February 24, 2011

Reminiscing the good old days of Doordarshan…

Ads and serials have become a part and parcel of our lives ever since the idiot box attained a permanent membership in our houses. The advent of satellite T.V. made sure the theory of evolution applied to the serials and commercials, throwing the Doordarshan era into an endangered (or almost extinct for most of us) zone . I am from the generation that evolved from that era to the present one. And, I am not opposed to the satellite channels for it has presented our generation with unlimited choice for entertainment. But there are times when I wistfully reminisce about the good old days.

Back then, the serials had a definite end to them. No never-ending, tear-jerking soap operas where the dead come back alive years later with plastic-surgeries done. No repeating, mix-matching or horribly messing up of plots. Vamps did not sport a scary and gory bindi with equally-matching jewellery and outfit. The camera did not freeze onto the faces of the 50-odd members of a typical household to capture their reaction to a death-spelling punch dialogue from the baddie. No hair-raising or heart-wrenching background music accompanied every single event in life. The important events-birth, marriage or death-were not portrayed to the minutest detail leaving the viewers completely exhausted.

The story-lines had depth, meaning and the duration lasted no longer than 13 or max 26 episodes. Buniyaad and Hum-log were considered mega-serials back then. Who can forget the rib-tickling comedies like Yeh jo hai Zindagi (starring Satish Shah and Swaroop Sampat), Ulta-pulta (Jaspal Bhatti’s brain child) and Wagle ki duniya. As children, we would wait for Sunday to tune in to our favourite cartoon series beginning with Mickey and Donald, He-man, Giant-Robot, Ramayana even. The Saturday evening Hindi films and Sunday afternoon regional films were much eagerly awaited ones as they were the only times we got to view them. The 9 p.m. serial would begin after the mandatory news and then the programme-reporter would announce the list of programmes. We would wait with bated breath to hear “agli kadi” (next episode) as opposed to “akhri kadi” (last episodes) for our favourite serials.

When we talk of serials can the advertisements be left behind? Back in the good old Doordarshan days, there were no commercial breaks between the serials. There used to be a separate slot for them before the programme began. Nevertheless, we would love to watch them. The commercials, as they are now called, were not hammered into our brains every 10 minutes into a serial or a movie not only breaking the continuity of the show but also interest of the viewers. Ads or commercials have come a long (in a good form) way. There were a good number of great commercials even then. The “Lalitaji” ad, “Prestige-cooker” ad, “jab main chota ladka tha, badi sharat karta tha- Bajaj bulb” ad or “chal meri Luna” ad, each one holds fond memories of yester years. Who can forget the famous Fevicol ad that starred Raju Hirani? Even so, commercials of today, to a large extent(barring the fairness ads that grates on one's nerves), have kept pace with the current trend of being fast-paced, ever-evolving and creative.

The face of the world is changing so rapidly that the gap between two generations is rapidly closing. Every two years, a new generation seems to take birth. When my father, an ardent fan of the black& white movies, especially the likes of Guru Dutt and Dilip Kumar, would remark,”kahan gaye wo din?” I would say, “Oh! How can you watch the painfully slow- paced movies, where one actor takes eternity to respond to the other person?” Ironically, here I am reminiscing about DD days. If you do not change with time, you become an antique piece only to be appreciated in a museum. DD met the same fate for not keeping in tune with changing times. But that does not take away its past glory. Here is to when old DD was really gold. Cheers!

February 19, 2011

More about R..

R turns 15 months old next week. I have tried to enlist all the skills he has mastered and the ones he has newly acquired.

1. Walk and run almost to a perfection. The occasional stumbles are there alright but he does not make a show of it. That’s my brave son for you.

2. Speak a few words. His vocabulary list goes thus:
amma, apppa (a little stress on the “p”). He mostly says it to the appropriate person but at times, gets it mixed up..:-)
ca (for car or anything that goes on wheels)
ba (for ball),
bowwow (for anything that goes on four legs),
bye, hi,
bike (though it sounds like bye)
jhua (for jhula, the baby swing that adorns our living room),
Kozhi (hen in tamil) of course he cannot pronounce the “zh” part just yet. So it’s just koii or mostly koya for now. Somehow he insists on saying koya. Well’s that the beauty of toddler language, isn’t it?
Auto (R loves saying aaa..to)
Aachu (“over” in tamil) and but of course
Mammu (the universal baby talk for food)

3. Point out to the parts of the body. (Ears, nose, toes, tummy, head and mouth). Somehow I cannot make him point to where his eyes are. He cannot or does not want to.

