Friday, January 26, 2007


There are few events, in one’s life, that can be truly called life-changing. Becoming a mother is one of them. Suddenly, from being this care-free, independent person, you metamorphose to being this constant care-giver, whose every action has an equal re-action on another tiny being. Its huge, monumental and yes, life-changing.

And yes I have ranted about all the changes I have made, I have had to make in my life. Some big, some small. However, there is one that I am unable to face up to. Its being ‘Mummi-fied’. From being this person, with an individuality and characteristics of my own – I am now ‘a Mummy’ with universal characteristics of mummys. From ‘Moms don’t swear’ to ‘moms have to be gentle’ I’ve heard it all.

But what hurts me most – is loosing my name. It started out innocuously with hubby one day referring to me as ‘mama’. I may have raised an eyebrow but let it pass nevertheless. But these days, its become kind of regular. Hubby has just stopped referring to me by my name – he calls me ‘mamma’. “Mamma what do we have for dinner?” to “mamma, do you like this?”

My friend M and I once discussed this in college. How some parents – stop referring to each other by their names but become ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy’. How ridiculous it seems. That we sacrifice our individuality to the alter of parenthood. Didn’t think it would hit so close to home. That one professionally qualified man living in the 21st century would call his professionally qualified post-grad wife ‘mamma’. We could well be living in the 16th century Great Britain, Mr and Mrs. Briggs with our brood of 6 kids and the lord and master of the house addressing his wife as ‘mother’.

I am so pissed with this dated behavior I want to rouse him back to reality. My reaction? I’ve stopped answering hubby when he calls me ‘mamma’. He thinks that’s cute – so he’s sticking to his guns. And I am going to stick to mine. Lets see who wins this one.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

2 is company. 3 is.....

A nuisance?

A friend relates this incident. She has a 3 ½ year old who co-sleeps with them. One night after she put her daughter to sleep – she and her hubby got into the mood. While they were in the … errr… act, their daughter awoke and demanded to know what was going on. What they told their daughter can be gauged from the fact that thereafter, whenever the child saw her mother undressing or changing, she wanted to know, “mummy, kya aap papa ko pyaar karne wale ho?” (mummy are you going to love papa?).

When this incident was narrated to me, I was pregnant with sonny. So I had a big laugh at it. Now that sonny is 19 months old – my reaction is a bit different. O sure it’s funny alright. But now the issue really hits home. We too have a co-sleeper, a light sleeper at that. So now we truly comprehend how big an issue it is.

Of course the solution is – to get sonny onto his lil bed and get him to sleep by himself in his room. But then, that’s easier said than done. And considering the fact that, hubby’s job seems to give us a US-darshan, we keep moving places, so getting sonny settled into a new place is in itself a task.

Don’t get me wrong. I mean, I do love the fact that here we are – the entire family, snuggling in together under one blanket. And it’s easy to pacify sonny – who’s night terrors and nightmares have reached an all time high. Besides, I love the way he snuggles into me and sleeps.

But then, what do I tell well-meaning friends, who ask me – if I have started planning for a second baby already. I’d really like to tell them – that I can plan all I want – it’s the implementation that seems to be an issue.

And then, I take hope from orchid’s recent post about how her 3 ½ year old – now sleeps by himself. Hmmmm……

Friday, January 19, 2007


Art has tagged me to do a style-check on myself. Here's my take.

A room with curtains drawn.
From the outside it looks like any other room. When the wind blows you get a sneak peak into whats going on inside. Hopefully what you see will keep you hooked onto taking more peeks.

What do you see?

A Veggie: The tomato. Is it a fruit? Or a vegetable? I don’t know. By myself, I don’t amount for much – but I defi add tang to other’s lives.

A Color: I’d be yellow – bright, sunny and happy.

A Dish: I’d be the ubiquitous yellow dal(lentils) – which I make everyday. I’d like to give it a break – but hubby and sonny can’t do without it.

An Ice cream: I’d be my fav maple syrup with walnuts – local flavor with a crunch!

A Fabric: I’d be cotton. Indian to the core, natural & easy on the skin. If you’re picky you might have problems with maintenance.

A Country: Switzerland. Known for her neutrality.

A Fictional character: I’d be cross between Wendy (from Peter Pan) and Linus. The eternal worrier who needs a security blanket. But once she found her Peter Pan – she gave up her home to fly across to his world (needless to say, tugging her security blanket).

