Monday, June 18, 2018

Letters to No One - 1

Dear you,

I know you mean well. I know you have my best interest at heart and I also know you believe 37 is firmly in adulthood whatever this blog might say.
I am not refusing to grow up anymore. I am also not defiant because I want to make everyone around me miserable. Maybe my ideas sound a lot better on paper. Fuck it, it is not maybe. My ideas indeed sound a lot better on paper and they are absolutely brilliant in my head.

Until motherhood threw a curve ball at me. You see, my ideas about motherhood and raising a family kept evolving as my kids grew; as i grew up against my better judgement. But at the crux of it, the essence is the same as all mothers - I wanted to raise beautiful, kind human beings who will not only leave this world in a better place but also make it better while they are still in it. How do I teach them that if I won't try to change the status quo of what a mom should be?

When I went through those crazy 10 months of pregnancy, and then the labour and finally held the baby, I really thought I was free. Free to raise the darn kid however i please as long as I did not screw it up bad; so bad that Manson looked like an angel. Then I was stupid enough to do the same thing again and bring another kid into this mix, even before I had a blueprint in hand for the first.

Every time you say "Suck it up and do it, all of us moms are doing it", my heart breaks. Because you see, I am telling my child, just because everyone else is doing it doesn't make it right.  I know swimming against the current is tiring, especially for someone like me who barely knows any swimming. Yet i do it. Every. Single. Day.
Not to be antagonistic but because that is who I really am.
I don't like the status quo.

Will i change the definition of motherhood? No.
Will my child turn out wonderful? Maybe
Would i have made a difference in their life? Yes.

As long as I believe I can effect a change even for a day, I will continue to do it.

lost in daydreams,
A disgruntled mom.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Shut up and be heard

well not really.
but sometimes i feel if I don't write and get all my thoughts out then i end up blurting them out as these highly enlightened opinions and I am bleddy sure i sound like a fool.

There was Parent Coffee at the kids' school yesterday morning.
I am sure that one of my answers was the most convoluted one ever heard.
And i should learn to stop jumping from topic to topic; it's like my mind is playing a chain game, picking up a word from the previous sentence and moving onto a newer topic and by the time i finish my spiel we have made an 180 degree turn from the original topic :(

For all the judging I "don't" do, I still have ideas on how people should be raising their kids. i just keep it to myself and don't really walk around their houses telling them what they will find out if they listen to their kids. Now if only some of those people will stop telling me how to raise my own. I mean if I wanted perfect kids I would happily watch yours play. I need not have gotten my own.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The dreaded F word

No, this post is not about swearing, though considering what just transpired I am not sure if a swearing session won't be cathartic.
A week ago while visiting friends, my daughter came running to me crying asking to leave the party. Her friends were calling her fat and they wouldn't stop. I pulled her friend(who is smaller than my daughter) aside and asked her why she felt the need to talk so and she just answered, "But she is fat". We walked out as I felt that my Implet needed my support.
Maya is a regular, active, healthy first grader. She has always been on the higher side of the growth curve so is definitely not a 'skinny' girl. She is an empathetic, beautiful and smart girl with a sunny personality. She is many things but fat. I am not being defensive but a growing number of our girls who years ago would not be called fat are being called so now just because 'Skinny' is the new normal. (Now why fat shouldn't really be derogatory is another story for another day).
Walk into any clothing store for young girls and try to buy a pair of jeans. The only options you have are 'Super Skinny', 'Skinny' and 'BootCut/Flare'. Very rarely do you encounter a 'Regular' size. These are not teenagers. They are still in Primary/Elementary School, for crying out loud! Dejected, I asked the salesgirl at The Children's Place if she had any jeans/leggings for kids who just had wide hips and she showed me a pair of 'Boy' jeans which were not as stylish as those Skinny ones. So my first grader can only choose from the Boys section if she wanted to wear denim?
I understand some kids have smaller builds and they have every right to wear fitting clothes. I should know as I also have a 4-year old boy who has steadily refused to budge out of the 8th percentile and who is still wearing 2T shorts. Yet that doesn't imply every other average kid has to be labelled 'fat'. In our home we try to eat healthy. Our kids see their parents being active, choosing healthy food and not worry about body images. However our children spend more hours outside, in playgrounds and classrooms learning life lessons from their peers. I don't want her or him judged because they can't get their beautiful body inside a pair of disproportionately designed 'Skinny' jeans.
I try my best to teach them that fat is not a bad word. Being healthy and able to climb a tree are more important childhood milestones than how big your thighs are(It wouldn't hurt to do those in a pair of comfortable shorts/jeans). Loving people for who they are than how they look is the sign of a true friend.
Hopefully one day she would walk into a store by herself to buy clothes and will not walk out feeling humiliated. But for now we are boycotting skinny jeans and the stores that carry them.

