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Archive for the ‘family’ Category

I was reading this post by IHM and then this original post by Desi Ghee and Coffee that prompted IHM’s. The original article was about how divorces have become so common because feminism has been taken too far by women. As expected, there are a lot of provoking and thought-provoking things said in both posts, and have been covered really well by both bloggers, but one that stood out to me was this:

Men will always be men. They are all stupid. They can never adapt to anything.

In one statement, this person has effectively painted all the men on earth with this generic brush that shows men as weak, stubborn and stupid individuals who will not lift a finger to do anything to make their relationship better.

I want to know what “Men will always be men” means.

Does it mean they will never change to include another person in their life and that they need their wives to be like their mothers, always providing, and never expecting anything in return?

Does it mean they will never show any empathy for this person they married, never treat her like an equal?

Does it mean they need to be mothered all the time, and there cannot be any expectations of them?

Does it mean they will beat the shit out of the wife if she so much as tries to ask for what is her right? Does it mean they will be nothing more than a wall flower at home while the wife breaks her back with all the chores?

Why is men adapting such a big deal anyway? Don’t men adapt when they change jobs, or if the boss changes and has different ways of working? Don’t they adapt when the company policy changes? Why, then, are they unable to adapt when there is another person to share their life with?

What does it say about the thousands of men/husbands who wake up everyday, make the morning coffee, take a shower before the wife does and give her the time she needs in the morning to get herself up and ready for the day ahead? What does it say about those husbands who change diapers, load the dishwashers, clean the bathroom and vacuum the floors?

It is such regressive ideas about men that are doing most men a disservice. Most men I know, especially of my generation, are equally, if not more, invested as their wives are in the household. Are they not ‘men’ because they have adapted to a life of give AND take?

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Warning – This is a long and very emotional post. Please feel free to skip reading it. Sometimes some things need to be written down before you can get over them.

A couple of months back I completed the very first year of my life without grandparents. And it sucks. My last surviving grandparent, my paternal grandmother passed away last year, and life has been weird without wrinkly old people to tell you that they love you on phone.

I will not say life has stopped, on the contrary it has gone ahead full steam, but there is a gaping hole. The next time I go back home I know I will not find my ajji sitting with her feet up on the white chair, with her big nose ring, her sparking bangles and her crumpled and soft cotton saree. I have already gotten over the fact that I will not see my tata sitting on his cane chair near the gate, looking at people and vehicles on the road, waiting for my mom to come home from work and make him a hot cup of tea. Or that he will go out for a walk early in the morning and pluck flowers from the neighbor’s plants!

Both my ajji and tata were a constant presence in our lives. Me and my sister were their favorites among all other grandchildren. That was perhaps because they lived with us. My tata used to walk me back from school every single day. He used to wait for me at the school gate and initially, until class 2 or so, he used to put my bag on his shoulder, carry my bottle on another shoulder AND pick me up and walk about 5 km home. Later, as I got heavier, he used to just carry my bag and water bottle(!) and hold my hand while I walked along. Slowly I got him used to just walking along, and I carried my own bag and bottle. I remember the day I asked him if I could come home by myself, he looked sad. She is going to come home by herself, is what he told my ajji. He did stop waiting at the school gate, but he would walk to the end of the street near home and wait for me there. Whenever I took a detour with friends to chase dragonflies or to steal berries from people’s gardens it took me a little later than usual to show up, and I would find him walking towards the school.

One day, I was 13, and was sitting in my class 8J classroom. The social studies teacher was talking about something, and my father knocked on the door and asked for me. I was so excited that I was getting to go home early, and I could play with my sister. But as soon as I went out I saw his eyes were moist. I was scared and confused and did not ask any questions for fear of hearing something bad. It was not until we got home that I came to know that my tata had suffered a heart attack. It was the first time I realized that my tata was getting old, and that there would be one day he would leave us forever. After that heart attack there were numerous times when he was hospitalized for one thing or another, but we knew that he would pull through. He was a strong man, and absolutely hated doctors and medicines and (of course) injections and would keep pestering my dad until he was sent back home. There was this one time when there was a sodium imbalance in his body, which led to him acting a little weird. He used to yell at us all, and cry. After being admitted to the hospital and being given heavy doses of medicine to restore the sodium balance, an evaluator was asked to evaluate him to see if he was balanced enough to resume normal life. The evaluator was asking him questions like who is the prime minister of India, what is the capital of India, how many children do you have etc. Tata was furious and he said I might be old but I am not mad. I am better now please send me back home! And he was back home and as active as ever. After so many hospital visits I was so firm in the belief that tata would never leave us, that I became complacent this one rainy season of 2003. I was working in Mumbai and it was a fine July morning. I knew he was in the hospital but my father told me he was speaking and eating well and would be sent back home in a few days. At the Mahindra and Mahindra bus stop I was waiting for my bus when my mobile rang. It was dad and as soon as I picked it up I heard him cry. I knew this was it and I stopped listening to what he was saying. It was raining hard and thankfully my tears were washed away and my grief was not out there for everyone to see. But one kind lady saw me sobbing and asked me if I needed help. I politely declined, got into an auto and took the first flight home to say goodbye to tata.

