Monday, 28 May 2012

Pehle board the. Ab bored hain!

I am in Chennai. Nervous as hell. The world seems to have gone from Color to Black & White. Food is tasteless. I am unable to look eye to eye at my parents. Dad leaves for work saying- "Jo hoga, dekha jaayega". The bloody land line seems to have gone dead- Baj Baj Baj is what my heart echoes. It rings and I hear a familiar voice at the other end. 

Me: Sab theek hai na?
Other end: Ya ofcourse.
Me: So....?
Other end: Cheer up babe. You scored xyz
Me: Did I flunk?
Other end: You not listening to me or what? I said you scored xyz
Me: Ok thanks! Call you in a bit...

This conversation took place 14 years back! At the other end was my friend but at that time she was a god-sent messenger who held the most crucial news of my life. The news regarding my Class 12 Board examination score. Me being me, always doubted if I will even pass- leave alone score well or not!! I did score okay (given the standards of 'okay' at our times- That score now will get me a college in Nicobar islands' university- if there is any!). My doubts were even life threatening while expecting Class 10th results!!

This morning when I saw News channels flashing that 12th Board results are announced, I started poking my Mom to call up my 2 cousins whose daughters gave board exams this year (imagine- my cousin's kids are now giving 12th board- How old have I got). She kept ignoring my continuous pestering and finally gave me back my own medicine- "Apna time yaad hai? Did YOU want anyone to call you and ask??"

So true! At that time I was so damn silly about BOARD results!! Life revolved around it. I ate, slept, walked, slept, even shat- all for THE board exams. Weren't we all told that these truly were the makers or breakers of our life ahead?? I mean, I wasn't all that wrong about taking them seriously? 

Good score- good college- good course- good PG- good job- good husband- GOOD LIFE. So to lead a good life, it all boiled down to good board results!

Now do I have a good life? My good score did get me a good course and college. But what I did after that gives a shit to my percentage! I had to study for it and did okay with cracking an MBA institute (okay not everyone goes to an IIM) . Then I got a good husband and.....then I got KIDS!! (Yes the chain got a break somewhere with kids between Husband and Life). But, Life still is good. 

At no job interviews, I am ever asked that percentage.
At my office no colleague knew my percentage.
Saurabh still does not know my board percentage.
My kids WILL never care about my percentage.

So what is the moral? 

While for the 1st 18 years of my life I cared about my Boards. The next 57 years (75 years being the average life expectancy of women in my family- in my imagination) life made no reference to that exam! I am not saying- Trash your worries! I am saying- keep working hard. I am saying- hard work has no substitute. I am saying- don't make this the end of your world (let that happen naturally in December this year). I am saying- Listen to Linkin park right away- "In the end it doesn't even matter". 

Because, in life, you will always get what you deserve not what you want!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Mere brother ki dulhan kaisi ho.....aisi ho bhai aisi ho!!!

Dear Rahul,

I have never written you a letter in my life right? I mean I have always picked up the damn phone and taken your class. So why write an open letter now!!! Reason is valid- so read up and make anyone who qualifies- read this!

I have been thinking about this since you told me that your 'chaddi buddy' (who is like you to us) might be getting hooked (read married) sometime next year. It struck me then that YOUR family is so busy with their own selves that we forgot to think about your marriage. Soon it will be time for you too! What to do, for us you are still the Rahul who jumped from the 1st floor balcony to the ground floor when Ma slapped you one afternoon because of me and then got slapped yet again when you started shouting for help!!! (Silly boy- why shout? We would have found you eventually)