Edited to add: Here are some relevant articles that are talking about the same issue.
Dressing our Daughters
Standing up for our children
Mommy, am I too fat for A&F?

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Saturday, October 04, 2014


under mounds of smelly socks
and uncut vegetables
it remains lost

in dusty corners
and cluttered rooms
it hides

in bowls of soup
and unopened lunch-boxes
it disappears

in soulful hugs
and heartfelt kisses
i yearn to see it

in pro-mother rhetoric
is there a place for I?
will i find it?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Orbis Terrarum Challenge 2013

There's nothing like a challenge with a bunch of friends to get you back on the reading wagon. And there is definitely nothing like a reading challenge to keep you off the blogging wagon :)

Thanks to Amma & Appa visiting us for summer I managed to finish the Orbis Terrarum Challenge much before the year was up. Of course the fact that Amma and Appa felt ignored is but a minor inconvenience.

Here are my snippy reviews since if I decide to wax eloquent, I am going to to be writing this till kingdom come.

Iskender by Elif Shafak
Country : Turkey
Rating: 2.5/5
Elif Shafak took a difficult issue to write about – honor killing. The book opens with the murder already done so we know the victim & the perpetrator. The story is narrated by the victim Pembe’s daughter. However I felt the book didn’t give enough weight to the entire honor killing episode. Everyone accepts and eventually forgives Iskendar (Pembe’s eldest son).
What she fails to do for the cause , Elif does to the Turkey’s Kurdish culture. Her words shine light on a remote section of people and enchants us with their quirks, faults and traditions.
The twins’, Pembe & Jamila, birth and life in the village, the importance of honor in that community is well brought out through flashbacks.  However the story’s focus is only on Pembe’s family and their struggle to assimilate into London and the whole Jamila thread seems to be there only for shock value and to conveniently tie the loopholes. Sadly I liked Jamila’s character (whatever little is shown) and would’ve loved to know more about her.

You can read it once.

Country: Iran
Rating: 3/5
-     Lovely and entertaining story about an Iranian mother and daughter’s journey to self-discovery and coming to terms with loss of home, love and all things dear. Another story about an immigrant family’s struggle in a western world but this one is a lot more humourous. As someone who is best friends with an Iranian-Indian, this was a way of reliving all the stories I had heard from her. Marjan Kamali’s words flow effortlessly across the pages making as sigh and giggle and nod our heads with Darya as she tries hard to connect with her daughter.   And at the end you do agree with Darya, as an immigrant you can never be home… the home you left behind has moved on with the times, it is no longer the sepia-toned one of your childhood and the home you have made still remains alien to you after decades of living there. I have the same feeling everytime I visit Chennai because it is no longer the Madras of my childhood and Nashua can never be Madras.
Pick it up. You will enjoy it immensely.

Country : UK
Rating: 4/5
Don’t pick this book if you are vying for the ‘Most Conscientious Mom’ title because you’re going to fail at it. Miserably. When I sat down with this book on a Sunday after lunch, little did I know I would be stuck with it into the wee hours of the night, weeping and smiling at the same time.  I ignored my family, tricked The Mr into making the evening coffee, bribed the kids with TV and just cuddled on the sofa with the book. When in spite of my best laid plans the kids demanded dinner, I just made a huge pot of Maggi noodles; one hand stirring while the other held onto the book, never letting go.
There are some books that are well written and then there is ‘Me Before You’ that holds you captive with its well-etched characters and heart-wrenching, though-provoking story. Pick it up, Louisa Clark and Will Traynor won’t disappoint.

