Sunday, December 28, 2008

Biological Inspiration

Being a teacher of Biology I thought of doing a post on my own subject. I felt I’ve neglected it for too long and it needs to be accorded a place in my blog. I must tell you what made me take up Biology in the first place. I was truly more comfortable with Math and I had a flair for languages. I was good at Hindi (I really WAS good) and I remember reading the first library book in Hindi, that was issued to me in school, in about an hour or so and had nothing to read for a whole week. Till my 11th standard board exams I’d never illustrate my biology answers with suitable diagrams. For the boards I practiced a few diagrams and luckily there was some question on adaptations of animals and I actually managed to draw the diagram and was grateful to God for it.

It was with such inartistic inclination that I took up Biology in PUC. Those were days when a choice had to be made between Math and Biology and I opted for Biology since I had dreams of following my father’s footsteps and becoming a doctor. And it was then that I realized that with a little practice diagrams in science could be mastered but dissections in Zoology made me shed tears of self pity. What had I got myself into? Mathematics was so much easier to deal with than frogs and roaches. I was in perpetual terror of Zoology practical classes and skipped lunch on those days as my only way of protesting against my Zoology teacher who’d dish out cockroach after cockroach till I got my dissection right.

For my graduation I took up Botany as my Major subject surprising everyone by refusing to even apply for a seat in medicine. I felt Zoology could be dealt with at a subsidiary level and plants were certainly easier tohandle. So if I had to be stuck up with the wrong subject I may as well choose the easier one. I really do not know when I started loving my subject but in the three years that followed and later when I did my Masters and Ph.D. I did enjoy studying the subject. I have my practical record books in the department and my students refer to it even now. I also managed to get over my dislike for Zoology and today I tell my students that the two subjects are complimentary and should be viewed as life sciences.

I am in awe of nature because-

When left alone there is such a balance in nature that it would put us to shame. The adaptations made to accommodate other life forms could well be emulated by us. In an earlier post I had written –

“After all take a look at the soaring branches of a tree and how the same source of light is successfully utilized by each and every leaf of a tree and every tree in an environment. And the root system penetrating the soil uses the same water source without disturbing the roots of neighboring vegetation. Compare roots to cultural values and spreading branches to children looking for new avenues to spread their wings. Do they not play different roles important in their own way but each occupying its own special niche thus complimenting each other?”

I had written this with reference to adjustments in a marriage. Why only marriage? Why cannot this apply to adjustment and accommodation of different cultures and religions? What is stopping us from respecting and taking useful lessons from other cultures?

When I go for my morning walks I always look at the trees for inspiration. Their branching is clearly visible in autumn. Each tree has a pattern unique to its family. Their flowering season also varies. Insects and bees that feed on their nectar get a steady supply all through the year. Some plants are heliotropes and need bright sunlight and others are shade loving and happily grow in the diffused light available beneath tall trees. Live and let live is the message that nature gives us. We humans keep fighting all the time due to clash of interests. Every parent wants his ward to become an IT professional or a doctor. Engineering/medical coaching is highly priced and a child has to sit for several entrance exams before being accepted by a good college. He dare not tell his parents that he wishes to pursue a career in Arts or would prefer to learn music. It is easy for me to criticize young parents with my own children well settled and comfortably placed in life. I am equally guilty never having asked my children what they would actually prefer. I kind of took it for granted that their interests were the same as mine. But with IT jobs being affected due to global melt down I can see what our misplaced ambition is doing to a whole generation of software engineers. Apart from having deprived society of good teachers and educationists we may be soon dealing with unemployed youth venting their frustration on us in one form or another. Why don’t we choose different niches and put all available resources to good use?

Weeds interest me too. The gaps between boulders placed as dividers often have weeds growing in them. The town planners keep removing them. You have them in parks and gardens. Research says that weeds hamper the growth of crop plants and need to be eliminated from time to time. I consider anti social elements in society to be like weeds. They will interfere with the healthy development of a society and need to be eliminated from time to time. They cannot be permitted to strike roots. A constant check and balance system ought to be in place. Life forms are amazing. A virus is a chemical entity unless it is hosted by a living cell. Once within the cell it takes over the metabolic activity of the cell and often becomes cancerous. How much more havoc a polluted mind can cause is anybody’s guess. But then we have lichens too. They can break down rocks by secreting chemicals. So also a thinking mind can work on hard core fundamentalists and mellow them to our favor. One has only to try. There is no time like the present one. The Kashmir election and public reaction after the Bombay blasts are indicative of a certain amount of maturity in thinking and the time is ripe to fight terrorism.

I think that is enough Biology in one sitting. I was going to harp on the root system of vegetation and link it with societal values but will leave it for a later post. Just one last word –

If a tree thought its that leaves were important because they trap sunlight energy to convert it to food for the entire world and consumers of different levels were unimportant or if consumers of different levels felt that they could fell down trees since they could not voice their protest I would say that both were wrong. Natural resources have to be recycled and renewed. Entire forests have vanished not due to felling of trees but due to overgrowth leading to unhealthy competition among them. And floods caused by the absence of vegetation to check water flow have washed away civilizations. Adaptation to the environment is the key to success whether we talk of plants animals or human beings.

Happy New Year once again!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Childhood and what it stands for.

Long long ago my daughter resorted to bed wetting even at the age of three and in order that she may not feel upset my husband said ‘It wasn’t you my child, I did it. It was me.’ So it was customary for her to wet the bed and call out to me and say ‘Appa has done it again!’. I’d pretend to get angry and she’d say ‘Never mind appa, don’t do it again.’ I’ve forgotten how she got over the habit but I remember she got over it before going to a regular school.

Years rolled by and grandchildren came along. We’d take our grand daughter Megha for evening walks. We’d invariably ask her to use the rest room at home before we left home and once again before she finished playing and it was time for us to return. She has the habit of waiting till the last moment and announcing at the most inappropriate moments that she wants to do ‘pee-pee’. The few minutes she needed to go to the rest room would not be sufficient and she would wet her pants. Or we’d be returning home and just when we’d be reaching for the door, damage would be done. Her dad being rather strict would scold her for not being careful.

Brat that she happens to be, she resorted to another trick. She’d suddenly want to be carried on my back. ‘piggy ride amma please!’, and I’d give in. It was not that I did not understand. I felt that a piggy ride would perhaps ease things out. But no, I’d suddenly fell something warm trickling down my kameez and the girl had done it yet again! To top it she’d tell me ‘please amma, tell papa that you did it!’. She’d further tease me saying that people on the road would think that I had wet my pants! Just like her aunt I’d think but would try to save her from her dad’s wrath. We’d both pray that her dad would not be in the basement and use the toilet there to wash up and rush upstairs for a change of clothes! And did I notice a suppressed smile on my husband’s face or was it my imagination? Those were time when I truly missed India where a child could be made to squat behind a bush to relieve herself.

I think one thing that has not changed is childhood. Children continue to remain children whether in America or India. At the park where we took Megha I regularly met other parents and grand parents. We were all from different countries and cultures but the children were the same. They played to their hearts content and had to be invariably dragged home.

‘Okay, I’m goin’ home’ I heard a Mexican lady say. “Remember to say hi to foxie when she comes out to play with you’.

I was reminded of the time when my mother/aunt would threaten to call poochandi. Another thing that hasn’t changed is the bond that children share. I have mentioned in an earlier post how my kids preferred punishment to being separated from their friends. They can fight verbally as well as physically. But try separating them and you are their common enemy. I hear that when my grand daughters (from two sets of parents) got to spend time together they were constantly quarreling for the same toy/book whatever. Priya gave her daughter Megha ‘time out’ and made her stand in a corner. Two year old Aarya went and stood by her side pulling a long face as if she was saying ‘So what if we quarrel. We are still friends’.
My only request to parents of little kids, particularly those in India is not to snatch childhood from their children. Let them run wild once in a way for ultimately they’re going to love you for it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Proximity award

Thanks artnavy for awarding me. I was touched by its content/intent. You've been very kind to think of bestowing it to me.

This award is given to a blog that invests and believes in PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.

I now pass on this award to

1.Tys on ice who is an all time favorite.

2.Venki who seems to have forgotten his 'nani'.

3.Joy who takes time out to read my sermons tho' she belongs to my daughter's generation!!

4.Hillg'mom for being a good friend.

5.ITW for being the charming mother of not one but two 'little delights'.

6.Rajani for her Jamshedpur connection which automatically makes me biased towards her.

7.Preethi who doesn't know how much I enjoy her posts that take me back to the time I was a young mother.

8.Prats for the same reason as Preethi.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A 'doctor' in the family....

I have some good news to share.Daughter no.2 has completed her Ph.D work and is ready to file for her degree. I had already confessed that I am a really stupid mother and I forgot to wish her before the D day,ie the day she defended her work. It was very comforting to know that her parents in law called her up to wish her. Sorry my child, I remembered you the day before and forgot about it right when it mattered.I am sure it wasn't easy. During her stint in Graduate school, she had two children and how she managed home and college is beyond my understanding. Hat's off to her and her husband who made it possible.

