Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Interesting how ...

...women take pains to ensure no baby sounds are heard on the phone when taking meetings from home, while many men couldn't care less to do the same. Wonder why.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

TV dilemma

We all face this dilemma with our kids when they watch tv. What content is acceptable and what is not? With parents of my kids' friends, I have seen views run the gamut, from tv watching that is practically non-existent to parents that believe that their kids that can watch almost everything that they watch. I fall into the category where everything they watch is screened so only PG movies, mythological cartoons and sometimes the News are allowed. So be warned, this is going to be a very biased post. And this post mostly will reference Indian movies where the ratings are questionable at best and are ofcourse, rarely followed.
Early when my older boy was a baby, I came across a parent that allowed their daughter to watch "Gilli" once a day atleast, she loved it that much. When I asked if they did not think the violence was too much, their response was "If we protect them too much, they are going to be shocked when they finally understand reality. The more they watch, the more it desensitizes them so there is no shock factor." I have since met many parents that feel the same way. I wonder though, what this reality they talk about is. Is real ife as violent as movies suggest they are? Are all police officers as corrupt or all politicians mass murderers? Even assuming they are, why would a 5 year old need to learn that reality, when in our daily lives, we rarely have to face the trials and tribulations most heroes and heroines on our silver screens face in their movies ? I don't know what the stats are about the results of childhood exposure to violence in media, but I have a theory - desensitizing kids to violence leads us to become indifferent people, indifferent to very real issues in the world where women and children are raped and people are dying of different causes. I feel that it breeds a community of people who believe that we live in a broken system, in a constant feeling of helplessness about their ability to do anything to change. I am not saying that the system is perfect, far from it. However, ask people and their perceptions far exceed reality. People essentially think they live in a system where they cannot help others because they will be penalized for it.
Now here's the killer (no pun intended)- many of the same parents that allow their children to watch gruesome murder scenes (ala Anniyan) shy away from allowing their kids to watch two people kiss on TV. THe channel is changed in a hurry or the kids are distracted quickly or at the very least, there is a very uncomfortable silence. Sex is more corrupting than gruesome violence apparently!
Ends on a laugh, shaking head.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tis' love!

I am in love again! Or so it feels like. I started the violin recently and it feels like a new lover, forever creeping into my thoughts when I least expect it. I wake up and my first excited thought is "Yay! I can't wait to play my violin". I rush through my day, cook, clean and head to work and all the while, at the edge of my mind is this picture of my violin, titillating me, beckoning me. I wait impatiently to head back home from work, much like the school girl waits for the bell to ring that she may catch a glimpse of the boy she has been crushing on. I pick my kids up and sigh! I can't get to my violin immediately. There is homework to be done, food to be fed, dishes to be done, bath time, bedtime and all the while, I see it from the corner of my eye. It is a siren, this violin - there has been much agonizing over starting a class "I have kids, I work full time, blah blah blah, I really need to make the time to practice " All my arguments flew out of the window when I held it in my hands, produced that first note (which BTW, is still the only note I produce but I thrill as if I played a complete concerto flawlessly), felt that solid strength in my hands, the thrum of the bow sliding on the strings. This feels like that first flush of love, where all I want to do is sit with the violin and play endlessly (thank God I don't have the time to do that or I am going to bore people around me senseless with that one note "Sa"). Will it last, this love affair of ours? Are we going to grow old togther, my violin and I? Or is our love going to die a silent death, unnurtured after the initial burst of passion is spent? Only time will tell...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Top 5 musical memories

