Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Pack up time

Its time for pack up...with the year wrapping up, its time for me to pack up for the holidays. As usual, I am ending this year with mixed feelings. Has it been a good year or a bad one? Personally, a better year than the last (which was a mess) and professionally too. And of course some spirituality and the discovery of a new ability to write poetry...which made the end of the year so rich and so filled with hope.

But so much has happened all around the world and in my own country...Mumbai terror strike, repeated blasts and the financial crisis...does not make me feel too good. One plus point this year was possibly the fact that people voted for change in America. But how is this going to affect the rest of the world? Barack Obama does not have a magic wand.

So with some trepidation I shall bid farewell to this year to wait for the new year to dawn.. ditto for the winter holidays.

Hoping some of my readers will spare the time to go through my blog. To the lucky ones who do, here's wishing you a Merry Christmas and a happy life ahead! I love you all and God bless....

Thursday, 18 December 2008

A stranger in the mirror

I recently had an enriching conversation where I mentioned that I have now reached a phase where I can see my own self and at times am surprised by what I do or say... Its probably the other me and its nothing out of the ordinary. It maybe happening with everyone else.

In a sort of a way, I could relate to SRK (who else?) in the latest 'Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi'. The film may seem simple to many who would take it at face value. But from an intensely psychological and philosophical perspective, it is a complex film. (Can anyone, ever philosophise about a Bollywood movie? Yes I can....:-))

No apologies to those who have not seen the movie. Am not going to explain what the movie was all about....But, a clue: Surinder was an everyday guy, but an introvert and boring. Raj was an extrovert, and downright cheap to the core (but endearing) and both were one and the same guy.

Let's see it this way. There is a bit of Surinder and Raj in all of us. Deep down, the Surinder in us admires the Raj, but wants the love of our life to love the Surinder in us and vice versa. Those who have seen the movie may like the way I have encapsulated it in a single sentence.

What struck me was the reason why people fell in love...'Tum mein mujhe rab dikhta hai', says Raj to Taani, his love interest. This is so simple, yet refreshing. We probably fall in love with people in whom we see glimpses of God himself.

Maybe it is something in the eyes or the voice which makes you feel you have known the person all your life, even when you meet for the first time. It is possibly something to do with the soul, and not the heart or mind or body.

This could possibly be unselfish love, with no expectations. Love which gives happiness by just its presence in one's heart for the loved one and not expecting to be loved in return.

This somehow struck a chord, which earlier on, I would have dismissed as Bolly drivel.
Strange but yes, sometimes I do feel I am looking at a stranger in the mirror.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Not my hero for nothing

Now back to my favourite topics.......some keywords being liberal, Muslim, SRK, tolerance, modern India.

Its time the liberal Muslim voice in India be heard. How long can we, who are part of the country's thinking class keep quiet about feelings we have long suppressed? A handful of Muslim intellectuals like Javed Akhtar, Farooq Sheikh, Shabana Azmi and Juzar Bandookwala have been crying themselves hoarse, but was anyone listening?

But here is someone who when he speaks, the whole of India listens. Yes I am talking about the man himself.. Sharukh Khan who without owing any allegiance to any political party and devoid of political ambitions has spoken out and as usual straight from the heart. Am talking about his now famous Dec 6, 2008 interview with CNN-IBN : The transcript is as follows:

PEACE AND TOLERANCE: Shah Rukh Khan slams fundamentalism in an exclusive interview with CNN-IBN.In an exclusive interview with CNN-IBN Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan lashed out against religious fundamentalism and stressed on the importance of the youngsters being delivered the correct interpretation of religious text.

I am from Delhi. I have seen the riots in Delhi and when I came to Mumbai in 1993, I saw the blasts and now 26/11. More than a Mumbaikar, I feel like an Indian. And specifically because I would like to believe that I am an educated liberal Muslim, who has a Hindu wife and two kids, Shah Rukh said.

Underscoring the need for proper interpretation of religious texts, Shah Rukh said that it is pertinent that the youngsters are provided the correct reading of the Qoran.

Let me clarify, I have read the holy Qoran. It states that if you heal one man, you heal the whole mankind, and if you hurt one man, you hurt the whole mankind. Nowhere in the Qoran does it say that jihad will lead you to jannat (paradise), Shah Rukh said.As a matter of fact, he added, the book says that in a war, you can not kill any woman, you can not kill any child and you can not kill any animal, or destroy any crops.