I go back in time to the days when my children were school going kids. I had always noticed that my 1st daughter Priya and son Rahul were easily distracted and were not putting in their best but my second daughter Prasanna was very focussed and worked hard. So even if her hard work did not translate into marks I'd let her off but would scold the other two for being careless and threaten to send them to a 'dabba' school in our neighborhood if they did not improve. This somehow bothered Prasanna who felt hurt at not being scolded.

'Does it mean that mummy does not expect me to do well?' she's supposed to have thought and that motivated her to work harder. The hard work she put in and perseverance that she showed had perhaps become a habit and helped her achieve her goal. Having done my Ph. D. I can understand how frustrating and difficult it can get when week after week goes by and one has no results to show. I often wondered why research in any subject results in a doctorate in Philosophy. I now understand. The experience is such that one learns to take the good, bad and ugly experiences with a smile and a philosophical attitude automatically sets in. In my case the Ranchi University added to my problems in its own way and made me a true follower of the Bhagawad geeta. 'Do your duty without worrying about results' crib and complain!

Be it as it may, my daughter is planning a trip to India before starting some post doctoral work and we are looking forward to some quality time with her. She truly deserves to get away from her lab and research work and freak out as her own generation would say.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


With everyone having condemned the terrorist attack in Mumbai and a whole nation united in grief there is nothing much I can add. The days when we did not have TV was perhaps better. Riots in 1979 brought life in our Steel city to a stand still. There were reports of a bus load of Muslim women being burnt alive and we did feel helpless. There were rumors of the minority community retaliating. But the visual media had not made its way into our drawing rooms and the papparazi style hounding for by news channels following the Mumbai blasts was thankfully missing. Reading newspaper reports or listening to news on radio is certainly not the same as watching it over and over again in every news channel.

I agree that sensible reporting helps us get news updates. But I am not sure if this is done anymore. I recount a conversation we had in college-

A: ‘The muslim community has refused to let the dead terrorists be interred in India. They will have nothing to do with them. Islam does not endorse bloodshed.’

B: ‘Do you believe them? I don’t.’

C: ‘Why not? Everyone from a particular community cannot be labeled a terrorist. It was a muslim tea supplier who led the NSG commandos to the different areas of Nariman House.’

B: ‘Whatever you say. My mind refuses to trust them.’

A: ‘What about the Hindu fanatics who burnt an evangelist and his two sons in Orissa? Would you want to trust them?

C: ‘Fanatics and fundamentalists have perverted minds and belong to a class of their own irrespective of their religious affiliation. Their acts can never be justified.’

I was glad that very few supported B. But then it is a handful of fanatics and fundamentalists that take on the world threatening to destroy it.

I have given an account of what a frenzied mob can do to an innocent boy in an earlier post. I was witness to the incident and I still feel guilty for not being able to do anything to help.

Are we being fair? Is the over enthusiastic news reporting doing more harm than good?

Again consider the question of Pakistan’s involvement in training terrorists. It is evident that the government there is not able to handle the issue with an iron hand. But could an attack of this level be planned and executed without help from our own people? Traitors from our own country who can do anything for money? Should not our own government have a system in place to identify and punish them? For all we know a good number of them may be holding key posts in government offices or may be spoilt brats of the rich and mighty. Why do we blame the executors of terrorist acts? The masterminds direct them from the safety of their offices thousands of miles away. Why don’t they send their own children as suicide bombers for a change? And would these politicians who claim that such incidents keep happening all the time in big cities or that they were ‘mantris’ not ‘santris’ (sentries) say the same thing if their kith and kin were victims? Who doesn’t remember the Khandhar incident when a dreaded terrorist was released in exchange for a minister’s daughter?

My mind is confused. I try to think of solutions. None come to my mind. No one is born a terrorist. What makes him one? How far is religious fanaticism responsible for the situation? Would it help if Imams, Shankaracharyas and other religious leaders come forward with messages of religious tolerance and universal brotherhood? We cannot let this continue. Let us all ponder over all possible solutions to save the world and ourselves.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gup shap - 4

I once overheard a mother telling a friend that her son had agreed to marry a girl of his parent’s choice but would settle for nothing but the best.

“And why not?” she beamed. “He is qualified, good looking and has no commitments. He’d be an ideal partner for any girl.

I intervened and asked what she meant by ‘best’. Was it possible for anyone to be the best in everything.

The lady gave me a look that said it all.

‘You have neither looks nor status. How would you know?’

The other lady was less opinionated.

“One cannot have the best of everything. Marriage involves a lot of give and take.”

“I don’t need to take anything from anyone.” Said the first lady. “I have enough to give and more to spare.

I burst out laughing. The term ‘give and take’ was certainly not literal. A well qualified daughter in law with a good job may also say –

I have enough to give and more to spare. I don’t need to take anything from anyone.”

At the time of my own marriage a family friend had something different to say when he left for Madras after the function.

“Life is going to be different from now.” He said. “You will be taking on new responsibilities. Your mother in law may be the best person. But she can never be your mother. Never compare the two.( I have mentioned something to this effect in this post of mine). Learn to accept and love her for the person she happens to be. Follow your instincts and adapt according to the situation. You have inherited great qualities from your parents. It is up to you to make them proud.”

In the initial years of my marriage I lost count of the number of times I remembered his words of wisdom. I do remember that they gave me a lot of strength to my troubled mind. It was as if my dead father was advising me.

I don’t mean to say that it is the whole and sole responsibility of the DIL to adjust. Her acquired family should also be willing to compromise. The mother in law may want to listen to bhajans while attending to her morning chores. The DIL may want pin drop silence to practice yoga and meditation. The husband may be an early bird and the wife a night person. Compromises have to be made and they cannot be one sided.

I was surprised that an acquaintance of mine rejected proposal after proposal because they did not measure up to her expectation. Her mother once approached me for details about a colleague of mine. This man had started as a Lab Attendant, improved his qualifications and had become a Lab in charge. He was an asset to the college and was in great demand whenever there was a mechanical/electrical problem. I foresaw a fairly good future for the couple and suggested that his parents be approached. The girl was visibly upset.

“Would you consider him for your own daughter?” she asked.

Her question baffled me. It really did. My daughter was in Standard III at the time and I hadn’t given it a thought. While I agree that I would have looked for a better placed match for my daughter, I certainly would not have insisted that she should have no commitments towards her husband’s family or that her in laws should not spend more than a fortnight with her when they visited her. These were reasons for her rejection of other proposals. Ultimately, the girl did not marry but my colleague married a nice girl from his native place and his son is now doing his engineering.

What then is meant by ‘give and take’ in a marriage?

Give your time and attention.

Give your love and affection.

Give your care and compassion.

Give your support be it physical, moral or financial.

In short give your best to make your relationship work

Take correction and remember that it will help you improve.

Take criticism in your stride and remember that no one is perfect.

Take on responsibilities. You will be an indispensable asset to everyone.

Accept life as it comes and deal the most adverse situations with a smile saying that ‘this too shall pass’.

Take some moments from your busy schedule and count your blessings.

All this applies not only to the relationship acquired by marriage. The rules are the same in any relationship. What then are we waiting for? Why not get started right now?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gup shap-3

We had a marriage in the family and I enjoyed myself thoroughly. People from different corners of India got together and celebrated the occasion. I had almost forgotten that a cousin of mine could sing very well and he entertained us with melodies from the movies of the 60’s and 70’s. We spoke of the childhood that we spent together, the fights we had, the good times we shared and it appeared as if the 3 days we had together were just not enough. Two of my cousins spent two days with me and we left for Calcutta together. Coming back to an empty house brought tears to my eyes and I found myself wanting to return to my childhood days. I brooded over the days gone by and realized once again how lucky I was to have spent the formative years of my life in the company of such people.

Marriage is an occasion that brings the family together. A social gathering. People talk of doing away with elaborate rituals to save time. But each of these has a meaning. The simple act of two ladies welcoming the couple with an aarti for instance. It is usually done by including one each from the bride’s and groom’s side. This is a way of introducing one’s relatives to the other side. The maternal uncle and paternal aunt (Mama and Bua) feel puffed up and important.They are in great demand all the time! Each one plays a role and everyone feels included.

The marriage is over and people have already started looking forward to the next occasion. But more than the celebration, marriage means the coming together of two families. Very often it is the coming together of two cultures. It is an occasion for mutual respect. The girl enters her new home not really knowing what to expect. If she is received with love and affection there is every chance that she’d reciprocate in the same manner. The girl’s parents are equally anxious that their precious one is comfortable in the new set up. If initial hiccups are attended to, it may not be long before the two families bond well and become friends for life.

We have started living like isolated pockets of society. Let occasions such as these bring us together – so what if it happens only once in two years!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A welcome tag!

