Bengaluru for Women


On a hot summer afternoon, a few hundred bloggers met at the Times of India office on MG road to discuss “Bangalore for Women” . The discussions were emotionally charged with women citing real examples of abuse in Bangalore. From a middle aged mother who tagged along her teenaged daughter who was a special child, to young working women sharing horrifying stories of abuse , the incidents left us fuming and angry.Even as twitter handles continued to ask the same question “What is the solution, so what is the solution”, we continued to discuss  problems. We were left clueless on what the solution could be.

Even as it was one baby step towards change, I wonder if  discussions alone can bring a solution to issues in our country? How nice it would be if we met over lunch every week and watched the issues disappear.

This is one vast country.Crimes continue to hit headlines even as we speak. Is the government alone responsible to ensure a safe country. Aren’t we , arm chair activists  if we just sat and discussed issues and blogged about it. Shouldn’t we take one step forward and make small steps towards change. In all these years in this country, I have seen very few educated middle class give back to the society. How many of us have it in us to invest a few hours a week for the betterment of the society

Even as we speak of safety for women, do you think this safety could be achieved while one section of the society lives in utter poverty, lives in slums and remains uneducated while the other class fancies in buying the latest cell phones and gizmos.

How can we expect the two sections to dwell in harmony unless we made  initiatives  in bridging the gap  . How many of us can volunteer as teachers, to teach, to enact through role plays and adopt slums and bring about a visible change in their outlook?

The average middle class Indian is selfish . Sadly “charity begins at home and most often , ends at home”. How many of us think beyond our families, our entertainment in malls and movie theaters over the weekends. If the Ugly Indian group of Bangalore, could clean  and transform stinking roads into beautiful pathways, what stops us from adopting slums in our areas ,  and doing our bit for them?

Shouldn’t corporates be more involved in corporate social responsibility? Today ,most corporates have volunteer groups but the number of employees devoting time to such tasks is negligible  Imagine if every employee had to mandatory dedicate few hours in a month in giving back to the society, Just imagine the numbers . Imagine if done pan India . Wouldn’t we see a big change?

Forget given back to the society, we often forget our basic responsibility i.e to vote. In a vast migrant population such as in  Bengaluru, there could be a few lakh educated middle class that does not possess a voter ID card . Often “this is not my home town”, I have address proof problem is cited as an excuse. Today we complain about our law and order, we complain about our police force.  We complain about politicians. How can we help have a better police force? How can we help have a better governance. Wouldn’t all that be possible if we understood our right and voted responsibly ? And imagine if we used social media not just for likes and comments on our friends list , but kept a active tab on whats happening around us . A few educated section of the middle class is creating a significant impact in cities such as Bengaluru by contesting in elections and bringing about a change . How about following these people and see what they have for us . This is the social media generation. Why not use it more responsibly?

Shouldn’t we encourage and reward people that are honest . It could be a auto driver giving you back a lost camera or some one that drops you home safely . Report such incidents to the media so that such men can be rewarded. Get such stories published in local newspapers .It can help motivate the youth from the lower rigs of the society.

Even as we complain about a corrupt police force, have you ever wondered what it might take to be a honest government officer?Can you even compare the benefits they draw against a educated middle class software engineer. Imagine the stress that the family of a honest cop undergoes on a daily basis. How can the government come up with schemes so that we have more educated taking up such jobs. Are we even protecting whistle blowers? Imagine the plight of a family of a slain police cop or that of a whistle blower that gets killed for being honest. Would families even encourage their sons and daughters to take up such jobs,jobs that are laden with risk ?

Do we have grievance cells for such families. Often grievance cells and helpline numbers are bombarded with obscene calls all day , the very purpose of it is lost.

Let us not raise boys that think they are superior to women. Let us educate our girls. Education goes a long way in leading a confident and independent life.

Urban women working in major IT organizations have splendid grievance cells for sexual harassment but what about the lower middle class Bangalorean working in garment factories that is subjected to abuse? Does our responsibility end in ensuring urban women taking volvo buses are safe?

Let us press for efficient bills to be passed such that a young widow working in a garment factory feels as safe as someone sitting in an air-conditioned office in an IT park

Children adore their schools and their teachers. Rather than spend on costly picnics to snow worlds and water theme parks, wouldn’t it be wiser if we began the concept of sharing and caring when kids are young. It could be as simple as getting a toy to school,and giving it to the under privileged  Let us not underestimate the power that teachers hold over the kids. My 3 year old adores his school and his teachers and mind you ! he isn’t even in a regular school yet.  Summer camps in the cities should incorporate programs on giving back to the society.

