Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Celebrating Brothers and Sisters

I wish all brothers and sisters a very happy raksha bandhan. It is a beautiful and unique festival. I can go all teary eyed about it but putting sentimentality aside I am today thinking about the practicalities of having siblings. Without a doubt those with siblings have and edge over those who are alone. The least important reason being that they gain an invaluable life experience from interacting so closely with another human being and most important being that they can in the long run get a lot of emotional support in the absence of parents, for after all the sibling is the only other person who shares ones parents. My brother has contributed a lot of high drama and excitement in my life ranging from tooth and nail fights over bits of paper and also pieces of string to moving me by buying a ear-ring for me on my birthday with all the twenty-five rupees that he had saved as his pocket money. He has an awfully short memory so he must have forgotton all about it but I still have the earings in my almirah locker. I am also ever grateful for the nobility he showed when he realised that he could hurt me in the fist fights we used to have he refrained from hitting me even though I admit that I had provoked him enough. Anyhow these incidents of sibling infighting apart we have had a fairly cordial and supportive relationship. The one time that I really thanked God for my brother was when my father was ill. The immence peace of mind and strength that he gave me by just being there for my parents cannot be compared to anything in this world. I was unable to go to them promptly but atleast he was there, that thought was really reassuring for me.
My account about brothers would not be complete without mentioning my cousin. I share a very special relation with this cousin of mine, from terrible fist fights to the exchange of our innermost thoughts during our growing up years, I cherish his presence in my life. There are only seventeen days separating our ages, that's why we literally grew up at the same time. We used to correspond very regularly and exchaged ideas about life in general. I remember our lament when we crossed our teens and reached the 'ripe old age' of twenty. We are still very good friends but it is bond that transcends friendship and is a million other little things that has come out of years of common experiences and shared joys and frustrations.
At our time only brothers wore rakhis but my daughter receives rakhis from her grandparents and cousin and now even from her new little brother. I like this unique custom in my marital home. My mom in law used to send rakhis to her grandson my brother in law's son and she gave one to her new grand daughter too which I think was a very beautiful thought. Raksha bandhan, it means tying a string on the wrist of someone on whom you can rely to come to your help unconditionally and for whose long life you pray all the time. I am sure that a grand-daughter also comes with the purview of that description. During the anti-partition movement in Bengal in 1905 strangers tied the string on each others' wrists to show exemplary solidarity at the behest of Rabindranath Tagore indeed a unique and beautiful gesture.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Little World Full of Violence

Have been meaning to write a post on violence in our children's lives. Two posts made me attempt it today (let me tell you it is not easy to write about such things) one was adventure dad's post showing the video recording of a father and coach hitting a teen age athelete for underperformance and the other was Kiran's post at karmickids about the Adnan killing. Kiran asks whether anyone has answers, I think I have after observing the amount of violence in my young daughter's life and I am to blame too.

Violence is celebrated in our society, we advise our kids to go out and get it at any cost. I remember long ago my then toddler daughter took part in a toffee picking race with other kids of her age. She picked only two toffees from those strewn on the ground whereas the other children had collected fistfulls of the stuff and also managed to finish the race ahead of her. I admonished my baby and told her to grab as many as she could next time. There also is a particularly objectionable game which is a part of every birthday party when a big bag of goodies is hung high up on the ceiling when it is burst and the children are supposed to pick up the stuff which falls all over the floor. The biggest and the most boistrous children can grab the most. This game celebrates brute force and grabbing power but we all whisper to the children "go for it, push shove and you will get what you want".

Although I noticed that some kids at the play school pushed others while playing in the slides and see saws, my daughter first started complaining of the hitting when she entered the big school. I told her to ignore it and steer clear of the perpetrators. Sometimes I even told her to hit back. Sometime later the complains stopped, she made a group of friends. I started believing that all was well. Then it began again. There was no problem in Class I but now there is a serious problem which will not go away by itself. It is affecting my daughter's studies. Aparently there is a boy in the class who is good at some kind of combat game.He teaches the moves to the others who use the knowledge so gained on hapless children who are not the hitting back types. One of the boys is my daughter's close friend. One day I went to the park with my daughter and the friend and his mother. When they were at play I noticed that the boy was more interested in playing pranks on my daughter than playing cricket. My girl would run up to bowl only to have him disappear behind a tree! As we were leaving the park his mother and I were talking while they were walking near us suddenly he had her in a death grip his hands looped from under her arms to behind her head, I was shoched, while his mom went on talking non-chalantly. When she realised that I was not responding to her banter she turned her attention to the children locked together in that strange position. "Ah," she said proudly, "Govind has taught him that, he is a very athletic boy and knows a lot of these twists and turns". "Hello", I thought," how about asking your son to let go, now that it is established that my child has lost the match?" Seeing that she had no plans to do any such thing I tried to tell the boy that my girl was not the type when she quickly added, " haan woh larki hai na, usko chhor de". That irked me even further, let me see him attacking a girl bigger than himself with a reputation of hitting everyone like B also in my daughter's class.