I had to do this - I have been listening to some old songs lately and they trigger off memories long forgotten but very dear.
1. This one - Kissa Hum Likhenge, takes me straight to the fall of '98, when I was a brand new arrival in America, striking it out all on my own with a few hundred dollars to my name and never happier. I made some great new friends, had a blast of a reunion with my old, very dear friends and fell in love. It all seems coated in pink, lots of laughter, endless cups of coffee on college campus, late night movies and late night walks, all topped off by a really fun New Year's night!
2. Love Story - sigh!!! Like this song needs to remind me of anything at all to be special, but it does. Memories of that first love, my girlishly adolescent first crush, the shiny eyes, the anticipation, the dissection of every word, every look, the mooning, the sheer fun of it all. Oh to be fourteen again and in love...
3. Sindu Nadiyin Isai - Ah Bharathiyar! and to hear it, I only hear my parents, singing in duet on full moon nights, when we traditionally picknicked late into the night on our terrace. Stomachs replete, hearts even more so, contently dozing off on mats and listening to their voices blend in and out, weaving, dancing, the sounds of the ocean accompanying....ah, home!
4. Strings (Utho Beta Aankhen Kholo, Sar Kiya Yeh Pahar) - Okay, so this one is completely special. Lots of songs bring me back here, to this house in Chidambaram that was tucked away in a corner of the street. I made the best friendships of my life here, laughed a lot, cried some and had some of the best times of my life here. Cheers to you guys for all of those moments!
5. Satrangi Re from Dil se - This totally takes me back to this hike a group of us went to ages ago. Lonely place (like we were the only people around for miles and miles), lots of snow, lots of scary talk and one of the guys ( you know who you are) could not stop singing "Mujhe Maut ki godh mein sone dee...." loudly. Quite scary and all...

There are tons of songs like this that transport me back to certain places and people. Can you share with me some of yours?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

You know you are in for a difficult time ahead when ...

...your 3 year old and 5 year old complain about the workload in their Montessori education school and their favorite part of their school day is the time when they play in the playground.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


THis is a full blown rant - consider yourself warned! As a disclaimer, I have to add that I love both India and America for different reasons so there is no offense meant to either country here. The insults are all to people. I come from India, I moved here, it was my choice. No one pulled me by the nose and forced me to move. I chose to move. I have chosen to stay. I cannot say that I have made my peace with the choice to stay and indeed might never. There is always that call I can hear - of family and the familiar, that call which I tamp down with every ounce of reasoning that I can have. I am more or less happy with the choice I have made, that call not withstanding. But some, some that I come across, they are whom I get upset with. These people, who like me, have made a choice. They chose to move here, they have chosen to make a life here. This country has been nothing but good to them. They continue to live their life here and they know they have it good here. Then why, why would they keep denigrating every single aspect of life here ? THe claims are numerous "In India, things are much better" " Schools are much better in India - there is no standard to the education here, very low". "The doctors are so bad here, they don't treat you at all" "Children learn so much more in India in the arts". AND then some that have moved here and live here and work here and who evidently see themselves as somehow morally superior to "these Americans" (One gem when there was a report of a child rapist caught - "These americans! Such problems are found only here" -maybe I shouldn't even be wasting my breath ranting about ignorant people). Let's clearly forget the fact that they themselves have been citizens of this country for a year or so and have processed green cards for relatives far and near. First off, to people like this, I would like to say - Just leave! Take your attitude and your angst and leave - leave if you find the school system that bad, the doctors that difficult. No one forces you to stay, except maybe your greed for the dollar and the value it translates to in rupees. Go if you think your children will have a bad future - what else do you earn for? If you choose to stay despite that, what does that say about you? And if you feel morally superior, go ahead - leave, leave to where morals are seemingly higher! You only needed a visa to get out of where you feel things are clearly superior, that visa for which you stood in a hot, blazing sun for hours, overnight even, for which you sweated and slogged through exams and tests, to leave a country that you feel is clearly superior. India will welcome that which is hers willingly, so go! And if you do CHOOSE not to, look within yourself and stop the whining! There are good things and bad in both places - it's hard to make a choice. Your inaction is a choice by itself, so please! recognize that by not moving back, you have chosen to stay and atleast give your adopted country and it's people the credit they deserve. Recognize that you are now one of them, any comments you make are directed no longer at a "them" but at yourself. We all of us will continue to value where we came from, to not do so is a travesty. However, to recognize that where we are now is a very good place to be in no way denigrates where you came from or reflects poorly on you.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

what the future brings ...