4. Blow a flying kiss, shake hands and give a high-five, clap hands (these he could do even as a 10 month old; blowing flying kiss is the recent addition).

5. Kick the ball like a football.

R seems to understand more than that is apparent. He would give a well-meaning smile when we are discussing him between us (hubby and I). He gives me a naughty smile when he does something he knows I do not approve of. He loves books. We have got him a few hard-bound educational books and he never tires of asking us to read it out to him. Hmm…we do get tired at times. But since it is a good practice that I hope is sustained even as he grows older, I keep at it. The other thing he is fascinated, no obsessed, about is cars. Any faint noise that comes close to that of a vehicle passing by below (horn, reverse horn all alike) gets an enthusiastic “caaaaa” from R. Ditto when the “Tata Aria” car advertisement is aired; even if he is not in front of the T.V. (he knows it from the background score). He loves the BBC world background music. Even the most engrossing task (read mischief) comes to a halt when he hears this music piece.

The other day, he pleasantly surprised me by bowing down to a Saibaba photo-frame that is not kept in the usual “pooja ghar”. Also, when I once did not approve of something he did and gave him a long stare, he smiled indulgently, shook his fingers and said “no-no”.

February 18, 2011

R- My lil' wonder- the birth story and beyond..

Just two months into this new phase of blogging and I have already blogged 10 posts, 5 of which have been in this month itself. Yeah, this blogging thing has almost become an addiction of sorts with me. When I am not writing, I am reading someone else’s blog. There is a huge pool of writers here I should say, really talented ones. I have mostly stumbled upon mommy bloggers and the majority of their posts revolve around their darling lil’ ones, which makes me realize and wonder in regret why is that none of the posts I have written so far has any mention of my dear, darling son of 14 months. I have hence resolved to dedicate a special corner for R-my little wonder.

My story with R:

As I write this, I refresh the memory lane which is not so distant yet seems like we have come a long way as mother and son.

On 26th November 2009, R was placed in my arms, a tiny bundle, along with a new and enormous responsibility called motherhood. As they say, no amount of preparation can prepare you for this roller-coaster ride. The initial days were spent in learning and adjusting to a whole new person in my life; a person that sent everyone else in my life into the farthest corners. The first pangs of anxiety of “how do I do this?” gave way to a long and slow learning process. From learning how to handle this little delicate body to learning how to feed, burp, change, clothe, bathe and rock him to sleep. Phew! Was it easy? No way! Every task was met with some or the other challenges.

To begin with, this little boy of mine was always awake. No, he never slept like babies do- for hours together all day. He would simply be awake, get bored, demand for milk, and keep sucking for hours and eventually sleep without latching off. The moment, I manually latched him off he would wail leaving me completely exhausted, cranky, hungry and sleepy. It would take a minimum of one hour to rock him to sleep after which he would sleep for 10 to 15 minutes. Within this time span, I had to bathe, eat my breakfast or lunch and also catch 40 winks. I would often wonder if I would ever be able to cope up with this new life.

After a tedious 3 months of following this schedule, R decided that I was off the probation period and agreed to cooperate with me; he began to sleep for a longer period during the days and the frenzy act of feeding settled down to follow some kind of human pattern. For the first time in 3 months, I actually began to enjoy his presence. By this time I had gone back to join my hubby at our house (it is customary in India to have the first baby delivered at the girl's parents' place). Slowly, I got more time for myself and time to finish off some household duties between tending to R’s needs. Things started to look up and I started to like this phase called motherhood.

The relationship that seemed one-sided until now blossomed when R began to respond in his own cute ways. Every smile, yawn, cry and yelp seemed to converse with me. Each milestone crossed brought in cheer and delight. Every milestone was captured and cherished for times to come. Each growing month unfolded different facets slowly but surely establishing his identity as a whole new individual. Just 20 days before this first birthday, he took his first tentative steps on his own. Before I realized, my baby grew up into a naughty toddler who now just doesn’t stop his impish ways. He seems to know every trick in the trade to push my limits. Yet he remains my darling.

