her mother’s instruction stared into a wall clock right above his head.

“I used to go to school but I dropped out last year” she replied.

“Why? Did you fail your exams?” Rajan meant to tease her. But Rajni felt insulted.

“Of course not. I was among the toppers in my class. There was this silly boy in my class who gave me a letter……..” she stopped in the middle of the sentence on seeing her mother’s expression of disapproval.

Rajan’s father laughed heartily while his mother tried to suppress a smile.

“Did you read the letter?” Rajan was beginning to enjoy himself.

“Oh! No!” Rajni was quick to reply, “I gave it to my class teacher who sent the boy to be caned by the principal.”

“How sad!” said Rajan in a tone of mock sympathy, “didn’t you feel sorry for him? Tell me what do you do at home all day?”

“I read story books and play indoor games like chess and ludo. I’m pretty good at these two games.”

Rajni’s grandmother started to get worried. This smart boy was cornering her grand daughter with all kinds of questions and this silly girl was talking a little too much. Her mother started serving coffee and snacks in an effort to distract them.

“Don’t tease the poor girl son” the boy’s mother who wanted to put the worried grandmother at ease, “do not worry about him child. Tell me, would you like to study further when you come over to Bangalore?”

“I’d love to if I’m allowed” Rajni jumped at the suggestion. “I love reading books!”

“I’ll arrange for a private tutor to teach you English and Maths” said the magistrate “my daughters could teach you to read and write Kannada.”

“And my mother would teach you to cook and keep the house” said Rajan “I will perhaps have nothing to do!”

“You will be going to your office so when will you have time?” said his mother. Then turning to his father she indicated her approval.

Everything had been so simple then. Girls got married at a tender age and easily adapted to the ways of their new homes. They were willing learners and the transition from bubbly teenagers to responsible homemakers was smooth. She could only hope that her granddaughter would settle down soon. Riya had set so many conditions that she was getting apprehensive. Just then the telephone rang.

“May I speak to Mrs. Rajan?” a voice enquired.

“Yes it is Rajni here” said Rajni “may I know who is calling?”

“Rajniji this is Preeta here. I’m Ravi’s mom. Does the name suggest anything?”

Of course it did! Ravi was the boy they had in mind for Riya. Why on earth was the lady calling her?

“How do you do Preetaji? I was looking forward to meeting you. I hope everything is fine with you” Rajni tried to remain calm.

“Would it be alright if my son met your daughter over coffee tomorrow?” Preeta almost sounded apologetic. “ Let them approve of each other first. We could perhaps meet later.”

“Times have changed” Preeta continued “ my daughter Shoba refused to subject herself to the ritual of ‘girl seeing’ and I don’t expect Riya to be different. Our children are mature enough to decide for themselves. I do hope they take to each other.”

“Of course it is fine with us. Negotiations are held directly between the children these days. We cannot do much about it” said Rajni.

“Our children live in more competitive times so their dealings are different.” Said Preeta “Let us remain relaxed. They are both quite capable of arriving at an appropriate decision. We can sit back and enjoy the day and if our children decide to marry all we have to do is to bless them and wish them well.”

“We have the best of both worlds. Our parents took care of our marriage arrangements while our children deal with theirs. Aren’t we lucky?” the two women laughed heartily.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hi Friends!!

Hi Friends,
I'm stuck with a faulty phone line and cannot access my blog as much as I'd like to.India being India the telephone services aren't prompt.It is 3 days since I've complained and no one has turned up to check it yet.I'll get back soon.In the mean time I'll get used to life here and make the best out of it.My college has reopened and a new building was inaugurated yesterday.More abt. it later.I see Passerby is back after her sabbatical.How did you enjoy your break?I'll be back ASAP.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Let us contribute

Reporters Without Borders / Internet Freedom desk

When : 11 A.M. on 7 November to 11 A.M. on 8 November

No one should ever be prevented from posting news
online or writing a blog, but they are in the 13
countries singled out by Reporters Without Borders for
a 24-hour online protest against Internet censorship.
Worldwide, 61 people are currently in prison for
posting "subversive" content on a blog or website.
Reporters Without Borders is compiling a list of 13
countries whose governments are "Internet enemies"
because they censor and block online content that
criticises them. The Internet scares. Censors of every
kind exploit its flaws and attack those who pin their
hopes on it. Multinationals such as Yahoo! cooperate
with the Chinese government in filtering the Internet
and tracking down cyber-dissidents.

The defence of online free expression and the fate of
bloggers in repressive countries concern everyone. So
Reporters Without Borders is offering Internet users
tools to campaign against Internet predators and is
calling on them to participate in an INTERNATIONAL

Everyone is invited to support this struggle by
connecting to the Reporters Without Borders website
( between 11 a.m. (Paris time) on Tuesday,
7 November, and 11 a.m. on Wednesday, 8 November.
Each click will help to change the "Internet Black
Holes" map and help to combat censorship. As many
people as possible must participate so that this
Can be a success and have an impact on those
governments that try to seal off what is meant to be a
space where people can express themselves freely.

Protests will also be staged by Reporters Without
Borders bureaux around the world to condemn Internet
censorship and ethical misconduct of the Internet
giants when operating in one of these countries.

Reporters Without Borders will publish the list of the
13 Internet enemies on 7 November and at the same time
will launch its blog platform, rsfblog, and an
Arabic-language version of its press freedom website.

The agency Saatchi & Saatchi has created an Internet
ad calling on the entire Internet community to take
part in the 24-hour campaign. All media, websites and
blogs that want to support this large-scale protest
are invited to get in touch with Cédric Gervet at
+331 4483-8474.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

My version of KANK

Though Though this piece is written in first person it is based on events that took place in two different families. I write in first person to save my own skin as also because the combination of events has given rise to an entirely different story that cannot be solely attributed to either one or the other family.

“I plan to marry Pammi,” Announced my twenty five year old son Manu. “We plan to have a civil marriage next week.”

May we know who Pammi happens to be?” I asked speaking for my husband as well. “ I don’t think I’ve met her.”

“Pammi is a colleague of mine. She joined our company last week.” My son was kind enough to inform me. But this piece of enlightenment was a little too much for me to handle.

“ Don’t you think you’re rushing things.” I ventured to ask in as mild a tone as possible for fear of annoying him. “I mean you hardly know each other. Moreover, I thought you were interested in Vidya.”

“I still am but her mom does not approve of me.” Said Manu “ I want to show her that Vidya isn’t the only girl in the world. I therefore proposed to Pamela Singh, Pammi for short. Moreover you too hardly knew daddy before marriage. If your marriage worked so will ours.”

“But how can you be interested in Vidya and marry Pammi? And why doesn’t Vidya’s mom approve of you?” I was confused.

“ How does Vidya feel about it?”

Manu was beginning to get impatient.

