I define me

This is how the mind works -

We have a discussion on Facebook on a tender thoughtful update posted by a friend about her husband and his quiet caring nature, his understated concern.  It was lovely and romantic.

Mind to Ritu : See!  You used to be such a romantic like her.  But then you had to say no to love for such a long time in life.  Wasted time.

Ritu to Mind : Love is hard work.  Been there, done that.  It hurt so much, I swore off it.  I am okay now.

Mind to Ritu (In a smug way) : So you miss it, admit it.  You miss the feeling.

Ritu to Mind : Yes I do.  I miss eating roasted corn on cob too in the rains.  Doesn’t mean I’ll eat it at my age.  Can’t digest it.  But the smell of corn being roasted on red hot coal, the sizzle when the boy rubs lemon dipped in masala on the hot corn, the delicious mouth watering aroma when he hands it to you How I long for the cast iron digestive system of my youth when I could eat corn.

Mind : We’re talking romance here.

Me : Same principle.  We’re talking of the unattainable here.

Mind : Coward!

And I go into a sulk.  I don’t like to think of me as a coward.  I like to think of me as Xena the Warrior Princess.  Or Eve.  No not the wishy washy Eve of the Bible but Hawwah, the kickass girl who wanted to explore the edges and push the boundaries.

“Coward” says Mind with a smirk.  “Delusional,” it adds for added effect.

I wince as it hurts.  It is close to the truth, but not all of it.

The eternal problem of a person who cares too much, lives on her emotions.  I made a huge mistake.  I let others define me.  I focused on how others treated me, their opinion of me.  It made me very insecure, since I can’t obviously have any control on how others view me.

And I was such a people pleaser.

It led to my getting manipulated.  A lot.

I was honestly so grateful that I was noticed or loved, I completely missed the point, which was that I was lovable.  Still am.

And, honestly, its a free world.  If some people don’t love me, their loss.  There are plenty of others who will.

Low self worth is something that has to be carefully weeded out of the system.  I had triggers that I used to watch for.  I am vigilant even now, these triggers tell me when I am descending into the rabbit hole of low self worth.

1. Not being able to say “No” to something I don’t want to do.  ‘No’ is not rejection, it is just a polite way of saying that I don’t want to go out with a person or do a certain thing.  If I say yes and then wriggle out – I am just wasting the other person’s time and mine.

2. This leads to the second point : Making decisions based on what others expect, not based on what I want to do.  Watching Grand Masti even.  Or – sigh – eating plain cheese pizza.  Been there, done that.  Shouldn’t have.  The poor dear thinks I like plain cheese pizza. :(  He also thinks I enjoyed Grand Masti.

3. Low self worth also leads to boastfulness.  I had gone to an Italian restaurant along with Son Junior and his girl friend a few weeks ago.  The guy sitting on the next table was boasting, a lot.  He was just back from Europe and he really needed to tell everyone on his table and also the neighbouring ones all about it.  We fell silent – and then son Junior said, “It’s not as though he went sleighing on polar ice caps!”

We generally boast to make ourselves feel better and to impress those around us, but it can easily backfire. If the people around you perceive that you’re purposefully boasting, like when you make unsolicited comments about your greatness, they’ll see you as insecure and annoying. In addition, boasting of great feats often makes the people around us feel inferior. When you make people feel inferior, they’re going to like you less, not more.

It all makes me think – perhaps I was unprepared for the relationship I was in that scarred me and left me bleeding.  It left an impact on the rest of my life.

I spent the rest of my life rebuilding myself until now I can happily say

“I define Me”

I need to look at myself not with borrowed eyes and perceptions.  I admit that it is nice to have someone care for me or for me to depend on someone.  But then the other way is also wonderful, I care for others and they depend on me.  They love me, but they don’t define me.

I could never leave myself that vulnerable.  Am I wrong?  Perhaps I am.  But this sense of self worth has been built with such hard work, I can’t compromise it.

I define Me.  And the people who care , the people who matter tell me it makes me more lovable.


I Don’t Want to Have it All

When I was younger, if anyone had asked me if women were equal to men, (Oh, how I hate that question) I would have vociferously said, “More than equal!”

I wanted to prove that I was bigger, better, stronger, badder than all the men in the world.  But now I am older, and hopefully wiser.  I accept that women and men and different.  Honestly speaking, I do not want to have all that men have, which includes body hair, more sweat glands and messy habits.