As the ugly Indian website says “Only we can change us from ourselves” .

So change can happen only when governance, media and the citizens worked together in bringing about a change

World Poetry Day


Today is world Poetry Day and this is my favorite poem I remember from the NCERT books in school

A few days back  , I went on to search this poem on the internet . The very line “What does the poet” intend to convey in this poem, sent me on a nostalgic ride .

I haven’t been able to understand the following lines  though

And it grew both day and night,

Till it bore an apple bright,
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine – 

Did his foe know that he hated him ? If he knew why did he eat the apple

If the foe didn’t know, he was tempted by the apple , knowing not that it was poisonous which killed him eventually

What do you remember of your English teachers. That they held notes, that they probably read this same poem  in their degree classes.

Probably they just had one dimension to the lines. Imagine if some one taught this  same poem today. Imagine the number of google searches you could do to get different interpretations

There was one version that said the foe never died.

What did you understand from this – my favourite poem from school

By William Blake 

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears
Night and morning with my tears,
And I sunned it with smiles
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright,
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine – 

And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning, glad, I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

Comfort Zones


My friend was talking about change and comfort zones to some one and I never viewed it in her perspective

She said lets remain in comfort zones as long as we can. There we will be a time when you would have to change . Tab dekha jaayega. At that moment, you will learn to swim against the tide

Until then , why not enjoy the comfort zone !

Nice !! I never thought of life this way though. Atleast in the last 3 years, when I should have sought comfort zones and stuck to it like glue, I found myself shifting boats and swimming against the tides.

Her perspective and argument is not bad either. Because we will learn to swim, when we ought to swim or sink !

The Summer of 89


Summer season is fun because …

It reminds me of amma and grand mom making karuvadams . To women in the Southern part of India , summer means not putting to waste the sunlight and churning out vadams or home made fryums using tomatoes, garlic, green chillies and rice flour
 
It reminds me of watching over the vadams as they get sun burnt  on the terrace lest the crows eat them
It reminds me of peeling off half cooked vadams from the terrace and relishing them
 
It reminds me of bringing in the vadams during dusk, mom cooking the sun-burnt ones over oil , relishing and providing feedback to mom
 
Summer reminds me of mangoes, the banganapallis, the maa-vadoos and Vadu mango pickles and the mouth watering , spicy Aavakkai , a speciality of Andhra
 
Summer reminds me of Rama navami and preparing Paanagam ( a sweet drink done using jaggery and pepper) and Neer moru  , to beat the summer heat
 
Summer reminds me of Tamil New year where we plucked neem leaves off the trees to make a spicy, tangy sweet pachadi – signifying life is comprised of sweet sour and bitter memories
 
To most South Indian girls, summer reminds them of learning to draw elaborate rangolis early in the morning or playing a game called Pallan kuzhi using tamarind seeds on hot summer afternoons
 
Summer also meant learning to plait your own hair , the rettai jadai it was called, though amma did it on all school days nice and tight
Summer also meant spending hours together in weaving  a basket, was it nylon???
Summer also meant learning to string together flowers from the garden.Not sure if the December poo was available in summer, but I remember now  the flowers in light pink and dark violet. The kanakambaram , orange flowers. What a craze that was to sport december poo on neatly plaited and oiled hair.
For boys , it would mean playing cricket all day long.
 
It would mean climbing guava trees and pulling down guavas
 
To boys, it would mean chasing trucks carrying mangoes and trying to steal a few, and getting chased away by the driver
 
Summer also meant gulping one glass after another of Rasna
 
Summer also meant waiting for the post man to arrive on the day the exam results get declared. A brown color post card that carried the word “PASS” would thrill us beyond words
 
Summer also reminds me  of “Panam Noongu” , the fruits of the plam tree, the juicy viscous fluidic substance  that was gulped down
 
Summer also reminds me of another sweet fruit called the melon, cut into bits  , mixed with sugar , it makes for a mouth watering dessert
Summer also meant taking the only train from Neyveli to Bangalore,relishing on Kovaikai curry because we never got Kovakkai or capsicum in Neyveli.It also meant stuffing some of these on the journey back home.
Summer also meant sitting in the balcony in grand ma’s home in Basavanagudi and watching the street vendors go “Sopooooooi”
Summer also meant the walk to Lalbaugh and enjoying the greenery and the tall trees.
 