Finally I extracted her from him and came home shaken. Now this boy was then sitting next to my daughter in class and she began complaining of similar incidents as the park in class. I told her to ask for help from the teacher. She said children got letters from home requesting change of place but I wanted her to deal with the problem herself. A few days earlier her place was changed but she was disapointed as the new boy was more notorious than her previous partner. The complainings increased, the teacher also told her off by saying that she has to adjust to everyone. Matters came to a head when one day during her class test she did not write more than one line. she did not even attempt the drawing part and part of the page was torn. At this stage I decided to act. I went to school with her copy and told her class teacher the entire matter . All she did was change her place again and give her 1 on 10 for the one line and wrote in her copy that she has to write faster! The new partner did not hit her but he also did not want to sit with her and he made that quite apparent to her. Well, all was quiet for some days, then the murmerings began. The new boy has started hitting me now and then etc.

At the parent-teacher meeting I brought up this concern with the class teacher. Undoubtedly the children are under the impression that it is ok to hit their friends and it is acceptable behaviour, boys are specially enouraged to pick up fighting skills and teachers shrug shoulders and say "boys will be boys" and carry on with their nonchalant lives. This apathy is making our society violent and encouraging overt aggressiveness.

And then there is us I plead guilty of forcing the child to get up, brush teeth do potty go to school, study and also learn the cycle, eat healthy food. Mounting pressure on her I admit hitting her as she is stubborn and I have to really establish my superior strength before she toes the line. I am being drawn into this circle of violence perpetuating it in the name of disciplining the child. Where is all this leading us? Is my daughter ready to face the violence all around her. How can I make learning spellings easy for her, how can I increase her writing speed without intimidating her? How can I stop her classmates from hitting her?

Clearly part of the blame lies at our doors. Violence is encouraged and children think it is ok to be agressive. I have told my daughter to protest loudly when she is hit even if she cannot hit back. Incidentally her new partner has asked his parents to write a letter to the class teacher saying that my daughter hits him and has asked for his place to be changed!When I asked the boy whether it was true he could not look me in the eye and hung his head and looked the other way, clearly the boy was not telling the truth. I have asked the class teacher to hold a sensitizing meeting involving the children and parents lets see what comes of it.

The killers of Adnan are the products of this same system which is turning violent day by day. These killers think nothing of using force upon helpless people because they have been doing so for their entire lives this is just a step further- snuffing of a young life.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Cars for Boys and Dolls for Girls

When my daughter was born I decided that I would not let her be confined to the toys that are traditionally meant for girls, so she had cars, aeroplanes, guns, later tops and bay blades along with dolls and tea sets in her kitty. We also gave her unisex stuff like blocks, puzzles and loads and loads of books. She started turning strange the moment she got into school. She was always madly interested in drawing and colouring and making crafts, however I saw her getting more attached to her girly stuff. One day she was playing with the doctor set when she said," I am the nurse and Dadubhai (her grandfather) is the doctor", I casually said why don't you be the doctor then you can really play with the stuff", "girls cannot be doctors, they can only be nurses!" She declared, I proceeded to go beserk and dragged her about to the friendly neighbourhood lady doctor and my gynae, who is a lady. I also made it a point to attract her attention whenever there was a reference to women doctors on TV or during family conversations.

