The dangerous trend of parenting

My daughter is now 2.5 years old, and has started going to playschool since the start of June. She has been a lonely child, with minimal interaction with other kids. Hence, I thought a playschool would be ideal for her, as she would have the three hours of playtime with other kids.

We have a neighbor who has a two year old son. Yesterday, when I stepped out of the house with a list of the grocery shopping for the week, I met the mom who began interrogating me on everything. “What school does your daughter go to?” “Has she started the alphabets yet?” “My son has barely started speaking yet. I want to put him to school so that he can learn to talk”. “I hope they teach writing during the playschool”, and many other things. Her elder son is now in second grade and he hardly steps out of the home. He is always indoors, doing his homework or playing on the iPad. It made me pause and think.

As parents, we have an immense responsibility – it is on us to bring up a human being, to teach him how to live and love, to share and care – all the values and everything. The onus of providing a better home environment for our kids us on us parents. But I think that nowadays, parents are so caught up in the rat race, that they forget to teach their kids the most basic of things. Pause and think – when your relatives or friends come home, don’t you show off that you kids can say the alphabets and rhymes and can also dance and paint? Don’t you show others, and are proud of the fact that your kids can speak more words than your neighbor’s kids? Your children get more marks in the tests than everybody else in the colony?

Marks and everything will come – teaching the subjects and curriculum is also a part of your job as a parent – but it is such a miniscule part. As parents we need to focus on much bigger things –

1. Teaching the value and importance of ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’. We need to make them understand that these words are not to be spoken lightly, and are to be meant every time it is said.

2. Instead of buying games and toys, we need to teach them how to play in the world of make-believe. I remember when I was a kid, I would play with only 3 cars. But I would improvise and use my books, and my dolls, everything I could ever lay my hands and eyes on! Children need to fuel their imagination.

3. The meaning of the word ‘No’. As parents, we need to stop over indulging our children and teach them this, they will grow up to be people who will not take rejections close to heart. Breakups, job search, etc will not affect them much, because they will know that it is only a phase of life. Teaching them how to handle rejections will make them stronger.

4. Exercise / outdoors play time. Cycling, walking, running etc should all be encouraged from childhood, and if possible, made into a habit. If you’re used to something since your childhood, it will be very hard to wean away from it when you’re grown up. This habit will hopefully make our younger generation healthier and wiser than us!

Ah Bangalore, Oh Bangalore!

This summer has been extremely cruel in India. Even Bangalore, the so called ‘garden city’ was not spared from the searing heat. Every day, you could feel the hot sun just zapping away your energy, as if he were sucking it out of your body with a giant straw.

Since March this year, there has been one line which was constantly spoken by everybody, in every language possible: “Oh my God, this heat is unbearable. I cannot wait for the rains”. Every day, people would look wistfully at the clear blue sky, lamenting the lack of even a single, water bearing cloud. Tips were shared on social media websites and apps, on how to be safe during the summers. Mom groups on Facebook went on an overdrive, sharing natural, organic, chemical-free, herbal, and homemade recipes/ methods to detox and remain healthy in the summers. Strangers would bond over the above mentioned statement; mothers-in-law befriended their daughters-in-law; there was no more class divide, and no more gender discrimination. No more kannadiga, non-kannadiga nonsense; we all were a happy family, always looking out for one another.

And then came the rains that Bangalore hadn’t heard or seen in months. Aah! The smell of earth after the first rains! The cool breeze, the sound of the pattering rain! It is so heavenly. But then, suddenly I was jolted wide awake! Won’t the city see the camaraderie of the summer times anymore? Will race, caste, color, gender and state divide us once again? I began to palpitate. But my worries were short-lived. It rained heavily. The earth was soaked. And like clockwork in Bangalore, drains overflowed, trees felled, and roads were jammed. And soon, the people begun to bond – over completely different things now!

Long Distance Marriage

It has been a very long time since I posted here. I started working again post my maternity break, and then having to manage both a job and the household work meant that I had to sacrifice something. Unfortunately in my case, my blogging got affected. But now, I’m back.

The entire of 2015 was a period of huge turmoil in my life. Husband’s company was about to be shut down (they had incurred huge losses due to scarcity of coal because of the coal scam. If you don’t know what the coal scam is, then Google it). The company would officially shut down in November 2015, and we effectively had six months to find him another job. I had just started work as well, and was not yet steady. Huge pressure from professional side to perform well, and from personal side (to find hubby a job).

After months of searching, heartbreak, sorrow and despair, he finally found a job. But in a different city. Which was 2.5 hours away from mine via airplane. So we decided to have a long distance marriage. I was not willing to jeopardize my career again, after my maternity break. And he couldn’t find a job in my city.

When we decided to have a long distance marriage, I was branded many things by my so-called well wishers: selfish, un-motherly, and as someone who willingly deprived my child of its father. Though I’m earning just as much as my husband is right now, and I have finally begun to make my mark at work, I was (and still am) asked to leave everything, pack up and move. I am asked to consider accepting a job which has “lesser” demands because I’m a woman (my current job is 9-5 btw). Worse, I’m asked to become a stay-at-home mother, because it is hard and expensive to find a babysitter in Delhi.

