A pet peeve

A teeny tiny soul
Her destiny unknown
Eyes bright and hopeful
Innocent and grateful
Can’t we bring her home?
Why not? Why not?

Stranded in that place
Crowded, but lonely
Perky little ears
Waiting just to hear
Her name being called
Hers, amongst them all!
Can’t we call her ours?
Why not? Why not?

The soft insistent whimper
Drowned by big scary growls
Yearning for attention
Some care and affection
Can’t we be her guardian angels?
Why not? Why not?

You again use that ploy
And ask me to justify
Reasons aren’t good enough
To just dismiss all this stuff
Is it not worth the hype?
We aren’t of that type?
Why not? Why not?

3WW prompt words: Growl, Hype, Justify

Posted in kids, poems | 4 Comments

Of Women’s Day and Celebrations

“Happy Woman’s Day!” comes the cheerful greeting my way. I reciprocate wholeheartedly. And then I pause to think. So what am I being happy about? What are we celebrating? Is being a woman an achievement? I did not choose to be a woman. I just happened to be one.

This day, I noticed that people are divided into two. There are the ones who “diss” this hoopla, citing it as excessive commercialization and call the concept a fad. The argument (and a good one at that) being that why would women need one day to celebrate as their own, when the overall situation for the female gender worldwide is not very heartening as the statistics tell us.

Then there are the other ones who “dig” it wholeheartedly and try to defend its origin and purpose, making the same argument, really. That given the grim situation of women’s rights in most parts of the world, this day serves as a symbol for spreading awareness, and bringing focus on women’s issues. This is true to an extent. Scan the media this day and you get reminders of the disgraceful statistics related to female foeticide, infant mortality, women’s rights violations, rampant sexual harassment and violence against women, in India and globally, even today, in the second decade of the twenty first century.

But this day is special in a way for me, because, last year, it inspired me to write a tribute to my grandmother. The reactions on that post, and the exchange of thoughts and ideas were very encouraging, so I started on this journey of self expression. I got over my initial hesitation and I now share what comes to the mind be it poems or posts with friends and family.

I wrote about how my grandmother, a unique and courageous woman ahead of her times, defied stereotypes and made a significant difference to many lives and to the society. The trajectory of her life may have been different if she did not have a father who continued her education in spite of drawing flak. Or, if it wasn’t for her husband, a proponent of the progressive thought, passionate about bringing a social change. There may have been many such change agents, or catalysts in her life that enabled her to be different and to make a difference in a rigid and unforgiving social era.

We live in a country famous for its patriarchy, with cultures that insist that women must comply with its rigid norms and fit into the stereotype, much more than its expectation of a similar compliance by men.

Nevertheless, life is much easier for me as a woman today than what may have been for the women of my grandmother’s or my mother’s generation. For example, where completing matriculation was a great struggle for my grandmother, getting a degree in medicine a swim against the current for my mother, a decent professional education and a working career is a normal course of life for me. I would like to believe that sky would be the limit for my daughter when she grows up, explores her abilities, hones her skills and chases her dreams in this world.

Have you seen and experienced a change over the past three or four decades? Thanks to the women and men who challenged the regressive ways and traditions of the yester years. These are people who either were rebels themselves, or acted as catalysts and change agents that brought the progressive thought into traditional patriarchal families.

There are men and women in our lives who at different points in time have enabled us to make choices that changed the course of life for us, for the better. These include both – people branded as hardliner feminists, or others who were just normal people going about their lives, within the prescribed social framework. I want to celebrate all such enablers, as a part of celebration of me a woman.

It is a parent, or a sibling, who drove home the principle of self reliance and independence, and an assurance that it is okay to question the norm if you believe it is unfair.

A husband, a partner, who makes a strong team, who supports you in your endeavors, and does not hesitate to take on responsibilities traditionally attributed to you because of your gender, enabling you to fulfill your aspirations, and himself defying the stereotypical role that others have come to expect.

A teacher, a mentor, or a friend, who enables you to get out of your comfort zone, to discover your abilities, who demonstrated that you can chase your dreams, that there is a world out there, waiting to be discovered.

A family, a kaleidoscope of people and personalities, with their own little quirks and idiosyncrasies, but are nevertheless there, in your time of need, like a safety net that you can fall into.

Or even strangers, or acquaintances, people, whose lives inspired you, motivated you to do something beyond the conventional.