As a young woman, I had to work.  If I did not, I could not provide for my children.  It was as simple as that.  From then onwards, it became a game of balancing.  I got jobs that took two hours or more of commute, which to my mind translated as two or more hours away from my children.  No amount of pay could compensate that.  I did not want to travel and meet the boys just on weekends.  I did not want to not be there for dinner.  I wanted to take them out on weekends, spend days mall-ratting with them.  I wanted to cook at least one meal and eat with them, talk about their homeworks, their crushes, their fights with fellow students and play ball.  I wanted to watch their favorite WWF with them.  So I did not take those jobs, even though they paid more.

My work did not define me, my small family did.

I think that is true of most women.  I can’t be that strange, though I do admit I am a bit eccentric.

I was reading these two articles, the one by Anne Marie Slaughterhouse  and this one about Indra Nooyi

Most women who work in offices know what Indra Nooyi’s mother said,

And she said to me, “let me explain something to you. You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you’re the wife, you’re the daughter, you’re the daughter-in-law, you’re the mother. You’re all of that. Nobody else can take that place. So leave that damned crown in the garage. And don’t bring it into the house. You know I’ve never seen that crown.”

And most women know that in taking a job, they have effectively signed up for double duty.  No one cares if we get a raise, no one cares about our triumphs and trials at work.  No one cares if the maid did not come.  Everyone at home wants a clean house and a hot meal cooked in time.  And the buck stops with us, whether we go out to earn or we are stay-at-home moms.

So equal opportunities be damned.  I just want good traffic free roads to race back home, power to work the microwave and food processor so that the vegetables get chopped and grinding of spices done.  And, hopefully, a maid who does not bunk much.

Because as a mother and a woman, my priority is to see the home and hearth taken care of with less of a burden on me.

I can’t change the world, and the world as I see it is regressive.  People still blame women for bringing violence upon themselves.  People still expect the mother to be responsible for any delinquency her child gets into.  I admire career women who can put in twelve hours or more of work, I would love to jet-set like them.  But the price of that kind of success is not something I want to pay.

And unlike men, who have this compulsion to climb on top of this particular career totem pole, I have a choice.  I can opt out.

So, I don’t want to have it all.




Molestation of women in India

I have been trying to control myself and not come out with my opinions on the Priety Zinta molestation case, because, let’s face it, it is controversial and has evoked a lot of reactions.  But then someone shared a screenshot with me, of a comment on the news article and it got me disgusted.


Well really?  Dear Mr. Chaibaba, you are sick.  I hope someone rapes you and hangs you to a tree naked.

From what I know of the lady, and all this information is in the public domain, Ness is a spoilt rich Mama’s boy. Zinta is the quintessential working lady.  They had a relationship that broke up because he is spoiled and self centered. His ego hasn’t handled it well. They still own the team together, and he uses that as an opportunity to harass her. She is a hotheaded woman with a lot of pride. She retaliated this time, in the most public of ways. She lost her career because she complained against the extortion attempts of some Don. She is that kind of woman.  No one gave her work because no one wanted retaliation from the underworld.  It is in her character to not take kindly to being bullied.  

The case reminded me of a movie called Damini, where the household help of a rich home gets raped by the younger son and his friends on Holi.  They kill the girl and dump her.  Damini is the daughter in law who testifies against this atrocity.  It had me really involved, raised questions in my mind of the “What if I were in her place” kinds.  There is no easy answer, is there?

What if I had been in Priety Zinta’s place?  What if someone I knew well had hurled abuse at me.  What if I was a victim of molestation, and the perpetrator was someone I had once known well, rich and powerful to boot?  Would I have gone against the rich and powerful?  If I did, I would get slandered too, have muck thrown on me just because I dared think I was as rich and powerful as the man in question.  Just because I challenged his so-called male superiority.

Patriarchy does not like women who are bold and stand up for their self respect.  Now if this was not a wealthy, successful woman and an actress!  If she was our household help who had been beaten by her husband or had been molested  (such things happen daily) we would listen to her kindly.  We would even give her a glass of water or some tea.  We would wipe her tears and send her back to the abusive situation, our conscience clear.  We empathized.