I went to a birthday party today - a friend of my son's whose family has lived in this state for a couple of generations. The party rang with the childrens' laughter at the antics of their cousins, squeals of delight at seeing a favorite aunt, exclamations of "Look how much he has grown in just a week!" and it all left me aching with want. To have the kind of family and roots in the place I live in. To see my children visit with their aunts and uncles every other week, to go to a "thottil" of my cousin's daughter or an "upanayanam" of my nephew. On the heels of those pangs settled in the realization that that was a lifestyle for the previous generation in India, atleast in my family. All the get-togethers and dos that were celebrated for anniversaries and birthdays, births celebrated by visiting each other - all of these were for that generation, that priviledged one with many siblings, all of them that worked and lived in the same city. For us, we have the better education, the supposedly better life, but one sibling or none. We are the ones that have moved away, away to a land, scattered around the world, where we make do with friends in place of family. We meet our parents once a year or once in two years, birthday parties are no longer small family gatherings, but big to dos in some party place, the children know their aunts and uncles from pictures and phone calls and video cameras. I have this - the memories of those gatherings, grew up rooted in that system with the aunts and the uncles and the grand parents and great uncles and the great aunts. Will my children miss these when they are adults or will the adage "they cannot miss what they did not know" apply to them?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My Blyton memories

Growing up, my mother's rule was that "kadha pusthakams" were meant for the holidays - this rule was enforced after she caught me reading with a novel hidden inside my English Reader's Read book back when I was in the first standard. Before that, she had caught a book hidden in my backpack that I would sneak in to read while in class. So the rules were enforced and I would wait and wait and endure the long exams and the even longer bus ride from school to home on that last day of school. I would forgo the cake and the "Coca Cola" that school would give out as summer going away treats so I could be the first on the bus and hop impatiently from one foot to the other while the driver stopped (it would seem!) for 5 minutes at every stop. I would ask my bus driver to drop me off at the library on the last day and arrive home laden with atleast a dozen books. Most of these would be Enid Blytons. Sitting atop the neem tree outside our house, cool ocean breeze whipping my body, vadu manga in my hand, I could not believe the creatures she wove - elves and pixies, Big Ears and goblins and fairies and toadstools and toys that came alive in the nights, , toyland and golliwogs, tables that flew and magic spells and ointments and cats that sang and parrots that spoke, Moon-Face and Silky and old Sauceapan Man and Watzisname, children that took out boats into the sea and stayed in caves and tents, children that visited faraway lands and had friends in circuses and farms that made yellow butter . I remember her 8'o clock tales and the nine'o clock tales - tales of naughty Amelia Jane and tales of the Magic Faraway Tree, enormous in size and enormous in my memory. The Famous Fives and The Secret Sevens I used to read in the middle of the night, hiding under my blankets with a torch for my light, long after lights out had been ordered. Her food descriptions always set my tongue tingling, her "eating sardines out of the tin" and the "potatoes baked in their jackets with butter melting on them" always made me long for them and her description of the moors and the seas desperately made me wish I lived in Scotland. I fancied myself a detective after reading the different adventures of the Adventurous Four and wanted to go to a boarding school when I read Mallory Towers and St. Claires. Who could put down the Sea of Adventure or the River of Adventure and who could help but be enthralled as the 4 children and their irascible parrot dodged villains and waterfalls? Not I.
I have a copy of the Magic Faraway Tree and read it to my sons now. I still love the adventures but grown up and mature that I am now, I see in the book faults that my heart stops at finding - sexism is rampant in her books, although I think that is more a product of the times she lived in - when a man had his place and a woman hers. When I read the parts where the boys help out in the garden with the heavy work and the girls cook, keep house and empty closets for visiting cousins, I have to make an effort not to put the book away because I know that my sons when they grow up, will not remember these pages about the roles of men and women, but their heads will be filled with those enchanted lands above the cloud - that is what will stay with them. I dream of lands like that even now, where everything is right and good and fair and has ice-cream and cake for everyone, where the houses are made of gingerbread and everyone can have a party all the time. And for the lands where things are not so right? I can find a table, invert it, rub a spell and say "Fly away Home!", just like in her books.