Bit by bit, over the last few decades, a handful of such mavericks did make a difference. They may have been criticized at that time, or even reprimanded for their radical thought. But the cumulative effect of that is the fact that I feel much liberated as compared to the generations of women before my time.

I may be sounding over optimistic, and we do have a really long way to go. But education, socio economic changes and globalization demands that we get out of our patriarchal mindsets, and embrace the change, for the future and happiness of our children, and for our own happiness too.

Have you taken that step to pursue your dream beyond the conventional? Have you identified the enablers in your life?

 

Posted in issues, reflections | Leave a comment

Adventures of the culinary kind

So I believe I am an adventurous person. (Some people may disagree, but please ignore them.) I am game to try out new things. I think I manage to sift through the initial hesitations and second thoughts, pinch the nose and take the plunge – I mean gulp. I know I can survive, and will eat anything that crawls under the sun if my life depended on it. On a less drastic note, I like and consume chicken and fish of the non-vegetarian kind, and almost anything of the vegetarian kind.

Long long ago, like any other normal child and teenager, I would refuse to eat anything healthy and leafy, until threatened with dire consequences. Or unless the alternative was starvation. “Eat it! Else the contents of your plate will be generously slathered over your head!” was a regular fatwa issued in our household. The contents being any non-carb-vitamin-rich vegetable dish on the indian food plate. I was not a rebellious child at all. I would meekly follow suit and try my best to finish off my plate for the next few hours or so, long after everyone else had finished (and digested) their meals and were ready for the next one. Much to the frustration of the poor mother, on verge of tears, getting late for work and worrying about her child missing the school bus yet again!

As a young adult I never stepped into my parents’ kitchen to make anything except for tea and maggi noodles. Much to the disapproval of some well wishers who would at every opportunity educate the mother on how it is important for a young girl to learn how to cook. How difficult it would be otherwise when she gets married. Dear mother never really took it to heart, but would sometimes mumble to me and the brother.”You both should know how to cook. It is an important life skill.” With that she would return to her regular business of being the supermom and we returned to our regular business of TV watching or staring into nothingness.

And then I discovered the kitchen. As a young bride in a foreign land of USA starting a new life, managing house for the first time, my enthusiasm knew no bounds. Armed with a plethora of cookbooks gifted by kind relatives, and a gullible and (then) smitten new husband, I would spend 4-5 hours each day trying to cook a meal for two. I discovered that the kitchen it itself is a functioning enterprise and you need to implement an effective ERP system and apply the principles of inventory and supply chain management to keep your (and others’) stress levels in check. Sometimes the hard way.

There are legendary stories of my making a shahi tukda that nobody could chew and using citric acid (an ingredient used to give a tangy taste) for salt, and wondering why the curry tastes super sour. I once alarmed the grocery store attendant (who might have thought of calling the cops) by asking him for citric “acid” to put in my food.

For the first couple of years I experimented with cooking and eating (out) not just Desi food, but a variety of fancy firangi cuisine. I learnt the art of cooking the very homely marathi comfort foods courtesy phone calls and emails to the two moms (mine and his) and of course Ruchira . (This is the bible of maharashtrian cooking. Generations of “Sugrihinis” of the typical marathi families swear by this book ). I remember wrinkling my nose and rolling my eyes over this archaic book initially, but found myself pulling out cheat notes from it.  I also tried italian dishes, baked goodies, desserts and pies. (Ok pie – the singular) I drew inspiration and advice from some braveheart culinary expert members of family and friends. My efforts and culinary skills were highly appreciated by the hubby (obviously) and local friends and family (surprisingly).

I was all gung-ho to try out different restaurants, Italian, Thai, Mexican, Chinese, Middle Eastern, Japanese etc. Unfortunately dear hub did not exactly share my enthusiasm. Having lived away from home for a major part of his life for education and work, he yearned (yes, yearned) for home cooked food. Much to his dismay, though, my adventurous nature started weighing over my desire to cook the “gharguti” (homely) meals. “Bhaji Poli” or “Khichadi and Kadhi” would draw the same delightful response of approval from him, (a hard core vegetarian), that “Pad Thai” or “Lasagna” would get from me. So our household witnessed many a tug-of-war negotiations and craftily crafted arguments in favor of and against eating out on many many evenings. The outcomes sometimes going in my favor, sometimes in his, depending upon the capacity and interest of each individual to throw or withstand a tantrum that day.