There are absolutely no demands made on my husband. As his partner is earning just as much as him, he could have been asked to stay at home, while his wife went out to work. But there are none on him. I am so tired of explaining our decision to relatives and neighbors that I have stopped interacting with them completely.

But the past few months have also taught me a few things. I have become more independent. I am confident that I can manage the house, take care of a sick toddler, and complete my project, all at the same time. I have started negotiating and talking to plumbers and carpenters – a task which was earlier very scary and hence allotted to hubby dearest. Planning my day is a crucial thing which I have learned. Everything from cooking to my outfit is planned the kept ready the day before. Even my telephone conversations with my parents, hubby and in-laws are planned so that they usually occur when I’m travelling in the office provided cabs.

Though there is this distance between us, and the cross-questioning from people bothers me, I still do not regret the decision of staying back, and not jeopardizing my career once again.

Tangled up in another daydream!

Torn and frayed, in the corner,
Honey, can you hear me scream?
Look I’m not acting insane, I’m just,
Tangled up in another daydream!

I still can hear your voice,
Echoing in this room,
Borne fragrant by your smell,
Conspiring my doom.

I can still see that gaze,
Hearts afire, it could set,
This beautiful a wound,
How does one even forget?

So if you see me acting insane,
Or if you ever hear me scream,
Don’t think I’ve gone haywire, I’m just,
Tangled up in another daydream!

Bitter Sweet Love

Taking arrows slipping from his eyes,
Piercing my heart before I can see,
I just lay there bleeding words,
Smothering in this painful ecstasy.

Tried to free myself, many a times,
From his nagging ghost,
It comes haunting right back,
At every dusk almost.

Words won’t stop coming out,
neither do tears,
My misery just won’t end,
Neither do my fears.

Shackled by his desire,
Craving for his flesh,
Crippled by this fire,
By a memory so afresh.

How do I get rid,
Of this life long curse,
When pain dribbles,
through my every verse.

Creepy Pasta

The past few months have been a blur. I don’t remember doing much. Most of my time awake was spent huddled, waiting for the next thrill, the next excitement. Yes, I was addicted. To real-life horror stories.

I’m not affected by scary stories. A good scary story will keep me riveted, will raise my heartbeat, and may make me too scared to step outside for half an hour. But that’s it. No matter the level of scariness, I still manage to get sound sleep every night.

For the past few months though, I’ve spent a couple of hours every night scouring the internet and Reddit for the scariest “true” stories, the creepiest of them all. Sometimes, if I was lucky, I’d find a new Reddit thread that I hadn’t explored yet. But most of the times, it was the same old story, rehashed hundreds of times. “This happened to my mother’s cousin’s grandmother’s friend” etc. Some of the stories seemed so preposterous that I would laugh before it even ended.

Most of the times though I’d wonder. What would I do if I was in their place? Would I confront my fears or just book it? Today, I got my answer.

Just before we go into the details, let me take you through the layout of the bedroom. The bedroom is a square room, with the door on one corner of the room. The bed was near the wall opposite the door. I was sitting on the bed, leaning against with the wall with a pillow for cushion and I was putting my daughter to sleep. As my daughter is scared of the darkness, we’d installed the bed lamp which we always kept switched on.

Suddenly the lights flickered and went out. But this isn’t a blackout as I could see other lights in the house. Also, it couldn’t have been my husband trying to play games with me as I could see the switchboard on the wall right opposite to me, and dear hubby hadn’t even stepped into room. As I was still wondering what had just happened, the lights came back on. I’d just managed to pull the issue out of my mind when it happened again.

This is when I began to freak out. I didn’t know what to do. Should I pickup my daughter and run towards my husband who was in another room? Or should I confront the beast? Only one decision was unanimous: to move away from the wall.

As I moved away, the pillow began to slide. Within a few minutes, it had completely slid down. And that’s when I saw it. Exactly at the same spot where my back would have been, hidden behind the pillow, was the dual-switch, the second switch for the bedlamp.

Letter to my mom

Dear mom,

Like every other normal girl, I was excited about marriage right from my childhood days. I had planned and dreamed about how resplendent I would look, and how everyone would look at me. I thought about the glow on my face, and about the promise of togetherness with my husband. I never thought beyond the time that I would spend happily with my prince charming. My thoughts were always about the pheras or my jewelry or how the love of my life would lift me away and take me away to this special place.

But today when I am married, I realize that marriage is not all roses. It’s not just about being with your beloved and having a gala time. It isn’t always about eating out or shopping always. There is so much more to it. It comes with its own share of responsibilities, duties, sacrifices and compromises.

I can’t wake up anytime I want to.
I am expected to be up and ready before everyone else in the family.
I can’t laze around in my pyjamas throughout the day. I am expected to be presentable every time. I can’t just go out anytime I want to. I am expected to cook and clean and go out to work as well. I am expected to be sensitive to the needs of the family. I just can’t hit the bed anytime I want to. I am expected to be active and around the family. I can’t expect to be treated like a princess but I’m supposed to take care of everyone else in the family.