“The problem with your generation is that you ask too many questions. If Vidya’s mom doesn’t approve of me that’s her problem not mine. As for Vidya, she does not have a problem with my marrying Pammi. She was rather nice about it. In fact the very idea was hers. Leave it mummy you won’t understand. After marriage we’ll be moving into a flat of our own. It is closer to our office. It is getting late so let me go. I can’t stand and talk to you all day. By the way I won’t be repeating all this to daddy. Pass on the information to him.”

My head started reeling. My son seemed to be speaking an alien language. In our times people had arranged marriages and the entire family including a whole lot of uncles and aunts joined together to make the function a success. Grandparents supervised the arrangements and one dared not go against their suggestions. Of course there were a few who married a person of their choice but these marriages were not well received.

Later there came a time when children chose their partners and parents got them married, grudgingly or otherwise. Unlike love marriages of the previous generation these were calculated ventures where the head ruled over the heart. I could not categorize my son’s marriage to a girl whom he hardly knew. If it was not arranged by either set of parents, it was also not a marriage that could be called love marriage. My son wanted to settle scores with his girl friend’s mother and the girl was also game to it. I wondered how my son’s fiancée felt about it. I was kind of sure that she would back out on hearing about Vidya’s interest in Manu. I decided to talk to her.

“Oh yes aunty.” Pammi seemed to be quite at ease on being told about Vidya. “ I know about Vidya and Manish. He also knows about Peter and me.”

“Peter!” I could take no more of it “ Now who is this Peter?”

“ My ex husband” replied the girl “ We’re divorced now”

I tried to be patient.
“Listen child, I have no problem with your divorce.” I said in as sweet a voice as I could manage. “ But don’t you think that both of you are rushing things. Where is the need to marry within a week?”

“ Manish may have forgotten to tell you but let me clarify.” She said. “ Vidya is marrying Diwakar in a fortnight. We want to marry before that.”

“I presume Diwakar has been properly briefed and hopefully plans to attend your wedding along with Vidya.” I was glad to be able to understand the mindset of the next generation. Better late than never!

“I’m glad you get the point. Now if you don’t mind I have to leave for a meeting. Bye! See you at our wedding.” The girl waved a hasty goodbye and sped off in her car.

I went home and conveyed the information to my parents in law. They were somehow able to take the news in their stride.

“ We hear of children living together before marriage,” said my mother in law “ Manu at least plans to marry the girl. All we can do is to put on a brave front and wish them well.”
‘Very practical.’ I thought ‘ Will it work?’ I wondered.

To be frank it didn’t.

The problem was not the usual mother in law/daughter in law struggle to prove their monopoly or adjustment hurdles in a joint family. In fact Pammi got on rather well not only with us but also with a host of relatives including my parents in law. She’d take my father in law to the doctor and drop my mother in law at the temple and they were all praise for her. She visited us regularly and was warm and affectionate. In fact I regretted my earlier error in judgment. Two years had gone by and their marriage seemed to work well enough or so I thought.
One fine day Pammi walked out of our lives very much the way she walked in! Again it was Manu who broke the news.

“ Pammi has left for Mumbai” he announced, “ We are applying for a divorce.”

“But why?” I asked, “You both seemed so happy. What went wrong?”

“Nothing went wrong mummy,” explained my son. “It’s only that we are both very busy and have no time for each other. Though in the same office we hardly meet. Our schedule is erratic and weekends hectic. Rather than live as strangers in the same house we decided to part ways. She’s getting a transfer with promotion and I decided to let go. No ill feelings at all.”

Suddenly the telephone rang and I picked it up. It was Pammi calling from Mumbai.
“Sorry aunty I had to join immediately. So I could not say goodbye in person. Could you please ask Manish to arrange for a nurse to attend to my mother? She is not keeping well and I don’t want her to stay alone. Also ask him to call on her whenever possible. I am rather worried.”

Manu took the phone from me.

“ Hi Pammi! Settling down in Bombay?” he did not sound upset in the least. “ Don’t worry about your mom. I’ll be visiting her as often as possible and as for the nurse I’ve spoken to an agent and he’ll arrange for one. I’ll let you know in a day or two. Take care and be in touch.”

I stood by his side staring into his face with a Zombie like expression.

‘What went wrong?’ I wondered aloud.

“Nothing went wrong,” said my husband who had been listening to our conversation from his room, “ its time we retired gracefully from our duties as parents and let our children lead their lives. They’re under immense pressure and are better off without our interference. They have problems but are equipped to handle them. Have you not heard of Vanaprasthashram mentioned in our scriptures? It is now time to let go.”

And of course he was right!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Golden Retirement

A Warning: Iwould advise my male reders to refrain from reading this "Women Only" post if they are unable to accept a little leg pulling from me. This was an article published in the August 2nd 2004 edition Newsweek. I enjoyed the article immensely and took the magazine back with me to India. It remained in the suitcase and popped up when I was arranging my belongings in preparation for my return journey. It was as enjoyable as it was 2 years back and made me realize with amusement that human beings are the same everywhere.It was written by Jan Zeh and if I had her e mail ID I'd have written to her myself on her wonderful sense of humor. Please go ahead and enjoy reading the article as 'mirth that hath no bitter spring'

The ‘Golden Years’ are beginning to tarnish
by Jan Zeh

After 45 years and one son, I thought the best was yet to come. Then my husband retired.

My worst nightmare has become reality. My husband retired. As the CEO of his own software company, he used to make important decisions daily. Now he decides when to take a nap and for how long. He does not play golf, tennis or bridge, which means that he is at home for what it seems like 48 hours a day. That’s a lot of togetherness.

Much has changed since he stopped working. My husband now defines sleeping in as staying in bed until 6 a.m. He often walks in the morning for exercise but says he can’t walk if he gets up late.Late is 5:30. His morning routine is to take out the dog, plug in the coffee and await the morning newspaper. (And it better not be late!) When the paper finally arrives, his favorite section is the obits. He reads each and every one – often aloud – and becomes angry if the deceased’s age is not listed. I’d like to work on my crossword puzzle in peace. When I bring this to his attention, he stops briefly – but soon finds another article that must be shared.

Some retirement couple enjoy this time of life together. Usually these are couple who are not dependent on their spouses for their happiness and well – being. My husband is not one of these individuals. Many wives I’ve spoken to, identify with my experience and are happy to know that they’re not alone. One friend told me that when her husband retired, he grew a strip of Velcro on his side and attached himself to her. They were married 43 years and she hinted that they may not make it to 44. Another woman said that her husband not only takes her to the beauty shop, but goes inside and waits! Another said her husband follows her everywhere but to the bathroom…..and that’s only because she locks the bathroom door.