Tags are always welcome when one runs out of ideas and this one came right in time. Thank you Usha. I hope I’ve done justice to this one. Who ever thought that a talkative person like me would actually run out of ideas? (:-((

My oldest memory:
My maternal uncle’s wedding when I was about 5 years old. I played a lot in the sand and called my maami by her name and someone admonished me for it. Around that time my older brother was learning to ride a bicycle and met with an accident and my dad bandaged his forehead. I remember that my cousins from Bombay were visiting us then and we were staying in Coimbatore.

Ten years ago:
I was on a confrontation mode with the Principal of our college. At that time I’d be discussing our Principal or my son’s teen troubles with any one interested or disinterested.

My first thought this morning:
‘Four more days to go before my cousins arrive’.
I am really looking forward to their visit on their way to Kolkata. I am just counting days. These two are cousins who are like sisters to me this is their first visit to my place. Funny how sentimental one gets even after becoming a grandmother.

If you built a time capsule, what would it contain:
Some interesting books, a laptop to play computer games and CDs with carnatic music by M.S. Subbalakshmi, K.J.Yesudas and Balamuralikrishna.Also some old Tamil classics by Kalki and novels by Anutthama and Shivashankari.

This year:
Has been good except for my sister in law’s illness and my dear friend and colleague losing her husband. But then that is what life is all about. The optimist in me is glad that my sister in law is recovering and we welcomed two grandchildren to our lives. Career too has been satisfactory. I have actually reached the stage where one has to think of tax saving options after 26 years of service. I really thought that I’d never get to pay taxes and the 5th pay (due since 1996) would never get implemented. It hasn’t been implemented even now. But the government has been kind enough to grant some interim relief.

14 years from now:
I hope I am as loved and wanted by one and all as I am today. In other words I hope that I continue to make myself useful to society and remain as flexible as I am today. But who knows. In the process of ageing I may just turn out to be the ‘crazy old woman’ whom everyone avoids. I think I’ll read and re-read my posts and draw some inspiration from them.

I almost forgot. I'm supposed to tag people. Well I tag hillg'mom, Renu and Ugich to carry this tag forward.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Dowry demands.

We hear so much about dowry demands and how the girl's parents are humiliated at the time of weddings etc,etc. Well I for one feel that there have been good people and bad at all times. there have been grooms who choose to remain silent spectators while their parents make atrocious demands even today and others who have stood up for what they felt was right even some 100 years back.

I wish to share with you some such stories and leave it to you to judge.

My maternal grandfather got married at the age of 13. It was actually his upanayanam (sacred thread) ceremony and my grandmother had come as an invitee. she was around 12 years old and well past the marriageable age of girls at the time. Her mother being a widow approached my great grandfather to help her find a suitable match for her daughter.

"what about my son?" my grandpa's father asked.

The lady was overjoyed and they got married then and there.

But then came trouble. My greatgrandfather expected a decent amount of dowry and unless the demand was fulfilled the actual nuptial ceremony known as 'gauna' in Hindi would not be performed. My grand father stood up for his wife and argued with his father that when his mother in law did not have the means it was not fair to pressurize her. The father had to give in and my grandmother was brought home without the gifts and jewelry that were usually given at the time. My grandfather was perhaps in his late teens when this happened.

I compare this to another marriage ceremony I recently witnessed. At the tilak ceremony held 4 days prior to the wedding the groom's sister demanded that her brother be given 2 lacs in cash and a Santro car.The boy had no father and the girl's parents had been given to understand that since the girl was herself earning Rs.70K per month there would be no dowry demand. The boy's mother and brother kept mum and the boy sat there beaming as if it was some kind of joke that was being played. It took the girl's father sometime to realize the demand was being seriously made not in jest. negotiations began and finally the girl's brother agreed to pay 2 lacs immediately and buy the couple a car within a year. The car has now been 'gifted' to them.

In such cases I blame the boy more than his parents. A well placed groom should have the confidence to say NO to dowry. I hear of a girl who witnessed such a negotiation where her mother in law haggled over the dowry and was upset when her son was given a Maruti 800 (which is like giving a bicycle these days) and pressurized the girl's parents for an Esteem and finally settled for a Zen. The girl was naturally upset and refused to allow her husband to do anything for his family.

'My father has purchased you." she'd say. "your mother has been paid with cash and kind. Your salary now belongs to me". she has since relented but the scar remains.

The other aspect in these dealings is that women are easily blamed for these negotiations. In an otherwise male dominated society how come men hide behind their women when dowry demands are made? No boy agrees to marry a girl as per his mother's wish. He sets his own conditions. The girl must be educated, career minded, sociable and what not. There are many mothers who are insecure when the daughter in law walks in speaking convent english dressed in shorts and Tee shirt and can do nothing about it. The same boy will become an obedient son when she creates a ruckus at his wedding. Most of the problems created by the mother is due to insecurity. She feels that once the daughter in law comes her own importance in the household will take a beating. If only the husband says 'I am there for you, why do you worry about them' or if the son is able to impress upon his mother that he would still remain her son and his wife would be a daughter to her, she would feel more confident.

What about me? I can hear you asking the question. I have just one dowry demand. My DIL read my posts and appreciate them! I was joking. I want her to enjoy a warm relationship with me just the way i did with my own mother in law.

some lighter episode of marriages in my father and father in law's time later

Friday, October 31, 2008

Quirky Tag

Long back i had been asked by Monika to reveal 6 quirkies in my nature. I've done similar tags before but for the benefit of new readers I list them again. I am not checking my older posts on the subject so I may be repeating things. I am nearing 60 with about 2 more years to go so I can afford to be a quirk. People will put it down to my age.Ha!ha!!lucky me.

1. I keep adding up numbers all the time and love it when it adds up to 8. On my way to college I add up the registration numbers of vehicles and bet to myself whether the total would be an odd number or even one. I don't understand my facination for numbers. May be something to do with my past life.

2. Every time I wake up to relieve myself at night I switch on the light to check the time. Sleep is so precious that I have to know how many more hours of sleep I can get. For this very reason I go to the rest room with my eyes closed lest I lose sleep. I don't mind losing silver and gold. Losing sleep?? Never want to lose sleep.

3. I get confused if I am taken to a saree shop and asked to choose one for myself. In fact I feel like running away. Most of the ones I wear have been gifted to me or selected for me by someone else. When I have to buy stuff for others there is no confusion and I can get them something good within 15 minutes beyond this time I find it impossible to remain in the shop. I start feeling claustrophobic.

4. I have this compulsion to 'consider the other person's view' and often end up defending my opponents. As for defending the underdog - well my husband would be able to give a better account of this quirky habit. He just has to blast someone and I become the person's defence lawyer. I wonder how come he hasn't thought of dumping me. When children came complaining my first question would be 'what did you do?'

5. I cry easily in imagined situations. The 'vidai' ceremony in real life or movies bring tears to my eyes. I used to cry thinking of the day my daughters got married when they were in their preteens. But strangely I did not cry when they actually got married. On the other hand I cried when my brother's wife cried on leaving her parents and was actually accompanying us to our house. Is that quirky enough? i suppose so.

6. Finally, I seem to relish challenging situations more than an easy going life. Long back my husband's annual bonus was the only means of replacing curtains or repairing furniture. I thoroughly enjoyed the planning that went into these things and felt satified about every penny saved or spent. Without having to worry about money I ought to feel relaxed. Strangely I miss the years gone by and there seems to be no joy in walking into a shop and buying what one wants.

I tag Renu, Ugich, Manasa, prats joy, rajk and preeti to carry this forward if they haven't already done it.Any one else who is interested may also take it up.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Happy Diwali!

The festival of lights has arrived yet again and let me wish all of you a Very Happy and Safe Deepavali. The stories that give reason for such a celebration are many but the fact that is underlined in these stories is that might is not always right and justice prevails. Evil forces are ultimately conquered and truth wins. We need to remind ourselves of these optimistic messages whatever our religious belief. That is perhaps why Deepavali is welcomed by one and all. Do we need to be told that if Lord Ram had to fight a single Ravan- so what if he had 10 heads- We have to fight several Ravans in our everyday life.

To a father who tries to get his daughter married a dowry demanding groom and his parents must appear as Ravan personified.

To a pensioner who has to grease the palms of a dealing assistant to get his papers processed, the corrupt official who encourages his sub ordinates to do so and accepts a share of the bribe thus collected would be a modern version of Narakasur. When is Krishna planning to intervene? Or should we all become modern Krishnas and fight corruption?

The unborn female child who is subjected to sex determination tests and killed in the womb has to first deal with injustice at the hands of her own parents followed by doctors who say 'if not me it will be someone else. Why not me then?'

The terrorist who trains youngsters to become suicide bombers are amalgamations of 10 demons put together.

The best way to celebrate Deepavali would be to say a big NO to all social evils. We all have a Ram within us. We only need to identify our strength. The terrorist, corrupt officials and illegally functioning poly clinics would cease to exist if we stopped patronizing them. Let us take one step at a time and learn to stand up for our rights. The strength it gives is unbelievable.