I know you are not complaining but still!! You ought to get married one day and if we forget about it due to our sheer laziness, kindly look for a girl for yourself. But before you set out (or if you are already there) please keep in mind the following points because your sister has some time today to jot down who WE want as your wife!!
  1. You know Dad always loved me more than you! Trust me we didnt make up that story of finding you near a garbage pile around India Gate. Mom just made it look like a story because you howled a lot when I mentioned it- anyways so since Dad will ALWAYS love me more than you, please find a girl who also is loved more than you! Then we can fight on equal footing on who gets more attention :)
  2. Ma is a hard core perfectionist! Sometimes I wonder if she is my mother or mother in law! The amount of expectations she has from me in terms of keeping "Saurabh happy" and devoting my life to my kids (like she did for us), please take care that your wife knows this in advance. Tell her- "She is a Mom-in-law even to my sister, so baby- adjust" :). After all, her insistence will only better your life!
  3. My kids think that you are just after their father and before Superman when it comes to being their hero. So dont end up like the Spiderman who hangs washed clothes on his web after marriage. Stay the superhero that you are!
  4. I have had the great opportunity to see some of your exes' photographs and often said in my heart-" Thank god she is an ex now!". Please do a better job this time- Make her meet Saurabh- he has an eye for beauty ;) 
  5. You know that maybe we know! But its okay if you want us to not know till you know- what is right!!! But you know.....okay we wont tell you till you officially let us know!!!
  6. She should be able to survive huge volume levels of Television. (My husband still faces problems on that front but adjusts as he doesn't have to live in your house!) Also, she should actively prepare herself with current affairs knowledge as we as a family have huge, never ending discussions on our Dining table on everything we see on news channels. Warn her!
  7. See brother- before tying the knot, every time she complains about a certain habit of yours, you will pass it off as "nakhra". Shaadi ke baad, the same nakhras multiply by a figure of 1000. So if the tendency of these nakhras now is manifold already- its khatra!! 
  8. Before marriage I told Saurabh- "I dont know how to cook food!". He said- "O baby you wont need to also!". Today you know the elaborate 'my-made' cuisines that are laid on our dinner table- Basically tell her- "What do you mean you dont know cooking? Who will cook for Ma, Pa, our kids and Parul Di when she visits?". Try karke dekh- atleast we would have told her!!
  9. Please tell her the truth about your freaky habits like cleanliness, that you cannot mix dal and rice in your plate and always need help with it, that you are a carnivore, that you order a cheese pizza when we go to Haldirams, that you have to be pushed to watch a movie in a theater, that you will forgo food but dance the night away if music and company is good blah blah blah. Oh, the prospective girls might be reading this? "Girls, please ignore!!"
  10. We are all believers of the legendary Feroz Khan, foot tapping song- Pyar do....Pyar lo. Basically let her know that our parents are extremely simple so the only way to win them is through HONESTY and Dad is known to judge people from their faces in the first few minutes of meeting them! "Be yourself girl, because he will anyways know" :)

Your wellwisher,
Paldi :)

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Motherhood = Marketing/Brand Management?