Life is not hunky-dory, yet. It is in a way paradoxical in nature when feelings of frustration and satisfaction, delight and despair, excitement and boredom hit you at the same time. That’s motherhood for you. Life of a mother is no less than a masala Hindi movie.

February 15, 2011

Valentine or not?

Another Valentine’s Day went by. So, what has it done to you? Are you sad, angry, depressed, happy, over the moon, smitten with love?

This day has, over the years, gathered so much importance that if you do not “celebrate” it, you can almost land yourself in depression. So much of propaganda and public confessions of love everywhere! This is also the most controversial and debatable concept in recent times. For every person that questions and exasperates over the hype surrounding such a frivolous concept that is both foreign and also causes wasteful outflow of money, you can almost find another or two waiting to showcase their love on this day. We are a hopeful and romantic lot, aren’t we? Whether you belong to the group that endorses such celebration or not, one cannot escape it, especially after the internet has given us the gifts of Twitter and Facebook. Can anyone in this world dare go unnoticed?

This important day has its own benefits and pitfalls. For the men folk who are by nature romantic, there is no better day than this to earn themselves brownie points from their sweet(er) halves. As for women folk (who I think are the eternal romantics and believers in the happily-ever-after stories), it is a day to get pampered and lap up all the gifts being showered on them. So far so good; life is easier for people who can classify themselves clearly into either of the two groups. It is only when the classification edges on the blur that possible irritants crop up distressing men and women alike.

Many men lack the skills to think of anything out of the mundane. Subtle and not-so subtle hints being dropped by the better (bitter?) half go either unnoticed or worse ignored. Many (again its’ mostly the male species) take refuge in snubbing and rubbishing this whole idea as western and condemn the hoopla around such an event that is being shoved down the throats of unsuspecting souls like them.

Men, who belong to the above category, get nagged by their wives for being so and the women (who happen to be the wives of these variety) sulk, nag and even wish for a different husband around this time of the year. Even children are not spared the frenzy what with 10 and 12 year olds having a “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” these days! Not to mention the singletons-in-the-hunt for whom the urge or compulsion to get hitched gets particularly stronger during this period.

I am not from the group that bashes the celebrating one. In fact I do not mind such “days” even if it seems childish to profess love and exchange gifts on just some particular day So, my take on this: We live in a fast-paced world where many don’t really get a chance to spend some quality time with their loved ones. So, it is, in a way an excuse and opportunity to make your loved one feel special. There is no harm in this, is there?

February 10, 2011

The age old old-age story

I stumbled upon this post by Hip hop grandma which set me thinking. How true! -is all I can say, for I have a first-hand experience of such a scenario. My paternal grandparents lived to the ripe age of eighties and nineties. They had seven children, 5 sons and 2 daughters. Grandfather was a man who, I thought, was absorbed and obsessed with himself. His disposition never exuded the warmth that is expected from “grandparents”. He rarely spoke to us, his grandchildren, with a smile. There were rare occasions when he would speak to me about my studies, etc but the comfort factor in a grandparent-grandchild relationship was always missing. My grand-mom was subservient and timid in nature, had very little opinion of anything in life. I sometimes doubt it was due to the nature of my dominating grandfather that she never bloomed intellectually.

Grandmother gave up kitchen and other household duties once the daughters-in law arrived. To cook and cater to such a large family was definitely not a pleasant task for any daughter-in-law, to put it very mildly. That this huge family lived in a small one room kitchen flat didn’t make matters any better. Slowly the individual families started to move out to live separately until only the last uncle, the aunt and my grandparents remained.

The usual in-law intolerance (both parties being equally intolerant of the other) led to an understanding and arrangement between the brothers that the parents would live with each one of them for equal amounts of time during the year. Whether the parents, i.e. my grandparents were consulted on this agreement, I don’t know. There were five sons, so the math came to around 2.5 months at each son’s house. 2.5 months of their presence each year was not too much yet their visits were never welcome. I cannot say what my father felt about it since we never spoke openly about such issues. My mother being a working woman had extra work on hand during those 2.5 months. The entire house would don a tense atmosphere for the fear of upsetting the precariously balanced emotions of each member. I do not recall any moments of conversations between my grandparents and our mother that spoke of love, care and wisdom that age brings in. Although, we, as children, could not analyze the situation then, the gloom around caught on to us and needless to say we didn’t look forward to it. Sadly, this was the case not only in our house but also at our cousins’. At an age where life could have been enriched in the company of so many grandchildren, my grandparents were left poorer due to their sheer incapability to come out of their self-imposed shell. My analysis and observation may be flawed and seem one-sided to tilt in favour of my mother who would recount her younger days as a daughter-in-law when her sincere attempts to win my grandparents over were not reciprocated.