A Happy Deepavali to all!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tagged again

Rajani has given me this award for a second time and here are the rules.

When you receive the prize you must write a post showing it,together with the name of who has given it to you, and link them back

2. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs (or even more) that you find brilliant in their content or design.

3. Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing they were prized with ‘Brilliant Weblog’

4. Show a picture of those who awarded you and those you give the prize

5.And pass it on so now I need to pass this award to bloggers of my choice who I consider brilliant.I choose to pass it on to those who have encouraged me in the past but are either too busy or for some reason have lost touch with me.I choose

Itching to write for the lovely accounts she gives of her twin delights.

Artnavy whose muthu stories were entertainingly brilliant.

Passerby55 who has stopped blogging but is nevertheless one of the most forthright and sensitive bloggers I've come across.

Apu who is rather busy now but writes brilliant pieces on my pet theme-feminism.

Velu Nair Where are you??I am not able to read you at all.

Neers for the lovely pictures she posts and the heartfelt poems she writes.

Archana Bahuguna whom I found and loved from DAY1.

All these bloggers are brilliant in their own way.I haven't been very regular myself so I can hardly blame them for drifting apart.However I do acknowledge that they all have a special place in my head and heart.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Gup Shap-2

On my husband’s insistence I write this piece ‘cos I cannot refuse him the right to be part of my blog world. He likes to tell people that he gives me ideas and I elaborate them which is not wrong. A few of the stories that make their rounds in our family have indeed found a place here and it was he, who suggested them. I was on a vacation to the south and in Tiruchy I happened to hear of a distant relative who’d qualify to be a Mrs. Natwarlal – such is her flair for duping people. B……. is a modestly educated woman who has duped the likes of bank managers who trusted her enough to give her loans for starting a computer center in the first instance and a dairy farm in the second. On the first occasion she borrowed money from the bank and purchased 10 computers at Rs. 30,000/- each and sold them for 20,000/- in about a month. She lodged an FIR with the local police station that her computer center had been robbed and the loan was written off as bad credit. On the second occasion she purchased 20 Jersey cows that yield a good amount of milk and started a dairy farm. Once the bank inspection was over she managed to sell the cows and replaced them with scrawny looking cows well past their reproductive age buying them for a pittance. Whenever the bank officials came to collect money she’d say that the cows did not yield sufficient milk and she’d pay up the loan when business picked up. When asked why the cows looked so disabled she’d insist that they were being fed well and suggest that perhaps a jealous neighbor had cast evil eyes on them. Finally they stopped approaching her since she would wail and complain that they were harassing her for no fault of hers. She could only feed the cows and it was up to the cows to yield milk. On a third occasion she bought jewelry from a well known goldsmith impressing him by arriving by car wearing a good amount of (artificial?) jewelry. She fussed a great deal about the design, rejected a good number of their stuff and finally purchased some jewelry pretending to oblige him and promised to come again when a fresh lot arrived. She paid him by cheque signing it by an imagined name and gave him a fictitious address. The cheque naturally bounced and she could not be traced.

I am not really sure if a person can get away with cheating and falsehood each and every time but I have no reason to doubt the story having known such a person in Jamshedpur as well. I had heard of his fraudulent dealings through reliable sources but while traveling back from Bangalore earlier this year I met a couple who had been his victims who gave me a first hand account. The man had taken 1.5 lacs from them promising admission in a reputed engineering college for their only son. The son neither got admission nor was the money returned. It is also said that the man’s wife explains to her children that their father was justified in accepting money for such services since he had the right connections. He was only charging them a ten percent commission. If the people he dealt with swallowed the money how could he be held responsible? A friend of mine talks of an acquaintance who claimed that it was not wrong to take advantage if one had the right connections.

“You are righteous under compulsion.” She’d say. “If you had the right connections you’d also make proper use of it.”

Would we? I wonder. As far as I perceive a person who cannot even make ends meet could well be honest and upright and another having all that money can buy could still crave for more and may resort to unfair means to obtain it. It is all in the mind and studying the mindset of such people may be interesting.

I personally wouldn’t mind being called a loser if a winner was defined as a person who expected to win whatever the means. Call me old fashioned but I cannot agree that the end justifies the means. At the same time I do agree that stories such as these have their own entertainment value.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Blog Award

Lalitha of starry nights has identified me as an honest blogger and has awarded me.Thank you Lalitha it is an honor.

These are the rules:
1. The winner can put the logo on their blog
2. Link the person you received your award from
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Put links of those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message on the blogs you’ve nominated.

Now I have to identify seven others and the first one that comes to my mind is-

The Kid since I've been at the receiving end of his unrelenting honesty and have learnt useful lessons from him. The Kid is my first choice.

Mahadevan for his honest portrayal of people who are so important to society but whom society always takes for granted.

Kurrodu who shows genuine concern for those around him.

My own daughter Priya who doesn't mince her words when she finds something objectionable in my writing.I used to send a copy of anything I wrote to her for her candid opinion.

And of course Usha whose honest revelation of the bloopers committed at her son's wedding sent her readers rolling with laughter.

Ardra whose posts are not so frequent but each one comes straight from the heart.

Finally eve's lung whose posts never fail to impress me.Her latest post on the serial blasts in Delhi reveal her genuine concern for society.

There are others like joy,monika.rajk,dipali and so many others whose posts come straight from their hearts. i know they would have been already awarded or are likely to be awarded soon.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The spice of life

I think I am missing something that had been part of my life till recently. The ‘nok jhok’ with MDH. Those who don’t understand what MDH stands for may quit reading further. This is a ‘Wives only’ post and you may not really appreciate it. You may not be married or even if married your relationship may be as formal as with acquaintances. My mother for one was married and yet not married. I had never heard her rave and rant about my dad’s mood swings, late hours and a hundred other things that husbands are accused of.

Twenty years back my mom was on a visit to our house and she happened to over hear a conversation between my husband and me.

“Pick up some refined oil on your way back from office. “ I said.

“I bought two kgs of it 2 weeks back. What happened to all of it?” I thought or rather I was sure that he stressed on the ‘all’ part of his comment.

“I felt thirsty and drank it up.” Was my reply.

My mother was shocked. I was certainly not the daughter she had raised. But the shock was such that try as she might she could not raise her own voice to scold me. She protested by maintaining an annoying silence. I had to literally coax her to scold me and get her displeasure out of her system. According to her no one spoke to their husbands like that.

“Times have changed and my mother in law actually encouraged me to protest when he was being unfair. Had she been alive she would have taken up for me.” I tried to reason but she refused to relent.

I agree I am just being funny. My husband and I take turns to initiate those small tiffs that add spice to a marriage. One Sunday afternoon I got up from my afternoon nap when he asked for a knife I gave him one.

“Where is the one with a red handle?”

“Why don’t you use this one?”

“Why not keep things in their proper place?”

I started looking for it but it had been put to wash in the sink.

“When are you going to learn?”

“Never in this lifetime. Pray for a better life partner in your next birth.” I certainly was not giving in.

I looked for all the knives in the house and tied them up together and put them alongside his set of screw drivers and said
“Pick up the knife of your choice and place it back after use in your toolbox. I am not taking responsibility for any of those. I am getting myself a new set.”

Within an hour the entire set returned to my kitchen. They certainly did not walk back.

While I agree that we quarrel and patch up like children in their pre teens, these little ‘nok jhoks’ have actually helped us bond. He is the one who wakes me up and accompanies me on my morning walk. I beg to be allowed a little more sleep but he treats me like an overgrown schoolgirl and refuses to give in. I try to find excuses to return fast. He insists on a full hours of walking though I am the one with BP and sugar.

However, jokes apart, there is one aspect of married life that leaves me wondering. The mantras recited and repeated during a marriage ceremony clearly state that a wife ought to be considered a ‘sakhi’ or friend and yet Indian women far from being treated as equals are trained to smile even when abused. I have a friend whose husband provides well for her and gives her a lot of freedom. Yet the slightest provocation, not necessarily by his wife, has him hurl abuses at her. He drags her parents and her upbringing into the conversation. She does not say a word in protest and justifies his behavior by saying that he is otherwise good but does not realize what he says when he loses his temper.

“I do point out that his behavior hurts me. He accepts his mistake and apologizes in private. I can’t expect him to do it in public. It would be far too humiliating.” This is her explanation.

Was it not humiliating for her when he insulted her in front of others?

“Men are like that only” ---------

This is an accepted fact. But are they? I may be wrong but I feel society expects them to behave like that just as it expects women to take abuses and insults in their stride.
A girl in our neighborhood rang up a social activist at 11:30 in the night to say that in a fit of uncontrollable rage her husband had beaten up his parents and came chasing after her. She had managed to flee to the terrace and locked the connecting door. He was banging the door asking to be let in. She had the good sense to carry her mobile phone with her. The social worker lived some 10 kilometers from her house. Luckily the DSP had been briefed about her case and when contacted he sent a constable to their house and the situation was brought under control. The husband apologized the next day and the girl was asked not to provoke him when he was angry.