A season: I’d be spring. Sometimes bright and sunny, sometimes cold and rainy.

A fruit: Apple. Wholesome, complete – has its own flavor and yet blends easily into a fruit salad. You cant have too many problems with the apple.

A piece of Furniture: Definitely arm-chair. Relaxed, easy-going.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Through the eyes of an FOB - II

This is second in the series of my experiences as an FOB. This is what I have learnt about social mores and other rules in this part of the world:

  • When you cross someone or meet someone’s eyes – its customary to greet the person – even if you don’t know them. Try doing this in India – and people will think you have truly lost it.
  • If that person seems to be from the Indian subcontinent – keep your eyes down and continue walking. If you make the mistake of greeting this person – you will either be met with a cold stare or that person will just plain look through you.
  • The second floor – is really the first floor, the ground floor is the first floor.
  • When visiting a non-desi, its not required to take your shoes off. They will wonder whats wrong if you begin taking off your shoes at their door.
  • If a non-desi calls you for dinner – make sure to ask what time. Dinner is generally served between 6 and 7. Do not make the mistake of landing fashionably late – or by Indian Standard Time – truly no food will be left for you.
  • A ‘Hi! How’re you doing?” by someone is not an invitation to tell him/her your woes.
  • You call your friends'/colleagues' parents as Mr or Mrs ABC. Not uncle and aunty.
  • In the US – you use Fahrenheit and miles, not Celsius and kms. 27 deg C is really hot while 27 deg F is sub-zero.
  • There is no such thing as MRP – you have to scan the weekly flyers to know which stores have better deals on which items – even branded items go for much less with deals.
  • You do not put your clothes to dry on the porch, balcony or patio. Tying a string and hanging your towel out to dry is a no-no too. No really! If you don’t believe me, check your lease agreement.
  • You cross the roads only when the signal tells you – and that too only on the cross walk. Unlike in Mumbai – you just dart across the road if you judge the car will reach after you have crossed.
  • Traffic rules are meant to be followed. If you don’t – you will be caught and fined. To know what happens in India – see Twisted DNA’s version.
  • If you are driving on a small side-road, it’s customary to let the pedestrian pass first. If you are a pedestrian wait for the driver to signal you to pass. In India, the driver is the king of the road.
  • If you see a desi driving a car, even on the side road – step back – he’s not going to let you pass. (Stop yelling you guys – this is personal experience!) If he does let you pass – he deserves the ‘falling to the ground’ salute.
  • If it’s a woman driver – take 2 steps back. She’s going to stop – but she’ll misjudge where you are and you don’t wanna come under the car.
  • If it’s a teenager – hang back as far as you can. This is true for Mumbai too, I guess.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Yeh kya ho raha hai? (Whats going on?)

The Nithari killings have held my thoughts the last few days. I am so pissed with whats happening – I thought I would do a post on this. But then what’s the point of spilling ink now – when so much blood has already been spilt. Probably the best thing I heard about the whole incident was a gentleman on one of these talk shows. He said “Deviants, maniacs, perverts and fiends have always existed and will always exist – and not just here – but abroad as well. The differentiating factor is – a police force that is ready not just to tackle but also take preventive action”. And sadly that’s where we have been let down. By a police force that does not care.

And really this is not an isolated incident. There are tons and tons of people – who will tell you how the police force – went against their intended role in society. Let me tell you my incident.

As part of the immigration procedures – one is required to produce a Police Clearance Certificate (PCC). And that is all the info the consulate gives you about this. Not knowing what this certificate does or is meant to say – my father volunteered to go to the nearest police station and find out. And what do you know – they don’t know what it is either. After visiting 2-3 police chowkies, we found out the procedure to get one. It involved me going to the Police headquarters where all such admin procedures happened. I decided to go by myself. Wrong thing to do. Ladies, never, ever go to a police station by yourself. Always have a male companion. The police thinks something is wrong with you – if you land up by yourself.

A very helpful clerk provided me with the info on how to go about the procedure – while at the same time – passing snide remarks about my lonesome state to his fellow workers in Marathi. I am extremely fluent in Marathi – and understood every word. But decided to keep my trap shut. Form filling took 10 mins, found out no fee was required and I was to return after a month to pick up the said form. During the month, I was informed, a CBI, FBI and local CID inquiry would be held to find out if there were any civil or criminal cases against me and if I lived where I said I did. In short, if I was a law abiding citizen of the land. O wow, I thought, all this in a month. Wonder why all other police investigations so long?