My daughter is in class II now and she brings home all kinds of peculiar prejudices from school that I try to talk her out of. What can I expect in Delhi which has a notoriously low sex ratio. At least two people asked me during my last pregnancy whether I have had a sex determination test done one was a beauty salon owner who hardly knew me (one can't expect anything else from these types) and the other was a close family friend (that really alarmed me) it is quite the norm I suppose and no one cares if it is illegal. Anyhow after being exposed to this environment my dauhter's favourite colour is now pink (I distinctly remember it being yellow in her playschool days) anything remotely connected with her has to be pink. She has a pink school bag , bottle, pencil box, ruler. Her favourite dresses are pink and so are her clips we also had to get a pink toilet seat to get her to use the commode. She claims her favourite toy is a barbie doll she has many dolls but I have not see her engage with them for more than a minute. Her passion is drawing colouring cutting and pasting she spends most of her spare time cutting paper with her pink scissors.

When my son was born I decided to give him the same opportunity to choose his toys. So he dabbles with all his sisters toys and some very eclectic toys of his own. One fine day a relative gave him a bus since then his interest in vehicles has increased. The moment he wakes up he recites " bus, truck, car, mo, ghola" mo is a motorbike toy presented by another relative and ghola is a corruption of ghora or horse. His sister too was crazy about this Rajasthani horse which we had given her. I plead guilty to encouraging him by presenting him with more cars, buses, trucks and what have you. However his attachment to toys have these phases, he was deeply fascinated by balls and used to throw them around for ages. We bought balls of all sizes for him. He plays with them even now but the bus, truck etc makes him very happy and his expression changes instantly when he sets eyes on them. He loves some of his stuffed toys too and I have caught him planting kisses on a big Pooh toy.

Thus in spite of all my efforts my girl has turned out more girly than I had wished and the boy is running crazily after buses and cars! So very stereotypical!

Pictures All Over the Place!

Since I learnt the fine art of inserting pictures in my blog I have been pasting them all over the place. I still have not figured out how to make them scroll down with the text so they take up fixed positions and my posts start from a little way down the page. The husband is in Bangalore still and I am already fed up with this enforced separation!My daughter wants me to write in detail about all the pictures I have put up. There is one with her holding her 'Best Artist' award which she had received when she was in KG. My family is very egalitarian when it comes to giving of Rakhis everyone receives one! So there is one of hers holding up her haul from last year.

It is that time of the year when the Bengali sniffs the air and thinks to himself or herself 'aah the smell of the pujas'. I have started to look for the shiuli flowers on the ground under the shiuli trees in my neighbourhood. Mother Durga please bring us happiness and give us strength to bear the sorrows you give us.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Jealous Husbands, Missed Nonetheless

One of the hundred or so blogs that I visited in the last few days mentions that the husband calls the momma's blogging fraternity a 'kitty-party', my husband also displays similar irritable reactions when I tell him something about the blogs I have been reading. It is plain jealousy I tell you. It irritates the boys to see that we have found a space for ourselves independent of him and his children where we can vent our feelings about him and his children and his parents along with our own. Didi you are right, it is a great way to unwind. Tell me who else but us blogging mommas would be interested in my stretch marks or lack of them and carry on a long conversation on them. The husband hates to discuss them and I'm sure the mother in law or my children wil be horryfied to learn of my sagging tummy or the warped up belly button. It is only here in the semi-anonymous world of blogging that one can fearlessly discuss any gory topic and if the visitors are put off by it they can move on. Till lately I used to be deeply offended if the husband went off by himself to one of his favourite haunts around the town to unwind by himself. I know full well that I cannot go everywhere with him leaving my babies behind, I used to resent his freedom of movement. I got terribly angry one time when he called from a cinema hall during the interval of a movie which he had gone off to watch by himself. I was in the middle of trying to feed the younger one while making the elder one study for a test the next day. The conversation went as follows-
Husband (cheerfully)- Hi, what's up? This movie is good, it is interval time now.
Me- huh huh...( to daughter" write the word three times, NOW!!!" all the while trying to put a spoonful into the mouth of the toddler)
Husband- You seem to be busy.
Me- (screaming wildly) you bet I am, and if you have nothing else to say I am keeping the phone.
Husband-(taking offence) ok bye, I will be back by ten.
Me-(still screaming) I don't care when you will be back!
And I am not sorry for my behavior, I am breaking my back looking after HIS kids and not only does he push off by himself but also has the audacity to rub salt and provide a blow by blow account of the evening while I am at the height of the battle with the little hooligans! The guy had asked for it! But now I also have some place to unwind which is a click away and the reach of the thing is amazing from Delhi to Mumbai to Bangalore to New York to Australia, the world is at my finger tips and all are interested in my babies and our day to day strife to raise them. This is exciting stuff beyond my wildest dreams.
Well the subject of my tirade is off to Bangalore on official tour and look at the peculiarity of this relationship here I was getting ready to skin him with a blunt knife and here I am missing the bloke. Let him be a confused little day dreamer but he is my own confused little you know what. He is gone for a week and I don't know how I will get by without him around. Of course there is the phone. All our telephonic conservations end in fights so that is a relief. We can make up when he comes back. Making up is fun I never say sorry however obnoxious I may have been, he apologises very easily for he never means it, he might do the same objectionable thing the very next day! But he makes up very nicely with cards ( one such card said 'let's talk about why we are not talking') and music ( he might play meaningful songs) the works. There is a lot of high drama in our marriage and I like it.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Aha, One Comment