When I leave the house my husband asks:” Where are you going?” followed by “When will you be back?” Even when I’m at home he needs to know where I am every moment. “Where is Jan?” he asks the dog. This is bad enough but atleast he hasn’t velcroed himself to me - yet.

I often see retired people shopping together in the grocery store. Usually they are arguing. I hate it when my husband goes shopping with me. He takes charge of the cart and disappears. With my arms full of cans, I have to search the aisles until I locate the cart, which is now loaded with strange smelling cheeses, high fat snacks and greasy sausages none of which were on the shopping list.

Putting up with annoying habits is easier when the hubby is at work all day and at home only in the evenings and weekends. But little annoying habits become BIG annoying habits when done on a daily basis. Hearing my husband yell and curse at the TV during the evening news was bad enough when he was working and it was just once a day. Now he has all day to get riled up watching Fox News. Sometimes leaving the houseisn’t even a satisfying reprieve. When I went out of town for a week and put him in charge of the house and animals, I returned to have my parrot greet me with a mouth full of expletives and deep bellied belches. It wasn’t hard to figure out what had been going on in my absence.

Not that my husband has any problems acting out while I am around. He recently noticed that our cat had been climbing the palm trees, causing their leaves to bend. His solution? Buy a huge roll of barbed wire and wrap the trunks. After wrapping 10 palms he looked like he had been in a fight with the tiger and the house took on the appearance of a high security prison. Neighbors stopped mid-stride while on their daily walks to stare. I stayed out of sight. In the mean time, the cat learnt to negotiate the barbed wires and climbed the palms anyway.

It is now another hot, dry summer, and the leaves on our trees are starting to fall. Yesterday my husband decided to take the dog out for some fresh air. They stood in the driveway while he counted the leaves falling from the ash tree. Aloud. Another meaningful retirement activity.

I Think my husband enjoys being at home with me. I am the one with the problem. I am the person who wants a lot of “alone time” and I get crazy when someone is following me around or wanting to know my every move. My husband is full of questions and comments when I am on the phone, working on my computer or taking time out to read.It is his way of telling me that he wants to be included, wanted and needed. I love that he cares – but he still drives me up the wall.

I receive a lot of catalogs. In one there is an advertisement that says GROW OLD WITH ME. THE BEST IS YET TO BE. Another catalog has a different pillow. It reads SCREW THE GOLDEN YEARS. Right now it is a toss up as to which pillow will best describe out retirement years together. Just don’t ask me while I am working on my crossword puzzle.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Happy Diwali!!

Deepavali is approaching and I take this opportunity to wish all of you a ‘HAPPY DIWALI AND A PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR’.

I was reminded of the time when we lived in company quarters some 20 years back. I would celebrate Deepavali the traditional Tamilian way and we would bathe and wear new clothes before daybreak. There were about 6 tamilian families in the immediate neighborhood and we’d compete to see who burst the first cracker. Exchange of sweets would start around six in the morning and the first door to knock would be that of the Sinhas who lived just below our flat.

Mrs. Sinha would invariably grumble about the ruckus we created and found our Deepavali celebration very odd.

“Deepavali is a festival of lamps and is to be celebrated in the evening. You Tamilians seem to be opposite to us in so many ways”, she’d say.

Not knowing how best to defend myself, I’d stay quiet or say that we found it odd to wait till evening to burst crackers. I’d also add that since I finished celebrating Diwali in the morning I was free to prepare laddoos for her in the afternoon. Yes, on Diwali day, I had the enthusiasm to prepare laddoos for her too. Her family looked forward to the treat with a lot of eagerness.

Many years later, after they moved to another area and we were not able to meet regularly during Diwali and Holi, I stumbled upon an explanation for the difference in the time of Deepavali celebration of in the south as compared to the northern India. A friend of mine explained to me that Lord Ram after conquering Ravan crossed Tamilnadu at daybreak and reached Ayodhya in the evening and this is the reason why Tamilians celebrate Diwali in the morning and people in the north wait till evening to do the same. Well, Deepavali is celebrated to mark the victory of Lord Krishna over Narakasura in Tamilnadu and Lord Rama doesn’t actually come into the picture as far as I know. However my friend’s explanation seemed acceptable enough. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to offer the explanation to Mrs. Sinha and since she is no more I never will be able to pull her legs about it.

Whether it was Lord Ram’s victory or Lord Krishna’s is not an important issue. What is important is that we all have a Ram and a Ravan residing right within us and let us try to conquer the evil forces in our minds and in society by using the good side of our nature to crush evil beyond recognition and celebrate our success with carefree abandon by spreading the message of universal brotherhood. Happy Diwali once again!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Tag of heights...

I took a long time to do this tag because I could not decide whether I should write about old people or small kids. Finally I decided to write about my own grand daughters – Megha who is two and a half years old and five month old Aarya. I hope I’ve done a good job of it. They belong to two sets of parents.

Height of cruelty- Putting the light out for the child to sleep, when all she wants to do is to laugh and play, saying ‘enough it is bed time now’. Parenting rule I suppose.

Height of reward- Megha comes running to me when her mom gets angry with her acknowledging me as an important person in her life.

Height of challenge- To keep a serious face when grandkids smile at you after being naughty, fearing a ‘Don’t spoil her’ from the parent.

Height of vigilance- Keeping a watch on what the five month old Aarya will put into her mouth.

Height of dieting - Megha having blueberries for breakfast lunch and dinner.

Height of desperation- My brother in law’s 3 year old son taking to the feeding bottle once again when his little brother arrived, much to his mom’s desperation.

Height of competition- Megha expects to be served the exact spicy food that I serve her grandpa.

Height of comparison – Megha comparing her mini sized bindi with my bigger one.

Height of rivalry- Megha expects to be carried in preference to Aarya and that too by Aarya’s dad.

Height of anger- Aarya yelling when we place a pillow on the way to prevent her from rolling over.

Height of table manners- Though given a separate plate Meghu insists on eating from her grandpa’s plate.

Height of fitness- Aarya’s toes being permanently thrust into her mouth looking like Balakrishna on a peepal leaf.

Height of choice- Five month old Aarya preferring a particular song that her mom learnt when she was in her tummy. She hates car seats. When tied up in it she starts crying. The minute the song is sung she stops crying and the moment she switches to another she starts yelling again.

Height of choosiness- Meghu insisting on wearing summer clothes in peak winter. Aarya preferring one toy to the rest.

Height of dadagiri- Aarya insisting on being carried vertically when she was just 2 months old,yelling when I sit down and she wants me to walk around. Meghu insisting that I carry her upstairs and refusing to let my husband to do it. Megha insisting that my husband watch Cartoon channels and objecting to his switching to football during the world cup series.

Height of frustration- Aarya trying to get to a toy placed in front of her. Tries to get there by rolling instead of crawling.

Height of provocation – Can’t think of any.