As I look back at those years, I feel bad for my grandparents. Indeed a very sad and painful situation for someone to be in. Your near and dear ones wish for the inevitable for you so as to breathe easy. Did they bring it on themselves to evoke such emotions? Yes and no. Perhaps yes; if only they had been more demonstrative of their love (if any) towards the daughters-in-law; if only they had shown some care and warmth towards the grandchildren. Yet, the answers are not so straight forward. Even if the aging party is a warm, kind and happy one, how far can the next generation travel along with them? Taking care of aging parents is not just about love and duty. Year after year of constant catering of emotional, medical and spiritual needs takes a toll on the younger generation who do not remain any younger too. They have their own set of problems and challenges in life and wish to move on. So then, is old-age home a solution? I have addressed this part in one of my earlier posts (here) that as I grow older I would not wish to be a burden on my offspring. I hope the children who opt for such an option are not mistaken to be ruthless souls who have no gratitude towards their parents. This, I say as a parent but when I think of the same option as a child to my parents, I cannot bring myself to doing it.

I believe our ancestors had the four stages to life very clearly etched out to deal with such delicate matters. The king would renounce the kingdom and venture into the forest to seek higher awareness once his progeny was ready to take on his responsibility. How foresighted were they, our fore-fathers!

February 3, 2011

The choice to be..

There is a common phenomenon to put a label/tag to everything one (especially women I think) does. Working or non-working, full-time mother, SAHM, …? full-time mother? This one stumps me; as though one can be a part-time mother. You are either a mother or not. Period. As I said, these tags seem to haunt women more than men. we have to somehow squeeze ourselves into one of the recognized labels. Any ambiguity, and a new tag is coined. For instance, being a mother is not sufficient enough for people, so, viola! a new term- SAHM is coined to emphasize that you also stay at home.

People have certain expectations, strangely not from themselves but from others. Women's liberation fanatics have sadly taken this battle to the other extreme-you HAVE to be working to qualify yourself to be called liberated-else you are the cow slaving for the man. If you do not hold a job, you are probably dull enough or lack the confidence to manage home and work. The concept of choice just escapes the cranium of these nutcases. Liberation for me would mean the freedom of CHOICE that a woman should have in life.

So, what do you do at home? Even if I am just hatching eggs and day-dreaming all day, how should it matter to anyone? After all the pay-packet that I might have earned otherwise will anyway not flow into the other’s house. It is so annoying when an innocuous question such as “so, what do you do?” has to be answered carefully so as to justify your being at home and not working outside of home. The “working” tag is so narrow that it just cannot be extended to the home. For some reasons, the grass is never green on this side.

A is a friend who worked far away from home even before marriage; so in that sense very independently managed herself, got married to the person of her choice, lived apart from her hubby for some years due to career compulsions and then worked into having a co-existing career and marital life. Peers may probably envy her life and wished it were them. The parent-generation is a proud clan.

I have no issues with this. I would have felt the same.

However, consider this scenario: A studies hard to get into engineering, studies and gets placed in a prestigious company. She quits realizing it is not her cup of tea and decides to pursue arts instead. Further, she does not have a regular job but freelances as a hobby. Will anyone say they are proud of her? Will anyone want to trade places? Someone who is not successful in the conventional manner is not a bright person. Someone who probably wants and works towards having a well-kept house, a happy-married life, be a SAHM by choice is a non-ambitious person-a loser who probably lacks the skills to have a career.

Why does a job/career HAVE to be a choice for modern day women? Why can’t she just have a choice to do what she wants and still be respected for that?

Cooking it up

Cooking is not my cup of tea.

Yet, I do it and I dare say I do it quite sincerely even though it does not exactly excite me. There are times when I do try out some new dishes for the sake of variety and when the cooking bug does bite me-yes it does happen. The first year of our marriage was most significant in this regard when I was enthused into trying out new and newer dishes, trying to impress dear hubby (wink wink, don’t all the new brides do it to an unsuspecting husband). After years of staying away from home and eating non-palatable stuff, hubby was most happy and grateful if I can say so. Appreciation being a great motivation I was not stressed to create a meal. Even if not up to the mark, which was the case many times, hubby would be gracious enough to cover it up. Ah! The innocent me took it seriously enough to assume that I could cook quite well. I would naively even ask him to rate me from a scale of 1 to 10 and he would say I average between 7 to 8 which was a great score for me-an amateur cook.