V and N, my sons, are usually the focal points of every conversation people have with me now. Very often I meet people who ask me- "How do you manage 2-2" :). With special emphasis on- 2-2!!! I sat down to wonder one day if what I have been doing is actually extraordinary?? It may seem like rocket science but in reality, it actually has reflections of what one usually does at their work place as Marketers, Brand managers etc. So read on and find out the similarities:
  1. Timing- It is very important to understand that 'what' is the correct timing to launch a brand: Elder's wisdom and experience told us that - come what may- If you plan to have 2 babies (which you should!), then plan them as close to each other as possible. In the initial years it did seem like a bad decision but with time I have savored the fruits of having reduced the mental slog by a great degree. 
  2. Team work- Never undermine the support of a helping hand around you: If you have an able and active elder's help at home- GREAT! If no, dont worry. Get as much help as possible from whoever ever offers it! Maid, husband, neighbor, milkman, internet- get hold of anyone who is available and DELEGATE. Oh you dont believe in taking help? All the best :)
  3. Saying No and Saying Yes- One should always know the importance of their Yeses and Nos- Just because you hold something dearly to you, does not mean you can be liberal with your Yeses and just because you never wish to cause any hurt to someone , does not mean you should never say No! Think about it- if you can master a firm yes and a timely NO, wouldnt you be much less stressed. I say YES everytime my kids want to sleep and NO whenever they 'dont feel like eating food'.
  4. Be confident about yourself- ALWAYS- If you appear to be wobbly about your conduct and about what you wish to convey, how will the kids learn to be confident themselves. Manage them with a lot of confidence (even when in your heart you may not be feeling so) so that even those around, trust you. When I held the nail cutter for the first time in my life to chop their nails- in my head it appeared (to me) as big as an axe but I pretended I was holding a tiny piece of cotton and everything (read everyone) will be fine!
  5. Lead by example- It may be the most abused advise ever, but I guess this is the biggest contribution to your child's upbringing. If you continuously abuse in front of them, how do you expect them to be sober and dignified. Clinch your teeth tight, if you may, but never do anything that you do not want them to, in front of them. So when I feel like pulling Saurabh's hair, I gesture to him that it shall be done once his kids are sleeping. It keeps the 'expectations levels' in our relationship alive !
  6. Rely on your Instincts- In business, never underestimate the power of your instincts- Its a classic motherhood rule that every woman knows her child best through her instinct. She will always know the difference between- when the baby is hungry to when he is creating a ruckus just for attention. So next time you see Nevaan howling like I have administered 3rd degree torture on him, please keep in mind that being his Mom, I have ruled out all 'logical' reasons why he should not be doing so!
  7. Respect experience yet change with time- Its fatal to discard old beliefs completely and still expect success. Do change with times but always learn from other's experiences. For example I refused to put 50 kajal spots on my babies' faces to save them from 'buri nazar' but always silently pray to God that he protects them from everything evil :)
  8. Observe your brand at every stage and mould your approach accordingly- Only you know your kids best like you know your work best (if you love it). So observe closely and then react. I absolutely respect Viraj's choice of certain food stuff that he has 'tasted' and refused to eat. It does not hurt my ego. Instead it makes him confident that he has a say in his life :)
  9. Taking responsibility of your actions- Its the worst idea to constantly shirk responsibility and play the blame game. If something goes wrong, admit it! Not only are you setting an example, you are also making way for improving yourself. For instance, let them fall and get bruised! And in case you CANNOT let that happen, I am sure you have made special arrangements to accompany them to school everyday and to their colleges and office too.
  10. Treat 2 brands as 2 different entities and dont generalise solutions of similar problems- Despite same set of parents, similar upbringing and same rules, both my sons are 180 degree apart in their attitudes and reactions. Hence instead of making Viraj as strong as Nevaan (mentally) and making Nevaan as sensitive as Viraj (from the heart), I encourage them to be what they are and provide solutions to their problems by riding on their individual personalities rather than basing my solutions on comparisons.
  11. Discipline- One Saurabh in the house is enough to discipline a million sets of V and N. Jokes apart (or he will pull my hair!), there are some cardinal rules which they HAVE to follow because I know how those will shape their future lives. So they have to meet Dadi before they leave for school. They have to sleep for two hours in the afternoon or they wont be taken to the park. N is not allowed to raise his hand on his elder brother. V has to solve all of N's school related issues and not bring them to us etc etc
  12. Nurture- A girl called Parul Tyagi, today makes complicated food like Gajar ka halwa, Besan/atta/khoya laddoos, Chicken soup, Spaghetti in Red sauce loaded with veggies, Thai green curry, muffins and much more- What is the big deal? IT IS! I did not enter the kitchen before my kids were born! In a nut shell- Take charge of what your little ones eat- in your hands. Its one of the most fulfilling ways of creating happy memories in their growing years :)
  13. Revisiting your own rules and breaking them yourself before revising them- While we encourage kids to abide by our rules, we also keep a watch on when is the time to break them. They may not be allowed to eat chocolates and colas when ANYONE except for us offers it to them but every single time they hand over the chocolate, that has been offered to them, to us, we reward them suitably with something they ll like even more :)
  14. Let go! - When you have made the foundations strong, let go sometimes. Stay around and be watchful....but do allow them to be themselves. So get rid of -"Let Mamma feed you, let Mamma tap you" as soon as possible. 
  15. A bit of you in your work- They were born out of me. I have spent every single minute of their lives with them. How boring will it be if the world does not see a bit of me in them :). Good or Bad, my babies are a bit of me and Saurabh and thats how they should be :)
Image courtesy:

Friday, 11 May 2012

Aamir- Anita-Parul- A comparison of a similar thought but different magnitudes

Aamir Khan

I know you have had an overdose of opinions and debates on the 'why- how - what' of Aamir's new found agenda- Satyamev Jayate. Hence I will keep this section very short and just tell you what I believe his intentions are and what I believe is wrong with them.

Its a no brainer that Aamir has set out to 'divert' popular attention to issues which everyone is already aware of. He certainly believes (and maybe right in some context) that his celebrity status can sensitize people faster and because of the image he has on screen(of being a perfectionist, raising social issues through his cinema blah blah) he is more believable when an unnoticed tear drops out of his eye . So in a nut shell- he is projecting, to his audience, that now that he has achieved a certain status in the society, this is his chance to give back to it on issues which are close to his heart (or which are, in is words, dil pe lagne waale). Tell me if I have analysed it wrong so far?