Country: Vietnam
Rating: 2.5/5
This is a Vietnamese family saga narrated by the different family members. One part of the family immigrates to France under the patriarch while the younger son and his family lands in America. The horror of refugee camps is brought out more in the silences than in graphic details. I liked how some questions weren't really answered and left in shadows. Cherry's paternal Grandpa in France and maternal Grandma in America, both manipulate and lord over their families under the pretext of 'doing the right thing'. The book beautifully captures what happens when such best laid plans go awry. I liked it because I felt the family struggles, the arguments and a person's faults were more believable. There was no band-aid to make the ending like a dramatic happy finale...instead it is more realistic because people don't just change overnight.

Country: Canada
Rating: 1/5
The only saving grace of this book was the cover. The blurb claimed that the heroine Meena, one of six daughters refuses to live by tradition and makes a painful choice that has serious repercussions. But apart from listening to rock songs, falling in love with a white guy and then sleeping with her best friend without her family's knowledge, Meena does nothing outside of tradition. The book is sad, sad and really sad. I felt the author was conjuring up tragedies just for the heck of it. Six daughter and we hear about only 2, maybe a little of the third. Another book that has various characters going through domestic abuse and no one around them says it is wrong. Did not like it one bit. 

Country: Bangladesh
Rating: 1/5
Godawful book. Don't bother picking it up. Even if the story is bad usually the prose is eloquent but this one I regret trudging through for the sake of finishing it. This is like the third book from a South-Asian author I have read that has the lead character having an affair as a sign of asserting themselves blah blah. I am not a prude and I believe couples can fall out of love. But i feel something is very wrong when your character who has been spineless and quiet for 3/4th of the story suddenly chooses to exert her independence by having an affair.And atleast write it with some passion so readers can feel the tension. "She waited under the sheets. she felt she was having a fever". WTF?

Saturday, December 08, 2012

To hover or not to hover -- Day 2

The Implet is having a playdate. I went and picked up my BFF's daughter. Another Tamizhian. Both kids know and speak Tamizh really well. A lot better than many of their peers.
Yet for some reason every minute they spend together they choose to converse only in English.

My friend and I spend most of our time during such playdates to constantly holler/whisper/shout 'Use Tamizh Goddammit!'.


Another day I was at another BFF's house and when I asked The Implet to speak in Tamizh for the nth time, my friend interjected. " Why are you bothering her so much? Let her talk in whichever language she likes to. The kids are playing, don't jump in".

I realized I was turning into a helicopter mom, constantly hovering over my kids monitoring their language. Not for bad language but for no language at all. My nightmare is not that my kid would swear but that she would lash out only in English and use nary a word in Tamizh. For me there could be nothing worse.

As much as I agree wholeheartedly with my friend that I shouldn't be a helicopter parent, I worry that if i don't push her often enough, her mother tongue would slowly be pushed to the back room and finally kicked out. I am not a born-again language fundamentalist but as a Tamizh speaking Indian making a living on foreign shores, my only connection to the world I grew up in is my mother tongue. I live in a melting pot. My children go to  school with other children from different cultures and their only common link is English. Her English is impeccable and rightly so considering that is what is going to help her navigate this global world. Yet my heart yearns that she doesn't throw away the sounds of her grandparents, the melody of her lullabies. I dream she would hold onto it long enough to pass it on to her progeny. What use are branches that reach to the skies if the root remains old and dying?

Note: Ignore the irony of penning this note in English

Friday, December 07, 2012

Marathon Blogging : Day 1

She is doing it so I am going to attempt this.
Plus this blog needs some really hard core resuscitation to come back from coma.

Trying to do it all as a mom, wife and a professional meant my personal interests took a hit.
Given a choice between writing or reading, I chose the latter as I could wear my judgmental hat and just laze around and pass comments on other people's life works - be it a blog or a novel. I needn't put myself out there in the world to be ridiculed at for my opinions or lack thereof.

However there isn't much growth if you read a lot but hardly have anyone to discuss what you've just read, even if it is something as inane as what temperature the house should be set at in winter.

I miss my old blog bubble - the camaraderie I shared with the few bloggers who went onto become good friends, the different viewpoints and the wonderful discussions- i miss it all.

I read many mommy-blogs and even though some of them wrote wonderfully I never felt at home with any of it. I couldn't identify myself as a mommy-blogger and yet who was I, if not a mother first and foremost? So i stopped writing.

The last time i was here, i was confused, rattled and not too comfortable in my own skin. Now i feel at home. This time I promise no wisdom but hopefully my kids didn't run away with all my wit. Wait a minute, can that happen?