Monday, May 13, 2013

Mothers

Disclaimer : A rant ahead and the views are not meant to offend anyone. The thoughts are entirely mine and as always I am open to any candid comments

A close friend of mine has a son four months elder to Chiyaa .  We often talk in jest that we will get our kids married (I know ridiculous !) Last month coincidentally on her birthday I was on leave from work. I called up to wish her and when she asked the reason for taking leave I said in jest How could I not have taken a leave on my daughter's mom in law's(the relationship called samdhan in Hindi) birthday.  To which she said that she never received a gift from me. I told her that I might come and surprise her as the gift (Weeeeee!!!) . And her reply was that would be a bit too much. We went on to discuss that our kids might thus end up spoiling our friendship and we cancelled the alliance.

The conversation was all in humour. 

But it heckled me. Didn't that small conversation reflect our psyche? Would the answer have been same if it was the daughter's mother-in-law who wanted to surprise you? Would it also have been a 'bit too much?' How many families know to the minutest detail the names of the cousin's of the son-in-law. Even where they might be working! How many household's know the exact designation of their daughter-in-law's father? Why  should the alliances threaten existing relationships? Why should the old friendship metamorphose to pander to rotten traditions of how in laws should behave? 

Yes I know there are families which are exactly like the screenplay of Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. I might be over-cynical here. I might be making a mountain of a mole hill. (And dear A no offense to you. You just set my brain ticking) I kept going back to this thought as I kept getting bombarded by one mother's day status after another on FB. I am mother to a daughter and I am sure I am one hellova mom. I will leave no stone unturned to raise a good human being who is respectful and conscientious. 

But to all mothers of men out there, here is an appeal. 

You don't need to have a daughter to develop empathy for the girl your son might bring home. She is you. You were her one day - having those fears and quandaries(Ekta Kapoor made a joke of it but seriously Saas bhi kabhi bahu thi :D ) . Wishing acceptance for yourself and your family. Wishing total inclusion. Wishing your parents and your in laws made one big happy family (yes totally a la Hum Aapke Hain Kaun) Accept her. Don't judge. Don't scrutinise.  (Recently while playing in Chiyaa's nursery, the lady who runs it said to my mil, 'I have been wishing my daughter-in-law have a child. But she says shes only 24 and wants to concentrate on her career!' She said it in a very critical manner. Would she harbour the same thoughts if her daughter was 24 and wanted to concentrate on her career rather than raise kids? I guess not. I tell you, this phenomenon is global.) Treat her parents with the same love you would have wanted your in laws to have bestowed. Might come hard if it did not happen to you, but then that's the thing about empathy. It is not always a two way street. 

And moms. We are festooned and  celebrated. No one questions a mother's love. Then why such sayings 'A daughter is a daughter all her life and a son is a son till he gets his wife' adorn our social networking sites? Is this not discrimination? A baby, a child, is the most innocent thing. It is literally a clean slate. We have the power to make anything with our nurturing. I have seen sons take care of their parents with utmost dedication as society projects a daughter would. I have seen daughters take up court cases for their parent's taxes as the norms deem a son would. Let us not mar sons/daughters with such base comments. Irrespective of gender - a child anoints us with parenthood. We owe it a lot. Let us get past stereotypes and enjoy the experience of raising an offspring.

PS.  Again the post is not meant to offend anyone. Had to let off some steam. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The 100 year old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared

Phew! By the time I wrote the title, I was wrecked by two bouts of cough.
(Psst . on the sides, this cough has been the major reason I have been away from blogosphere. First the baby got it (and it was so disconcerting :( ) then K and then I had to bite the flu bait :( 

Anyhoo, I have been so desperate to write this post (and many more!) 

I read the '100 year old man' as a recommendation on Amazon kindle bookstore. I had completed 2 books of the Millennium Trilogy and had my reservations on trying yet another Swedish author. But one review which claimed it to be the 'literary Forrest Gump' (not exact words) caught my fancy. I started reading with a lot of doubt. It is literally the story of a 100 year old man who climbs out of the window of the old age home on his 100th birthday. Then starts off an adventure - most bizzare! He meets a local thug, a hot dog vendor, 'The Beauty' , the hot dog vendor's brother and a goon. The how? where? make the book a funny read.  The writer then brings about episodes in the earlier life of  the protagonist - Allan - and we get to see he has had a most phenomenal life. He had travelled from Sweden to America to China to the Middle East and many more. He had met movers and shakers of the world. The twists and turns are absurd but the ludicrousness of them sure does bring a smile on ones face. It drives home one of my favourite saying 'There are only a few matters of life and death ' . Rest all should of course be dealt casually and things fall into place. 

Enjoy the book for a taste of the simpler and 'cooler' things in life. Each page did make me chuckle :) The climax lost some momentum and get a bit haphazard but then the author managed to get the story on board again.

Putting forth some of the weird bits of the book that I liked the most :-

Aparently Allan's father had nailed some planking around a little bit of earth, and proclaimed the area to be an independent republic. He called his little state The real Russia but then two government soldiers came to pull down the fence. Allan's father had put up his fists in eagerness to defend his country's borders, and it had been impossible for the two soldiers to reason with him. In the end, they could think of no better solution than to put a bullet between his eyes, so they could go about their task in peace. 'Could'nt you have chosen to die in a less idiotic manner?' said Allan's mother to the telegram from the consulate.

There was a problem with the Boss's partner - his conscience was'nt sufficiently flexible. the Boss wanted to diversify into more radical schemes such as soaking food in formaldehyde. He had heard that washow they did things in some parts of Asia and the Boss had the idea of importing Swedish meatballs from Philippines, cheap and by sea. With the right amount of formaldehyde the meatballs would stay fresh for three months if necessary even at 100C. But his partner said no. In his opinion, formaldehyde was fine for embalming corpses, but not for giving eternal life to meatballs.

Take British India for example, which was now on its way to falling to bits. Hindus and Muslims could not get along, and in the middle sat that damned Mahatma Gandhi with his legs crossed, having stopped eating because he was dissatisfied with something. What sort of war strategy was that? How far would they have got with such a strategy against the Nazi bombing raids over England?

He did however already know one thing; in certain situations it was best not to know or at least best not to leave any way of proving that you knew what you knew.

..but Allan interrupted the two brothers by saying that he had been out and about in the world and if there was one thing he had learned it was that the very biggest and apparently most impossible conflicts on earth were based on the dialogue : 'You are stupid, no, it's you who are stupid,no, it's you who are stupid#. The solution, said Allan, was often to down a bottle of vodka and then look ahead. 

These are just a few, pick the book to truly enjoy some 'weird'. 

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