Friday, February 29, 2008

Beyond the obvious

The married gals in the office were discussing something the other day. The topic veered around having kids and one of them remarked that with the birth of her first child, it felt like the child had taken the best out of her, because she never felt healthy after that. The other girls agreed. They too felt that after the birth of their kids, their health had taken a beating. They all loved their kids to bits by the way. This was general women talk.

So I asked them why they had kids! The answers were interesting. Some had a child because the in laws or parents wanted grand kids, some had a kid because hubby wanted and some because friends advised that delaying kids was not such a good idea. Not a single girl had a child because they wanted one. Of course they all wanted kids, but because it was ingrained in them by upbringing and societal compulsions.

There are two other married girls I know who are in their late twenties and still not ready to have kids. The reason? These girls are beyond social conditioning and are thinking for themselves. They do not want a kid because they do not want one! One is on the verge of a divorce due to this reason! Both are adamant that they will not have a kid till they feel like having one.

A little bit of probing and I was left with some startling results. And I began to understand why some western counties are experiencing declining birthrates. And I anticipate the same in India too, though in the distant future. The trend is already started in the cities.

Most girls acknowledge that pregnancy spoils their figure and health. And most of them acknowledge that this is an area where they have absolutely no control. They can choose who they can marry, what they can wear etc etc. But the choice of having a child is not hers at all. It is almost as if her womb is collective property of her family and society.

This might sound appalling, but many girls think that men need them for procreation and the act of procreation and then...child upbringing. Period. Beyond that they feel they don’t serve any purpose.

This post is not about women’s responsibility and all that blah. It is about women questioning that notion. It is about girls asking why they cannot be looked at beyond the accessory called the womb… and their desire to choose to use their womb OR NOT! They are questioning the generations old notion that a woman/married couple MUST have a kid. That she is of no use to a man if she does not want to have one. It is about women who would like a choice in the matter. This generation of girls will only raise these questions. But the subsequent generation will start exerting their rights, especially the right to their body not being taken for granted.

And all this throws some interesting questions. Will a man marry a gal who does not want to have kids? For men, having kids is a sign of masculinity. For women a sign of fertility. But then both have to work the next day and work equal hours. And when the task of gestating a kid and then giving birth, then the mandatory confinement etc etc is not acknowledged at the work place at least beyond statutory period stated by labor laws, women tend to question the futility of the exercise. The feeling that they are being short changed vis a vis the father of the kid, is always there. It is a silent accepting resentment...for this generation of women.

This post is about “some” women and their choices with their body, and their desire to not be taken for granted because they have a womb and their desire not to use that womb if they chose. And also about men accepting that not having kids is not a sign that they are not masculine, an acceptance that many girls feel will lift a big historical burden from their shoulders :) There will always be more women willing to have kids than those who do not. But the ones who do not, should not be looked upon like deviants.

The last para is to ensure that this does not become a modern woman bashing forum. Comments on the same will not be published. If a “particular group” of Anonymous commenters, who usually slander here [:p] want to contribute to the discussion positively, they are welcome. Those who cannot stomach the post, please don’t bother leaving a comment and giving me the added chore of rejecting it. You are welcome, however to hang around and see how a mature discussion takes place. Of course you will hang around anyways without me telling you all to :p

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Not very straight!

The first time I heard about “Gays” I was sick to my stomach. I think I heard the term on TV. I couldn’t believe such people existed. Then came a plethora of articles and discussions about gays and their struggles to make the society comes to terms with their sexuality. After some time I reconciled that this “phenomenon’ was not going to go away, judging from the frequent newspapers reports in the foreign media. And I decided to face my squeamishness head on. I can never hate/loathe something just like that. And if I do, I do an analysis to find out why and usually end up with a whole new perspective to the situation.

From what I read about gays, there are a lot of factors that make them that way. I am not going into their genesis here but my acceptance and coming to terms with them. When I put myself in their shoes it suddenly became clear that it was absolutely not fair that these people should be ridiculed for doing what is “natural” for them, however unnatural it may be for us. I realized that I wouldn’t want someone pointing their fingers at me and saying “cheee she likes guys!! ugh”

And when I saw things from that perspective, I felt bad for them. I still haven’t gotten over the feeling of distaste, but then I sympathize with them, just the way I would sympathize with a star crossed straight couple.

Having said all that I must say that I hear with disquiet the accounts of several male friends and colleagues who have been propositioned by gay men. Then I read posts like this and this and many more that I forgot to bookmark...and I feel that if it doesn't stop then no one should blame the onset of homophobia, that is still unheard of in this country. And what is more disquieting is that there is no law on Earth in this country to protect you from gay sexual harassment!

I am not against gays, but the increasing unreported reports of gay people hitting on straight folks is alarming and should be condemned just like a straight guy sexually harassing a straight woman.

And if it is confusion about someones sexuality that is leading to these incidents, then we perhaps should have a differentiator so that such “accidents” do not happen.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dream homes and lonely hearths

Two weeks back I was in Kochi for a day for my cousin’s engagement. His parents are government servants and they have built a dream house, just like other middle class people before them, through years of saving, scrimping, penny pinching and loans. Aunty has done up the house so tastefully that I asked her to seriously consider Interior Designing after retirement. I was the last to leave the house by the late evening flight. After everyone had left, I wandered around the house, marveling at the tastefully done up rooms, thoughtfully designed spaces and the peaceful ambiance.