Whatever anyone may think, to me his Funsuk Wangdoo and Ram Shankar Nikumbh were a much better way to bring forth these issues as its a non intrusive, non preachy, less desperate and non guilt provoking way of saying the same thing. Everyone who warmed their sofas watching the show that Sunday(and can't wait for the next) are pseudos who ALREADY knew of the issue. Now please dont argue with me that so far they did not know what to do about it and Aamir appeared from heavens and gave them a direction. If he appeared to you as being God-Sent, its because he is a huge bollywood star who has all the means to do it. Didn't he manage it better in his most simplest way in 3 idiots? Didnt Sanjay Dutt ,who has otherwise even spent some time in jail, do it rather impact fully in Lage Raho?

A personal agony(?)---------- have the means to talk about them-----------reach out and tell world-----expect people to change by sending an SMS or feel bad about themselves--------gain more fan following which will obviously result in more box office ticket purchases--------correct?

I rest my case here on Aamir (because there are 2 more protagonists in this post I have to cover)

Anita Bai Narre

Have you heard about this Tribal woman from Betul district of Madhya Pradesh, who when got married and went to her husband's house, discovered that they did not have a toilet in it, hence revolted and came back to her parent's house the very same day. The story has a happy ending as not only did her husband got a pucca toilet constructed to get her back but the Government also rewarded her with a whopping 5 lakh rupees award as she raised an important social concern faced by more than half of India's population, which is hygienic and respectful sanitation! 

When I read this news, I was both happy and surprised. Happy as a woman that even in a remote area of India, if a woman can raise her issue ( whatever it maybe) and sticks to her guns, a change in her life, for betterment, is possible! Surprised? Well...most you must be surprised to hear this. Not only did she revolt and refuse to budge, she even had her way and won accolades for it. I am not even saying that the issue was any trivial. I mean what she revolted against is a valid and relevant point and I am proud of her to not succumb to her fate- like most of her peers do, or have done.

So what is the big deal? What is her role in this post? When Anita would have refused to move in to her new house, what must be going in her head? She did not do it for the larger good of the society. Quite obviously she did not know it will result in an inflow of cash and pan India ( and maybe world) popularity! She was just upset with making a drastic change in her own usual lifestyle and decided to stay adamant about her basic asks- as a woman, a wife and a human being. What status her action later assumed was not her intention. But yes by doing so, she gave a sense of confidence to even a "loaded with opportunities" and "educated and aware" woman like me that ( not for any fame and name) but if there is something not right around me which can threaten my self respect or the way I wish to live, I must challenge it and not bear it by accepting it as my fate. If ill have the courage, ways will open up.

Personal agenda-------refusal to accept it--------bring a change in one house and own life------by the way get rewarded and become a known figure -----Inspire a whole village(and others too) by being the change yourself------correct?

Parul Tyagi

Oh yeah thats me. No I have not done anything so far which has resulted in great social revolutions and I havent even earned a single penny EVER from any place which has Govt involved in it. So why the hell am I joining the league of Aamir and Anita? Here is why-

Couple of years ago, I too suffered from a personal issue, which irked me every day and every night, hurt my self respect and confidence and I too went all the way to CHANGE my situation! I had an option of succumbing to my reality and suffer forever when the same society that wants to change things with Aamir or reads about Anita in newspapers and praise her, once laughed at me and wrote me off. Why? Because I was FAT. Yes I was fat after my 2 babies and a subject of gossip and smirking by relatives, friends and everyone because they never understood me as a person but judged me for what I had BECOME.

First of all- Shame on all those who look at someone who has 'changed' physically and instead of providing solutions and extending acceptance, joke about it.

Secondly, I did not set out to lose my weight for them! I did it for MYSELF and much later realised that I could be an inspiration to many woman who were told by their families that losing shape post motherhood is the most natural way of their lives now.

Thirdly, all those women who themselves had pot bellies and told me- "Oh you are one of us now"- I must say- thats not the right way to live. If you do not like the way you are living, please go out and be the change. Dont accept it lying down blaming your kids or lack of time!

Personal agenda------willpower-------be the change-------do not even bother about being an inspiration-----live the way you want to------------correct?

In the end I want to say- If Aamir would have organised 10 live concerts and danced on a parody of his popular hip shakers to raise money for 10 different causes, the people he wants to touch ( TV watching, city dwelling, educated and emancipated youth) would have given him the same support. But if Anita would not have done what she did, a change in her own life would not have been possible!

Decide where you want to be- You still need an Aamir Khan to wake you up every Sunday and lecture you tearfully on what you already know? Or you can stand up yourself and DO something about the lives you feel for?

Monday, 7 May 2012

If I had a daughter....