But this woman is rich.  She owns an IPL team along with her ex boyfriend who is using that as a leverage to get to her, to beat her, just because she won’t toe his line.  Moreover, she is an actress who has danced and entertained us, arm in arm with other men.  Surely, she can’t cry abuse!  Look at her – she is pretty.  She had a relationship with that man.  So why should she cry abuse now.  You know what happens in relationships.  Wink Wink.

She was called a f**ing whore, a f***ing bitch and reminded in no uncertain words that she was just a cheap actress by a man she once dated.  All said and done, I am glad for her sake, that she is no longer in a relationship with a man who just showed his class by his actions, and am ashamed that our countrymen do not have the balls to stand witness – even though there were many who witnessed this spat.

It takes guts to file an FIR.  It takes guts to take a stand.  She has both.  Sadly I agree with Shobha De who says

India is not terribly kind to strong -willed, outspoken women who are dubbed ‘trouble makers’ if they dare to raise their voices, especially against men. Zinta is such a woman. In the past, she has bravely stood up to pressure tactics by being the only witness to stand by earlier statements against the Indian Mafia in the notorious Bharat Shah case of  2003.

She has placed herself out there with her actions, to be judged, to be commented on by vermin like that Chaibaba who uses the anonymity of internet to display his perverted mind.

Atheism and the human mind

I stumbled on an article that declares that atheism is growing slowly and steadily in Saudi Arabia.

Together, the appearance of atheists, a growing wariness of religious controls on society, as well as the continuing lure of jihad and ultraconservatism signal a breakdown in the conformity and consensus that has marked the Saudi religious field in the recent past. It is becoming a more heterogenous and polarized faith scene.

Saudi Arabia is known as the cradle of Islam.  The cleric are powerful and religion is the way of life.  This surprised me, but it should not have.  The human mind is such

We are blessed or cursed with a mind that is constantly inquiring, filing away data, questing the improbable and impossible.  Our mind is an adventurer.  The day the mind stops questioning is the day it starts atrophying and soon the effects show on the body and we die.

Our mind is also a rebel.

I see clear parallels between our neighbours and us, always.  Ultra conservatism is on the rise all over Asia.  The backlash is inevitable.  Soon, now that the right wing stridency reaches its peak in our country, people are going to turn away from faith, get angry at folk who pitch tents on roads to hold Mata-Ka-Jagran and put on loudspeakers to ruin the sleep fellow humans have rightfully earned.

I for one will welcome that.

I hate having to negotiate roads that have been blocked for sundry Mata-Ka-Jagrans that can be held in temples.

I’d like all loudspeakers to be banned from the country. Failing which, I want them to be issued after checks and re-checks.  Hell, yeah, make loudspeaker permits stricter than gun permits in the country.  They are a deadly weapon.

Religion and worship to me is a relationship between me and God, personal and private.  If this continues, I shall become a strident atheist myself.

Let there be light

Let there be light


I studied in a convent and am familiar with this pronouncement of the Almighty, thanks to Bible Classes.  He said, “Let there be light” and the sun popped up and lit up Eden.  I visualized the sun as a bright ball shot by a catapult into the sky where it decelerated and hung around for eight to ten hours before sinking down into the mountains of Shillong.

It rained incessantly.  It was cold.  We had earthquakes and landslides.  Once it hailed so much that people walking got their heads and faces slit up.

But the Almighty said, “Let there be light.”

The good electricity department obliged.

We had electricity, we had water, we had fruits and vegetables and our fireplaces were lit with coal and pine wood, so we had warmth.

But we wanted city life; we wanted the hustle and bustle so we came to NCR, the hub of progress.  Guess what we found here!



Men scratching their crotches in public while leching at women in a manner that would have got their throats slit in remote areas of north east India.

And inefficient power departments that switch off power at every pretext.

If there is strong wind, they cut off power because their wires are loose and may electrocute someone.

If there are rains or thunderstorms they don’t have to cut off power.  The wires are so loose that they get snapped anyway.

If the mercury soars like it has recently to 47-48 degrees, they switch off power because the load is too much.

Let there be light, said the Almighty.

The power department did not get the memo because they had switched off the electricity to cover for their own inefficiency.

Welcome to the capital of India, the much vaunted NCR region where tiny bits of real estate sell for crores of rupees.  Sadly, basic amenities have been sacrificed at the altar of babudom and basic decency at the altar of lust.

