Poetry Time

I’ve always wondered if funny poems are – you know – not quite the thing.  I don’t do romance or serious.  But then, the greatest poetry is distilled emotions, the kind that reach the soul and knock on it.  Sigh!  May be I don’t have poetry in my soul.

And then I find that humour is looked down upon.  People think that the funniest people are mental lightweights.  Hmm I don’t know.  I don’t think so, but then I’m not the one carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders.  I write poetry, but mostly funny poems.  Little ditties here and there.  And they’re quirky.

Here is the saga of Little Pappu (smart little Pappu actually)

Little Pappu in the hospital crib
Opened his teeny eyes in wonder
To his neighbour he burbled with a lisp
I think they stole your wiener

She bawled, she sniffled, she was angry

How, Why, Who committed this perfidy

“How am I supposed to survive

One entire life” yeah she was petrified

Pappu tried to console her

Smart boy, He was an early starter

Don’t worry, stop crying my dear

We’ll share mine, if you don’t get another

Being Me

It is really one of those “Boojh mera kya naam hai” kind of things.  I’ve done a small write up on myself for my twitter bio which I am copy-pasting along with a collage of pics as the Indiblogeshwaris has demanded.  My twitter bio says it better than I can now, of Being Me.  It should, I expended a lot of brain cells writing it.

Hippie, mother of two ‘perpetually-shocked-by-their-mom’ sons, author, dreamer of a world where politicians work, babus are honest and women are more than equal.

photos

The montage, my Her-Story, celebrating life Being Me.

 

Birth or Adoption : Does it matter?

There was a time when I went through intense self-doubt. I wanted to look inward, discover myself, who I was, what I had inherited from my gene pool and what I had imbibed from my social and emotional network. In short, I was searching for the meaning of life.

Birth Or Adopting A Child - Does It Matter - Adoption

 

During the period of my inward journey, I came face to face with this conundrum. Would I have been me if I had been adopted? How much of me is my ancestors? Would I have been me if I had been born in a village and kept away from the opportunities granted to me by my parents?

Read the rest at Parentous

Much Love, From Bloggers

When I started blogging I was not a happy person.  I had spent a decade or so alone and friendless and had gone through a phase of intense emotional upheaval, and my self worth had plummeted.  Come to think of it, all these negatives do come together.  And then my sons grew up and started having their own lives.  I love them too much, and could not do what I have seen some women do, i.e., cling to the children, not let them live their own lives, guilt them up with emotional blackmail.  That does not work and it never ends well, either for the children or the mothers in question.

Long story short, my writing connected.  Bloggers stopped by and commented!  I made friends, became happy.  People genuinely liked me.  To me that was a big surprise since my self esteem was down in a deep deep tunnel underground, inhaling poisonous gases.  The biggest surprise was that there are women like me, and I am not a freak.  For years I was fed the spiel that one had to be submissive, brain-dead and take all sorts of crap from in-laws and husbands.  One had to self-sublimate to be a good woman.  I could not, and that made me a cheap *&^%.  There are women like me, thank heavens.  And there are others, who admire women like me.  We are not cheap.  We are admired and respected.

I learnt two important lessons

1. Never let anyone feed you bullshit that suits their agenda, not yours

2. Validation has to come from within, not from others.

This Christmas, I received a card – a handwritten one from Uma.  I have interacted with her at Indiblogeshwaris, a Facebook group, but just in a general way.  It was such a sweet gesture, my heart welled up.  Thanks Uma for the love and appreciation.  Us writers are so needy.  I never thanked you properly, I don’t think I ever can.  Its small things like this  that make being human such a precious gift.

Uma

 

 

This started a chain reaction among the bloggers in that forum.  Much spreading of love.  Of respect for who we are, what we are

Another letter, this time from Ghata Singhal… She even sent me the bag and the Keychain with Aladin’s lamp on it.

Ghata_edited

Love, appreciation, the feeling of being valued.  Such simple needs.  Such human needs.  You know what the sad part is?  It costs nothing to give, but people withhold these, and dish out insults for some petty reason or the other.

I am deeply grateful to my blogger friends, that they connect with me through my writing.  We haven’t met , but I value you more than some of the people I have lived with and interacted with.

Thank you.

To the Women of India

The Principal,  and members of staff, management and students of Rural Health College for Women and guests,  Today we are assembled here to collectively honour success and appreciate the graduating students of the college.

This college is playing a very noble role in the sphere of women’s empowerment.  Maharishi Karve a great learned man and social reformer who did a lot of work for the women’s movement had a vision SANSKRITA STREE PARASHAKTI which means that an enlightened woman is a source of infinite strength.