Grandkids add joy to our lives even when they twist us around on their finger tips!<

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Do we love our Women?

Friends, this may be my last serious post before I leave for India in a fortnight. I have a lot of pending work to finish and I also wish to spend as much time as possible with Aarya, my little grand daughter, whom I am going to really and truly miss. I already miss not having spent enough time with my other grand daughter Megha. Hopefully there will be another visit when I’ll get to spend an equal amount of time with both of them. I dedicate this post to their bright future.

I begin by acknowledging that I’ve been influenced a great deal by what I understood from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has said in his book ‘ Hating Women’. He discusses in detail the degradation of women in the name of feminism with reference to the status of women in America. It is a book I’d recommend for every thinking adult of the world and Indian parents with teen aged children would do well to read it for two reasons. Firstly, what is happening in America today is bound to happen in India tomorrow. Secondly, with the world growing smaller they are not going to escape being exposed to it even before it reaches India. Rabbi Boteach speaks as a father with genuine concern for his daughters who will soon occupy their rightful place in the American society. I have two grand daughters who are likely to grow in America and my concern extends to them too. I cannot reproduce the whole book but these are some points that caught my attention.

1. Fall of the feminist Dream:
The feminist movement aimed at raising the status of women by encouraging them to take up careers, involve themselves in decision making at the political, official and domestic levels. To day reality shows portray women as shallow brainless creatures who’d fall to any level just for money and celebrity status. No woman seems to object. On the other hand the popularity of the shows seem to indicate that women seem to consider this as harmless fun. Translate this into the Indian scenario. Our TV serials show women as schemers and plotters, an illegitimate son or daughter pops up out of the blue and every hero has an extra marital affair. And we watch these serials instead of boycotting them.

2. Courting has been replaced by dating:
Earlier men would court women. These days, dating, often initiated by women, is the rule. Courting required the men to prove themselves worthy of the ladies' attention let alone affection. They had to work towards being approved by her parents. Dating on the other hand seems to need no such criteria and girls barely thirteen and fifteen years of age go out on dates with equally young boys. All that parents seem to do is to mumble a word of caution-“ Don’t be too late”. According to Rabbi Boteach girls should not be allowed to date before the age of nineteen or twenty which is approximately the age that they could be expected to have attained physical and mental maturity. The culture they’re exposed to at home should be one in which enables them to carry themselves with a dignity so that their date would not dare to make undue demands of them. I don’t need to add that this applies to all countries and cultures.

3. Women are Nature’s system of checks and balances:
Women have a sobering effect on man. Women are catalysts that unearth masculine virtue. Even the most aggressive of men tones down when he faces a dignified woman. Unfortunately, society is becoming more and more desensitized towards feminine attributes like modesty, sanctity and the mystique of femininity. We have our pop culture to thank for this situation. Due to this harshness will triumph over subtlety and ruthlessness over ethics. Society should never lose its reverence for women and if it does one is not too far from doom. One needs to look at the degradation of women in the west, by portraying them as mindless and vulgar in the visual medium and the oppression of woman in certain Islamic states of the east, to get an idea of what he means. I quote from the book -

“Rabbi IsaacLuria, the greatest Kabbalist of our times predicted that the world would be redeemed by women, and women would teach men how to bring forth their more nurturing, harmonious energy. Women would help men create a messianic era based on peace and prosperity by teaching men to see all beings as brothers instead of competitors, teaching them how to love rather than conquer.” In these days of terrorist attacks and suicide bombers is this not the requirement of the day?

There is a lot more in the book but unfortunately I cannot touch every thing that is mentioned. But here are a few things we can do-

1. Let us teach our boys the necessity to treat house hold chores as dignified work and encourage them to help out in whatever way they can. While a mother asks a girl child to clear the table or fold her clothes they seldom make the boy to do it. He grows up thinking that he can watch TV after a hard day’s work while his wife is supposed to do the cooking and cleaning. A little effort in this direction can save a lot of frustration.

2. Let our children understand that they would be hurting us very badly if they misuse the trust we place on them. In response to my earlier post Monika Manchanda had mentioned that she did not agree to my point on physical strength of females and that the strength displayed by a woman at child - birth was an example. I think that nothing in the world can equal a woman’s role as the bearer of her child. Nature has made her much superior to man in equipping her thus. She senses the child within her from day 1 but her husband waits for nine months to do so. But to be worthy of the supremacy accorded to her by nature isn’t it equally important that a woman exercises a sense of responsibility and caution? This is what I meant in the post.

3. Equal opportunities in the job front is a popular demand. I agree 100%. But one should be thankful to the Indian Government that it shows consideration to its women employees while considering transfers. I know of a government doctor in Jamshedpur who traveled for nearly 4 hours each day to reach his workplace. He’d take 3 different modes of transport, reaching the bus stand by car, travel for two hours by bus, walk 1 kilometer before taking a boat to cross a river and finally be taken to the government dispensary by his compounder on a motorcycle. He’d spend the night there and return the next evening commuting in reverse order. His female colleagues who draw the same salary are never posted to such remote areas and I’ve never heard him complain. I am also an employee of a government college and I am indeed grateful for the consideration shown by our policy makers. I don’t know whether I am eligible to be called a feminist but I definitely call our government’s approach as humanistic. Can we deny that equal rights means equal responsibility as well?

I have tried to address some questions raised by readers of my earlier post. I still believe that we should all strive to make the world a better place to live in and women should feel free to walk on the street at mid night. As of now I dare not let my daughters do it. I have given my children education and good values and that was something that i could do. I cannot protect them from all that is evil. I can only hope. I end with the concluding words of Rabbi Boteach –

Together, men and women working can usher in a golden age of feminine awe and magic. Together, we can create a softer, gentler and brighter world illuminated with the light and warmth of the nurturer.”

This, I feel, will be the true achievement of feminism if it ever happens.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Real masterpiece!

When an old lady died in the geriatric ward of a small hospital near Dundee, Scotland, it was believed that she had nothing left of any value.

Later, when the nurses were going through her meager possessions, they found this poem.
Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.
One nurse took her copy to Ireland.
The old lady's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas edition of the News Magazine of the North Ireland Association for Mental Health.

A slide presentation has also been made based on her simple, but eloquent, poem.
And this little old Scottish lady, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this "anonymous" poem winging across the Internet:

Crabby Old Woman

What do you see, nurses ........ What do you see?
What are you thinking ...........When you're looking at me?
A crabby old woman ..............Not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, .............With faraway eyes?
Who dribbles her food .......................... And makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice, .. "I do wish you'd try!"
Who seems not to notice ........ The things that you do,
And forever is losing ........... A stocking or shoe?

Who, resisting or not, ..........Lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding, .......The long day to fill?
Is that what you're thinking? ...Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse, .....You're not looking at me.
I'll tell you who I am ..........As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, ........As I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of ten ........With a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters ............Who love one another.