The actor said that Jihad was supposed to be propagated by the Prophet himself but unfortunately now two versions of Islam exist.There is an Islam from Allah and — I am not being anti — very unfortunately, there is an Islam from the Mullahs. I appeal to all of them to please give the youngsters, the right reading of the Qoran, he said.I appeal to everyone, if we want to win this time, let's not allow ideological and religious stuff to come in our way. We've come together on a same platform. Let's use this fear in a better way and put it to better use. Fear is the greatest uniting force in the whole world, Shah Rukh added.

The actor also stressed the need for Indias youth to come forward and form a political party that is free of all religious prejudices and biases.There is corruption everywhere but if somewhere down the line someone moves away from it, I am there to support that person. Aamir said something brilliant in his blog that the youth need to form a political party. I am there to support them in any which way possible. There should be a law to ban all hardliner political parties, Shah Rukh said.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Praying for friends at Trident

The praise for the staff at both the hotels Taj and Trident are well-deserved. They went about their duties amidst grave danger to their lives. This is completely believable.

Trident being my office marker hotel was my place of stay in many an official visit to Mumbai. I would invariably take the 7 pm flight from Kolkata and reach the hotel sometime around 1030 pm. It would be late for a lady to arrive at a hotel in any city but I was always assured that it would be a homecoming of sorts. I would be greeted by a cheery smile by Vincent who would then proceed to take my luggage to my room..most often in the 14th floor. Imran and Shazia would couteously check me in and Shazia would accompany me right into my room. This was the special care they take of single women travellers. It made me feel so safe and cherished.

Today after 48 hours of massacre I dont know whether my friends at Trident are alive. My prayers are with them. I only hope next time I go, I see their smiling faces all over again.

Cry, the beloved country

Its still not over.. The 48-hour ordeal has given way to a numbness that is unfamiliar. Police, security forces, media working round the clock. More than 155 dead and 327 injured and still counting....

I sit in front the TV like a piece of useless furniture. Yes exactly...a numbed, still piece of wood....I feel useless, incapacitated and debilitated and very angry. Angry at my own helplessness..at not being able to do anything by way of help when thousands of affected people are living out the worst hours of their life. A 2-year old Jewish baby who lost both parents, Sabina Sehgal Saikia, an upright lady journalist whose last chilling message to her husband was that the terrorists had entered her bathroom after which her phone could not be contacted...

I can speak for myself. Not for the politicians who are looking to play politics based on the common man's losses.

Great lives, slain heroes. Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte, Sandeep Unnikrishnan...the brave men who went down fighting so that someone could go back home safe. What do we as Indians need to do now? See that these great lives have not gone in vain. How do we do that?

In the next few weeks there will only be questions...but we need answers. Desperately.

(Will update the blog, when I can think more coherently)

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Returning home

I cant imagine its been so long...My last post was 8 months ago. Why did I not blog? Writer's block? No idea. I was lost for some time in the frivolous, intensely public world of Facebook.

But suddenly I felt this unexplainable urge to revisit my blogsite and talk to myself and connect with little old 'me'. The last 8 months have been mixed...good work, good appraisals, change in office leadership and a couple of visits to my second 'home' the UK.

I just got back from the UK last weekend after attending TechWorld 08 and got some interesting takeaways. Will write about that later.

I have just bought the book "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle and it comes highly recommended. Will read it and add some more posts.

So am I home? Of course...home is where the heart is..

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Gandhigiri globally

I came across this wonderful development which to me is path breaking for world peace. Palestinians are now resorting to Gandhi's ideals of non-violence.

I wonder why they did not think of it earlier?

Check this article out:

http://www.outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20080317&fname=Palestine+%28F%29&sid=1

Look forward to your comments!

Friday, 7 March 2008

The Other Man

I come from a background where divorces are looked down upon, second marriages or relationships mistrusted and marital breakdowns bandaged, plastered and hammered back to make them workable. None of my friends or family have been bold or idealistic enough to walk out of the boundaries of an unhappy marriage.

Wonder whether I should touch wood?

"Be practical. Save your marriage at any cost", I have heard elders advise, time and again.

Therefore, what happens to single moms and their relationships is unknown territory. I came across this article written by Heidi Wendel in the New York Times. It is a first person account and although one is not in the same shoes, the style in which this article is written is compelling. It almost makes one empathise with the protagonist and identify with her, despite not being on the same boat with her.