I knew there would be some response to my posts the moment my babies appear on it, even if it was of exasperation from my dear dd. I am sorry I still do not know how to correct the distortions. I think you have to open the file in paint and crop it or some such gibberish which the dear husband was mumbling. For the time being I have tried to ease the problem by changing the photo and adding another photo one of the first ones taken of my two darlings together as soon as we brought the mite home therefore he resembles a little mouse. Today I was reading Preeti's post ( I have vowed to read all the blogs that are there in the list on Madmomma's page, I have reached till the letter P now only the last ten or so are left) she is lamenting that slowly but surely her blog is turning into a regular momma blog. I have also tried , like her, not to limit my writing to the topic of my kids. I do think about other things, but the momma and poppa blogs are awesome. I like adventure dad, he is really good and madmomma is my favourite she is prolific, humorous, informative, enjoyable and her baby photos are the BEST. Well I am trying to get my babies more prominently in my blog so people please say something if you come by ok?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

How to get my babies in my blog

Today I learnt the technicalities of putting photos on the blog. The result is a distorted image on the right of this blog anyhow it is a start. All the mommy bloggers have such lovely photos. Well some day I will have an album too.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Jashn e Azadi

There are various things that struck me about our Independence day this year. Generally it is a staid sort of a day nothing compared to the pomp and show of Republic Day. This year there was a rare sense of celebration and joy. This date is associated with the pain of partition and communal riots and the niggling regret that the new nation so created celebrates their independence a day earlier than us. This year that neighbour of ours is in troubled waters and the ghost of partition and communal strife has finally left us. There was only a passing reference to it on television when a host of the programme in the national channel made a short reference to it. The private channels aired a host of programmes on mainly Hindi film songs on patriotism. There was a programme co-organised by the Indian Express Group which had young singers rendering the songs and every aspect of our patriotism was touched upon right from 'mere desh ki dharti' to the 'Rang De Basanti' kind of hard hitting patriotism of revolution and sensitising of the youth. The only dampner was the murder of the national anthem by no less than a music director of the stature of AR Rehman and singers like the nightingale of India, her eminent sister, SP (why SP, why?) and another leading classical music maestro. It was sung in the genre of 'ai mere vatan ke logon' slowly with 'harkats' here and there. Makes you feel like screaming because the national anthem is not supposed to move you to tears it is supposed to inspire you to act for the good of your nation- it is a motivating song for God's sake and it sounded like a dirge!There was another programme telecaste on the DD national channel on the 13th which was held at the Talkatora Stadium and which had no entry tickets. Folk artistes from various states participated along with our friendly neighbourhood rock star Palash Sen. It was awsome! No Hindi film songs just folk dances and songs of patriotism. A Punjabi songstress with a rendition that would put all the opera singers of the world to shame. Gaurav Gatha, little rajasthani boys with magic fingers, acrobatic dancers dressed as women, chhau dancers, martial art from the north east, all this gave Republic day celebrations a run for their money. GOOD SHOW Ms Dixit I love my India.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Turning Sixty

