Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Diwali Preparations

As Diwali approaches, the usual preparations have begun! Starting with shopping of course :) Now both I and M don't like shopping and its the biggest biggest chore for us. With less than 4 days to go, its still not complete. This year we will not be able to go to our hometown in Odisha for Diwali celebrations. We are going to be in Pune and Shaurya will have his elder brother Sanskar to help in bursting crackers. (This will be the first Diwali that Sanskar will be away from bhaiya bhabhi, mummyji, papaji, dadi and Archi; I hope that he has fun and doesn't miss them too much! ). 

M and I are no longer into bursting crackers and had totally stopped it. However post Shaurya's birth, we usually get  a few so that he gets to enjoy this part of the festivity as well. Till last year, even Shaurya was happy with bursting few crackers on the main Diwali day. Everything changed last year, he has learnt the joy of bursting crackers. In our hometown, kids start bursting crackers a week before Diwali which continues till a week after Diwali. Shaurya had loads of fun last year bursting crackers at his maternal and paternal grandparents home. Even this year, he was looking forward to bursting crackers however last Friday he came home from school and told me that he has promised his ma'am that he will not be bursting crackers. Seems his class teachers have told the kids about Noise and Air pollution and how crackers are not good for our environment (Bless them!). Not sure if Shaurya will be strong enough to keep his promise... some moments he tells "I will not burst any".. and some moment he tells "I will burst only 3 - 1 chakri, 1 anar and 1 phuljhadi".. I guess his heart and mind are still fighting over it. Lets see what the kiddo finally does! :-) 

I generally start preparing sweets and savories 2 days before and do it each day post dinner. Now that I work 3 days a week, I am hoping to start it tomorrow when my weekend officially starts.. yayyyyyyyyy!! :-) All the men in my in-laws side are big time into sweets; Shaurya specially loves Gulab Jamun and this is something that I make even if I am not able to make anything else. So with my weekend beginning tomorrow and Diwali falling on Sunday, I have a super hectic long weekend planned. Along with all the cooking, I will also be taking out all the decoration items (candles, LED lights, torans,etc) from previous years. We will also be making trips to the local market to buy fresh ingredients and flowers, clay diyas, puja essentials & gold jewelry for Dhanteras. Even though the festival turns out to be super hectic, it has a beautiful madness to it. You remain in a 'happy' zone during this time. Looking forward to making Rangoli outside my home, lighting beautiful diyas and eating to my heart's content! Not to forget, bursting crackers with Shaurya, Sanskar & M :-)

Happy Diwali!

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Kids and Gender equality

This post is a result of an incident involving my son that happened today evening.. We live in a small residential society where we are blessed in having majority of neighbours who are in similar boat as us - In their early to late thirties with one or two young kids/toddlers. This ensures that my 5 year old has lot of playmates. (Touchwood!) (Note - there are some cons as well but then what doesn't :-) ). Today evening he was playing with the daughter of my front door neighbour in their house; all well till it was just the 2 of them. Then one of her other girl friend joined in. After some time, my son came back home. Since its rare that he comes back on his own, I asked him what happened. It seems they told him you are a girl since he was playing with them (2 girls). This is not the first time it has happened and luckily this time he didn't come back crying (it has happened in the past when he was told to go play with boys!)

I get annoyed when I see kids not involving others of the opposite gender in their games. I am sure boys do the same and I am seeing my son learning to differentiate based on such experiences. As kids, boys and girls play in their own different ways and I have seen that by nature they make play groups based on their commonality. But they should be able to play as they want - In our society, I see 1 girl playing with 3 boys and she is not told to go play with the girls. But if it's 1 boy playing with 3 girls, he is told to go and play with the other boys - and I am not just talking about the kids telling each other here (kids are kids and their behavior is sometimes mean.. they fight, they cry and they forget & makeup), even we as parents support and unknowingly perpetuate this bias. Girls playing with cars doesn't raise eyebrows but boys playing with dolls does. A boy in a pink trouser is pointed at but not a girl in a blue dress. Equality should not be just about giving equal opportunity to girls, it should include boys too. I believe we need to move from gender equality to gender neutrality. Since the seed of bias is planted since childhood, it just grows slowly and steadily along with them. The repercussions of such bias by our earlier generation is already there for all of us to see.