Why is it that we advise our daughters and sisters to be patient? Why not advise our men folk to treat the ladies in their family with respect? While I enjoyed the books by Amy Tan and Khalid Hosseni both the books dealt with violence against women in two Asian countries and left me depressed for days. There are cases of women ill treating their men and sons ill treating their parents. I wonder if the arrangement in Western countries is better.

I started my post in a light note and have ended it on a more serious one. Women education and empowerment was meant to bring about a balance in society. But has it perhaps disturbed it more than balancing it? Is society not yet mature enough to address the social, financial and emotional needs of a woman?

Friday, September 05, 2008

Happy Teacher's Day - 2

A teacher's success ought to be measured not by the results obtained by the bright ones but rather by every little step taken by the weaker ones towards their betterment."

This is what I wrote in my post on Teacher's Day. I am glad to be able to share some good news. I had mentioned Manisha and Madhumita in this post of mine. Today Manisha is a confident young woman and is doing Mass Communication in Pune.She managed a high second class and bugged the life out of her dad to allow her to leave for Pune. Her brothers supported her and the few years she spent with us have indeed boosted her confidence. Madhumita is doing M.Sc in a local college. Her family could not afford to send her out of town. She plans to do B.Ed after her post grad course and with her experience and temperament I am sure she'd make a fine teacher.

I had mentioned about a batch of students in this post of mine. I am glad to say that over 80% of them have got a first division. Three got selected for a BPO job in Gurgaon where they'd get to do part time MBA. Only one of them joined. The other two are doing MBA in the Extension Center of Sikkim Manipal University and others are either preparing for CAT or Bank exams.

I don't take credit for their good performance. It is their success story. If as a department we have been able to motivate these students we have every reason to celebrate Teacher's Day.

A teacher should not only teach which she/he would do anyway. A teacher should be instrumental in preparing her/his student to meet life's challenges. I attended the orientation meeting at my son's school following his KG admission and was impressed by an anecdote narrated by the Vice Principal. It is something like this.

A mother told her child's teacher that now that her son had joined a regular school she had to start teaching him.

"Hurry up" the teacher said "you are already late. A child starts learning from the day he/she is born."

How very true! A teacher is paid to teach but each one of us whether parents or not are being watched, analyzed and observed by these little ones. Don't be surprised if they take it on themselves to teach you a lesson or two.

Happy Teacher's Day!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

"Brilliant Weblog Award".

Usha has a way of placing high hopes on me and has decided to give me the "Brilliant Weblog Award". this is given to sites and blogs that are smart and brilliant both in their content and their design. I feel puffed up and let me tell you that I've gained 2 kgs by weight and 4" by height at least in my mind. Alas if only the height part had been possible!!

The rules are:

1. When you receive the prize you must write a post showing it,together with the name of who has given it to you, and link them back

2. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs (or even more) that you find brilliant in their content or design.

3. Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing they were prized with ‘Brilliant Weblog’

4. Show a picture of those who awarded you and those you give the prize

5. And pass it on!

Now I need to pass this award to bloggers of my choice who I consider brilliant.

So I pass on this award to-

1. Tys on ice who makes his readers laugh first and think later.

2. Madhumita for being the brilliant wife who takes on Tys.

3. Vishesh for the lovely poetry he writes.

4. Renu who can switch topics and make each one interesting.

5. Alapana for simply being herself-self assured and matured with a brilliant taste for music.

6. Srijith who made me change my opinion on men being an insensitive lot.

7. Finally Lalitha of starry nights whose posts never cease to amaze me.

These are bloggers who have bonded with me like family.There are others too and each of them have impressed for the brilliance of their posts. Some have already been awarded and the rest are bound to be identified soon.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Happy Teacher's Day

With the teacher's day around the corner I felt inclined to do some introspection and tried to figure out why this profession has failed to charm the younger generation and why we face a dearth of devoted teachers even in urban areas. I am afraid I have no solution to offer and most of my questions remain unanswered.

There was a time when fathers had no time for their children and mothers being either uneducated or too busy with their household responsibilities found little or no time to check out if their wards were even able to understand what was being taught to them. Tuitions were unheard of and schools coached the weak students after class at a nominal cost. This was the practice in my college too. It was the whole and sole responsibility of the teacher to see to it that the student understood the basics of a subject.

Years later I happened to overhear the conversation between two mothers and it was something like this-

"My daughter has written the same answer that she had written in her class work copy. The teacher has marked it right in her note book and wrong in the unit test. I dare not question her since she may single out my child and demoralise her."

The other one added-

"I encouraged my daughter to think for herself and write in her own words but her teacher struck off the answer and gave her a zero."

According to these ladies the only solution was to send their children for tuition to the concerned teacher.

To be frank I was shocked. I had not faced any problem with my children's teachers nor did I pore into their copies checking each answer. But that was some 20 years back. Had times really changed that much? Was there a communication gap between parents, students and teachers? With educated parents taking serious note of their children's progress were the teachers off loading their responsibilities and expecting parents to do their work? Were they really and truly haressing students who did not opt to be coached by them for a hefty fee?

As a teacher in a college I don't have the responsibilities associated with school teachers. But I wish to say a few things in their defence.

School teachers are over worked and under a lot of pressure to complete the syllabus. However, that does not entitle them to tick a wrong answer and cross a right one. The simpler solution would be to discuss the answers in class encouraging students to actively participate in the discussion. Copies could be exchanged and trust me when I say that they would be quick to point out mistakes in their friend's answer.

Very often when a student tries to answer in her own words she is unable to express herself and ends up writing the opposite of what she means to say. But awarding a zero is no solution. The class should be involved and weak students should be encouraged to express themselves. Usually the more intelligent students are encouraged to dominate the discussion leaving the weaker ones to fend for themselves. A teacher's success ought to be measured not by the results obtained by the bright ones but rather by every little step taken by the weaker ones towards their betterment.

Teachers and students are not isolated pockets of society. They are complimentary factors in need of constant interaction. They talk of teachers being over worked and underpaid. But better pay has never ensured better work. Motivation for teachers should come from elsewhere. Let us take time to think how it may be achieved. I have a few ideas and maybe I'll take it up later.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Back again

After a reasonably hectic schedule i am now back to blogging. What did this break mean to me? Well the arrival of a grand daughter on the 26th of June meant the world to me having become a g'mom for the fourth time. 'Mool se sood pyara' is a famous saying and how true it is I now understand. So as my family grows I continue to enjoy grandmotherhood.I don't remember ever carrying my children on my back but i did make an exception of my grand daughter Megha and enjoyed myself thoroughly! I got to read a few good books and I'd recommend 'The kitchen God's wife' by Amy Tan to all of you. On the flip side however I found every useful item out of order.The fridge didn't work, the battery of my car had to be changed, the mixer flopped at the most inopportune moment and the TV cannot be repaired easily since Thompson TV does not have a service centre here and we are at the mercy of a mechanic who promises to get it repaired but hasn't done it yet. To add to my woes I was nursing a stiff neck and couldn't take a day off 'cos i had used up all my leave. In a way a messy house and useless gadgets were welcome because I kept raving and ranting but did not find time to miss my g'kids too much.Now that I am better I've started worrying about them. So that's all for now. Lavanya, what's the news from your end?And madhu and Monika how are your lil' ones doing? More in my next post.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


My Favorite Literary Characters.

Rajani has tagged me to write about my favorite literary characters. I am not much into reading these days but do have a small list.

Howard Roark- The highly independent minded architect cum hero of Ian Rand’s ‘The Fountainhead.’ Can’t think of anyone quite like him. Hats off to Ian Rand for creating him.

Atticus- The sweetest father one can have is portrayed so well in Harper Lee’s ‘To kill a mocking bird.’ I read the book years after I lost my dad and found myself missing him more after I read the book and comparing his role in my life with that of Atticus in shaping his children’s lives.

Mandakini- The heroine in Maitrayee Pushpa’s book ‘Idanna mamaha’. The girl’s mother marries another man after her father’s death leaving her paternal grandmother to look after her and returns to visit her years later when she doesn’t even remember the mother’s face. She is brought up with all kinds of negative feelings about her mother. Yet the way she takes up for her would put any thinking individual to shame. At least I did not look at it that way. In this cruel world where a woman is judged at every step the balanced nature shown by Mandakini through out the story stands apart. Maitrayee Pushpa needs to be commended since Mandakini is actually her mouthpiece.

Hassan- Like Rajani I was more impressed by Hassan than Amir in the ‘Kite Runner’ by Hosseni. Such devotion and loyalty! Hard to believe. I shed a few quiet tears for Hassan and wished that he had not died in the end.

Peggoty- The plump maid in Charles Dicken’s David Copperfield who loved him soooo much. As a child I felt happy that she was there for David.