Now after 11 years of seasoned marriage, and 2 kids later we are at peace with each other’s preferences. Dear dottie is mamma’s girl and sonny boy takes after his father in terms of food preferences. I had to pack parathas for the boys on our trip to HK on Malaysian air, while us girls delightfully polished off the chicken and salmon meals – both our own and the boys’. She is an easy child to take anywhere in the world and is adventurous to try out different things. Sonny boy, however wants to go to a restaurant for all the fan fare but refuses to eat anything there except for the sweet. Once we return from the restaurant, and when I am in my blissland enjoying the weekend afternoon siesta after a hearty buffet and kababs at Barbecue Nation he stands in front of me at a safe distance and demands food very loudly.

But anyway, thanks to our R2I, we have plenty of restaurant options to please all our palates (desi and bidesi, veg and non veg) and most importantly we have *drumrolls* “the cook”. A valuable backup plan of comfort food at home, and peace in the house.

For my dear readers (who are still reading and have reached this point), who now know this background, its a stage set for a part II of this post. (Huh, did I hear some grumblings and oh nos? I must be hallucinating). I will try my best to get around to it – and make a real point about my food adventures. Watch this space. It is coming soon.

Posted in humor, personal | 1 Comment

Kites…

A myriad of colors and shapes
Holding on to a tiny thread
Floating above and beyond the blue,
Beyond the dreams,
Distant, unreachable, almost untrue

Looking down upon the world
Of similarly different souls
Little hands, big hands
Tugging at their thread of fate
Trying their best to navigate
Through the breeze
Through the wind
Through a spell of calm and still

Some hopeful hearts
Some focused minds
For some, a struggle
Of life, intertwined

Then the triumph, momentary
And then some defeat
They cut loose, break free
Embark upon a soaring spree
Only to come back
Hurtling, down to ground
Some disappointment
But learning profound

And for some, a sweet victory
Pride, soaring on an addicting high
A feeling that they own the sky
Triumphant moments,
Lasting only until
The return of the struggle, yet another

In the background, some laughter
A backdrop of green and blue
Beyond the dreams,
Distant, unreachable, almost untrue

Posted in general stuff, poems | 4 Comments

Thou shall not speak.

Even when you see,
In your everyday life
A child, unwashed, and unfed
A rag in little hands, but not a pencil
Carrying the burden of her own young life
Not knowing where the future will go
As luxury cars go flashing by
Motorcades, of the high and mighty
The keepers, of our sovereignity
Just close your eyes, and your mind
And remember,
Thou shall not speak.

Even when you know,
A mother, a daughter, a woman,
Judgement thrust upon her, since childhood
Of what to wear, how to live, whom to love
A voice, never granted and rights, denied
Carrying the scars of violence,
Sometimes on the body,
Sometimes on the soul.
Crying silent tears,
Sometimes openly,
Sometimes behind closed doors.
Doors of makeshift straw huts,
Doors of modest flats,
Doors of luxury mansions
But remember,
Thou shall not speak.

Even when you face,
Self proclaimed protectors of religion
Guardians of their own gods, but not of mankind
They breed contempt and intolerance
Instill fear, and rage alike,
Explosions rattle many lives.
And we search for broken humanity
In the rubble of demolished history
In the ashes of burnt scriptures of knowledge
They rejoice, in their twisted morality.
And yet again, the buddhas weep
But remember,
Thou shall not speak.

Even when you hear
About the death of the one
Who toiled his land, to feed the nation
He cannot keep up
With the rule of concrete
Of fast cars and suits
With many mouths to feed
Darkness and hunger
Engulfs the nation
Still dutifully he votes in election
His decision, tainted by desperation
He finally gives up
Helpless and weak
But remember,
Thou shall not speak.

Even when you are told
That this mighty nation
Revels in pride of a sound constitution
You must not say a word
Nor show the contradictions
Be thankful for the freedom,
But you cannot raise questions.
Who are you to question?
What more do you seek?
Remember, the dictum
Thou shall not speak.

Posted in issues, poems, politics | 4 Comments
Pearls of Wisdom

All along, you were always there
A friend? A foe?
I did not know
Until I sat in the dentist’s chair!

All along, did you make me wise?
A speck of white
You were out of sight
You weighed too much for your tiny size!