It has been 7 years since that day, and not a day passes by when I don’t think about how cool he was, and how awesome he was and how much I regret not having kids at 20 so they could also have the honor of having been raised by him. He was the second grandparent to pass away. My maternal grandfather passed away way back in 1998, and my memories of him are all the times he yelled at us kids to wake us up when we slept late into the day while the hot sun was beating down on us on the terrace. He also dabbled in homeopathy and had a sweet goli for every malady that struck us! He was the silent types who believed in showing only one emotion, anger. My maternal grandmother, ammamma on the other hand was a picture of patience and love. From the food she cooked to the stories she told, she was the best.  She passed away in 2006, a couple of months after I got married. I was happy in the knowledge that she blessed us and that at least I had another grandparent around. And see what happened now? Even my ajji left us last year, so now my kids will never get to see who taught me to sing Marathi songs, or to eat dahi, varan and bhat or my undying faith in Sachin, or calling Andhra Pradesh, Andhera Pradesh!

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  • I cannot sit and watch tv or just sit on the couch doing nothing. I have to either fold the laundry, cut veggies, read a book, work away on my laptop…anything!
  • I HAVE to nap on weekends after a meal. And I absolutely need tea after the nap.
  • I hold a fabric between my thumb and index finger and stare at it intently in order to see what material it is!
  • I go straight into the kitchen of our guests to offer to help rather than politely sit in the living room.
  • I ‘suspect’ something is up when I see my high heels colleague wearing flats to work!
  • I prefer eating sadavaran-bhat/daddojanam for dinner after eating lunch outside.
  • Whenever a character in a movie/tv serial cries, I cry!
  • I stare at people’s clothes/shoes/hair/bag on the street, at a party, wherever, if I find them interesting. My sister and I used to make fun of my mom about this and I shamelessly indulge in it now!
  • I see clothes in big stores and complain how they are way cheaper at Begum Bazar/Sultan Bazar etc.
  • I am seriously contemplating getting a sewing machine and some sewing classes.
  • And this makes the transformation complete. I see anyone who is younger than me with a maternal eye! I have a strong urge to ‘protect’ them from the big bad world.

(My next few posts will be about my mummy. In honor of Mother’s day.)

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Monika tagged me to write about my wedding day(or rather I forced her to tag me)!

This is the story of our wedding day. Not of our wedding preparations or the aftermath, but what happened during our wedding. All our wedding preparations were being taken care of by S’s and my parents, and all we had to do was to show up! And I and S liked this arrangement because all we cared about was being married, not how. Well, he did, I still cared about how I looked etc, but more on that later.

Our wedding date was set for mid May, and there was an engagement in Feb. Well, if you can call it that! Both of us were in grad school in the US, and the engagement was more like an invite everyone and have naach-gaana party! And we were sent pictures and videos of all that fun!

Well, we were pretty excited too, but reached Hyderabad barely 10 days before D-day. I had entrusted all my jewelry and saree shopping to mom, and had complete faith in her choice. I liked all the sarees though, but there was a minor glitch. I had told my mom that I had put on a little weight, so I would want my blouses to be slightly bigger than the measurements she had. Guess what! The tailor sent my stitched blouses and I realized they were of tun-tun’s size! I was in tears (while my sister was passing comments like – ahh wear your sarees without a blouse, thats latest fashion!) but my multi-talented mom fixed them all in a matter of hours!

The day of the wedding dawned and I was in high spirits. I need to mention here that our muhurtam was at 1:40 am the next day.(Yes that is 1:40 AM), and there was to be a reception in the evening, before the actual wedding, so that all those friends and relatives who wouldn’t be able to stay for the wedding would get a chance to congratulate us, and also have food 😉

So the day of the wedding arrived, and I and my sister, along with another cousin, were to go to the hotel room so the beautician(there is no word like that?) could get my makeup and hair done, and get me ready for the reception. Then after the reception I was to come back to the room so I could change into the wedding saree and also have the makeup toned down a little.

We were about to leave when I hear my mom yelling at someone at the top of her voice. Mom is not the yelling types, so I knew something was wrong. Turned out that the wedding photographer hadn’t turned up! Yes! The guy who was contracted to take pictures of our wedding was AWOL! And it was a day when half of Hyderabad was getting married. No wonder then that all the good photographers around our wedding hall were booked. My uncle and cousin went running to find someone, literally someone, to take wedding pictures. And they did find someone. And the fact that we never look at our official wedding pictures is proof of how good he was!

Anyway, back to makeup. This was to be the first time I was going to be all made up, and I was apprehensive. I told the makeup aunty that I wanted subtle makeup and not jhango stuff. She gave a snort(like a huh). I asked my sister to keep an eye on how much makeup is applied(meaning I wanted her to stop aunty before I was over made up). She nodded. Aunty turned my chair around so I wouldn’t be able to look in the mirror and got about her business. A good hour later aunty informs me that aal izz done! I turned around and shrieked. It wasn’t me staring back at me, it was someone jhango! I was the jhango madeup girl! I yelled at my sister but then it was too late as people were already starting to arrive and I had to go and stand with S and look pretty! I went. Like that. With OVER THE TOP makeup. As I walked in people did a double take. I knew instantly that they were shocked to see me, but couldn’t ask me why I did what I did. Everyone said I looked great, but no one except S expressed the kind of shock I had expressed when I saw myself in the mirror. (I bet he had buyers remorse, meri hone wali biwi ko is jhango ne kidnap kiya!)