So here goes...

Modern Love
Me, My Daughter and Them

By HEIDI WENDEL
Published: March 2, 2008
MY newest guy, vintage four weeks, was spending his first overnight at our Upper West Side apartment en famille and didn’t know the drill.

“I think I’ll watch a movie in the bedroom,” he said innocently, browsing through our movie collection like a tourist.

“But we’re reading out here,” I said. “Sophie’s doing homework.”

Sophie and I sat in our respective comfy chairs in the living room, feet up on the same ottoman. She was highlighting passages from her ninth-grade history text about the fight for women’s suffrage, while I kept her company, mulling the complications of a fraud case I was preparing for trial. A cozy silence filled the room.

“I know,” he said dismally. “You’ll have to turn the pages quietly or you might disturb me.”

He went out to the movies and we didn’t expect him back, at least not for the long term. But he stuck around for another six months before leaving for good. We were in love, and it took a while for him to grow disenchanted with a situation in which he would always be secondary to my daughter’s priorities, her well being and her education.

It was more or less the same with the other guys who came and went over the years.

The first one, after Sophie and I struck out on our own 12 years ago, when she was starting kindergarten, was a perfect fit. He was a rock musician who often stayed up all night composing, and barely noticed that Sophie still slept with me. Far from complaining that we never went out alone together, he considered himself lucky I didn’t give him grief for spending so many nights out playing bars and clubs. On weekends he was too tied up with rehearsals to notice our plans never included him.

But one night around 18 months after we met, under the romantic influence of a song he was writing about me and him and sometimes Sophie, it occurred to him that something was missing.

He crawled into bed humming a line from the song: “Not just now but forever, we’ll share a home together, baby.” It was only a half rhyme.

Swimming up from the sleepy underworld and sensing him next to me, I whispered: “Where are your pajamas? You feel like an animal.”

“Oh, right, I forgot. But Sophie’s out cold over there anyway. And even with my shorts on I’d be naked for what I have to say, which is, how about I move in here and we get married next year?”

I woke up fast then, as though fire trucks had shot down Broadway with their sirens blaring.

“Sure, let’s get married next year,” I said slowly, playing along for the moment.

He broke into a verbal instrumental with percussive kisses, then cut it off as if he had been unplugged. “And we would obviously live together,” he said. “Right?”

Looking at Sophie, and thinking of our perfect life together, I couldn’t do it, not even for a great guy like him, a guy I loved, a rock star. The next day he took his boxers out of the bottom drawer of the bureau and moved on.

The next guy caught on faster. At first he threw himself into us, introducing us to his parents and siblings, buying presents for our apartment, teaching Sophie chess. He stored his custom-made shirts in the closet and kept his single malts in the liquor cabinet.

Sophie was the half-a-child he had always wanted. Without having to raise her, he had the benefit of her pleasant company over sushi and tapas. He never complained that my life didn’t revolve around him. He appreciated having a relationship that didn’t require him to reduce his billable hours.

The tide turned a few months later when we went on vacation without him. This trip was to be for Sophie and me only, and to avoid feeling pressured about it, I purposely didn’t tell him of our plans until about a week before our departure, at which point he seemed most offended that he hadn’t been consulted about where we would go and what we would see.

As a partner at a prominent law firm, he was used to being consulted about major decisions by everyone he knew. Had he known we were planning a trip to Tuscany, he would have advised us to stay in Lucca, which is less crowded and has better food than Siena. He would have warned us to make reservations to see the David and the Uffizi Gallery so we wouldn’t have had to wait in long lines.

On top of that, he was hurt that I hadn’t wanted him to go with us. Granted, he probably wouldn’t have been able to, because of his work schedule. But never before had he been excluded from a vacation by someone he loved and who loved him.

When we called him from Pisa on the last day, he cross-examined me about my plans for our future and found my answers nonresponsive. I talked around the issues, trying to avoid admitting anything directly on point. Finally, though, he managed to pin me down.

“Look, isn’t it true you have no intention of moving in with me in the foreseeable future?” he asked. “Just answer the question.”

He had me cold. At his request, I put Sophie on the phone so he could say goodbye to her, too.

Following in her mother’s footsteps, she tried to change the conversation. “This Duomo in Pisa is the most beautiful anywhere,” she said. “You really should see it some time.”

“Better than the ones in Florence and Siena?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” she said, “To be honest, I don’t remember those anymore.”