I cannot fathom what ‘gets’ me more
The fear insane?
Inflicted pain?
Or a purse with a big fat gaping hole

Oh lord, I just cant wait to say
Good riddance!
With a vengeance
I have had enough of your power play!

Never again, will I face the horror
I swear! I curse!
Tighten my purse
And flee from this white hall of terror

And yet again, I have to return
To pull the others
Your evil brothers
Oh hell, here comes another heart burn!

Posted in humor, poems | Leave a comment

Childhood

A simple life,

I yearn.
Of grace and poise
Devoid of noise
And a mind eager to learn.

Of a distant world,
I dream.
Of accomplishments
And an excitement
Fills the eye with an obvious gleam.

To scale the mountain,
I hope.
To wear adventure
Embrace nature
Carefree, unaware of the slope

‘A naive child’
You say.
‘An innocent heart
Will be ripped apart
Once reality walks her way’

Yet unafraid,
I am!
Undaunted faith
Propels me ahead
Oh the triumph of a time span!
Posted in poems, reflections | Leave a comment

S-p-l-i-t Personality

Much has been said about proliferation of social media and emergence of virtual worlds that we all inhabit. First decade of this century has indeed drastically changed the way we, the society live, think, communicate and interact.
It has also brought out multiple personalities within one self. Do you know people who completely surprised you with the personality they exhibited online, as opposed to how you knew them in reality?
Have you found yourself being much too vocal, upfront, and fierce in a debate online on say facebook, where usually you would find yourself tongue tied or backing away in an actual face to face one?
Do you feel more comfortable interacting in real world with a friend, but would shy away from posting a comment on his or her shared content?
So I came across this post which categorized seven social media personality types. This made me think that we also have split personalities of our own – one real, other virtual. If one begins to observe personality types in one’s social media circle, people could be categorized in one or more of the following types. Do you know any of the folks below?
The social un-social

A person who would in normal circumstances avoid human contact with all of his/her might. You may not be able to drag this person to a party or a social function without significant threats/bribes where he/she is required to engage in polite small talk (at most) or smile at people (at least). On the contrary – this person may sport a really huge friends list (including random people) that keeps on growing! Most of the people I know that fit this type are the male species (apologies for the stereotyping) although there are some from my own gender lot.
On the other hand – there is a type who is wonderfully social in real life, has many friends, acquaintances and contacts, and makes it a point to be in touch and communicate with them. But will avoid using their presence on social networks as a mean of communication. Many people that I know of this type are mostly of the earlier generation who have caught on to the social network fad out of curiosity but are still unsure of using it.
The unlikely artist

The term artists is used in a broader sense to cover people like me who have suddenly out of the blue started exploring their creative side and are now spouting poetry, articles, pictures et al. Courageously, they expose themselves to the risk of being laughed at or criticized, behind their virtual backs, but nevertheless, triumphing over their virtual stage fright! We discover closet photographers, painters, poets, writers, music buffs, in our friends or acquaintances and wonder if we ever knew the real person! This image was shared on google plus:
So what? Internet access is a reason good enough! And I may be bad artist, but I am a bad artist with guts!
The well known stranger

These are people who you know very well, but they never interact with you virtually. It could be a close childhood buddy who drifted apart, a colleague with whom you have lunch very often, a close friend, or a relative. These people shy away from acknowledging or commenting on any content that is shared, even after they consume it. They will see your vacation pictures, read the link you shared, watch that youtube video, may like your status update, but come what may – will never respond.
The private lurker

There are people who are extremely wary of what they share and who sees it. They will have very strict privacy settings (if they can figure it out in spite of the darn social networks that pull cruel tricks and find new ways to ‘expose’ you!) that makes one wonder what they are doing with an account in the first place.
There are also people who have found a simpler way to get around these smartass nosey security designers employed by the networks. They have an account which is completely open to the world, but there is nothing that they will share. Never. Ever. That again makes one wonder what is the purpose of having that account?
Ah ha! They want to know what is going on with everyone else! Well, fair enough.
The shy exhibitionist

There are people who are otherwise shy, may not share much face to face, but would still surprisingly share updates about a place they visited, movie they appreciated, a concert attended, or dish cooked and its recipe.
There is an exhibitionist streak in all of us. We want people to know what is going on in our world and look for acknowledgment.
The expressive introvert