In this era when we talk of equal pay and equal opportunity, we can't really wish away this inequality if we start to differentiate between boys and girls since childhood and tell them that they should things appropriate for their gender. Kids are like wet clay who get molded into adults based on what they learn from their surroundings; the little natural gender based difference that they have increases based on the gender based stereotype that they see around them. There are lots of boys more sensitive and caring than girls and lots of girls more successful and hard working than boys.. no one is better than the other,  Just different. We should just give them an open hand so that they can remain equal with their differences.  And we should avoid making boys the victim as we fight for equality of our girls! 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Real 'Chipko' Movement

Few months back, M had told Shaurya a little bit about the 'Chipko Movement' - trying to instill a little social awareness and make him aware of the importance of Greenery in our life. ;-p So M told him about Suderlal Bahuguna being one of the pioneers of it and how he went about saving trees from being cut!

Today while I was playing with Shaurya, we were chatting and revising random stuff. He has been absent from school since 3 weeks now (We are in my hometown in Odisha on extended vacation and it will be few more weeks before he rejoins school) so I thought of doing a little revision of his A's & B's.

While talking, I asked about the Chipko Movement and this is how our conversation went;

Me: Who started the 'Chipko Movement'?
Shaurya : Sunder lal Bahuguna
Me: Right! And what did he do?
Shaurya : Bad uncles came and cut the trees. Good uncle then got glue and stickers and used it to stick the trees back. 
Me: Speechless!! 

Ofcourse, they had to stick them together if it was to be a real 'Chipko' movement! :-D

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Happiness is..

.. turning in your bed in the middle of the night and as you turn, your kid opens his eyes, says 'I love you, Mumma' and then dozes off.

PS: Good to remember on a day when he is on your nerves ( like today ;-))

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Year End Post

A fabulous year just ended. I can’t really believe that 2014 is over already;  it just zoomed past.. didn’t it? I was reading Amu’s year end post recently and Since it’s been ages that I put up anything on this little place of mine, this is the perfect time to break the prolonged absence  and what better than a year-end post.. So, without any further ado, here’s the report card for 2014..

-          The year started with preparation of my sister Chinki’s wedding. She got married to her college sweetheart Vishal in March – it was the usual big fat Indian ‘marwaari’ wedding with loads of dancing, music, bright clothes & jewelries, lots of traditional wedding rituals, delectable food and what not. This time the Sangeet was even more fun as apart from my usual solo number (hehehehe), I & M did a dance together as well.. on the song ‘billo rani’.. ;-).... it was good and considering M and I got just 1 day to prepare for it, I think we rocked! Both she & Vishal are great together and I am sure they will have a beautiful life!

-          2014 also marked the beginning of Shaurya’s school days. He started Playgroup in Jan and moved to Nursery in June. He likes school and he is learning many new things each day; many that we also don’t know. I remember the statement made by his Pre-School Principal during the Induction Program – ‘Kids are like sponge at this age so our effort should be to provide as much information to them as we can; we are not expecting the kids to remember anything or learn everything but just that they are exposed to new and varied things.  This will aid in more neural connections to form and help in overall development’.  I am very impressed with the way his pre-school teachers handle the class as well as the curriculum and it reflects in the kind of things Shaurya is aware of. I remember once they were being told about inventors and their inventions and Shaurya would come home and tell us about the different inventors like Edison, Graham Bell, etc; One day when he was watching Dinosaur Train, he told that Robert Fulton made Submarine which was showing on TV. Of course, we had never heard about Robert Fulton so we were not sure what he was talking about :-D.. We were not sure if he even got the name right .. so we googled on who was the inventor of Submarine. We did not get any name similar to Robert Fulton or Robert anything. So next we thought of googling with the name directly; and we found that Robert Fulton indeed built the first working Submarine ‘Nautilus’.  It’s rightly said that you also learn many new things along with your kid and both I & M are learning.

-          I changed my job! This has been the biggest change for me in 2014. I had joined my previous company straight out of Campus and have been working there for last 10 years. I had never thought that I would be leaving it ever.. My friends used to joke that I will retire from the board one day; one of my friend actually believes (and I am writing this with all the seriousness that he also means it with) I will be the CEO of that company one day.. (he was pretty disappointed that I left it.. ;-p ). Anyways lately I had come to realize that my company/job profile was not adding any value to me.. neither in terms of learning or experience or growth or compensation..  It was taking me for granted and maybe I was taking it for granted too.. It was time to ‘rock’ the boat a little and though I was not actively looking out, I got a call from a very good MNC. I cleared the interview (my first J) and got an offer I couldn’t refuse. And so I took the plunge. It’s been a month since I joined this new place.. so far so good.. I miss my friends in my previous company (but of course we are and we will be in touch.. ) and I also miss the familiarity of the old place, people and culture (this I will have to get used to.. ). But overall a long overdue change has been made; let’s see what the future holds!