“Sure, because that’s how it is with you guys,” he said. “Here today, gone tomorrow.”

The years rolled by in the same vein until Sophie was in high school and I began to confront the fact that our long sleepover party would soon end. I knew the transition to an empty nest might be less painful if there were someone else around the house, but it was hard to imagine making that a reality when Sophie’s and my life together had grown even less conducive to sharing with a man.

Who would be willing to put up with our monklike silence on nights and weekends while Sophie did homework? Who would tolerate my need to drop plans on a moment’s notice to spend whatever free time I could with her during the few years I had left?

But as her junior year was ending, a candidate presented himself.

He was a partner in a public relations firm who conveniently lived five hours away in Washington. Every other week or so he came up on business, hung out for a few days with interruptions to attend meetings and dinners, and then headed back. For months we were perfectly happy.

Like many of my romances, though, it seemed its very success would be its undoing. He was so happy, he wanted more. Soon he was researching public relations firms in New York and asking what a two-bedroom apartment cost in our neighborhood. For my part, I started researching reasons why the relationship should quickly end.

I thought I had my answer when he announced he was going on his annual weeklong hunting trip in West Virginia. Maybe he seemed like a good, kind man, I thought, the type any woman would want to hang on to. But in fact he was the sort who killed animals for fun. While he blithely related his excitement at seeing his hometown and his brothers and cousins, I plotted my exit.

On our last evening together, before he was to set off in camouflage with his guns, he said happily, “I’ll bring you back a nice chunk of venison and a six pack of my hometown brew and mix you and Sophie up a venison stew like you never ate.”

“We don’t eat venison. We couldn’t eat a murdered deer.”

I hoped he would become angry, go off on his trip in a huff, complain about me to his brothers, and get some advice to get rid of me fast.

Instead, ever the P.R. man, he changed his pitch to suit the client. “What makes you think I’ll shoot a deer?”

“You’re going to deer-hunting camp. You’re going to shoot a deer.”

“I may shoot a deer,” he said, smiling, “if one breaks into the camp and pulls a knife on me.”

“I’m serious,” I said.

“I am, too. If I shoot a deer, he’ll have left a suicide note. I only go there to hang out and shoot beer cans.”

Two months later he was still around and had started reading the real estate ads to me.

“Look at this nice two-bedroom with a balcony on Riverside Drive,” he said one Sunday while we sat entwined on the couch. “Why don’t we take a look at it with Sophie?”

I sat up. “Sophie couldn’t move now while she’s so busy with school and applying for college.”

Undefeated, he looked around the apartment.

“Then maybe we could talk to an architect about making some modifications to this place to add a room.”

“I don’t think we could deal with having architects and designers in here doing renovations,” I said.

“But you subscribe to Architectural Digest,” he pointed out reasonably. “You’ve got three years of back issues on the bookshelf.”

“Not because we ever planned to renovate,” I said. “That stuff’s just porn for New York City apartment dwellers.”

I ASSUMED that would end it, but when he saw he wasn’t getting any traction, he reconcepted. The next time he was in town, he told me he was pitching some new clients in New York and it was important for him to have a New York address so the clients would feel more at home with him. How would I feel about sharing a mailbox with him? Just a mailbox, a 3-by-8-inch box. All I had to do was put a piece of tape with his name on it alongside my name and Sophie’s on the inside edge of the box where the mail carrier could see it.

That didn’t seem like much to ask. I added his name to the inside of the box and gave him a key.

It wasn’t until years later, when he and I were living together in a two-bedroom apartment with a balcony on Riverside Drive, that I found out he hadn’t been pitching any new clients in New York at all — none, that is, except for a certain stubborn one who lived with her daughter in an apartment on the Upper West Side.


Heidi Wendel is a lawyer.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Joining the board wagon

It was building up...we had been waiting for this. A mixture of hope, anticipation, stress and fatigue for my daughter taking her ICSE exams today, and ditto for her parents.

Preparations had begun early since she started with Class IX. Hard work, burning the midnight oil, phases of intense hope, alternating with utter despair were some of the moods she went through. There were times she whined and wanted to be cuddled and pampered like a two-year old and at others she surprised me by being unrecognisable, remote like another woman my age.

All parents of children who have sat for boards in India know what one goes through. It is like a pregnancy followed by labour, and the results, the birth of a new child.