A couple of weeks later I was summoned to the local police station for verification. And while I landed at the appointed time – the constable (or was he an officer?) was missing. I waited an hour and decided to come back the next day. Next day, same status. This time I waited till the man returned from his beat. Found out my extremely ‘helpful’ clerk at the HQ had misprinted my name and my hubby’s name. Not a small mis-print but a complete change in the name e.g. Rajan had become Ravi. Another helpful constable corrected the mistake, after all ‘aap shareef ghar ki aurat ho’ (you are from a respectable family).

I landed up exactly a month later to pick up my PCC. O yes, helpful clerk said, you are most prompt. But the Certificate hasn’t yet been signed by the officer concerned. Ok, I thought, get the signature then. I offered to go and get the signature myself. But of course ‘yeh kannoni mamla hai madam – aap nahin kar sakti’ (it’s a matter of law – you cant do it yourself). He said he would get it done soon. I waited again. He went through my papers – ‘o aap ne mistake ko correct karwa diya’ (you had the mistake corrected). What the hell I thought – he knew there was a mistake! Did he make it intentionally? But why?

After about half an hour he got up from his chair to get the signatures. Came back a while later – showed me the form had been signed.

As I waited for the Certificate – he told me – a poor computer operator had filled in my form. It would be good if you gave him some ‘baksheesh’ (gift of money). O I said, doesn’t the government pay him to fill in our forms? Yes, he replied, but its very measly. Everyone pays him something. Why don’t you go pay him – while I stamp your form. Suddenly the dim-bulb in my head lit up. O he wants a bribe. But wont take it himself. And all this in the SP’s office. Under his damn nose. Ok, I shrugged. How much? Thirty bucks should be enough – he told me. O wow I thought – they even have a fixed rate. So I made my way to ‘poor’ computer operator – who looked very confused – when I gave him the money – but then looked over my head to the clerk signing him to accept the money – and took the money.

I got my certificate – which I ought to have rightfully got – without a hindrance. Alls well that ends well.

Whoever I narrated this incident to – nodded in agreement saying – o yes these things often happen. Really? The more I see incidents such as the Nithari ones, the more I tend to agree with them. The poor parents didn’t have money and so nobody even bothered to hear them out – let alone file FIRs. (First information Report). And all this happening in the place the UP government holds up as a model township. UP – the state for which Amitabh Bachchan is a brand Ambassador.

If this is what model townships are like – I shudder to think what the rest is like.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Ashley Experiment

While I have been lamenting about my minor issues or creating issues where none existed, the new year brought to the fore a lot of stuff that took me by surprise. For one, the girl being molested at The Gateway of India, Mumbai on New Years Eve – an issue that Viva tackled in her blog. That something like this could happen in Amchi Mumbai left me fairly shaken. The city of dreams showed its ugly underbelly in this nightmarish incident.

Global warming on the other hand has left the entire north-east coast of USA unusually warm for this time of the year. Meteorologists talked about the El Nino effect leading to 2007 being accorded the status of the warmest year ever on record. Somehow its still not warm enough for politicians to come out of their holes and start thinking about the environment and climate.

One issue that really moved me – is what’s being dubbed as the Ashley experiment. Parents of a severely cognitively and physically disabled girl took some decisions which have left them open to criticism. The 9 year old has static encephalopathy, with marked global developmental deficits, and is reported to be non-ambulatory, with the cognitive abilities of a three-month-old child, and no hope for improvement. Simply put – she has the brain of a 3 month old with the body of a 9 year old. So she can’t get up, walk, or even turn over on her own. She smiles at her parents but doesn’t recognize them. What goes unsaid is – she needs constant care.

So what did the parents do? They decided to subject her to high-dose estrogen, a prophylactic hysterectomy, and breast tissue reduction surgery (to prevent familial breast cancer). The basic premise is that high-dose estrogen can inhibit growth and advance maturation of epiphyseal growth plates in order to keep the child's stature short. Put simply, she will not grow beyond 4 feet and 5 inches and will not weigh beyond 34 kg (70 pounds). Her parents reason that since she will need constant care – its best that she remain small so that they can carry her around. If she gains her full height and weight she will most likely spend all her time either staring at the ceiling or the TV.