That is very true.  Did you know that after one third of panchayat seats were reserved for women, improvements have taken place in provision of water, sanitation in schools, in primary health care, and in education?  This has led to late marriages and healthier children.  This is what women can do, if educated and empowered.  There is a clear link between women’s empowerment and accelerating national development.

I know many of you have not come here to “receive” an education which is our basic right.  You have come to  “claim” one, even snatch it, after a lot of personal struggle and often at odds with your own families.  The principal tells me that 80% of you girls are married and have children.  Naturally, you have to take care of home, kitchen, the babies, your in-laws and also study.

I got married early, before I graduated and walked the same path.  I know your struggle, I have lived it.  I respect you and your choices.  But do not think your fight is over yet.  It has only begun.  You are very brave girls and my only advice to you would be that do not let your education and your struggle go to waste.  Use your education, your courage and your determination to make a place for yourself not only in your family, but in your society, at your work place.  Be the women your children will be proud of.  Once you do that, then and only then is your work done.  Respect is not given as charity, it is earned by struggle, hard work and determination.  It is snatched.  The fight is not over yet.

You have to take responsibility for yourself.  This is very important.  Our upbringing has taught us that we should come second to others we have a relationship with, we are carers and nurturers, self denying wives, mothers, daughters.  This leads us to neglect our health, physical, emotional and mental.  You are intelligent women, and these are changing times.  In fact these are the most exciting times for women of India.  The society has started taking us into consideration.  It has started respecting us.  So how do we take responsibility towards ourselves?

Responsibility towards yourself means refusing to let others do the thinking, talking acting for you.  You have to learn to respect your own thinking, taking control of your own body, your mind and your surroundings.  It is hard work, harder than anything you’ve done till now.  It is hard to not let your father, brother, husband and son do the thinking for you, because this is what you are used to.  But you are women, adults and educated.  Time has come take responsibility and be grown ups.  Once you start doing that, you will truly be surprised at how easy it is and empowering too.

See the way this college has grown.   have learnt that it started with hardly 20 students five years ago, and now has 1500 students passing out each year.   I congratulate the Principal, management and staff for their hard work.  This growth is symbolic of the change in society.  Society is changing and women have become stronger in the past years.

On this International Women’s Day I would like to say this to the students :

  • You can do almost anything you set your mind to.
  • Women can be engineers, pilots, soldiers – the list is endless.
  • We are meant to be strong.  It is not an accident that we are mothers, we are strong, therefore we are.
  • The power is in your hands

Thank you.

Couch Travellers

Remember that song “Born to be wild”?

 

It was a favorite in college. It does not beat around the bush.  It comes straight to the point of why travel is so good

“Get your motor running”

“Head out on the highway”

“Looking for adventure”

In whatever comes your way”

Blessed freedom.  A complete break from humdrum routine.  We never did it together as a family.  We can watch National Geographic and drool over places, but venturing out in the wild is not something that couch travellers like us can do.

Not that I did not try. I had the boys too young and thenceforth experienced life as Mary who had a little lamb. Kids underfoot, with sensitive stomachs and tiny bladders ensured that I would see more of the insides of public loos and less of the great yonder.  I tell you, I am scarred.  Apart from the one trip to Mombassa and Nairobi where we saw giraffe and other sundry wild animals, went on safari and travelled cross country we’ve not done many such things.  Its not for lack of trying.

Can you imagine Momma Bear saying “Kids let’s go climb that hill and see what’s beyond it”

Baby Bear 1 decides to outrace Momma and see it first

Baby Bear 2 decides to sit on the dirt track mid way and wail, “Baby tired. Feet hurt. Momma Godi”

Momma Bear is going insane because older baby is out of sight. She definitely does not want to carry Baby Bear 2 because she has a huge bag full of feeders, diapers, juice cartons and spare clothes along with soap and towels you get the idea?

Cut to a few years later, when they could do their own business and not drag me into the loo with them to wash their bums.  Feeling brave I broached the topic again, 

Boys lets go to Nainital or Katmandu.”

Son 1 “Does it have cable? Internet?”

I don’t know.”

Son 1 looks at Momma as though she is committing sacrilege.

You go. “

Momma resorts to threats, “I’ll take son 2.”

In the night Momma hears Son 1 telling Son 2 “There are big flying cockroaches there. We won’t get to see Dekh Bhai Dekh or X-Files.”

Son 2 says wide eyed at breakfast, “Will we have to eat raw food and go potty in a hole in the ground?”

Momma throws her hands up in defeat and asks, “Appu Ghar or Delhi Zoo?”

Kids roll their eyes and say, “Appu Ghar of course.  The zoo just has animals and you’ll make us walk for miles.”