A person who you thought was an introvert is surprisingly expressive and passionate when commenting on issues. The Anna Hazare campaign saw many closet activists and cynics open up and debate tooth and nail on the issue! I have seen debates on Google Plus Vs Facebook, iOS Vs Android, This Vs That and so on.
Some of the brave Samaritans remain in the ring of original instigating post, while many other lukewarm commenters fall back and become silent spectators while the Gladiators are fighting it out in the comments arena.
You may have seen your virtual friends who fit into one or more of the above types. Well, I am sure, people can typecast me into one or more of the above categories! It all comes down to their perception of where I fit. Our virtual existence, in this age has become like an alter ego. It is you in a parallel universe, managing your image and others’ perception of you. In the process, it is fascinating to see all that is shared and consumed.
I guess, we are just lucky to be a part of this dynamic age of enriching experiences. The key is to opening the mind and making the most of it!
Posted in general stuff, humor | 2 Comments

Ode to a practical mind…

O my dear mind

Don’t be so unfair
I know my necessities
Are nothing but thread bare

Yes, I do understand
But does not, my heart
It sulks and throws a tantrum
On an empty shopping cart!

It just cannot ignore
Nor resist the strong pull
Of bling, glitter and glam
Alluring and powerful!

The mall is overflowing
With euphoria and madness
Awesome sales and discounts
Attract it like a magnet

Oh, don’t you blame me
For I am, all but helpless
Against the bewitching lure
Of the retail temptress

To your belief, contrary
I do not splurge to gloat
A noble cause is at heart
Of keeping economy afloat!

Bags are not only the ones
Loaded heavy, weighing down
But so are overdrawn credit cards
And his panic stricken frowns!

Lifting all this weight
Already from the start
I don’t need the burden
Of guilt on my heart

This time, please don’t preach
Of wisdom in frugality
The season begs to celebrate
So shelve that austerity

All that hard work takes its toll
It calls for a retail therapy
This indulgence is well deserved

Cant you just ignore my vanity?


– By Poetmamma
Wishing everyone happy shopping this festival season!

Edited to add: This post is a Tangy Tuesday Pick by BlogAdda!

Posted in humor, poems | 3 Comments

Stand up. Speak up. Reach out.

This month is being observed in the blogosphere for spreading awareness about violence against women. You can read about this initiative, survivor stories, and articles from other bloggers at Violence Against Women Awareness Month 2011

Women face violence in many forms and in different places. Domestic violence from husband and family members is very common in the economically weaker strata, and it is out in the open. I do not remember ever having a maid who did not complain of violence at home. But it is also glaringly present in educated, well to do families, behind closed doors. These are the cases, which seldom come out in the open for these are considered internal family matters, and are kept under wraps in the name of family honour.

Then there is the harassment faced in schools and colleges, public places, and workplaces. In most of the cases, women are conditioned to ignore such incidents. Some cases spiral out of control and result in attacks on the victims.

The newspapers are full of stories where women were victims of some kind of violence. When I read any heart wrenching story in the newspaper, I wonder. What if someone had intervened, or the victim had the courage to speak out in the open, and seek help, some tragedies could be avoided.

Here are a few things that I would like to share to do my bit to support the cause.

1. Intervene. I had written a post about an incident which I had witnessed and had intervened. Immediate intervention of some nature diffuses the situation and helps the victim. That is what the “Bell bajao” campaign was all about.

2. Counsel. If you know someone, a friend, a relative, a servant, a neighbour, who is facing this problem, encourage and counsel them to seek help by speaking up against it to other members in the family or relatives, or the Police, or social organizations. Domestic violence is NOT an internal family matter. It is physical assault – a crime punishable by law.

3. Be aware and spread awareness. At workplaces and educational institutions, as per the Vishakha Judgement passed by the Supreme Court of India in 1997, there must be a Vishakha Committee for inquiry and redressal of complaints related sexual harassment. Encourage anyone who is suffering from workplace or campus harassment to find about this committee in their organization or institution and approach them.

This is a very unpleasant and horrible issue. People usually do not like to discuss it, and it is just easy to look the other way. Like an ostrich burying its head in sand when faced with danger. But looking away does not resolve the issue. It is very much there – and if it is not nipped in the bud – in our own mindsets, on a large scale, it will only get worse, and you never know when it will get too close to home.

Posted in issues | 3 Comments