Their decision has sparked off worldwide debate about whether it was a decision of convenience or compassion. Medical ethicists have criticized the parents' decision, saying that while it may make her care more manageable, it sets a precedent for the treatment of severely disabled children.

If motherhood has taught me anything it’s never to judge another parent. So I’m not going to get into the rights and wrongs of the decision. I can’t even imagine what the parents must have gone through to reach at this decision. How does one reach such a decision? Of course you would want the best for your child – but then how do you decide whats the best?

So far one has heard about disabled children spending their lifetimes at special care homes – existing each day – parents not being able to care for them. To me the decision is bold. And courageous. And full of resolve – to meet the future – no matter how strenuous it may seem. And it shows the love the parents have for their child – to ensure that they will be able to care for their child.

Yes, the question does remain about taking over the rights of the child. I mean for all practical purposes they have taken certain decisions which will ensure that should she recover – she will not lead the full life of a normal woman. While doctors have ruled out her chances of recovery, my religious beliefs prod me into asking “what if a miracle were to occur? What if He wills for her to recover?” Will the child understand the strength of her parents resolve? But then again haven’t her parents become demi-Gods, deciding a future for her?

Her parents are maintaining a blog about their decision for their daughter and you can see it here.

I couldn’t get this issue out of my mind all yesterday and today – and I still haven’t gone any further than when I began. What do you guys think?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Question Time

I was at a social gathering the other day when I was introduced to someone. “Where do you live?” she asked me. After I gave her the general area, her next question was “So how much rent do you pay?” After I finished spluttering over the samosa, I was wolfing down; I diverted the topic to how spicy the samosas were. After a few minutes of general chit-chat she remembered her original question “You didn’t tell me – how much rent you pay?” Its not as if I didn’t remember her question, its just that I found it way too inquisitive. I mean after all we had just met – you don’t know me from Adams and yet how much rent we pay is of such paramount importance.

At this time – hubby materialized from somewhere – and told her “well all put together our monthly outgoings works out to $ X” Not to be left unanswered she insisted, “and how much of that would be your rent?”

How does one avoid such a pointed question?

And then I thought – is it me? Am I too stuck up? I mean all she wants to know is the rent. But when she sees how I am avoiding telling her – she ought to give up, right?

Its not just rent – I have been queried on many such topics which are best left for intimate chats between friends – defi not casual conversations between people who have just met. Hubby shrugs it off with her “maybe she just wants to know the rent rates in our area” or “maybe she just wants to be friendly”. O sure – what better way to strike up friendship than to make me thoroughly uncomfortable?

Why just a few days ago – someone asked me “How much tax do you guys pay in a year?” Err exactly who are you – the IRS?

My friend C tells me of a time when they had just met someone who asked her hubby “so how big is your sales target?” knowing well that hubby’s pay is linked to sales target figures. She didn’t know how to answer that one either. Neither did I know what to tell random uncle S (who I meet once in 6 months) who asked me “so what’s your salary?”

How does one explain to people that some things are best kept out of public domain. That some questions can make the interviewee (after all thats what it is) rather uncomfortable. One question that I just didn't know how to handle, was when people heard I was getting married, they'd ask "so much does he earn?"

How does one handle people like that?

Or the other sort - who will tell you exactly how much they earn, save, pay. The look in their eye tells you - they are waiting for you to cough up your figures. its almost like they have set up some sort of barter exchange of information. Your reluctance to share only fuels their desire to know.

And then I wonder, if I am the one who is putting importance upon money issues - for the questioners this information is open for public discussion and isint of much personal importance. I mean, there are sites up on the net where people tell you of the deals they have struck, of their own accord.

So I am unable to resolve this one - should I just grit my teeth and tell the next questioner exactly how much rent we pay or should I just smile and ask "why? why do you want to know?"

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

First post of 2007

Happy New Year!

I'm going to begin this year - with these 3 print that were sent to me by an ex-colleague, from O&M. The ads have been designed by the O&M Creative Team.
This subject is extremely close to my heart and so I wish to share these ads with you.

Ad 1
Ad 2:
Ad 3:

What more can I say - the ads are pretty clear on the message. And as usual, I saw the ads and felt my eyes moisten up.