Kundavai- The Chola princess in Kalki’s ‘Ponniyin Selvan. Her intelligence, grace and administrative skills as portrayed in the story served as an inspiration to my young mind. My mother being weak sighted we had read out the story so many times to her and each time we enjoyed it as if we were reading it for the first time.

Heathcliff- I don’t mean his character in Wuthering Heights. There was a sequel written to it by a different author titled ‘Retun to Wuthering Heights’. Unfortunately I forget the name of the author. I’ll check it when I go back since I borrowed it from our college library. The justice done to the character is such that instead of hating the perpetrator of misery to the Earnshaw family you actually end up admiring him for the strength of character. I found the sequel much more interesting than the original.

There are a few others but I’ve forgotten the name of the author or the book so I stop right here.

I tag hillg’mom and Usha to carry this forward.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Tagged Again

Hill g'mom tagged me to reveal the kind of person I happen to be. Here I go-
I am: Not what I thought I was. I recently realized that I too am very sensitive tho’ I’ve never really admitted it even to myself. Despite claims of being light hearted and thick skinned I am a very sensitive person who broods for days over minor issues.
I think: a lot about the future our children are likely to face. The polluted environment, unhealthy competition and a general omission of childhood with toddlers graduating into mini adults. I wonder if the fault lies with us.
I know: that nothing changes much but would like to keep trying all the same..
I want:a peaceful life in the days ahead.
I have: no regrets about the life gone by. There were trying time but they only made life spicier.
I wish: universal brotherhood.
I hate: arguments. I personally feel they serve no real purpose..
I miss: my childhood when my dad was alive. I also miss the quiet confidence of my mother.
I fear: the loss of a loved one.
I feel: there is more to life than petty disputes over non – issues. Why can’t we just move without having to prove a point at every step?
I hear: that the present generation is better equipped to deal with life. If it is indeed so I welcome it with an open mind ask them to correct me if I err. I shall try to to accomadate their views.
I smell: the bhindi sabji I just made.
I crave: for sweets now that it is banned.
I search:like hill g’mom I look for my glasses on a regular basis and get scolded by my husband who produces it from nowhere.
I wonder: if life ends here or if there are other lives where one can atone for grave mistakes. I am all the more curious since I read a book by the psychoanalyst Brian Wiess.
I regret: not having taken better care of myself. It is not very pleasant having hypertension and high sugar.
I love: the sound of rain particularly if it eases out a dry spell.....
I ache: same as hillg’mom-in all my leg joints after being inactive for a bit
I care: for everything but not in an obsessive way.
I am not: I think I’ll let that pass since my answer to the first question already deals with it.
I believe: no human being is created bad.
I dance: I have a flat foot so dancing is out.
I sing: I do not sing except when no one is around. But I love music and musicals.
I cry : easily sometimes for no real reason.Melodramatic movies would move me to tears and once I had at least ten people hushing me up
I don’t always : agree with others but I rarely show it. I believe that each one is entitled to his/her views.
I fight : my tears more than ever before.
I write: whatever comes to my mind.
I win: sometimes but lose more often.
I lose: my cool when I have to deal with injustice
I never: form a first opinion about a person. I wait to know the person better.
I always: enjoy the rare occasion that I get to spend with my brothers and sister.
I confuse: people's faces.
I listen: to the other point of view and try to balance opinions.
I can usually be found: at home after college.
I am scared: that my husband may precede me to the after world.The thought of spending my last days alone terrifies me.
I need: my time and space after a hectic schedule.
I am happy: an earlier response answers that one. I am also happy that I took up my job when I did. I have very good friends who are like family.

I invite anyone interested to take up this tag.

Monday, June 16, 2008


For those who did not read my comment in the last post, I am currently in California spending time with my daughter and her kids. Daughter no.2 that is. She has just been hooded for a Ph.D degree and expects to submit her work by December.I'll be busy for the next two months and will get back to writing once I return to India in August. Till then I'll peep into the blogworld and try to catch up with your writings as and when possible but may not contribute much. Take care and we'll enjoy more 'gupshap' later

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you super moms in the blogworld.Hat's off to each of you since you are dealing with a competitive world and rearing children is becoming harder by the day. Our times were easier than yours Since we had modest means we could not afford to have high hopes.I remember my father in law saying-

"I was not a graduate but I've managed to educate my children upto the undergrad level"

'So what??' I thought.

Today I may say 'I've given my children a professional education -a career oriented one'

My DIL would perhaps say 'So what's so great about it?' and this would go on and on.

Motherhood is not about how ambitious one is with regards to their chilren's future.It is about preparing them to slow down and relax. My friend's dad would say "Driving fast is no achievement. You press the accelerator and the vehicle speeds off. You should know to apply brakes at the appropriate time."

Yes driving is more about your capability of applying brakes. So in this harsh world let your children slow down a bit and appreciate all the good things around them.

Let them interact with those less privileged. They will value the good things that they have and learn not to look down upon the less fortunate among them.

Let them appreciate the beauty of nature. They will learn to conserve it.

Teach them the importance of physical labor. It will keep them fit and fine.

Encourage them to help those in need. It will make them generous human beings.

Allow them to work on their own. They may not become batch toppers. It will boost their confidence level which is definitely more important.

It is not necessary to provide them with every comfort in life. Let them work for at least a few of them.

Being ambitious is not wrong at all. Just know where to draw the line. It is not easy to say 'NO' when you have the means. We were better off that way. My son was in his first year at college when he asked us fo money to buy a second hand motorcycle.

"Who will pay for petrol?" I demanded.

"S...... has a motorcycle and his parents work in your college. They allow him to have a motorized vehicle. Please find out from them who pays for petrol in his case."

I was glad to have less money and it was easier for me to reject his application outright. This became evident when i spoke to S.......'s mother.

"He is our only son and we found it difficult to say 'no'. We spend sleepless nights thinking of the possibility of a road accident. I wish i had been strong enough to refuse at the very beginning."

Young mother's out there and other's like Lavanya who are in anticipation of the arrival of their little one have a great 'Mother's Day. It is not my intention to dampen your spirits. Just a piece of advice. Older mother's like me who have become grand mothers or likely to become one soon let us all act as checks and balances to our children. After all it is only for their own good and they are bound to understand it sooner or later. Let us celebrate the day by all means. Let us also understand the responsibilities associated with it.

Monday, May 05, 2008


It is long since I posted anything in my blog and decided to write something today. I never knew that I too would run out of topic one day. Talkative person that I am I always have some piece of information to share. Not so today. I am just going to write about things that come to my mind in the very order that they make an entry to my mind. But wait. I am not sure if I should heed my head or heart. I think I’ll listen to my heart first.

We have in our apartment complex two old ladies and a gentleman who have lost their life partners and their plight disheartens me. Old age is described as second childhood and my father in law had his fair share of it in his interaction with my children. I’ve referred to it in this post of mine. It was his good luck that he had the pleasure. These days old age is not what it was 20 years back. It is spent aimlessly watching TV programs and waiting for occasional visits and phone calls from one’s children. It helps to have one’s spouse around. My husband and me have fights over who monopolizes the TV and which of is more badly organized. He expects me to keep track of his doctor’s prescription and I make him look for my spectacles almost every day.

“I am getting myself a new TV” I keep announcing but I never ever do it. I perhaps plan to cling to this excuse for picking up a fight with him when I feel bored. When on the rare occasion that he is away and I have the TV to myself I hardly switch it on. But when he sits in front of the TV changing channels I feel like snatching the remote and throwing it out of the house. Are we perhaps entering into the second childhood phase of our lives?

When I think of the ladies and gentleman mentioned earlier I wonder how they might be dealing with the loneliness in their lives. The man lost his wife so suddenly that we could not believe the news when we heard it. He lost his eyesight while in service on account of high blood sugar and it was his wife who took care of him. It was common sight to see her escorting him for a chat session with his friends and taking him home after about an hour or so. She suffered a heat stroke and passed away before anyone realized how serious she was. The previous evening she called me up to ask our milkman to deliver milk since she was too exhausted to go and fetch it. The next morning she was gone.

How did she have the heart to leave me behind and move on? He wailed.

We had no answer.

One of the ladies lost her husband two years ago. He had rheumatic arthritis and his legs were misshapen and curved like a bow. Together they would walk to a homeopathy clinic for treatment. They have 3 sons but for reasons best known to them, they stayed alone. The lady was too old to cook and relied on domestic help to cook them a meal. On days that the cook absented herself they would eat fruits and drink milk. He finally passed away. She regularly visits her son and daughter in law but continues to stay alone. She feels a misfit in their home.

I sometime wonder if we are perhaps heading in the wrong direction. Joint families of yester years are unheard of today. But is it fair that old people should be allowed to live alone despite their frail health and meager bank balance. I know that I would want to lead my life the way I want as far as possible. But if I am left with no choice and have to move in with my children would I be able to adjust? Will I be treated as a family member when I do? Who should adjust and how much? Will it be too late then?