Let’s say adventure, travel and roughing it is not there in our genes. And we can’t be separated from our LCD screens.

Once I decided to go travel alone. I was depressed, suicidal and lonely. I needed a break.  I opened the map of India and checked out.  Pithoragarh seemed like a good place to go.  1.  It has forts.  2. I love Rajasthani food.  3. Shopping. 4. I knew no one there.

I went alone, walked market places, ate over spiced food cooked in Desi ghee, bought quantities of bangles and mirror work stuff, sat on buses and watched the desert fly by.  Cried copious amounts in solitary splendor in my hotel room.  Experienced catharsis.  Let me tell you, its over-rated.  I’d rather not experience it again.

It was scary to go alone, but it was also liberating.  I came back feeling very brave.
The sons, lets call them couch travellers, shall we?  They welcomed me back with so much happiness that it was flattering.  After I handed them their mithai and toys, they came and started quizzing me.

“What did you do?”

“I went and saw forts, visited mandis and sat on rickshaws.”

“Hmm” they said, clearly not impressed.

“I saw the desert.” I said valiantly struggling to wipe the bored blase expression off their ruddy faces.

“Must have gotten dirty, so much sand,” said Son 1.

“I saw a haunted fort,” I lied.  “A princess committed suicide there and her ghost haunts the place.”

Their eyes widened and they gasped.  “They show Haunted Houses on T.V.”

Yep.  We are the T.V. and LCD screens folk.

Inner Wear

 Inner Peace is that elusive thing that rarely ever hits a woman my age. It has everything to do with Meano Pause discovering us and its nasty side effects like mood swings, hot flushes, sweaty armpits and annoying male companions and offsprings, who are sigh exempt from such rites of passage.  And ill fitting inner wear.

Master Shifu discovered in Kung Fu Panda, inner peace is very elusive and can hit us anywhere and anytime – or never at all.  Or take the case of  Sunny Deol, who has become synonymous with Lux Cosi says, “Yeh andar ki baat hai.”  For him inner wear is macho, lucky and all about inner peace.  I think he should shoot a movie wearing just his inner wear, may be it will get him a bigger hit than Gaddar and Damini combined.

And andar ki baat brings me to the sad truth, for men andar ki baat is a breeze. They wear their luck, flaunt it even, on the street, in trains where they pull chains with a stupid smile on their faces, and Aall is Well.

Women have a completely different relationship with their andar ki baat. When I was a girl, I was schooled to hide my bits of linen and elastic clothing under a sturdy towel or bed sheet to dry. Gasp! What if a man saw them. It was akin to padosi ka ladka spotting me in the buff. Not that it would do anything for the man in question. We wore staid Maidenform bras. They came in virginal white, were made of reinforced and stiffened  buckram with broad elastic which was meant to deter, not seduce. They were clasped at the back by an array of hooks. Even the most persistent and passionate of paramours would find their ardour dampened by the row of hooks at the back. And they pointed up front, like twin battleships. They were a far cry from the contour hugging, floral printed on lace and net confections one has now, designed to delight, seduce and arouse. maidenform Shopping for them was an experience! Ma would march me to the store, look the other way and say, ‘Give me six of these, in size xyz.’ pointing vaguely at a shelf and then pay and march me out. And our local seamstress (darjiyani) stitched our janghiyas. Blech.  Inner Misery.

When I grew older, along with six or seven girls, I would swarm into the lingerie store at morning time, when the shop-owner’s wife would be manning the store and pick what we wanted. Ah, the travails of being a Desi girl in a Desi milieu shopping for inner wear! It leaves one permanently embarrassed about the andar ki baatein.

Which is why a recent experience I had was so delightful. I stopped at Marks and Spencers to shop for lingerie, they had a sale. Having poor body image and a desperately small townie minded haw-patta-hai attitude for andar ki baatien, I went to the mall alone. While I was deliberating over my staid black/white/cream articles of clothing, a group of rather matronly Afghani women landed up. In a few minutes the ever-hovering sales girls ran for cover and they practically owned the store. They split and marched into different aisles, pulled out bras and panties, waved them at each other. One of them even tested the elastic of a pair of panties, calling to another woman while stretching it between her hands and said something that possibly meant, “You think it will fit me?” My jaw dropped at first.  They were behaving like desi women shopping for vegetables in a mandi.  And then I began smiling. A rather elderly one returned my smile, gently thrust a polka dotted one in my hand and ran an eye on me. “Size ___” she said pushing me forward. It made me blush, but emboldened I decided to revamp my lingerie drawer. They had a sale, and I’ll be darned if I let those ladies have more fun than me.

Broke but full of Inner Peace.