Sunday, May 30, 2010

Taking a break

Hi all,
I am busy for the next two months enjoying every available minute with my g'daughters megha and annika.will be back with loads of information about them.Goodbye till then.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Office Romance??

An incidence that took place long back keeps coming back every now and then. I belong to an older generation and my career has not been particularly difficult so I had it easy. Not so the current bunch of ambitious young women. They have goals in mind and work hard to reach them. In the course of their interaction with their male colleagues they often find themselves in unpleasant situations. How much of the blame should be accorded to them is my question.

Take for instance the case of PP. She landed a job in far off Ahmedabad in a small company. Her job was interesting as well as challenging. The average age of her company’s employees was around 25. Her boss was just 2 years older than her. It was the culture in their office to call the boss by his first name. Western influence perhaps?? Everyone including her boss treated PP as a friend rather than a subordinate. So when her parents visited her for the first time she was at the station to receive them. It was a Sunday and the train being late, she asked her boss to give her company while she waited for them to arrive. In the days that followed there was considerable interaction between PP’s parents and her office colleagues. They all seemed a decent lot and nothing seemed out of place even to their experienced eyes. So when they started looking out for a suitable match for their daughter they were surprised when two of her colleagues started harassing her - one being her boss himself. The girl herself was at wit’s end and found it easier to tell the boss that her parents were just looking for a suitable match but had not found one yet, rather than tell him outright that she was not interested in him and preferred to marry a person chosen by her parents. This in fact acted as a deterrent to the other colleague who withdrew himself on hearing about the interest shown by his boss in her. Trouble started when she finally got engaged to a person of her parent’s choice. The boss threatened to make life hell for her if she dared to marry someone else. She had no option but to ask her parents to intervene. Finally after ascertaining that she really had no interest in him, they spoke to him as well as his parents and sorted things out. Her fiancĂ© was informed but he took it in his stride and did not worry too much. Today she is married and happily settled in Dubai having put the incidence behind her. But the whole episode left me wondering who was to be blamed in all this. According to her parents there was nothing in her behavior that suggested that she was even remotely interested in him. How then did he get the impression that she was?

The answer perhaps lay in the explanation given by a senior colleague of mine. According to him, girls may not think much of getting odd chores done by a male colleague. An innocent request of getting a few pages photocopied can put ideas into a guy’s head. He says that he very often sees a girl chatting with 3 or 4 male colleagues or class - mates. One never knows which of them would be hoarding romantic ideas about her even without her knowledge. It is therefore in her own interest that a girl needs to draw a line and make her position very clear. But then the girl’s fiancĂ© did not worry too much which is again indicative that such incidences do happen and no one worries too much about it. With more and more children taking up jobs in distant places I suppose this too is part of their career experience.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day - A retrospective introspection

Indus Ladies have published posts of mommy bloggers in their e book and I am glad to be included in the list. The book can be read by over one lakh readers from alll over the world. Their e book can be accessed by clicking on the link below =

Their banner is also displayed here.

Mother’s day is nearing and all of us are gearing up to celebrate the day. I don’t remember this being such an important day when my children were growing up. I vaguely remember being invited to their Bal-Vihar class along with other mothers and children were made to wash their mother’s feet as a mark of respect. Their teacher gave a short speech on the importance of a mother in one’s life. The children sang a few bhajans, sweets were distributed and we returned home to our daily routine. I don’t remember giving a second thought to the function. I was more worried about my husband’s return from office and the time in hand to get some snacks ready for him when he arrived. My father in law was waiting for me to get back home to be able to leave for his evening stroll to meet up with others of his age. What I mean to say is that those were times when motherhood was taken for granted.

Rewinding further to the time when I was growing up, I remember my mother giving due importance to us, the daughters of the house, on festive occasions such as Navarathri and Shankaranthi. But it never occurred to us as to why we never had a day allotted for a mother’s welfare. Oh yes, we were advised to fast on certain for one’s husband’s long life and on certain others for the son’s welfare but mothers were never given a thought. She was there in the kitchen or other areas of the house slogging away churning out mouth watering delicacies and supplying regular meals. Clothes would be folded and stacked, potable water filled in properly cleaned utensils, servants would be dealt with ………well one can go on and on. I don’t remember ever hugging my mother and saying “Happy mother’s day amma!” We were never a demonstrative lot.