Parents have to swing between tender loving care, firmness, building confidence and fault finding (never accusing). 'Build on the strengths and plug the loopholes', I would say. 'Strategise', my husband would advise. I have complete faith in my husband as a master strategist, as he has the distinction of cracking almost every competitive examination he has sat for.

Today, as she is writing her first paper in the ICSE exams, I sit and revisit my long forgotten blog site. A strangely reminiscent mood has descended upon me as I look back to the day, when she, a a five-year old joined the kindergarten section of her school. A shy child, she loved pets and the headmistress had to break the ice by taking her on a walk to look at the new kittens the school cat had given birth to. I even remember she was wearing a black t-shirt teamed with a black and white checked skirt and her hair pulled back in a ponytail. She looked serious then. She still has a ponytail today and still looks serious!

I recall seeing the same set of parents of her classmates on the day of the admission, as I saw them today. How times fly...They still look the same, except for a few lines and some strands of grey.

I was going through the papers today and I came across this editorial piece in the Hindustan Times:

Feeling board
Sadhna Shanker

February 28, 2008



She is perpetually surrounded by books, spending hours on the phone and in her night clothes, looks harried and doesn’t step out of the house. A tenth grader, she is going to face her first board exams in March. The house is inhabited by a strange child these days. Her smile has vanished; she actually eats whatever is placed before her without even a whimper; she says no to shopping and eating out; and looks preoccupied all the time. I can’t imagine that this is my daughter!

The young lady who spent hours preening before the mirror as she went through various sets of clothes, now lopes around the house dressed in what she would have earlier called ‘rags’. If I push her to change, she tells me that dressed like this she has no urge to step out and so can concentrate better. Her contact with the outside world is through her mobile phone that rings less and less frequently now.

All her friends are in the same situation. At times there is a flurry of activity on the net and the phone when some common problem is discussed. Otherwise silence prevails. The music system lies unattended and when she watches TV her face bears a guilty look. The ‘board’ child living in my house depresses me no end.

As a ‘board’ mother, I have ensured that there is no target percentage that she needs to achieve. Her decision not to take science in Class 11 has been happily endorsed. As ‘board’ parents, we try to keep the atmosphere in the house as normal as possible and encourage her to take breaks in fresh air.

However, none of this works. There is no let up in the peer pressure that suffocates this generation of over-achievers. The constant coverage in newspapers of how to beat stress seems to only add to the idea that being stressed is hip and happening.

For the last nearly four months the teenage froth of my daughter has vanished under the weight of the forthcoming exams. I eagerly await the end of the exams to reclaim my child, and dream of the time when she will ignite the house again with her tantrums.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Women@work


I was travelling back home as a young student on a train from New Delhi after my bachelor final exams and I met a mother with two hyperactive under ten sons. We got talking and I liked her simple straightforward nature.

I don't remember much of the conversation I had with her, but one thing has stuck in my memory. When asked whether she was working, she answered, poker-faced, ' yes, I work. At home'.

Many years later, this memory got jogged when I was going through the Telegraph newspaper. An interesting article as to why women top in schools and colleges but do not reach top positions at work. So here goes:


What women want

They certainly don’t look for burnouts and marriage break-ups

Talking heads on the idiot box and conference junkies have a subject they turn to again and again — the empowerment of women. In the HR arena, the so-called glass ceiling seems to be reflected everywhere. A single Indra Nooyi making it to the top of Pepsi International provokes tonnes of pontification. Reams are written on how we need to throw up more opportunities for the fairer sex.

At the bottom of the pyramid, this is a non-issue. On farms or at construction sites in cities, women shoulder as much of the work as men do. They get paid less, true. But that’s another issue. In terms of opportunity, they probably are on a par with men, particularly as they are more responsible and less liable to disappear on jags. Workplaces that make provision for childcare report a far better response from women than men.

It is in organised sector jobs that women seem to get a raw deal. A new study by the Associated Chambers of Commerce says that only 3.3 per cent of working women reach top slots and 17.7 per cent the middle level. The study surveyed 1,053 women — 222 rural, 363 urban and 468 from metropolitan cities.

It you look closely at the findings, you will see that it is not principally the environment or society that stops these women from making it to the top. The bigger reasons are lack of support from their families and their own personal inclinations.

“It is fashionable to say that society is depriving women of job opportunities,” says Mumbai-based HR consultant Shashi Rao. “Women say so too. But do they really want to be part of the rat race?”