The reception went well and I was back in the room for the wedding dress up. The wedding saree thankfully, was to be a white one, which was nice and airy and comfortable. And the makeup this time was less mime type, and more me. The wedding processes began at about 11:00pm. S tied the taali at 1:40am, and then the post tying rituals like homam etc began. We shifted from the main mandap to a side one, where there was a ‘homam’ kund ready. While we were walking around the fire, we looked around us to see everyone except our parents and siblings fast asleep. I kid you not! They were all sitting there a couple of minutes ago, then they stood up to put akshad, and now in a matter of minutes everyone had fallen asleep where they sat! So for the final ritual it was only us and our parents and grandparents who were awake!

Well the wedding done and at about 5:00am we were to go to S’s place to take some rest and get ready for the Satyanarayan Vrat again! I was dead tired. Went home, barely slept and then got ready and the puja started. I and S and were on the stage with the pujari and we were doing whatever he asked us to(pour water on the hands, touch the leaf, sprinkle haldi etc). Sometime between the pouring of water and sprinkling of the haldi I started to feel sleepy. The puja was almost coming to an end and the final part was the story. The story usually talks about how so and so family had bad things happen to them because someone fell asleep during the puja, and I was fast asleep! Poor pujari had to ask S to wake me up to do some finishing up stuff! So there, I fell asleep at my own wedding. Can it get more interesting than that?

UPDATE: Anyone who wants to write about their wedding is hereby tagged!

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Disclaimer: This is not about anyone who reads this blog 🙂

X tells me that Y told her I said something to Y, which I never did. Now, this thing that I was supposed to have told Y is very offensive and so not me. I haven’t spoken to Y since. I am closer to X than I am to Y, but now I am in a dilemma.

a) Do I blindly trust what X told me and continue not speaking to Y?

b) Confront Y about why I was ascribed something I never said? I don’t want to get into a cat fight but I don’t want things to spread about me in the family that are not true!

c) Just ignore all this and speak to both X and Y like nothing happened?

d) Something else?

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My sister little turned 22 this 4th of July and a wave of emotions hits me. Time sure flies. Just the other day she was a lanky 10 year old girl who always wanted mom or me to be with her, here she is now, a charmig lady who would be flying off the nest soon to make her own life.

She is sure an independent person, but to me she will always be:

  • that little girl who wanted to be included in all the games we grownups played!
  • that little girl who got the name of chipkali from relatives because she never left my mom’s godi!
  • that little girl who latched on to latest trends in kiddy clothes and didnt let go of them until the new ones came along. Like the tights and t-shirt look of the early 90s to the tight, dori tie salwar kameez of the late 90s to the loose cotton kurti-jeans-kolhapuri look of today.
  • that little girl who fell sick and was rushed to the doctor, put on saline, and made us all cry.
  • that kid who played with other kids much smaller than her and everyone called her didi, and she bossed them around!
  • the baby who walked around in a chaddi and nothing else, eating sand whenever we didnt keep an eye on her.
  • that teenager who always used to be super excited about our new years’ eve celebrations that included watching TV, cutting a cake and having coke!
  • that little girl who still asks me what I think about each and everything she does.

I hope that you succeed in every venture you take up in this 22nd year of your life. The time we spent together will always be the best days of my life. The last few years have changed you. Living by yourself will change you even more. In spite of all that, I hope you remain our sweet little Chintu forever!

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Here is a kavita by Nagarjun that I distinctly remember from my school days. These words warm my heart as I read it. Though the language is very simple and the construction very rudimentary, this poem speaks clearly of the emotions of a girl’s father.

Gulabi Choodiyan

Private bus ka driver hain tho kya hua
saat saal ki bachchi ka pita tho hain

saamne gear ke upar
hook se latka rakhi hain
kaanch ki chaar choodiyan gulabi
bus ki raftar ke mutabik
hilti rehti hain….

jhukkar maine pooch liya
kha gaya mano jhatka
adhed umr ka muchchad robila chehra
aahiste se bola: haan sahab

laakh kehta hoon nahin maanti muniyan
taange hue hain kai dino se
apni amanat
yahan abba ki nazron ke saamne
main bhi sochta hoon

kya bigadti hain choodiyan
kis jurm pe hata doon inko yahan se

aur driver ne ek nazar mujhe dekha
aur maine ek nazar use dekha

chalak raha tha dudhiya vatsalaya badi badi aankhon me
taralta haavi thi seedhi sadhi pragna par
aur ab ve nigahen phir se ho gayi sadak ki or
aur maine jhukkar kaha

haan bhai main bhi pita hoon
woh tho bas yun hi pooch liya aapse
varna kise nahin bhayengi
nanhi kalaiyon ki gulabi choodiyan

Please go here to read it in hindi.

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