Earlier people supported large families and were unable to put away enough funds to support them in their old age. Not so today. Is this perhaps the reason that adjustment problems are common these days? When money is no longer the problem what else is reason for the attitudinal change in society? Schools encourage their students to celebrate grand parent’s day and a day is marked out for grand parents to visit their grand children’s school as celebrity guests and I hear that the function is a grand success. Shouldn’t there be more occasions for the older generation to interact and feel accepted?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tag story.

Usha seems to place hopes on me by tagging me. I do hope that I haven’t let her down. After weeks spent in depression this was a welcome change.

Last Movie You Saw In A Theater:

Theatre?? What’s that??

What Book Are You Reading:

’The Better Man by Anita Nair. I should have finished it long ago but the summer heat has disrupted my concentration.
Favorite Board Game:

Would you call Ludo a board game? I loved it as a child and would love a game even now.

Favourite Magazine:

Reader’s Digest any day.

Favorite Smells:

Smell of gram flour after a baby’s bath, smell of asafetida when rasam simmers, smell of powdered cardamom and of course my favorite kadambam and jasmine flowers that I get to smell when I visit temples in the south.

Favorite Sound:

Birds chirping at dawn, the silence that follows a torrential rainfall, the merry laughter of a 3 month old baby.

Worst Feeling In The World:

The feeling that sooner rather than later we humans may not find time for others in distress.

Favorite Fast Food Place:

Never relished fast food except golgappa from a vendor in college.
Future Child's Name:

I did not name my own children and don’t entertain hopes of naming my grandchildren. That is the privilege of the parents. A privilege that was denied to me.
Finish This Statement. "If I Had A Lot Of Money I'd...”

…….. contribute towards ensuring two square meals for at least for growing children.
Do You Drive Fast?

No. I do not dare to.

Do You Sleep With A Stuffed Animal?


Storms-Cool Or Scary

Neither. They are part of life whether actual or figurative.

What Was Your First Car?

Maruti Alto in pearl grey. Likely to be my only car.
Favourite drink:
Buttermilk, lemon tea.

Finish This Statement, "If I Had The Time I Would .....”

I don’t want to have time. How then would I find excuses for unfinished jobs. I’d always like to need ‘just 10 minutes.

Do You Eat The Stems On Broccoli?

I don’t know about broccoli but cauliflower stems taste good.

If You Could Dye Your Hair Any Color, What Would Be Your Choice?

Black of course.

Name All The Different Cities/Towns You Have Lived In.

Chennai as a baby, Coimbatore when I started school, Mumbai, Meerut(middle school), Coonoor(High School), Tiruchi (college) Gobichettipalayam before marriage and finally Jamshedpur since 1973.

Favorite Sports To Watch:

One day Cricket when India is winning.

One Nice Thing About The Person Who Sent This To You:Words fail me.

What's Under Your Bed?

3 wooden doors dismantled when we replaced them with syntax ones. No takers. Just gathering dust. Offered to donate them to a Nursing home. People won’t even take it for free. :–((

Would You Like To Be Born As Yourself Again?

I consulted a ‘naadi josiyan’ who reads one’s past from palm leaves and he said that I was born to rich parents in Sri Lanka in my previous birth. My brother consulted a different person who said the same about him. Looks as if we are destined to be born as ourselves. So I think I have no choice. Jokes apart I don’t believe in rebirth.

Morning Person Or Night Owl?

Morning person.Can’t remain awake after 11 at night.

Over Easy Or Sunny Side Up?

I don't think I understan the question

Favorite Place To Relax:

The park near my house.

Favorite Pie:

Never tried. May be I did but I don’t remember the taste.

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:

Strawberry,Chocolate ummm……..all flavors really.

Of All The People You Tagged This To, Who's Most Likely To Respond First?

I’ve disappointed Usha by taking this much of time. So I cannot really say. But I tag eve’s lung and dipali and want to see who’d do it first. My guess is………… I’ll keep it for later.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Random musings

Here's wishing all of you a happy Ram Navami, Poila Baishak, Tamil,Punjabi New year and wonderful days ahead for every good reason one can think of. The last two months haven't been good with my sister in law falling sick and my colleague and friend's husband being victim of rash driving and finally succumbing to his head injury despite the best efforts of his treating doctors.

Jamshedpur being a small town it was wonderful to see so many joining the family in their moment of grief with each one treating his death as a personal loss. It is quite another thing that Dr. N....., fondly referred to as 'doctor sahib' has been good to everyone around him and if the family knew 25% of his good deeds the remaining 75% was revealed when he was in a coma in CCU. Strangers walked up to his wife and recounted the manner in which they were helped by him. Among them were rickshaw pullers, washermen, teastall owners and so many others from the lower rungs of society for whom he had a kind word and pleasant smile. He never charged them for treatment and they considered him an incarnation of God.A power cut in their neighborhood? Water scarcity in the medical college hostel? Mess food not being relished by the students? Our doctor sahib was there to tackle the problem.The list is endless.My faith in the prevalence and dominance of good over evil is reinforced and death being the only certainity in the world each one of us should try to rise above trivial matters since we cannot take with us anything more valuable than the good will of people nor can we leave behind anything worthier than pleasant memories of kindness and compassion shown during our lifetime.

While I feel lousy about doctor sahib's death and how upsetting it is going to be for his wife and family to cope with the loss I am equally annoyed with the manner in which our youngsters drive - particularly those who drive high speed motorcycles.

Young man in a hurry, did you for a moment realize what you have done due to your reckless driving? The doctor was returning from his morning walk happily chatting with his friends. It was a routine that he followed religiously and encouraged in his patients including me. It was only 06:15 in the morning and ours is a sleepy town. You banged into a second motorcyclist and he dashed into an unsuspecting victim. Eye witnesses claim that it took you a second to escape but you've caused the death of a man so useful to society depriving his wife of the many years of togetherness that they might have shared.

Parents of teenagers why are you in a hurry to buy that brat of yours a motorized vehicle? Can you not wait till he becomes responsible enough to handle the pressure of safe driving? Why do you let him drive a geared vehicle even if it means that his licence had to be obtained by greasing palms and he thinks that the hero in the Hindi movie that he watched actually performs the stunts when they are nothing but camera tricks.

Finally civil servants who issue licences, policemen who ought to keep a check on these teenagers as well as people like you and me who are silent spectators are all responsible for every life that is lost in this manner. It is easy to say that it was his destiny. Was it? Will this explanation satisfy his children who would have wanted him to see them reach for the skies?

I am sorry if I have put you off. My sister in law is improving and I thank each of you for including her in you prayers. I was hoping to be able to say the same about doctor sahib. Unfortunately the injury was massive and nothing could be done. Be careful each one of you I want all of you in tact. Whether behind the steering or before it there is truth in what my husband says - "Never mind what the other person does. It is your duty to watch out." Take care and God bless you all.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Split minds-Contd.

This is part two of my previous post. As I had mentioned let me credit the women who took it on themselves to deal with these men.

Preeti was shattered and heart broken on her return from her honeymoon with Montu. Her trip to Darjeeling was a disastrous nightmare that she preferred to forget like a bad dream. Her family was enraged and rightly so. No one believed that Montu’s parents were unaware of their son’s mental condition. They accused them of deliberately ruining their daughter’s life. A divorce is the only answer they said. Preeti went back to her parent’s place to think of her future with or without Montu. She was glad to have family support and Montu was almost a stranger theirs being an arranged marriage. Two months later she surprised everyone by announcing that she wanted to give her marriage a try provided Montu’s parents co-operated and stood by her. She was just 25 years old and was under no compulsion-societal or otherwise. Today Montu has been given treatment and a transfer to a place closer to his parent’s place and between them Preeti and her mother in law take care of Montu and now have a baby boy who is the center of attraction. Montu is not a normal husband but Preeti has learnt to deal with him and her mother in law loves her for it. I understand how difficult it must have been for her to take the decision. With everything in their favor we have girls who crib and complain and here we have girls like Preeti who have such mental maturity and strength. Hat’s off my child! You’ve made your parent’s proud.

Rajan’s mother was just the simple Indian mother of the early sixties. Those were days when marriage was the answer to all problems. A wayward son? Get him married. Short tempered? Gambler? Unemployed? Marriage would make him responsible. And so what if it did not? A wife had to tolerate the most atrocious behavior and smile on top of it. So when she dissuaded her husband from continuing negotiations and adopted a ‘wait and watch’ approach she was actually displaying a practical mind without letting her emotions influence her. It was not easy. No one wants to believe the worst. She must have prayed hard that her assumptions be proved wrong. But she preferred to accept the bitter truth than to spoil the life of an unsuspecting girl.