My aunt explained that she would now close all the rooms except the master bedroom till the next family get together. Their three kids are grown up and two of them are working, while the third is pursuing an MBA in the North.

This couple is one amongst the scores of couples I know in a similar predicament. People who dreamt of a home of their own and worked long and hard towards it till the twilight days of their life. And when they had it all, the dream home with rooms for all the kids, the garden and the feeling of living in ones own home after years of rented accommodation...they realize that they are alone in the house and finding it difficult to maintain it in their advanced age.

My uncle curses himself for building this house. He wishes he had invested in a small home where he and his wife could stay and saved the rest of the money. The years of toil and turmoil to own a home had fruitioned only to come to a naught.

My Uncle fondly remembers the good old days in their rented accommodation. He has no happy memories of this house. He misses his old neighbors. Aunty on the other hand feels relieved that they don’t have to live in a rented house in their old age. But she admits that making such a large house wasn’t such a good idea after all.

There are many such lonely dream homes in Kerala. Expensive monuments to shortsightedness. Most of them have only one or two of the rooms occupied. The people for whom it was meant, will never return. The people they left behind are left with an empty new home, hearth and hearts.

There are many reasons why people blog. But here is a reason why some people like to
read blogs.

The long and short of it

Event: Bike expedition to a place on the outskirts of Bangalore.


Checked bike

Ready to go.


Go shopping and buy:

Large straw hat
Sun tan lotion
Long sleeved top
Mosquito repellent


Soft drinks
Band Aid
Extra battery
Extra Memory Card
Mobile charger

Guy cancels trip as it is 12 noon already. Girl feels it is typical guy procrastination.

Written by: Georgie porgie pudding and ...err I mean 'George'.

Above post written by my cousin brother when a certain cousin sister was supposed to accompany him for a bike expedition. He intends to blog one day like his cousin sister. So I am posting his first post ( with heavy handed editing ) here.

p.s I would kill to have a colleague like this guy!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Ties that knot

Why do these American celebrities marry? This is a question that just beats me!!! I mean these people do everything a married couple does without the paperwork, then why ink the deal that we all know will not last long? Especially when the paperwork for a Divorce is much lengthier than that of a wedding? Besides horribly expensive too, if newspaper reports are to be believed.

From here it seems these people live in a charmed world. There is absolutely no pressure from society in their personal lives, except perhaps in the upbringing and care of children. They do not have to follow any religious diktats either. A couple can make up their mind to live together and have kids and do it with the blessing of their family and friends. And that makes parting also easier and less expensive and tedious. In such a set up, marriage seems to be an anathema. An institution that seems more outdated than a bullock cart. In fact it seems like a laughable idea to me!

I shake my head in disbelief when I hear of celebrity weddings.The glowing bride, the smiling groom, the decorations etc looks like a joke to be frank, because very soon the very same glowing bride will be holding onto another smiling groom and vice versa! Of course after a bitter and very public and even more expensive divorce!

Do the guests at the wedding who go awwww as the happy couple pose for photographs after the Nuptials, really believe that this is a happily-ever-after spectacle? Especially when they know that they will soon be invited to the very same couples wedding albeit to different people a few months down the line!

To me it is like two friends deciding to make their friendship legal! Totally ridiculous as friendship doesn’t need official or religious sanction, 'just like' living together like a couple and having kids for these folks in the West!

So why do these celebrities marry!?! Beats me!

p.s do check out a bloggers version of Readers Digests Life is like that!

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Happy Valentines Day to you all!

What does the school and college going young Indians think about issues like molestation of women and bullying & ragging? Click on and you will be surprised!! Wish parents and law makers read the pulse of the young. It is the key to keeping abreast with the changing times. The youth as you can see, don't see eye to eye with the old wizened Gandhi capped thespians who rule over us. And since the youth is our greatest asset, alienating them is not such a good idea Mr Minister!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The tenous familial bonds...

Circa 2005: Me and my eldest brother had gone to the airport to pick up my Dad. Upon arrival we were told that the flight was late by half an hour. While I sat at the chair outside, my brother went to pick up some magazines. Suddenly I saw a Taxi arriving and disgorging a whole lot of my relations from Kerala onto the road. There was my Uncle (my moms first cousin) and his brand new wife and her parents and siblings. I had been to their wedding and hence recognized the brides people. I was so happy to see them that it escaped me that no one knew of their presence in Bangalore. It was while talking to them that it came to light that they had come to Bangalore a week before and the fact that neither of my parents or any other relations knew of the same.

I felt terribly hurt. I did not understand how he could have come and gone without even calling up to say hello. This did not happen in my family. We are a very close knit family with no formalities amongst us. Anyone can drop in anytime and expect to be given food and board without question.

My parents dismissed the incident with an excuse that perhaps he was too busy to call up. But I was not convinced and felt very hurt. He did call up later and apologized to my parents and never did it again.