A young girl of sixteen .........With wings on her feet
Dreaming that soon now ......... A lover she'll meet.
A bride soon at twenty, ........ My heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows ............That I promised to keep.

At twenty-five now, .............I have young of my own,
Who need me to guide ............And a secure happy home.
A woman of thirty, ..............My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other .............With ties that should last.

At forty, my young sons .........Have grown and are gone,
But my man's beside me ......... To see I don't mourn
At fifty once more, ............Babies play round my knee,
Again we know children, .........My loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me, ..........My husband is dead,
I look at the future, ...........I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing ....Young of their own,
And I think of the years ........And the love that I've known.

I'm now an old woman.............And nature is cruel;
Tis jest to make old age ........Look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, ..........Grace and vigor depart,
There is now a stone ............Where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass .....A young girl still dwells,
And now and again, ..............My battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, ............I remember the pain,
And I'm loving and living .......Life over again.

I think of the years ............All too few, gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact .......That nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people, ......Open and see,
Not a crabby old woman; .........Look closer....see, ME!!

Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within...
we will all, one day, be there, too!


Saturday, September 30, 2006

Today is a gift.....

I got this one by email.Enjoy it.
Today is a gift. That's why it's called the present!
Right Now - somebody is thinking of you.
somebody is caring about you.
somebody misses you-somebody wants to talk to you.
somebody wants to be with you.
somebody hopes you aren't in trouble.
somebody is thankful for the support you have provided.
somebody wants to hold your hand.
Somebody hopes everything turns out all right.
somebody wants you to be happy.
somebody wants you to find him/her.
somebody is celebrating your successes.
somebody wants to give you a gift.
somebody thinks that you ARE a gift.
somebody loves you.
Somebody admires your strength.
somebody is thinking of you and smiling.
somebody wants to be your shoulder to cry on.
Never take away anyone's hope.That may be all they have.

Tag after Tag!!

I have been simultaneously tagged by Srijith Unni and Archana Bahuguna. While Srijith wants me to talk about 6 weird things in my nature, Archana wants me to say 9 things about myself weird or otherwise. Both want me to tag 6 more people by leaving a comment on their blog. I decided to combine both and give 9 aspects of my nature, some weird others not so weird. Those whom I tag may stick to the same rule.

1.I am a supporter of the underdog – This is perhaps due to my being an Aquarian. I take up for the downtrodden ones. I must be a weird person to feel bad when I win an argument. I end up finding excuses for my opponents. Thank God I didn’t become a lawyer. I may never win a case.

2.I am a little too talkative - This is a serious flaw in my nature. It has led to some embarrassing moments. I am in awe of those who speak less and are in full command all the time.

3.I forget faces – I don’t actually forget faces. Rather I get confused with similar looking people who I don't meet regularly and have to see them together to be sure. Or else I may mix up between the two. When I am not too sure I talk about global warming and terrorist attacks.

4.I am too laid back – This is a characteristic I’ve inherited from my mother’s brother. His famous words in an emergent situation are “One cannot make the train move fast by pacing up and down the compartment.” I totally agree with him. In fact I love a situation in which nothing can be done and things spin out of control. I feel I can relax and read a book or go to sleep. That is why perhaps I don’t worry too much about the things I’ve missed in life.

5.I mess up my priorities – I don’t do it in any serious way. My work in college does not suffer or my family hasn’t faced any difficulty on account of this. I only mean to say that I am flexible. My husband has a routine and sticks to it. I can cook a meal as soon as I open my eyes or wait till ten in the morning to prepare myself a cup of tea depending on the situation and when I am alone. My priorities keep changing. I don’t do it when others are included.

6.I am not too worried about my appearance – I admire those who are perfectly dressed for an occasion and wish to be like them. I only manage to be neatly dressed and here too I’d give credit to Ashok, my dhobi (washer-man). I just cannot match my sarees with accessories or sit through the process (read pain) of applying make up and mascara. A bindi is all I sport and perhaps a face cream when the weather is dry. The odd time that I ‘dress’ up makes me self conscious and uncomfortable. My husband should thank me for not straining his purse.

7. I like to add up numbers – I love to add up numbers. I add up telephones numbers, registration numbers of vehicles etc. I feel happy when they add up to 8. I really don’t know why.

8.I am sometimes thick skinned and sometimes sensitive – This is a quality I share with Srijith. I cannot really predict when I’d take something seriously and when I’d laugh it off. Depends on my mood I guess.

9.I am famous for smiling when I am upset – When I was a schoolgirl I’d giggle on being scolded. We had an English teacher who’d use the choicest words while scolding us. I have been sent out of class ‘to laugh to my heart’s content’. This has perhaps led to my smiling when I am really upset. I know it is wrong to do it and I should be pulling a long face. But my face is already long and refuses to get longer.

Now I’d like to tag Starry nights, Itching to write, artnavy, hillgrandmom, balaji and the visitor to take up this tag and give us their side of the story.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Feminism as I see it

The definition of feminism as in The American Heritage Dictionary is as follows – A doctrinethat advocates or demands for women the same rights granted men, as in political or economic status. 2. The movement in support of such a doctrine.

My opinion in the matter are entirely my own and I am in no position to claim that it is the correct one. I have trained my mind to think in a particular way, to approach life in a certain manner and to define things the way I understand them. They need not be identical to what youngsters perceive and my only request is to think on these lines.

When we talk of equal rights for men and women what exactly do we mean? I know of a family a young couple where the husband is supposed to sweep and the wife has to swab. If the husband has to rush to work, the house is neither swept nor swabbed. In the same family the husband agreed to prepare rice since it was easy and the wife took it upon herself to prepare the dal and sabzi. If she came home early she would do her bit and wait for the husband to come home and prepare rice. Both would be tired and the allegations and counter allegations would follow and they’d go to bed without eating. I do hope they have now grown out of this stage and have matured enough to understand that equality doesn’t necessarily mean a 50:50 division of every odd job in the house.

Equality on the other hand means that men and women who constitute society have mutual respect and each group appreciates the other for their contribution and input. A woman may be a home maker or career woman depending upon her personal choice. She should be confident about the importance of her role and carry herself with a dignity that commands respect even from her worst critics. Long back I watched a programme on DD-1 – “ Aurat kaam nahin karti” in which it was satirically pointed out that cooking , cleaning, the bearing and rearing of children etc. are not considered as ‘work’- not by her family or society but by the woman herself. Unless we bring about an attitudinal change all this talk about feminism is not going to benefit anyone.