And then I think to myself, ‘why did I get married at all?’ I was happier with you, mom. I was better off with you! Sometimes I think of coming back to you and getting pampered again.

I want to come home to my favourite food cooked by you every evening after a nice outing with friends. I want to sleep on your lap like I have no worry in this world. But then I suddenly realize, had you not gotten married and made such sacrifices in your life, I wouldn’t have had so many wonderful memories to hang on to. And then, when I look at the bundle of joy sleeping next to me, the purpose of all this becomes very clear- to return the same comfort, peace, love and happiness to my new family that I got from you.

And I am sure that as time would pass, I would start loving this life equally as you do. Thank you mom for all the sacrifices and compromises you made. They give me the strength to do the same. Love you.

The ‘rape’ joke

My friend had an interview the other day. When I asked how it went, he said “rape ho gaya yaar.. Rape ho gaya” (I got raped). Initially this sentence didn’t seem wrong. He was telling me how bad the interview went. What could be wrong in that? But after I kept the phone down, I got thinking. Was it right? Should he have used the word ‘rape’ to describe something as innocuous as his job interview? Was I right in not pointing it out immediately and correcting him?

Rape is a very serious term. It should never be used jovially. Rape means sexual assault involving penetration, and nothing else. By using it in everyday language, we are taking away the actual horror of the term. We are reducing the impact of the word. We are blunting the survivor’s shield, chipping away her armour (The survivor could be a male or a female. I’ve generalised it to a ‘her’ here)

As a victim of sexual assault, I still fail to grasp the horror and the brutality of rape; I know what goes on in a survivor’s mind, but it is still beyond me to comprehend fully. We should empathize with the survivor and support her in every way possible. By making a joke out of it, we only end up brushing the topic under the carpet.

Imperfections make you perfect

I was never happy with myself. Some days, it would be my hair. For as long as I remember, I’ve always wanted straight hair. As I grew up and became an adolescent, I realized that curls, if properly managed, were “in” too. But somehow, I ended up with “neither here nor there” hair. My hair is neither straight, nor curly. Neither is it wavy. It is beyond fine; it is superfine. I have no volume at all. So my hair does not bounce. I can neither keep it short, nor can I keep it long. I think that when God was distributing hairstyles, he somehow missed me, and I had to make do with whatever was left. How I hated all those hair commercials!

Other days, it would be my face. I had too many pores and pigmentation and black heads and white heads and every other problem on Earth. None of the solutions worked. I underwent treatment after treatment for my skin, but to no avail.

I was always too tall, too plump, too loud and too gawky. Postpartum, my obsession with my appearance increased. I was used to working, and suddenly, when I became a stay-at-home for one year, I found myself constantly fretting over my appearance.

And to top it all, within 3 months after delivery, I began to experience severe hair fall. I would close my eyes and refuse to open it up and acknowledge the huge clump of hair in the shower drain.

It was because of my daughter that I began to overlook the physical imperfections. Someone had told me (very rudely, of course) that my daughter is “a wee bit thin”. ‘Of course not’, I snapped back. And I’m sure, all the mothers out there agree with me. Your child is perfect, and there’s nothing you’d want to change about her. And this incident set me thinking. Isn’t beauty all about how tinted your glasses are?

I snort when I laugh too much, I move my hands around a lot, I have a bald spot in my head which I try very hard to cover up, but usually fail miserably. It took me months to be able to talk about my ‘imperfections’ on a public forum, to be confident about my appearance, to be confident about my sense of dressing. My husband had to convince me to wear flattering clothes, because at one point in time, I’d given it all up. My journey in accepting all my flaws and being confident in my body has made me a better person today. I am more assertive and vocal about my beliefs, and I have learned to say “No” for an answer. I have understood that accepting yourself physically can boost your self confidence and attitude.

Women tend to view themselves harshly, and more so during pregnancy and after delivery. This is a part of postpartum depression, and every woman should share her feelings with her spouse/fiancé. But what is more required is not brushing it away as another “girl problems”.

Republic Day Celebrations and Giveaway Winner Announced!

I hope everyone enjoyed this well deserved long weekend, and as dutiful citizens of the country, watched the Republic Day parade.

Is it just me, or are the tableaux getting better and better each year!? Man, the expectations just keep rising every year! The tableaux used to be my favorite part of the entire parade when I was a kid. But after becoming an adult, I must say I am pretty impressed by our armed forces at the parade.

I also liked that for the first time in the history of India, Indian women force of the Indian Army, Air Force and Navy marched the Republic Day parade today. I hope many more Indian women will now feel empowered to join the armed forces after seeing the parade. The Guard Of Honor for POTUS Barack Obama was also a lady. I like how things are going. The feminist in me is super duper excited! I just hope that women get more and more chances to advance forward, and that there will finally be a day when men and women will be treated equal.

And now, for the winner of the giveaway

Congratulations Sonakshi Srivastava, you’re the lucky winner of the giveaway! Please DM me your email ID!

Thanks a lot everyone for taking part. But unfortunately, there could only be one winner 😦

I promise to keep having more giveaways though! So watch this space out for more! 🙂