Now, to be fair to myself, I do not cook atrociously and over time I have learnt to cook quite decently and do dish out some delicious stuff every once a while (consistency here is a challenge though ;-)). However, with time, hubby’s expectations have also increased and the rating system has, as a result, also become stringent:-(. As a mother to a toddler now, I do not enjoy the leisure of time and hence this important chore has become a case of hit and misses.

Now, the real issue here is that I have not (yet) conditioned myself to be able to digest a bad review, however genuine, for the simple fact that I feel the connoisseur should take into account the effort, time and intention behind the whole process of dishing out a (decent) meal. Also, I find it really unfair on the part of life to pile upon so many tasks on the shoulders of women while men get away with very little. She is expected to multi-task with a smile on her face and is not spared any inefficiency on her part too! Any confrontation on this matter with hubby is met with a benign smile and “oh, you women do it so well. Blah bah”

So with the bar being raised by hubby compounded with my basic disposition towards cooking and the eternal paucity of time in the world of mothers, should I say, I have not come closer to embracing this abhor-able yet intrinsic activity/chore of life?

I score a shameful 5 or 6 now on hubby’s scale. Well, more years into this marriage and I only hope I do not slip into sub-zero.

February 2, 2011

Wife-y and motherly blues

I am slowly turning to a nag. I had never thought I would. But then who on earth imagines and dreams of being one. I always prided on having the answers to relationship complications. The answers are still there though only in my mind. I am unable to practice it.
I feel resentful for most part nowadays. The chunk of it is directed towards my husband who is invariably the target for all the right and wrong reasons.
I feel resentful because I feel I am doing all the work all by myself. I get up, make lunch, breakfast, pack lunch for my husband, make breakfast for my kid, feed him, clean-up his potty, prepare for his bath, take a shower myself, put the clothes into the machine, all this within 3 hrs in the morning. Then I have some peace after my husband has left for work and my son is bathed. He sleeps for the rest of the morning and my maid comes to clean the house. Then, from the time my son wakes up till late into the evening I take care of his needs, entertainment, etc. By the time my hubby comes home, it is time for my son to have dinner and go to bed. Hubby is also tired and hungry and can’t wait to have his dinner and crash down into slumber. I don’t blame him yet I can’t stop venting my frustrations at him. I really do feel isolated in the sea of parenthood and cannot seem to take stock of the situation. I know the answers and the questions yet the resentment!

p.s. (quite many days have lapsed since the time I wrote the above and as I couldn't post it in time, I need to update it.)

A few days after the above was written, hubby decided to take over giving breakfast to the lil' one and also cleaning his morning potty. It means a lot to me. It is a huge help in itself. I was trying to get back to my usual self and I guess was a tad successful too until today. I decided to cook something more than the routine stuff prompted by hubby of course ("I don’t remember the last time you cooked this" always works you see). Hence was running late. Hubby magnanimously agreed to wait till I took the shower. I too returned the favour by finishing in record speed (actually, I don’t remember taking a luxurious leisurely shower ever since I became a mother, sigh! well, will talk about this some other time). I came out to find the entire house in a shape that perhaps only an earthquake or hurricane could have otherwise caused. Skills of a toddler, you know. Dear son was at it-and is always at it-when I am most busy to give him even a glance. The shoe-rack was emptied and some of the contents were found in the kitchen. The spoons from the kitchen cabinet were distributed equally on the living room sofas and chairs. (Yes, I have heard of baby proofing but we stay in a rented flat, so do not have much choice in this matter.) The toys were scattered everywhere. The bed was ‘made’ (by hubby) in a shoddy manner. I can go on but for the reader's benefit, shall stop here. Hubby was found reading a blog on internet amidst all this. Seeing me, and knowing me, he left in a hurry. This was reason enough for me to explode like a volcano. I called hubby and as soon as the call was picked up, howled for 5 seconds only to hear hubby calmly say, "Sorry, I was unable to hear you".
The receiver went BANG on my end!!!! I am back to being a Nag.