It is heartening to see middle and upper middle class families at least in urban areas educate their girl child at par with their boys. Education does broaden one’s outlook and even if the girl does not go out to work there is no doubt that she will be an asset to her family. She may in all probability have a say in important matters and equality will automatically follow. It is equally disappointing to see educated females behaving like dumb dolls and being treated as if they are a piece of furniture in the house. Nothing in life comes for free and the sooner one realizes it the better for them. If one wants to be heard he or she has to stand up and speak and speaking does not mean screaming.

One’s cultural background does play a role in shaping one’s mind but whatever the culture one belongs to self respect need not be compromised. My ex - servant’s husband had bought her a gold chain weighing around 40 gms. He kept on boasting about it and making sarcastic remarks about how she had brought nothing from her mother’s house and he was the one who had given her anything of worth. She gave it back to him in the presence of a witness and has not worn it since. Her words were “If you don’t realize or recognize my contribution to this family I don’t need your gold.” She went on to list the benefits the family was deriving on account of her including the fact that the rent free outhouse that they were living in was given for her services as house maid. The minute she stopped working, the family would be on the pavement she claimed! To my mind she comes across as much a feminist as anyone else.

Being a feminist does not mean finding fault with every arrangement in a male dominated society. For instance nature has made female physically vulnerable and it may be prudent to avoid certain situations. An intelligent mind would have no hesitation in doing so. After all nature has been fair enough as far as the mind is concerned so why not put it to good use?

Feminism as I see it

The definition of feminism as in The American Heritage Dictionary is as follows – A doctrinethat advocates or demands for women the same rights granted men, as in political or economic status. 2. The movement in support of such a doctrine.

My opinion in the matter are entirely my own and I am in no position to claim that it is the correct one. I have trained my mind to think in a particular way, to approach life in a certain manner and to define things the way I understand them. They need not be identical to what youngsters perceive and my only request is to think on these lines.

When we talk of equal rights for men and women what exactly do we mean? I know of a family a young couple where the husband is supposed to sweep and the wife has to swab. If the husband has to rush to work, the house is neither swept nor swabbed. In the same family the husband agreed to prepare rice since it was easy and the wife took it upon herself to prepare the dal and sabzi. If she came home early she would do her bit and wait for the husband to come home and prepare rice. Both would be tired and the allegations and counter allegations would follow and they’d go to bed without eating. I do hope they have now grown out of this stage and have matured enough to understand that equality doesn’t necessarily mean a 50:50 division of every odd job in the house.

Equality on the other hand means that men and women who constitute society have mutual respect and each group appreciates the other for their contribution and input. A woman may be a home maker or career woman depending upon her personal choice. She should be confident about the importance of her role and carry herself with a dignity that commands respect even from her worst critics. Long back I watched a programme on DD-1 – “ Aurat kaam nahin karti” in which it was satirically pointed out that cooking , cleaning, the bearing and rearing of children etc. are not considered as ‘work’- not by her family or society but by the woman herself. Unless we bring about an attitudinal change all this talk about feminism is not going to benefit anyone.

It is heartening to see middle and upper middle class families at least in urban areas educate their girl child at par with their boys. Education does broaden one’s outlook and even if the girl does not go out to work there is no doubt that she will be an asset to her family. She may in all probability have a say in important matters and equality will automatically follow. It is equally disappointing to see educated females behaving like dumb dolls and being treated as if they are a piece of furniture in the house. Nothing in life comes for free and the sooner one realizes it the better for them. If one wants to be heard he or she has to stand up and speak and speaking does not mean screaming.

One’s cultural background does play a role in shaping one’s mind but whatever the culture one belongs to self respect need not be compromised. My ex - servant’s husband had bought her a gold chain weighing around 40 gms. He kept on boasting about it and making sarcastic remarks about how she had brought nothing from her mother’s house and he was the one who had given her anything of worth. She gave it back to him in the presence of a witness and has not worn it since. Her words were “If you don’t realize or recognize my contribution to this family I don’t need your gold.” She went on to list the benefits the family was deriving on account of her including the fact that the rent free outhouse that they were living in was given for her services as house maid. The minute she stopped working, the family would be on the pavement she claimed! To my mind she comes across as much a feminist as anyone else.

Being a feminist does not mean finding fault with every arrangement in a male dominated society. For instance nature has made female physically vulnerable and it may be prudent to avoid certain situations. An intelligent mind would have no hesitation in doing so. After all nature has been fair enough as far as the mind is concerned so why not put it to good use?

Monday, September 25, 2006

I've been tagged by Suemamma
Here are my answers to the questions:

1.Are you happy/satisfied with your blog with it's content and look?Does your family know about your blog?

Yes I am quite happy with my the content of my blog.I leave it to you to judge its looks. My daughter was the one to introduce me to the blog world and my family knows about it.

2.Do you feel embarrassed to let your friends know about your blog or you just consider it as a private thing?

I have no embarassment about anyone reading my blog. My close friends already know of most things that I write.

3.Did blogs cause positive changes in your thoughts?

I got to know a lot by reading the opinion of my blog readers thro’ their comments. I really enjoy them and feel good. Positive changes automatically follow.

4.Do you only open the blogs of those who comment on your blog or you love to go and discover more by yourself?

I read the blogs of those who comment. The visitor directs me to other good blog posts.Right now I am busy.Once I return to India in October I’ll try and discover more blogs on my own.

5.What does visitors counter mean to you? Do you care about putting it in your blog?

Oh yes. I have a site meter and I do look it up.It gives me an idea of the many people who visit my site.

6.Did you try to imagine your fellow bloggers and give them real pictures?

I have a mental picture of my fellow bloggers based on the stuff they write. It is more to do with their mind than looks.

7.Admit. Do you think there is a real benefit for blogging?

I find blogging very beneficial. It allows you to be yourself..

8.Do you think that bloggers society is isolated from real world or interacts with events?

The bloggers society is an interaction of like minded people. Experiences are exchanged and opinions generated. One learns a lot in the process.

9.Does criticism annoy you or do you feel it's a normal thing?

Healthy criticism is okay. I don’t think I’d worry too much about malicious criticism.That is also part of life.

10.Do you fear some political blogs and avoid them?

Politics does not interest me very much. I may not deliberately avoid them.But I wouldn’t be too interested in going through them. Nor would I want to comment.

11.Did you get shocked by the arrest of some bloggers?

I did not know about such arrests and would like to know the reasons. I would like to take it as a warning.

12.Did you think about what will happen to your blog after you die?

Death is a certainity. In fact it is the only thing that is common to all people.I don’t think I’d worry too much about it. I would rather enjoy what life has to offer.

13.What do you like to hear? What's the song you might like to put a link to in your blog?

There was a song
Courage brother,Do not stumble
Though thy path be dark as night,
Turn from man and look above thee,

Trust in God and do the right.'

I’d like to put a link to the song in my blog.It would really lift my spirits up!