Summer also reminds me of  purchasing lekhak  books , brown paper covers , colorful labels and sitting down as a family and wrapping up the notebooks and textbooks for the next academic year
 
…and finally
 
Summer meant buying new canvas shoes and school uniforms to be flaunted on the first day of school

The Rat Race


This new trend seems to be a craze

 Where we chase each other in a rat race

 

Whom does he call mom I ask

 she says, Such a question you may not ask

Shouldn’t life be about multiplying our love

 Why then do we distance our love

Judging another mom ain’t fair

 Ain’t I just another mom that dumped an infant in the daycare

Ain’t this rat race a little funny

where we throw the babies in the hands of daycares and nannies !

I penned this poem when I met a colleague @ the cafeteria. Her 2 year old is being raised by his grand mom in a different city.

The Abuse..


Shattered and bruised I lay

I entered this home, hoping I could have a  say

What made me think I am their first love

I often watch them cuddle, kiss and proclaim love

Long after the lights are off

I stay awake until sleep dozes me off

There are days I cry and cry

and wished I could fly and fly

There are days I protest and turn blue

She thumps me and shakes me, to drive away those blues

A older cousin did not long last

The culprit was their son, two and a half

Yes I am the laptop

And that seems to be my shaaaap !!!

Today she played his favourite ABC’s

He watched and clapped his hands in glee

Little did he realize he landed on me

Ouch it hurt, and was not sweet

The mom, screamed yelled, the crazy wife she is

Sometimes I wished I had an alternate life that is

That day is not far

When I am going to proclaim war

 

————————————————————-

The ode to the laptop.

Last evening, we cuddled and kissed. He whispered “I love you amma” . In his excitement and play, my little one lands on my laptop. I shriek, shake it and thump every key possible to ensure it works fine

The poor thing, landed in our home only 6 months back and I already have broken the power adaptor. Shaken and a bit  frightened, I took it to my office wondering if it needs major repairs  . No it was back within a few hours . A earlier laptop was dunked in water and died a nasty death.

The next time the laptop gets abuse…

I think I have no new excuse…..

How do you treat your office laptop at home????

Yeh Tera Ghar, Yeh Mera Ghar


K was this “good girl” in Indian middle class terms . She was raised among 2 boys, she didn’t date any one. She took advise from her parents.K never left for job or studies outside her home. She got married into another middle class home where the husband stayed with his parents and his brother. They raised money , built a 2 storey home in a new layout in a IT dominated city in India. This layout was pretty far from K’s office.

K led a life of peace-  when her baby was born, she didn’t have to worry about her new born, no tensions of daycare or fever to be taken care of. K’s in laws were overjoyed when she birthed their first grand son. K had people around her – in fact both her mom and M-I-L wanted to take care of the new born. A life of bliss- waking up in the morning, downing down coffee, getting back home from work, helping a bit with making chapatis and then retiring to their room in the top floor.

All was fine until a new younger bahu arrived  She was silent, kept to herself. Soon it was known that the younger brother would travel abroad for project work.He took his bahu with him. It was also assumed that a big family comprising 6 adults cannot share  a middle class home constructed under a 30*40 site.

K, who was ok with the joint living arrangement (well she didn’t have much choice), started complaining. Should I call it nagging ??? She asked the husband to start looking for foreign assignments. She now wanted her own space, her own kitchen, a home that she can call her own

K got a sermon from her parents and her younger brothers, that breaking a family and moving away from in-laws was not a good thing.

It was around this time I went teary eyed to office. I had a new born, who was falling sick often. I had unfinished dreams of my career then, which I didn’t want to end abruptly. So I was viewing  all that she said with tinted glasses.

All I told was that she was getting free service done by her in-laws for her infant. The in-laws were nice. Not the kind to pick faults with their daughter in law. Why wouldn’t she want to mingle more freely at their place. But no, K wanted to do the kitchen and the living the way she wanted. She thought all that she had was one room in their home which she called her own. She thought the home was never hers. She was only going back to “some house” where she had one room.

…Eventually K and her husband moved to US with their 3 year old. K gave up her job.She is living her dream of having her own home, her own kitchen and her own living room

Another case. Another family. My work place .The story isn’t very different.My friend thinks she isn’t going back to “her” home. Her case thought is very different- trying hard for a  baby, dominating in-laws, a “submissive” elder son.

Whose wrong? Whose right? Was the younger bahu wrong. K thinks the younger couple were scheming  and got away with freedom. I mused,laughed/smirked and said ” They would need help when they had a baby”. All is fine during the initial honey mooning phase . The tables tilt when a baby arrives.

K was blinded with her desires. I was blinded with mine.

Whose right? Whose wrong? Sometimes in life ” You cannot have a cake and eat it too