Well our independent nation turns sixty tomorrow. The media will take this opportunity to draw up a score card of what has been achieved and what might have gone seriously wrong in these years of independence. I can't remember whether I read it somewhere or someone has related this incident but I heard of a person being quite taken aback by a book entitled Three Thousand Years of Pakistani History! Well actually when we keep refering to the thousands of years of Indian history we should be similarly struck by the incongruity of the phrase as what we know as India is only sixty years old.
That consideration apart, I was just thinking of all that we have achieved as a nation. Quite a lot really when we look as the economics of it and then may be quite a lot still needs to be done. This nation was created amidst severe violence and communal strife and the violence latent in the people is finding new forms of expression. Consider the news headings of the last few days_ Taslima Nasreen attacked by Islamic fundamentalists in full view of the media and no sign of repentence and no retribution for the perpetrators, pandemonium at MCD meeting with counsillors fighting like common street goons and more alarmingly a young mother of two doused in kerosene and burnt in front of her own house not in some remote village but in the heart of the capital of this country. I ask you if this is not violence what is? The new incarnation of non-violence -Gandhigiri is forgotten in less time than the teachings of the original Mahatma. The most scarey part is that the perpetrators do not for one moment think themselves to be in the wrong or they are smug in the belief that they will not be punished for their act. Such is the disregard for ahimsa and compassion for others that children, youth or women no one is spared from violence and tyranny.
What is the nation coming to?Are we scripting our end even before we complete a century?For violence can only reap violence and death and destruction follows. On this auspicious day I pray for sanity and the rise of humanity among the people of my country, may we think twice before harming others in any way may we be able to bring lasting peace and prosperity in the country. Jai Hind!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Friends Forever

Friendship day went off uneventfully for me. I just wished a long lost pal by email and I also wrote to madmomma as I think she needs an extra friend now. My daughter had a busy day though. She made eight friendship bands to take to school today! She had received two bands from friends and was thinking of giving one to all her friends. This is the time that friends are made, so you have to work hard to strengthen the ties. At my stage I think you start taking your friends for granted, there is no outward show and exchanging of gifts. In fact we have let each other lead our separate lives for years on end. However friendship is such a bond that I am sure that if we meet after all these years we will launch into each other's arms and start from where we had left off. This I can say of not one but atleast ten or so friends. Its as if we have never been apart, no distance, no communication gap, neither motherhood nor domesticity, nothing, absolutely nothing has come in the way or ever will. That is the force of friendship.

I was lamenting that I have not sent wishes to many of my friends when my husband quietly said, "am I not your friend too", that shocked me considerably, I had completely forgotten about this chap and his solid friendship. This sort of forced me to look into this relationship of ours. We have each seen the other's worst...I mean really the worst.. and still we want to share our life with each other. If this is not friendship what is? I wonder about us, two strangers brought together by our family members, with some peculiar force joining us together. When he comforts me he is my mom, when he goads me to complete my pending academic work he's like my dad, when he encourages me in different ways he is my cousin, when he opens his heart to me he is like my child. He is all relations rolled into one- I quite like the guy, in spite of the fact that most often I feel like wringing his neck! However he and I are in a pitiable state due to the onslaught of our children who demand most of my attention with the result that the husband goes about like a misguided missile and when I am free of the kids I hardly have time or energy to interact with him. He spends most of the day in office and the pressure of this lack of face to face communication is telling on both of us, we have most of our discussions on the phone.

I have heard of husbands loosing it when the wife is thus engaged with the kids but my chap is hanging on bravely and I admire him for that so when he said"am..." I got a jolt. I know he will be there for me when the kids have grown up and I have more time to give him. All I want to say is I love you husband, and am proud to have a friend like you.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Of Heroes Behind Bars and on the Field and Court

Sanjay Dutt went off to serve his prison term declaring his love for the country. "I love India" he declared while going off in those prison vans with media persons asking him to repeat his profession of patriotism again and again. So what is he a hero or a villain? The majority think that the law is being harsh on the poor dude who has been dished out a raw deal by life itself. I feel a tug of conflicting reactions. on the one hand I feel that a spoilt brat has been punished for his callousness act.He did an irresponsible thing by allowing himself to be associated with the underworld, given the respected position of his father. He was not a teenager at that point. On the other hand I hold that he did whatever he did because of stupidity and shortsightedness rather than malice or murderous intentions. Also why should the producers who have put their money on him make huge losses because of his asinine behaviour 14 years back. Well, let law take its course I say. Let him get a pardon if he can. One cannot help but say a prayer for the poor old spoilt chap.
But I am not saying prayers for our old horses at the cricket field. Even though India had a convincing win, it was because of the young gun bowlers.Let the senior guys move out I still say and the daredevil newbies flow in.
However my heart still beats for our no-longer-a- teen tennis star precisely because I can't see anyone steping into her shoes any time soon. Her grit and dedication has inspired many I am proud of her and my country that has produced such sportsperson.