I wonder when all this changed? Was it when TV sets became part of our homes? Is it because more and more children have left home in search of jobs in far off places and foreign countries? I wonder how my mother felt about it? Did she even expect to be given some kind of recognition for all that she had done for us children? For that matter do I want it for myself? To be honest I don’t and perhaps my mother too had never entertained such thoughts. But I do admit that I feel happy when my children call me up and wish me on Mother’s Day.

I truly wish I could relive my childhood and give my mother a little hug to say how much I loved her. I’ve never said it in words but I am sure she understood.

I wish my mother had been more communicative and shared her joy and sorrows with us. She somehow preferred to keep it to herself and we could never bring ourselves to ask her anything that she did not say but we understood all the same. Why then should we be told anything when we understood everything? I feel that it may have eased her troubled mind if not anything else.

Should I call it lack of communication? How could it be so when we understood each other so well even without communicating in words? Try as much as I might, I cannot recall an occasion when my mother made us the target of her own frustration and anxiety. In fact she never very much liked it when I used an aggressive or authoritative tone to pull up my children.

“You are teaching them to answer back. You will not like it when they do.” She’d say.

I know that I am not the person that my mother was nor are my children the kind that we were. However the rapport I have with my children is no less or more than that I had with my mother.

Generations of mothers have passed on. What remains unchanged is the care and concern they have for their children. Even under extreme provocation it is difficult for a mother to think ill of her children. She would find all kinds of excuses for them and blame everyone around them for the circumstances. Even when she is unable to defend them her heart is always willing to give them ‘just one more chance’.

Is there anyway one can define a good mother?

If she is soft on her unruly children then she is spoiling them.

If she is harsh then she is a tyrant stifling the natural growth of the child.

If she defends them from others who target them then she is over protective.

If she doesn’t then she does not care enough. After all who can support the children if not her.

So while it is generally agreed that all mothers are good, none are good enough. Paradoxical isn’t it?

I end with an instance that took place long ago.

My son was then around 9 years of age. My friend’s father in law had passed away and their house was full of relatives who had come to attend the ceremony connected to his death. I was at their place helping out with the arrangements for the function that was to take place the following day. With the mother busy and a whole lot of children to play with, my son was having unlimited fun time. The kids were up to mischief and one of them poured water on the firewood that was being used to cook meals for the family. The cook got upset and marched them down to the lady of the house complaining that it was impossible for him to work if the parents did not monitor their children. I ordered my son home saying that I’d deal with him later. I kind of accepted that even if he hadn’t actually poured water he was equally responsible for the situation. However, the other mothers did not think so. They went on and on about how well behaved their children were and this being a new place they would never ever dare to do such a thing. Finally I was the only person being indirectly blamed for raising an unruly kid who was responsible for spoiling their angelic incarnations.

Unable to take it any longer I left soon afterwards. My friend called out to join them for the night meal but I declined the invitation saying that I had a lot of pending work to complete at home.

The incidence has stayed with me ever since. Was it wrong of me to accept that my son might have had a hand in the mischief? Should I have defended him a bit more? I agree that my friend could not have supported my son or me since the ladies were from her husband’s side of the family. But could she not have generalized the incident having known Rahul since his birth? I have no answers till date. The incident, however, made me feel inadequate as a mother although I’ve not been able to change myself and jump to my children’s defence at the slightest provocation. I feel they have to take it in their stride and learn that it takes all sorts of people to make the world.
A very Happy Mother's Day to all of you!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

On Motherhood..........

The image on the left is a banner inviting mommy bloggers to get listed in the e book that is being released on Mother's day by Indus ladies. This would be a great way of connecting mommy bloggers and exchanging notes. The link to this site is here.

Becoming a mother may be easy but being one is not. I may sound harsh because motherhood is considered an exalting experience.While one can be considered a bad daughter/teacher/sister/wife etc. it is difficult to be a bad mother. However, with all good intentions, motherhood also means a lot of responsibility and accountability.

A mother is a child’s first teacher and the example set by her is keenly observed and emulated. It is natural for a mother to vent her frustration on her child merely because he/she is an easy target. Very often the child takes it in his/her stride and a mother’s outbursts are not taken seriously but there have been instances of a mother’s attitude and outlook that have had an adverse effect on a child’s personality and perspective. It is therefore a mother’s duty to take care that she does not rub in her own disappointments onto her children to the extent of affecting their lives.