Finally Raman’s sister in law Prabha who was initially heartily disliked by his family since she did not belong to their community in the strictest sense. She was a Brahmin alright but she spoke a different language. There is a saying ‘teen Brahmin,terah chulhe’ meaning every sub sect among brahmin’s considers its group to be the best and refuse to eat food cooked by the rest. Then disaster struck. Raman’s unmarried brother died and his mother had to move in with the surviving son and unwanted daughter in law. She too died a year later. For the past 24 years Prabha has been taking care of Raman and he in turn helps her out with house work. He loves his niece and she reciprocates in equal measure. Uncle and niece share a rapport that has to be seen to be believed. I can understand a mother caring for a son or a sister being sympathetic towards a brother. A wife bonding with her husband may be a little more difficult but a sister in law forgetting the insult heaped upon her and gladly offering her schizophrenic brother in law a home and treating him with the respect and affection he deserves is something different. We may not be able to emulate her but the least that can be done is to appreciate her as the unsung heroine of our times.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Split minds

Preeti was a fun loving, happy go lucky girl till about three years back. Her marriage to Montu changed everything. No, it was not the usual MIL/DIL clash. Her mom in law treated her at par with her own daughter and her only sister in law was happily married and being 8 years older treated her like a kid sister. Financial problems were non existent and her father in law was still working and was the sort of person who would not remain idle even after retirement. So where was the problem or was her problem an imagined one? Her husband’s mental condition was questionable despite the fact that he had a good job as an Area manager in an MNC. His parents were not at fault. They had not realized that the occasional temper tantrums and aggressive behavior shown by him were indicative of a split mind and needed medical counseling and treatment for life if his condition prevailed or deteriorated. Symptoms of schizophrenia showed up after marriage when he seriously accused his wife of having an affair and insisted that there was a third person visiting her after he went to sleep and began to keep her under lock and key.

Ganesh was a brilliant metallurgist who was accepted for a Ph. D program in England with full scholarship. His mother was planning to get him married. He had a charming personality and a soft temperament and no girl with her head on her shoulders would have any problem adjusting with him. A telegram from England shattered their hopes. He was being flown back to India because he had been diagnosed schizophrenic. He had been unable to complete his research work and all he had to show for his seven year stint in England was a thick note book with scribbling that he insisted was poetry. He was unable to tell them what went wrong.

Rajan was a bank officer in his early twenties. His uncle offered his daughter’s hand in marriage to him. He refused saying that she was like a sister to him. He had practically grown up with her. His father arranged for him to visit athe family of a girl in Secunderabad to see their daughter as the first step to further marriage negotiations. His mother accompanied him. She noticed that all was not well with him. He smiled and chuckled to himself and appeared to talk to some invisible person. She refused to get him married although he was keen and how right she was! Two years later Rajan left his job in the bank and came home for ever. He had been diagnosed as being schizophrenic.

Gayatri was a happily married woman with two children-both boys. The older son was good at his studies while the younger one was average. At a family function the younger son was seen showing a photocopy of his 10th standard board mark sheet to the guests. He had obtained 69% but kept telling people that he had obtained 96%. Everyone took it to be his idea of a joke. Two months later he was on medication for schizophrenia and hasn’t fully recovered. Gayatri insists that he was never compared with his older brother nor had they ever rebuked him for his mediocre results. They understood that all children did not possess the same level of intelligence and were glad that had never failed an exam.

Finally Raman who was a qualified engineer working in the Railways. While applying for the job he had mentioned that he had a first division in all the examinations passed. The truth was otherwise. He had obtained a high second class in Engineering. He tried to overwrite his marks in the original mark sheet and when the mark sheets were being scrutinized he pretended that he had forgotten to bring them. His performance in the interview was good so he was given provisional appointment on condition that he submitted his original mark sheets for scrutiny within 3 months. As time lapsed he began to panic and unable to stand the pressure he attempted suicide and finally resigned his job. He is also on medication for schizophrenia.

All such examples show that a perfectly normal person can be a victim of a split mind and anything yes ANYTHING could act as a trigger. I wanted to high light two things through this post of mine. First, the role played by the family and its importance to the affected person. Second, the stand taken by the women in some of these cases as my tribute to these unsung heroines as my contribution to the International Women’s day celebrations. Since both aspects need to be dealt with in some detail I’ll stick to one at a time. So I take up the first one in this post. I’ll continue with the second aspect later.

Coming to family support-

When a person is declared schizophrenic the family is shattered and takes time to accept the situation. They tend to keep their anguish and agony to themselves. And why not? Wagging tongues and prying relatives may do nothing to alleviate their agony but would be the first to offer unsolicited advice and put on a ‘know all’ air.

“All this treatment is useless I say. Waste of money. That’s all. I knew a person who was treated so badly at the asylum that he ran away from there…….” And this goes on and on.

I agree it is difficult but the sooner one comes to terms with the situation and starts therapy the better for all concerned including the affected person.

A schizophrenic person needs regular medicines. Very often the family cannot afford it and just manages with half the prescribed dose. I hear that there are health centers where such patients can be treated as outpatients at nominal cost and medicines are sold at subsidized rates. But everyone seems to be short of time. This is where the extended family can help. They can take turns to take the person to such clinics. Often it is seen that a person’s treatment is abandoned midway. We don’t see people doing so for physical ailments. Blood pressure, blood sugar etc also need to be monitored and once medication is started it continues for life. Is schizophrenia any different? I feel that the government also needs to pay more attention and offer medicines to these patients either free of cost or at subsidized rates.

Most schizophrenics aren’t eccentric all the time. They are quite capable of doing routine work. Parents need to be supportive but over protection will not help. They need to be given vocational training and made to do some work. Oh yes, I agree that the person was bank officer before he fell ill. But if he is now just capable of working in a grocery shop handing out goods to customers, so be it. Doing a little work and involving some regularity will go a long way in helping them to lead a near normal life. There is nothing to be ashamed of as long as the job is an honest one. And please don’t regard them with contempt even if you cannot help them out.

Finally, it is only pure coincidence that the examples I gave were all men. I have no idea if men are more affected than women. I have personally interacted with three of them and have heard about the other two from reliable sources. Be it as it may, my only request is that the next time you see such a person remember the person he was and try to do your bit to include him in society.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Dealing with step children

I meant to write about step mothers long back but was rather pre occupied with my SIL’s illness first and white washing and painting of our flat drove me crazy and my mind stopped functioning temporarily. I’d return to a messy house, sweep and clean till 9 in the evening and go to bed exhausted. The white washing is not over. Only three fourth done but the painter has vanished. His mobile is switched off whenever we call him so we’ve learnt to live with a verandah in a jammed state with the ladders and stools used by them and the other full of paint brushes and half used paint cans and what not. We’ve paid the fellow only 50% of the amount agreed upon so even if he has started work elsewhere he will definitely come for his money. Either we do not know to extract work or come across as people who can be taken for granted (Fools, perhaps?). I was therefore perpetually out of sorts and just couldn’t type a word let alone a post.

Coming to the point I feel step mothers are a maligned lot. With Snow White and Cinderella being ill treated by their step moms and David Copperfield having to face the wrath of a step father I was sympathetic to any child who might have lost his/her mother and had to deal with a step father. Widow re - marriage was rare during my growing years so I never gave a thought to the possibility of a person being ill treated by a step father. That happened in foreign countries I felt. As a teenager I had the unfortunate opportunity of witnessing the manner in which our cook Kalyani mami treated her step son. The boy stole money from our house and ran away much to our relief.

My first impression about step mothers changed when a neighbor and good friend of mine B…….. died a pre mature death when her sari accidentally caught fire. Her son was just seven years old when she passed away and her husband re-married within 3 months. The family shifted to a new location and I happened to meet them 4 years later. The girl who replaced B…….. was a gem and treated her step son with the same affection that she reserved for her own daughter. The boy reciprocated in a similar manner and I found myself hoping praying that others in the extended family let them be. Very often it is these others who poison children’s minds but luckily it was not so here. The boy is now a qualified engineer and I hear that he is as fond of his step mother as he might have been if B……… had been alive.

A P was just 4 years old when her mother died and her younger brother was not yet one. Her father re – married. Her maternal grandmother filled her mind with negative thoughts about her step mother.

“Mummy” asked the girl “will you change when a baby brother is born? Nani says so.”

“Never my child. I’d love you and Chotu always. Why would I want another child?” said her step mother. And she did not stop with saying so. She convinced her husband and had her tubes tied and never had children of her own. AP was our student some 10 years back. Today she has a good job and her step mother takes care of her children while she works. She has grown up to be a confident young woman and when her husband lost his temper during the initial years of their marriage she stood up to him saying that her mother would stand by her and she was certainly not putting up with his nonsensical behavior. He has mended his ways since. How many young girls can say so about their natural mothers I wonder.

The relationship between a woman and her step children has to grow and it is for society to encourage such growth. It is not easy if the step children are old enough to understand and adopt an antagonistic attitude. However no one bothers to understand her side of the story. I do agree that there are several step mothers who never ever accept step children as their own. My heart goes out to these children who suffer in silence and never really get out of the trauma. But there are several others who accept the situation and treat their step children really well. I wanted to write in support of these women who are grossly misunderstood by society.