Circa 2008: Last week I went to drop my ex colleague and good friend to her PG after a movie. After dropping her to the gate I was walking back to the car when I heard someone shouting my name. I looked around and saw my Uncle from Kochi waving to me furiously. He looked so happy to see me!! I was flabbergasted to see him in Bangalore because I didn’t know he was here.

He came running huffing and puffing, mighty proud to have caught up with me. He explained between gasps and pants that he was shouting my name for some time and was quite sure he would have lost me. He explained that his wife’s cousins lived here and they were visiting them. Soon the wife came and joined us. My aunt explained with an embarrassed smile that they didn’t have time to call us. I pretended great understanding at their predicament while inside it hurt bad to know that this Uncle, one of my favorite since childhood, had not called up home or told us that he was here, even though he later made it a point to drop in home .

In both cases, the new entrants in the family, the wife were the people who were unaware of the culture of a large family. Some were even miffed at their spouse’s penchant for following age old family customs. Over the years, many new entrants have come and been assimilated in the family and are happy to be part of this large whole. These are people who realize that they are part of a family that accepts them no matter who they are and what their net worth is.

On the other hand there are some like the two examples above, who harbor the age old feelings of envy and or inferiority complex or plain aloofness that prevents them from appreciating familial bonds and niceties. What a pity. I have seen several new relations like this, who act all boorish and then with age, regret the time they kept away from a large but loving group of people for petty reasons. Life is short they realize a bit too late.

But it hurts bad when you come across cases like the ones I mentioned above. It is like being rejected by ones own. I wish every new entrants into new families, whether a guy or a gal realize this and accept and appreciate the spirit of their new families!

p.s do read this beautiful post!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Those were the Orkutting days...

Orkut burst into the youth scene when I was in college. It was such a rage then. Getting an invite was next to impossible and we went around on man hunts looking for people with Orkut accounts! After getting an account, the initial thrill of making a swanky profile and joining communities was indescribable. For most of us, this was our first “website”… the first taste of “Freedom to publish”. It was like getting your very own room. You wanted to personalize it and make it as “you” as possible! And the only place that allowed that was the Profile page. And we were creative. Profiles were changed every week and it was really interesting to see the creativity and thoughts of even the most silent girls in class. People seem to get very eloquent given a Web space.

Soon the race was on as to who got the max Scraps. We would scrap each other with a “Wassup?” so that we would get a reply and hence increase our Scrap count! Childish thrills, but then we enjoyed it and had a lot of fun doing it. Scrapping was fast and furious during internships due to unlimited access to high speed Internet at work. And we made max use of this chance to Orkut. There were the umpteen “Friendship” and “Fraanship” requests too, but these were ignored and not deleted as they added to the Scrap count.

Some girls were bold. They would Scrap random strangers with a “Do I know you?” They would inevitably get a reply saying “No”. In turn they would reply with a “Sorry”. That would be three scraps added to the tally without much damage. Some would find guys/gals with similar Surnames and scrap “Nice to meet another Krishnan”. Sometimes they got a reply. And that would be an additional scrap added to the tally by scraping the bottom of Orkut barrel. :p

The most hilarious of the lot was the Secretaries of various associations in college. They would have a profile photo, in which they would be smiling gloriously and their Scraps informed us about upcoming fests and other College activities. What was hilarious was that the expression never changed even if they were giving a bad news like “Nina Pai’s father passed away yesterday. Let’s pray for his soul.”

Or a scrap like “Students union is observing a black day tomorrow to protest the proposed Dress Code by the management. Please show solidarity or be doomed to wear Salwars to college” in which the scrapper would be wearing a Salwar [:p].

We looked out for each other too. Putting photos in our group was a big ‘no-no’. Instead we put silly pictures to frustrate the Orkut account hoppers. Some of us got into trouble when random guys found out who we were and landed up at college and asked for us by names at the Reception. The resultant fracas made parents force their wards to delete their Orkut account. Many would sneak back with names like “Dumbellina” and “Malice in Blunderland”.

Unlike many girls, we soon learnt that hiding our real names was the best way to negotiate Orkut. Of course all of us knew who ‘Hot maal Cool gal’ was. It was an unwritten rule that we never revealed who was who. I don’t know why we took so much trouble in the first place. But like every other fad, Orkut too took some dedication and perseverance in following it.

Then came Blogspot and I was the first to leave Orkut. Blogger gave me more than a profile page to vent my creativity. It gave me an unlimited blank space to rant about just about anything.

I didn’t think twice about deleting my 13 k plus scraps account last year. The scraps were no big deal. Just “See you in college” to “Did you write the book review” to “Come down. Amma is calling you for dinner” (to my bro whose room is on the first floor of the house.)

With all my friends in Bangalore and on Gtalk and SMS, most of us have left Orkut. Some hold onto their accounts for sentimental reasons after deleting personal details.

But it was fun while it lasted. Besides Orkut taught us our very first lessons in Cyber prudence! Lessons well learnt and used in the increasingly Cyberised world of today. However more than that I will always remember Orkut for the fun times it gave all of us.

Thank you Orkut!