-          M got promotion.. yeaaaaaaaa.. See how things play out.. I have been crying to get the designation of a manager (AM / PM whatever) behind my role but to no avail.. :-( and he got it just like that.. without even asking for it.. :-) So towards the end of the year, he got promoted to an AM position in his company. M is very clear headed and logical in all his dealings; I am sure he will be an excellent manager. Hmm… writing this just reminded me that his treat is still due..

-          I have blogged the most in 2014.. all thanks to the A-Z blogging challenge.. my run rate before and after that challenge has been pretty lousy.. ;-p But hey I did take up that challenge and completed it successfully.. an accomplishment which is even more commendable if you take my past record into consideration. It was fun and thanks to it, I was able to go past the 100th post milestone.

-          I always wanted to create a small garden in my balcony. However I have never had a ‘green thumb’; on the contrary I think I have the most non-greenest of thumbs possible.. a good reason for that could be that I always wanted to have a good garden but never really tried my hands in gardening or actually growing anything yet. The little that I tried, I didn’t succeed. We have a few pots here in Pune but whenever we go out of station, the plants wilt due to lack of water and too much of sunshine / wind (our balcony faces the west and is on the 6th floor). Anyways I thought of trying my hands at growing something so that Shaurya also learns a little about it. I took out the seeds of a ripe tomato and put it in a pot.. it was fun to watch it grow and especially after the first flowers came in, Shaurya got excited too. He even plucked the first ripe tomato.. :-) We got about half a dozen tomatoes.. they were small ones and I was pretty sad on learning that the plants flower once only. :-(  I guess I need to get proper seeds, compost and all to get big round tomatoes. Not a gardener yet but this little experiment has made me want to try some more. Let’s see if I am able to take this forward.

-          After delegating for about a year and rescheduling it once, I finally took my PMP exam and cleared it. With the amount of money involved in this certification, I was so damn relieved once the results were displayed. I hadn’t been able to study much.. with a little kid at home, a job change in between and my true-lazy self to deal with, I was really worried that I was not giving the examination the time and effort that it demands. Happy to say that from the last week of 2014, I am PMP-certified. Added it in my official signature as soon as it was done.. ;-p

-          The only dark patch in 2014 has been Papaji’s health. Around Aug last year, he started bending forward involuntarily from his stomach area. After visits to many hospitals in Orissa, Vizag & Pune, doctors were finally able to diagnose that it’s a neurological disorder called Dystonia – a disease which cannot be cured but only controlled. :-( A trip to Nimhans, Bangalore was also made but it turned out to be very futile- the strong medications there had severe side effect on Papaji. The Doctor here in Pune has stabilized the dose now and the side effects have thankfully all gone. Papaji is much better; though the bending still persists. Slowly and steadily Papaji is moving back to his former schedule. Medications continue and we hope that the bending reduces as time progresses. Hopefully 2015 will bring things to cheer and Papaji’s Dystonia will be under control.

-          This was also the year that I stayed alone in Pune when M was in Bangalore for 3 weeks with Papaji. Post our marriage, we were in different cities for about 3 months and later moved to Pune and created a base here. After that the only time that we had stayed separate was when I went home after my delivery. With an infant to tend to and also being at home, I was occupied though I did feel the distance. This time though I missed him way too much. With nuclear families even if one person is not there, you feel a huge emptiness. Both I and Shaurya missed M a lot. Those days, Shaurya would sleep early.. by 8-8.30pm. After Shaurya slept, there would be too much silence in the house. And if possible, I would miss M even more. On weekends, I used to take Shaurya out to Parks/Dinners and it felt different to eat out in restaurants with just the 2 of us. Though one good thing was Shaurya was a super goodie good boy during all that time – he would get up on time, have his meals properly, listen to us..

All in all 2014 was a good year. Among my friends and acquaintances, some got new jobs & some promotions,  some got married, some had their first kid & some second ;-), some bought new cars/home, etc. There were a few lean and a few darkish clouds and I just wish that they also go away in this new year or at least have a silver lining in each of them giving cause for some rocking celebrations in 2015.  

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Homework Begins!

I didn't really expect it to start so soon but here they are, the first homework assignment for Shaurya has come. His Pre-School teachers mostly do reading, storytelling, games, puzzles, poems and other such activities. But now that he is in Nursery, they are starting on standing and sleeping lines as well. Proper writing activities are supposed to start post winter vacations so maybe it’s just the warm up.