About more people to tag, I don't know.
I'll tag Passerby55 and Usha I guess if they are willing.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The joy of planning.

Navaratri is just around the corner and I am filled with nostalgia about my childhood when we would go from house to house for ‘Golu’ collecting ‘sundal’ from each house that we visited. I continued the tradition till my girls were available to go around and invite people for ‘haldi and kumkum’. I arranged the dolls carefully collected by my mother in law and celebrated Navaratri in the traditional tamilian style. We lived in an one bed room apartment and space was limited. But the festival was observed with great interest. Soon my daughters left home for college and though we had shifted to a three bedroom flat of our own the tamilian population had by then dispersed and somehow I did not retain the enthusiasm of continuing the tradition of ‘golu’ or ‘gudia pooja’ as the north Indians called it. I still invite a few friends over the ninth day when we celebrate Saraswati pooja but the spirit of Navaratri is missing. I sometimes wonder why?

I can think of some reasons that may have contributed to the situation-

1)When I started the ritual I had no other means of interacting with others of my age. We were about 10 tamilian families in our area and our children were young. Money was limited and we looked forward to the festive season to treat our children to an outing, to invite others over and to buy good clothes for the members of the family. There was no TV and eating out was almost unheard of. Now we have spending money and the joy of looking forward to new clothes during Navaratri and Deepavali is no longer there. Could this be a reason?

2)The weather during Navaratri is usually pleasant and many families prefer to travel to places of tourist interest during the season.

3)My research work went on for three seasons and the crop I took up as my research tool was seasonal. Its life cycle began in August and ended in November. My puja vacations were utilized for research work.

4)Our plans normally centre around the children. Now that they have flown the nest I have lost interest.

5)Tamilians who were my neighbors twenty years back have either left the town or moved to far off places. The few who remain are not too keen. Has this rubbed off into me also?

6)Social life in general has taken a beating.

7)Am I perhaps not too keen myself and prefer to utilize the vacation to organise my house and relax with a book?

Wharever be the reason I need to start again and these are things that I can do during Navaratri-

1)Invite a poor and needy person for lunch with her family and give her children a little money to spend on something they very much want to do.

2)Buy stationery items and distribute it among needy school going children.

3)Organise a bhajan during Navaratri and invite friends over.

4)Seek out others whose children have left home, form a group and go for a picnic instead of brooding over the time when ‘the kids were at home’.

5)Reach out to someone in distress and give him/her a little of my time.

That’s all I can think of. I wonder if there is anything else that I can do. Any suggestions? I do feel that with a little less money we have much more to look forward to and that perhaps makes life more interesting. I miss the joy of planning and making sure that each one’s need is attended to. I miss giving my father in law a little spending money. I miss the joy that I saw in his face when I ran out of cash and asked him for it. The way he’d look up and say “Always set aside some money for a rainy day”. I made him feel so very important when he’d turn round and ask “ If it were not for me what would you do?” More on that later. Right now I am in a pensive mood and ask myself if there is something missing and if there is truth in the saying ‘Poverty in the midst of plenty’

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Some points to ponder about-

I thought I'd share with you some impressions I gathered from a book I read recently. It was a correspondence between a Rabbi Shmuel Boteach and a paranormalist Uri Geller. Most of these are in concurrence with my own perceptions of life. In fact it confirms my own faith in the goodness of the human race which transcends all possible religious affiliations. These are quotes picked up at random and may not be very organised. They cannot be specifically attributed to either of the authors because I felt they were two people saying the same thing in different words. I may be wrong but then that is how I see it. I post it in my blog as much for myself as for you.

1)One should not seek to understand suffering. Rather he should work to obliterate it.

2)A relationship is a two way process.we cannot just holler when things go wrong we must allow our hearts to swell up at all that is beautiful. Events of today are controlled by promises of tomorrow.

3)Invisible things are the most precious and powerful.

4)To be fully human is to have worked and struggled to be special.

5)A single ray of human love and warmth is enough to dispel all gloom and darkness of all the world’s confused adolescents.

6)Religious people can often be bad representatives of their faith.

7)Three things that humans want in their lives are meaning,joy and goodness.It is impossible to be joyous withot being good.

8)Truth is a human necessity. A lie cannot last and falsehood cannot flourish.

9)One should aim to be human because that is challenging and ultimately fetches rewards.

10)God does not love or bless man made divisions.Rather He loves man himself.

11)Alexander the Great willed that he should be buried with his hands protruding out of the coffin.He wanted to show his soldiers that although he had conquered the world he when he left it his hands were empty.

12)Your actions are worthy only if your inner self is in harmony with your external actions.

13)Goodness is not a ritual that comes with practice.It is a struggle that has to be overcome each time you try to be good.

14)God is not present in the wind, water or fire look for Him within you.He is in the soft voice of the conscience within you.

15)Belief in one’s SELF is the same as belief in one’s God

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Can't we bond?

Although my previous post was not directed at MIL/DIL relationships it seems to have provoked a lot of reactionary opinion in the matter. It is a much debated relationship and has been the theme of many interesting novels, plays as also, unfortunately, the never ending soap operas that dominate the prime time of cable and national TV network.

Times are changing or so they say. The tussle for one upmanship in the household between the MIL/DIL duo still continues albeit in a more subdued manner. I sometimes wonder if this love/ hate equation between the two ladies actually adds spice to an otherwise monotonous existence as one saw in Sachin’s ‘Tu Tu Main Main’. On a more serious note I wonder if, as in some families that I know, it actually suits the men in the house to have the two ladies at loggerheads with one another. I am no expert but I’ll try to put down a few of my observations. I find it safe to use myself as an example but in general I find that it applies to most people around me.

The first reason for any relationship to sour is unrealistic expectations. A mother in law’s role in making her daughter in law feel welcomed cannot be over looked or ignored. The girl comes from an entirely different setup and needs time to adjust to new ways. She needs time to bond with her new family. She may call her mother in law amma but all the time she is making a mental comparison between her mother and mother in law. She needs to understand that this new ‘amma’ acquired by virtue of her marriage may have a different approach but is nevertheless her well-wisher. Little gestures of appreciation go a long way in forging a life long relationship. My mother in law couldn’t care less if I spoke good English or wrote interesting letters. Her expectations from me were very simple. That I would be an efficient home-maker and take charge of the house hold and relieve her of her duties. I had spent my growing years in two different hostels and with elders taking care of the kitchen I enjoyed hostel life even at home. My mother in law expected me to spin like a top and I landed at her place expecting to learn from scratch. I was a willing learner but she was in no mood to teach. I had perhaps disappointed her from the outset.

I’d think ‘ Why can’t she tell me?’
May be she thought ‘Why should I?’

In my less charitable mood I’d think that like Karna in Mahabharat who was born with ear rings and an armor, she was perhaps born with a ladle in one hand and duster in another. She was obsessed about keeping the house clean while I had only learnt to make my bed and arrange my almirah. Likewise she might have had thought of something mean about me.