A lungful of clean air is hard to get, respect for women harder.  Even the vegetables do not taste as rich and nourishing as they did in the so-called remote areas.

We have all the modern amenities, fans, coolers, air conditioners, fridges etc. etc. but no electricity to run them on.

Let there be light, said the Almighty.

Ha, who is listening as we sweat it out?


Yeast and Cinammon

Suranga Date is a really original blogger, she is one of those who follows her own unseen drummer.  Her food poems are amazingly original.  I have always lurked on her blog, totally awed by her creative originality.

Imagine my joy when I posted a picture of my yeast and cinammon bread on my cooking blog and she wrote me a poem.

Here is the poem

Holy dips in yeast,
a great stirring,
and coming together

of a coalition.

Multi seats Flour,
With cinammon ki Mamata,
DMK Sugar Raja short statement,
Mulayam Eggs 
a pinch of 
Desh ka RJD Salt,
the lady and her son
sitting with the allies,
wonder how they 
still fell short.

in anticipation
of being torn apart
and devoured,
they sense the advent
of a lady with a knife
waiting to 
cut and analyse them.

Saffron and red,
everywhere they look.

They understand. 

The dice fell differently this time.

cinamon bread



Hallmark Festivals and Pavlov’s Dogs

Mother called her son, let’s call him Pappu for the “Pappu can’t dance saala” and “Pappu pass ho gaya” ads and not for the fast diminishing hope of Congress.  “Look Pappu!” she said, “Your Uncle has brought you a present. Isn’t that nice of him?”

With slow ceremony, and a pleasant smile, Uncle produced a beautifully wrapped present from behind his back. As soon as he saw it, Pappu jumped up, snatched the present from his uncle’s hand and without a glance at the lovely gold wrapping, started to rip open the present. Still ripping away, he ran back out into the garden.

Mother is very embarrassed, and could not meet Uncle’s eyes.  “Pappu!” she yelled, “Come back here at once!”

Pappu came back, present still in hand and looked at her in innocent confusion.  “What?” he said.

Mother frowned, she had lectured him on gratitude countless times. “What do you say to your uncle?”

Pappu’s face was blank for a moment. Then he turned to his uncle and said mechanically “Hello Uncle, good evening.”

Mother was really angry.  She said, “Your uncle has come a long way to see us, and he very kindly thought to bring you a lovely present. Now aren’t you going to thank him?”

“Oh,” said Pappu realizing why he had been called back. “Thanks.”  He raced off back into the sunshine.

“No, say it like you mean it!” Mother shouted to her escaping son. It was a futile gesture. She turned to uncle and said, “I’m very sorry about that. I’m sure he’ll love whatever it was. It looked just the sort of thing he likes.”

Uncle smiled and reassured her, “That’s okay, I remember what I was like at that age.”

Kids are like this, outrageously bad with gratitude.  I sometimes think it’s the only way for them to go forward.  Consider this, they mess up their mother pretty bad all through pregnancy and labour.  After which the kid is totally dependent on adults to care for him. He demands food by crying, yelling and screaming, and he demands his every other need attended to by similar methods. The usual reward for attending to these needs is that the screaming stops.

So why, in the name of all that’s holy would he learn to say Sorry and Thank You?

Now let’s come to Pavlov, he discovered accidentally that he could trigger salivation in dogs by an external stimulus (bell being rung) just before food was served to them.  So they began salivating at the sound of the bell whether food was served to them or not.

Let’s be grateful to Hallmark and Archies folks, they have days for everyone.  One day for Grandpa, another for Grandma, One for the Uncle, Another for the Aunt.  I hope they invent one for the sexy padosi too.  No, I am not being sexist here, have another for the sexy padosan too!  At least we, like Pavlovian dogs jump at the chance to thank people who should matter to us.  It is a trained behavioral response, humans are primates.  We don’t do gratitude naturally.  But, lip service is better than no service.

Of course I also recommend that all children should, as soon as they are old enough, be forced to watch a video of their birth and be given a statement of expenses incurred on their behalf the day they attain adulthood.  Cripple the buggers and make them appreciate their parents.  Hell yeah!

And now that Mother’s Day is done and dusted, (yawn), we can go back to ignoring our mothers and rouse ourselves for the next Hallmark festival that comes by.