Anyways Shaurya had fun doing this. Crayons and Paper – what more does a kid need. :-D After doing this, he wanted to do more; so I had to take out a rough notebook and make more patterns of standing and sleeping lines. He has filled up numerous pages already..  Just the beginning I guess.. lets hope this excitement continues as he grows up more and he gets some 'less interesting' homework.. ;-p

Monday, July 07, 2014

'Not having it all' versus 'Leaning In'

This Friday morning, as usual I was finishing up the morning chores and getting ready for office. When I was done, I had a few minutes to spare before going out to catch my office bus. I decided to start reading the newspaper (I read it in the bus. :-D) and my eyes caught the article from a recent interview of Indra Nooyi, the PepsiCo CEO. As I have always admired her, I was very much interested in the article. To add to the appeal, it was about her motherhood experiences. However I didn't really know what to make of the article; it kind of started me thinking. My first reaction was that of sadness - looks like the feeling of 'guilt' that working Moms have is universal and even an extraordinary amount of success doesn't wash it away completely. On further thoughts, I felt a kinship with her - So I am not the only one who has this 'guilt' bout on occasions. The article was on my mind the entire day (and even this weekend for that matter). I discussed this with M and even with my colleagues - few of them are on the same boat as me!

Since the Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg was in India recently and had addressed Indian women (mainly professionals) on her now famous philosophy aka book - 'Lean In', there was bound to be comparisons. In the Indian print media, both these differing thoughts created quite a buzz and whole lot of debates started. As a result, some really good articles came out focusing on motherhood and career. However in many of the comparative discussions, people out-rightly rejected what Indra Nooyi said.  I don’t really understand the thought process career women have when they say that Indra is not making sense at all. Am I the only one who thinks that maybe she isn’t talking all that nonsense? Let’s see what she has said.

Per Mrs Nooyi, “the biological clock and the career clock are in total conflict with one another”– She is so right! Your late 20’s/early 30’s is the time when you are rising up on the chain and breaking towards the managerial position in your workplace. It is also the time by when you need to ‘settle’ in your personal life.. and the settlement here includes kids as well. Many decide to have kids and this puts a delay in your moving up the ladder. Though in recent times, we see many exceptions to this. Some women focus more on their career, some more on their family and some try to balance it out! But it all does suggest that we are making choices and trying to balance it all out.  We cannot always “lean in” and many a times knowingly lean out. I agree with the Facebook COO that we sometimes lean out even before its needed and we need not kill our ambition just because we have a family to take care of. A fine balance between both the extremes is needed.

Women “cannot have it all" – Of course we cannot. No one can for that matter. We need to define what all needs to be included in this ‘all’ of ours.  A cost benefit analysis is always part of our decision making and planning process. You sometimes do not take a task in office voluntarily since it would mean more time away from your kid. As you leave for home early, your boss gives a critical and visible assignment to someone else.  There are N such scenarios. I can leave Shaurya and go to my office based on the plan that M will leave late for office and I will reach home early. With 2.5 hours of afternoon time in school and around 1 to 1.5 hours gone in nap, we thought this is doable. We miss out on a few things but that is our choice. Everyone makes similar plans and modifies his/her life around the kids with their best and in turn decide what ‘all’ is needed!

About the ”guilt” statement, I don’t think she is so wrong. I have had the same guilty feelings so many times. It is not like I am wallowing in guilt and self-pity but there have been many doubts. I worry, if my leaving him at home, will have a long term not-so-good impact on his attitude or personality. Since I come from a family where women have always been homemakers, this has been a difficult decision to make. But I have referred to many of friend’s and their mom’s experience and having a working mom doesn't seem to spoil a kid. I have my hopes set on the same and believe that Quality time matters more than Quantity. But then again the doubts resurface when I hear or read of a bad experience! And it’s not just one kind of guilt that women have – feeling guilty when you have to leave your child and go to office, there are also cases when women feel guilty for leaving their job for the kids!  I am sure men or shall I say fathers do not feel any such guilt since the role definition for them is clear, they are the providers (even in their mind). It’s we the nurturers who have all the doubts.. :-( ;-).

Since we cannot really have it all, we have to make choices and decide on the important ‘alls’ we want and then go for it. And the support of our spouse and family on this is a must have! We need to work together on all the decisions that are made. In the end, the important thing is to have peace with your decision.. I think it will ultimately remove all the guilt and associated feelings. As M said, Satisfaction will make you realize that you indeed ‘have it all’ !