Sujaya was an ambitious mother and although her husband was not a high ranking officer she nursed hopes of educating her daughters well and ensuring a bright future for them. Being ambitious was one thing but constantly drilling into their minds that they deserved the best in life and that their lives should never be like her own was something else. The disappointment that she felt at being a middle class housewife rubbed into her daughters and they in turn chose to look down upon anyone who was not so well placed in life. When the question of marriage arose, no proposal seemed good enough. If the boy was well placed in life, he had to support ageing parents. If his parents had enough resources to take care of their expenses and the boy himself was earning a good salary, his English had a Bihari/ Bengali accent and he was not considered suitable. The boy’s sisters were snobs or the mother seemed dominating. The father was just a clerk or the quarter allotted to him was meant for workers and supervisors and it was impossible to adjust to life in his home. This went on and on and at no stage did their mother explain to them that it was not possible to find a perfect groom. It was unfortunate that the girls had a skewed idea of human relationship and marriage. While the older one found herself a matured partner who was able to bring about a positive change in her attitude, the younger one was not so lucky. Her marriage failed and ended in a divorce.

Bamini had a tough time at the hands of her parents in law. In fact the entire household including her husband would tremble at the sight of her domineering father in law. It was no wonder that she filled her daughter’s mind with negative thoughts about one’s in laws. Her daughter today is suspicious even when her mother in law showers genuine affection on her. She feels that there had to be an ulterior motive behind the seemingly kind behavior on her mother in law or sister in law’s part.

There are many other examples that come to my mind where I’ve felt that had a little caution and self - control been exercised by parents, their children would be better adjusted individuals. A father who humiliates the mother in the presence of his children, a mother who suppresses facts or lies to her husband or a parent who supports a child when he/she is wrong are all accountable for the kind of adults they become later.

No one is perfect and this applies both to parents and children. The reaction to a particular circumstance also varies with individuals. The mother who is at the receiving end may evoke sympathy. However, she could also be considered a weakling and as being responsible for the situation. The daughter who watches her being abused may turn out be an aggressive individual.

What then is the solution? I am no counselor but I do feel that two adults committed to each other by marriage as well as members of the extended family on both sides should be mutually respectful, at least once children arrive. I know of a lady in her seventies who has an only son. It is to her credit that none have heard her complain about her daughter in law. The girl is just picking up the nuances of house keeping and very often messes up things. The mother in law understands, that with all her faults, she is an important person in her son’s life and mother to her dear grandchildren. She therefore needs to be treated with love and affection. Criticizing her or constant faultfinding will not help. Accepting her for the person she happened to be and gently trying to initiate her into the customs of the family without imposing her own will on her would perhaps bring about a positive change in her attitude and very soon she would be a second daughter to her.

I end with a story that my mother loved to repeat-

A woman has four daughters and an only son who is the youngest among her children. The son gets married and the daughters who have arrived for the marriage advice their mother to treat the new bride well – ‘like one among them’ to quote their words. The mother is all too willing to pamper the daughter in law. The daughters leave and the house is back to normal. One afternoon the woman is heating milk for the afternoon coffee when the postman arrives bringing a letter from her mother. She calls out to her daughter in law asking her to keep an eye on the milk and starts reading the letter. The daughter in law has either not heard her or did not take her words seriously, the milk boils over and the kitchen is in a mess. The woman gets upset and starts cleaning up. She is also cross at her daughter in law for being careless and asks her to pay more attention in future. She then prepares coffee and takes it to her DIL’s room and finds her sitting on her bed and sobbing.

“Am I not supposed to say even this?” she asks her husband. “After all I would have said the same had it been one of my daughters in her place.”

“You cannot take the same liberty with your daughter in law as with your daughter” advises her husband. “ You can pamper your daughter in law as much as you want but you have to wait for a while before you take the liberty of admonishing her. She needs time to accept you as her mother. Right now you are just her mother in law.”

He was indeed correct and this story is true in every relationship. One needs to give it time to grow. And like any other relationship, motherhood also need to grow and develop along with one's children!