According to a study by consulting firm Accenture, most people (70 per cent of women and 50 per cent of men) do believe that a glass ceiling exists. Other studies show that American women get paid 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. But 60 per cent of them are happy with their salaries, compared to the slightly higher 67 per cent for men.

“Women know how to achieve a better balance,” says Rao. “If it is necessary to compromise on career ambitions to take care of the family, they are prepared to do so.” Rao points out that studies of Indian Institute of Management graduates show that very few women reach high levels in the corporate world. (Nooyi is an aberration.) But many of them seem to be doing very well as entrepreneurs or consultants. “They are very successful,” says Rao. “But they have made their own world where they can work at their own pace. The last things they want are burnouts and marriage break-ups.”

“Yes, there is a case to be made for discrimination in pay,” continues Rao. “But when it comes to a promotion or rising up the corporate ladder, it is very often the woman’s own choice. Don’t pity the mid-level woman manager whose male colleagues have left her two rungs behind. She is perfectly content where she is until the do-gooders start talking about how she has been discriminated against. This is an equally important pro-choice issue.”

Most of the “break the glass ceiling” advocacy comes from the US. But how does it really fare on this score?

Consulting firm Grant Thornton’s 2007 study on women in management — part of its International Business Report — says that the proportion of businesses with women in senior management is the highest in the Philippines (97 per cent) followed by Mainland China (91 per cent). The US is No 13 with 69 per cent. India records 56 per cent. The US has the same rank when it comes to women in senior management. It chalks up 23 per cent against 50 per cent for the Philippines and 42 per cent for Brazil. India has 14 per cent.
So is it good or bad for India? Leave it for the women to decide.

THE WORKING WOMAN IN INDIA

Where they work
Private sector 47.1%
Government 24.7%
Public sector 15.3%
NGOs 12.9%

And what holds them back

Lack of time (for networking etc) 42%
Reluctance to change jobs or geographies 34.66%
Family responsibilities 16.67%
Others 6.67%

(Source: Assocham study — Women Top in Education: Why Miss Top Positions?)

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Line of Control

Helooo there all the makhnas and soneyas! It has been quite some time since I contributed anything to my bloggernama!

The turn of the year does this to me---letting go and making fresh new beginnings is a fulltime job na?

Paparazzi is at work and papparazoes are in the news ala Britney Spears (poor thing, my heart goes out to her). Anyway more about her in my subsequent blogs.

The Shahid-Kareena break up was the talk of the tinsel town, and the new handsome jodi of Saif-Kareena created quite a flutter. Newsprint had its dedicated reams to why Shahid-Kareena split and there was some talk of Shahid's stringent does and donts for Kareena, which stifled her.

Anyway, whatever the cause of the breakup, it is none of our business. But this left me thinking....

I can only give the feminine side of the viewpoint as I am a woman. My male readers are welcome to put forth their point of view. What I am going to say is mostly common to both genders. I know several of my friends who live within controlled relationships without even knowing it. No, not the 'Agnisakshi' kind of control---Husband Nana Patekar was a control freak of the worst order to wife Manisha Koirala in a movie made about 12 years ago (ughhh, shudder...)

In the guise of love and affection, most husbands/male partners call the shots in relationships full of does and donts. Turn vegetarian, dont expose, dont cut your hair short, dont be vivacious, dont speak with male friends, dont work or do cook , do clean, do iron my shirts, do take fulltime care of the kids, do compromise on your job are some such codes of conduct which become set in stone over the years.

Next is cultural control. My culture is superior to yours, you are not grounded, you seem rootless, you lack conviction, your accent and language is inferior to mine. so much so that the woman actually starts believeing that something is seriously wrong with her and tries her best to mould herself to the man's wishes only to be snubbed time and again.

By the time the woman realises this, it is too late. She is completely entangled in the web of the does and donts and cannot break the shackles.

Men could feel equally stifled in relationships---No wonder sons sound like daughters-in-law and daughters forget their own relationships and start sounding like sons-in-law!


The only way out is to understand and identify that you are being controlled, early in the relationship and take suitable measures like walking out of the relationship or telling him exactly what you think---- that nothing is wrong with you---it is he who is wrong for trying to pin you down, as he in his heart of hearts knows you are the stronger one--your inner strength scares him and he does his best to put you down.


Believe in you own strengths and capabilities, try and cross the line of control and all will be right with the world.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Kick the butt, you asses!