However, my MIL was also a very clever person. After the initial disappointment she decided to tone down a bit. She saw that it was easier to mould a novice and began by giving me small responsibilities and leaving me to deal with them. I realized that I had to prove a point so within six months I managed to pick up a decent amount of house keeping. I don’t even remember when and how we became friends. Today I realize that she gave in a lot without seeming to do so. Hats off to her administrative capacities.

Emotional dependence on the son/husband also causes a rift in relationships. It is important for a wife to remember that the woman one regards with suspicion is actually the one who gave him life and has played an important role in making him the man whom you ultimately married. Insecurities will definitely haunt her mind. There is no harm in making her feel that she is still the one in control and nothing has changed on account of your arrival. Once mutual trust is built, believe me, you’ll have her taking your side. I say this out of personal experience.

Finally financial control. God forbid if at some point of time I have to trouble my children for money. Nothing would hurt me more than to burden them financially. Parents like to be always able to give but in the twilight of one’s life it is not always possible. Tension builds up when funds are limited and in today’s world it is a question of give and take. There is a popular saying that even a rat runs away from a sinking ship. Should one’s parent turn out to be a sinking ship children should be the plugs that seal the holes and not rats that run away.

All relationships thrive on mutual trust and respect. A mother who has faith in her son will never ill treat her daughter in law. Likewise a daughter in law who respects and loves her husband will automatically love his family. Differences can be addressed amicably. A direct and frank approach is better than dropping hints and reading between lines. Joint families are becoming rare and this is causing adjustment problems. Children look upon grand parents as intruders and parents are unwilling to give up luxuries that they are used to. Advice is neither given nor taken. A kind of indifference, a lack of concern is setting in. This I feel is not good for society as a whole. Let us change this trend while we can. Living together as a joint family is not possible any more. But let us remain in touch and meet as often as possible so that if and when parents move in they may not feel out of place.

I end with a point that often comes to my mind. We adjust in our work place, we adjust with our neighbors but when it comes to one’s MIL/DIL one cannot even be civil. Is it so difficult a task or aren’t we trying hard enough?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Do you ever wonder why-

Did you ever wonder why-

When a son listens to his wife he is hen pecked but a son in law doing the same is called considerate?

When your mother refuses to baby sit your child she’s getting on in age but if it is your mother in law she is just being mean?

When your daughter goes out leaving you to deal with your headache she needs to relax but when your daughter in law goes out after finishing all her work she’s labeled irresponsible?

Your hyperactive kid is a creative genius while your neighbor’s child is a spoilt brat?

When you over dress for a party, you’re doing it against your will but another friend who does it is showing off?

Your husband worked hard to get his promotion but everyone else got it by pleasing the boss?

Your son is innocent and does not know the ways of the world if he walks into your home empty handed but your daughter in law doing so is miserly/ stingy and what not?

The jar broken by your daughter is made of clay but that which your daughter in law breaks is too precious to replace?

While you offer to help out at your mother’s place before your brother got married you expect to be waited upon by your sister in law from the minute she steps into your maternal home?

Your sister always has better features than your sister in law?

A man may crack jokes and have fun with his wife’s siblings but he dare not show genuine concern over his own family’s welfare?

A son may never appreciate his mother in law’s cooking?

The food cooked by one’s mother in law/ daughter in law is always too spicy or too bland?

I end here. Others are welcome to continue from where I left.

Actually I am reading an amazing book and needed to relax. I thought of noting down parts of the book to post in my blog. I don’t really know what to mention or leave out. So I better recommend the book and leave it to you to decide. The book is titled ‘The Psychic and The Rabbi – A remarkable Correspondence’ between Uri Geller & Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. I haven’t finished it and will write about it later. In the mean time I felt like writing something light hearted and hence the above post. I do realize that no relationship is black or white. Shades of gray do come in. I don’t mean to be judgmental so just laugh it off!

Friday, September 08, 2006

You Can Make an IMPACT

A good friend of mine sent me this post. I thought I should share it with you

One day, when I was a freshman in high school,
I saw a kid from my class was walking home from
His name was Kyle.
It looked like he was carrying all of his books.
I thought to myself, "Why would anyone bring
home all his books on a Friday?
He must really be a nerd."

I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friends tomorrow afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on.
As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running
toward him.They ran at him, knocking all his books out of
his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt.
His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in
the grass about ten feet from him.

He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in
his eyes.My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to
him and as he crawled around looking for his glasses, and I saw a tear
in his eye.
As I handed him his glasses, I said, "Those guys
are jerks. "
They really should get lives.
" He looked at me and said, "Hey thanks!"
There was a big smile on his face.It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude.
I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived.
As it turned out, he lived near me,! so I asked
him why I had never seen him before.
He said he had gone to private school before now.

I would have never hung out with a private
school kid before.

We talked all the way home, and I carried some of his books.
He turned out to be a pretty cool kid.

I asked him if he wanted to play a little
football with my friends

He said yes.

We hung out all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I
liked him, and my friends thought the same of him.

Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the
huge stack of books again.

I stopped him and said, "Boy, you are gonna
really build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday!

"He just laughed and handed me half the books.

Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends.
When we were seniors, we began to think about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown , and I was going to Duke.

I knew that we would always be friends, that the
miles would never be a problem.

He was going to be a doctor, and I was going for
business on a football scholarship.

Kyle was valedictorian of our class.I teased him all the time about being a nerd.

He had to prepare a speech for graduation.

I was so gl ad it wasn't me having to get up there and speak
Graduation day, I saw Kyle.

He looked great. He was one of those guys that
really found himself during high school.
He filled out and actually looked good in glasses.
He had more dates than I had and all the girls loved him.
Boy, sometimes I was jealous.

Today was one of those days.

I could see that he was nervous about his speech.

So, I smacked him on the back and said, "Hey, big guy, you'll be great!"
He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled.

"Thanks," he said.

As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began

"Graduation is a time to thank those who helped
you make it through those tough years.
Your parents, your teachers, your siblings,
maybe a coach...but mostly your friends...
I am here to tell all of you that being a friend
to someone is the best gift you can give them.
I am going to tell you a story."

I just looked at my friend with disbelief! as he
told the story of the first day we met.

He had planned to kill himself over the weekend.
He talked of how he had cleaned out his lockerso his Mom wouldn't have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home.
He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile.
"Thankfully, I was saved.

My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable. "

I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this
handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment.

I saw his Mom and dad looking at me and smiling
that same grateful smile.
Not until that moment did I realize its depth.

Never underestimate the power of your actions.
With one small gesture you can change a person's life.
For better or for worse.

God puts us all in each other's lives to impact
one another in some way.