When I was very very young and Doordarshan viewing was a norm in households, we were watching some documentary and there was this line used in it which has strongly stuck in my sub conscious mind and stayed with me since then:

" In India, bringing up a daughter is like watering the neighbors plant"

Baat to sahi hai. When I got married and left my Dad's house I realised that a place in which I so "normally" lived for 25 years was suddenly not "my" house any more. Gradually my almirah was vacated to make room for other stuff. My books and toys were shifted to "MY" house. Over time I lost track of drawers and likely contents in them. Every time I came, I was served water in a tray!
Before you jump the gun, I am not saying that I was thrown out! Its so natural for us girls to make this transition. If I lost so many rights in my earlier house, I gained manifolds in my new one. My Mother in law took no time to make me the BOSS of her own house and I ran the show alone, soon enough. The difference ofcourse remains forever- There, I was not responsible for anything, here - everything IS because I do it :)

I often discussed with my mother that why why why are we daughters raised to accept this transition so smoothly. She obviously had no answers and would joke- When you have your daughter, you raise her as you want !

Cut to year 2007 and 2009 when I carried 2 babies for 9 months each , praying both times- "This time GOD, it has to be a daughter" ( not because I wanted to raise her revolutionary, silly people!! Because I JUST so wanted a daughter!!) I do not have any scope now and whatever my mean friends may think, I am not EVER going to TRY for a 3rd baby.

So lets not sob over a life without a Daughter ( life is not disastrous still! Its lovely with my sons and I wouldn't trade it for any other way now). This post is just a few things I believe would be different, if I had one:

  1. I,quite unbelievable for a woman, HATE shopping. But if I had a girl, I believe I would have been less miser! Why else do I roam aimlessly in the "girl's" section of a Kids clothes' shop and in the end call my Mom- "You buy something for V and N- I didn't like anything" :)
  2. My house would be more in order! There are atleast 2 occasions every single day when I have avoided a fracture because I slipped over those small Hot Wheel cars that my boys have. The number is close to 100 and I HATE them!!!
  3. When we go out and my 3 boys are waiting for me to add glamour to their own usual jeans and Tee style statements, I do miss dressing up a small girl in pink frills and doing up her hair in dozen clips.
  4. My throat would have been clearer as one daughter would have ensured the lessening of the frequency of my shouting- by half! Trust me people- 2 boys of almost the same age means 2 boys with same energy and brain levels which in turn means- Catastrophic!
  5. Saurabh would have definitely loved me less! Its not like I love him any less because I have sons, but because I know him too well. He would have formed his own little cartel with her and kept me out of it forever :). I had so wished for it to come true as a daughter is the only other girl a woman can share her husband with. I see my Mom doing it still :)
  6. My mom in law would be FULLY happy with her son's choice. Why? Because while no one dared, she had the courage to tell me just a month after my second son was born- "Now just give me one granddaughter and you are done!!" Done with what Ma?? My life, right??
  7. Trust me, its not the curious case of sour grapes, but I dislike words like "My lil angel", " My cute Lil princess" in the same breath as I dislike the words " LOL" and " Awwwww..." on say Facebook!! Maybe if I had a daughter, it would have been so irresistible that I would have succumbed to these words? ( Chances are little as I have never tagged my boys as " Aww cutiepies" or " My stud muffins"!!)
  8. I would have, by now,chalked out all her dance classes, music classes, tennis classes and painting classes in my head. Basically in order to fulfill everything that I didnt do (despite my mother going out of her way to ignite my interests in them) through her as I have now realized how stupid I was to not take her seriously. With sons I am way too relaxed and lazy about starting these now.....maybe next year!
  9. Those who know me, know that I can cry at the drop of a hat. I can cry even if I see someone else crying without even knowing the reason of it! It was my niece's 3rd birthday( she was born just days after Viraj) and as everyone started singing Happy Birthday to her, I receded to the back, quietly shedding a tear because I was imagining her growing up too fast and one day- be prepared to hear this- getting married and going away!! So if I wont be able to let her go, imagine how many buckets I would have filled every time MY girl achieved a milestone. As for my boys, in my MIL's words- "Kuch bhi karo, kahin nahi jaane waale yeh" :)
  10. Saurabh would have been a different person altogether. I have never seen him longing or wanting something very desperately in his life. He is basically very contented and happy with whatever he has except for his honest and child like urge for a daughter. Its no exaggeration that when I was brought out from the delivery room after Nevaan, I held Saurabh's hand on the way to the room and said- Sorry :)