I was slightly early, one winter afternoon, when I went pick up my 7-year old from school. I decided to sit inside my car and wait it out. As I was aimlessly gazing out of my window, I spotted a very young, well-heeled and good looking couple sitting inside a swanky car. Both were puffing on and passing on the same cigarette to one another. I would have looked away, but the sheer good looks of the couple kept my eyes rivetted. It set me thinking about how close they must be and it looked sooo romantic to see a young, good looking couple, sharing a leisurely smoke together.

But suddenly, my rose tinted spectacles cracked, precisely when the couple, hearing the school gong got out of the car holding a sleeping baby which must not be more than 6-7 months old.

I literally had to stop myself from assaulting the pair! How irresponsible can one get?
They must be going to pick up the older child which must be in junior school. Seriously, some people needed to take parenting lessons and the hazards of passive smoking!

Active and passive smoking have become India's growing menace. But help maybe at hand, when after May 31, all workplaces become smokefree zones. But what does one do to educate people inside their houses and cars?

I paste a news clipping from the Hindustan Times on the new work place rule:

Almost the whole of the country will become a no-smoking zone by May 31 if the health ministry, led by Anbumani Ramadoss, has its way.
Homes and designated smoking areas at airports and restaurants will be the only places where one can have a smoke once the government introduces the ‘Smoke-free Workplace Rules.’ Once that happens, India will join the list of countries most intolerant towards smoking.
“The Tobacco Control Act only allows smoking and tobacco-use in designated smoking areas at airports and restaurants seating over 30 people. Once the rules are introduced, these will be the only public places where people will be able to smoke,” says Health Minister Ramadoss, speaking to HT from London.
France and Germany have banned smoking in public places — including bars and cafes — from January 1 this year, following the UK which introduced a similar ban in July 2006.
While individual law-breakers will be fined Rs 200, institutions and organisations allowing people to smoke will have to cough up fines as high as Rs 10,000. “About 10 million children under the age of 15 are addicted to tobacco in India, with 5,500 starting tobacco use every day. Before they realise its dangers, they get addicted to it,” says Ramadoss.
Graphic warnings with pictures of diseased lungs and dying babies on cigarette and tobacco packs were intended to do just that, but will now be muted down. A high-level Group of Ministers including Pranab Mukherjee, Priyaranjan Das Munsi, Oscar Fernandes, Kamal Nath, Jaipal Reddy and Ramadoss set up to examine the “merits and demerits” of pictorial warnings found them to be “inappropriate.”
“The tobacco industry needs new consumers and heavily market to the youth, with 10 per cent Mumbai schoolchildren reporting they were offered free tobacco samples and 20 per cent saying they owned a tobacco brand,” says Dr Prakash C. Gupa, Director of the Mumbai-based Healis-Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health.
One in five adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 years consume some form of tobacco in India, with 15.6 per cent of them smoking cigarettes.


Smokers, be warned! Your time starts now.....

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Car seva

"The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfils himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world"

This verse from 'The passing of King Arthur' in a way describes the turn of time, when one year flows into another.

The last week of 2007 and the first week of 2008 has been filled with action the world over. Ranging from the serious to the frivolous, these two weeks have seen it all. Benazir Bhutto's assassination with son Bilawal and niece Fatima catapulted to world attention, Sarkozy cosying up with Carla Bruni in Egypt, the start of the Presidential race in the US have hogged world attention.

However, most middle class Indians are now occupied with the launch of the Rs one Lakh ($ 2,500) post factory car by the Tatas. This could be the New Year gift of the Tatas to the people of India. The car is going to capture the 300 million middle class aspirations of a nation where more than 50% of the population is below 25 years of age.

Everybody and his uncle would be maintaining a car. BPO kids, college students, retired people ----------everyone would be interested in buying a piece. No wonder that Bajaj group is also planning to enter the four-wheeler sector --however it is not known whether the car will be priced similarly.

But I am dismayed. Indian cities are grappling with traffic jams and poor road connectivity. Indian roads are nothing to write home about and although several new highways and flyovers have been planned, it will be some time before the roads are able to cater to all the tiny new contraptions running all over the place. Commuting is going to be a nightmare (if it is not already!) in Indian cities.

So while we celebrate rising incomes and lowered car costs, the least the government could do would be to build more roads at a lightning pace. Till then, good luck to us!