Thursday, December 13, 2012

Some Nostalgia, a Few Good things and New Year Resolutions!

Yesterday one thing led to another and I ended up reading old posts on this blog. Really old ones, from 2004 and 2005. The most obvious part is of course I used to write a lot then. Right now the posts take shape only in my mind, they never get keyed in. I have said this enough number of times, but being a primary caregiver to a toddler is a challenging and overwhelming job. It is a wonder how I read and review a few books and contribute (though not too frequently) to two parenting websites.

Coming back to the topic, my life has changed so much. I would have never imagined in 2004 that my life would take shape in the way it did. I was an MBA student then, this blog chronicles my student days, my fears, getting a job, challenges and loneliness of living and working in Mumbai, shifting jobs and cities, about my family, about getting married, married life, my hobbies and my thoughts. So much of my life is here!

Since I am actually writing here after quite some time, not considering the reposts of my write-ups, I want to write about some good things:

  • I wanted to read 35 books but I have managed about 20 or so. But I am glad I read some amazing books this year and I was more or less disciplined in reviewing each one of them. I will target 35-40 next year. 
  • have been getting a lot of books from different publishers for review and that feels great too. What more can a book lover ask for, if not for a perennial flow of books! Of course, I am not able to keep up with the pace but I try my best. 
  • I still buy a lot of books and will continue to do so. I am not into jewellery or branded clothes or partying, books are my only extravagance! 
  • I watched a few movies in the hall. From the third trimester of my pregnancy till the time my son turned one, I had not seen any movie in a hall. So, in the last 3 months, I went for 4 movies with a friend (movie with hubby in a hall is not going to happen for some more time): Cocktail, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, English Vinglish and Talaash. I loved 3 out of 4 movies, and JTHJ wasn’t my idea. 
  • We went for 2 out of station road trips after our son turned one – first one to the Kashid beach and the second one to Ganpati Pule. The first one was with another couple friend, the drive was of 5-6 hours; while the second trip had just us and the drive was for 9 hours. Both went smooth and were quite a lot of fun. Both places have relatively unexplored and therefore very clean beaches. 
  • Doesn’t feel like it but we completed 5 years of marriage! We agreed we will not gift each other anything and rather buy something for home for memory sake. But I bought a watch for him from the Timex Expedition series while he got me the Philips Hair straightener. And hey, who does not like gifts! 
  • My son is at a very naughty yet adorable age. Every day he comes up with innovative ways to make my life miserable, no I mean, he is just curious but eventually it turns out to be a lot of work. And he also does such cute antics that we forget all the naughty stuff he does! 
  • This Diwali, we got a nameplate with his name too. It looks really cute.
  • We also finally got a cute little Mandir for our home, just the way I wanted. Since our baby is only 16 months now, so there was no chance of doing Diwali Pooja on the floor, so I thought why don’t we get a Mandir, which we have anyways been planning since ages! 
  • I have given up watching TV, completely. It never occurs to me to switch on the TV even when I am raking my brains to think of something to do with my sonny boy. I don’t want him to get into the habit of watching TV. 
  • I had reduced to my original weight of 54 Kgs (without any effort from my side) but now I realise that I am again piling on some weight. So, I need to start my morning walks pretty soon. 
At the moment, I am at peace with myself, happy for what I have and excited about future. I never planned how things turned out, so what’s the point in planning what is going to happen in future. Most of my energy goes in keeping pace with a very curious toddler.
So, the New Year is fast approaching and my resolutions are going to be the same: 
  • Read More
  • Write More
  • Lose Weight; and two  new ones
  • Go slow, enjoy each moment at its face value. We have got so used to multi-tasking that we have stopped enjoying one activity for itself. We need to get back to the basics and start enjoying things more.
  • Have patience with the little one

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Gender Stereotyping the Kids

This Post was first published on Parentous - the Parenting blog.

Instance 1.
I and ‘the star’ were going for our evening stroll. The star, all of 15 months now, is a little shy in front of the strangers. In the lift, we met an uncle from the building.

Uncle: “Why are you hiding behind your mom? What makes you so shy? Are you a girl?”
(I got really pissed off on hearing this)

Me: “What is wrong in being shy? He is just a kid, not comfortable with strangers.”

Uncle (immediately got defensive): “Beta, don’t mind, I was just joking.”

Instance 2.

A group of boys, all aged between 9-11, were playing football in front of my building.

I and ‘the star’, were going back home. I overheard 1 boy telling the other boys, about one of them.

“This guy always says no to everything”

Then he looked at the boy in question and said, “are you a girl?”

Then looking at other boys, said “I think he was supposed to be a girl but by mistake he was born a boy!”

Instance 1 is a small example of how our kids are subjected to gender stereotyping in day-to-day life, while Instance 2 is another small example of its impact on young minds. They form opinions, categorize and judge each other, and grow up to become prejudiced individuals.

No wonder this couple went too far in protecting their child from getting stereotyped and stifling his real personality.

What is Gender Stereotyping?

Gender Stereotyping is basically putting down someone because of their “sex” or not believing they are able to do something because they are either male or female. [Source: Wiki Answers]

What is the impact of Gender Stereotyping on kids?

When you start judging a person’s capabilities on the basis of gender, you are doing him or her grave injustice.
I believe, all the issues related to gender discrimination and gender insensitivity spring from stereotyping. When you start judging a person’s capabilities on the basis of gender, you are doing him or her grave injustice. What is worse is that at some point we start believing that it is okay to do so.
At home, kids observe parents and their roles, their interaction with each other and their expectations from children, which initially shapes their outlook about gender roles. Eventually, this reflects strongly in their self-image and opinions about their capabilities.
Why should our children feel less capable or, conversely, more privileged because of their gender?
As a parent we have a huge responsibility of opening their minds and sensitizing them about gender issues. The reason being even if at home we give them a neutral environment, outside of home they would encounter discrimination at every step.

We have to make sure that we are raising well-rounded, unbiased individuals.
The best gift we can give our children is unprejudiced upbringing and equal opportunities. Little kids are impressionable. They are like sponge, taking in everything that parents teach or tell or do. We have to make sure that we are raising well-rounded, unbiased individuals. And eventually, this shall have far-reaching implications on the society at large.

Here’s an interesting article on Gender Stereotypes.

Monday, November 26, 2012

When the Going Gets Tough for New Mothers

This post was first published on Mom and Me - one stop shop for Moms and kids.

It was naïve of me, before and during pregnancy, to think what work really could be with a tiny tot. Everyone kept saying ‘once the baby arrives, you would be very busy’. I would be bewildered, trying to imagine changing nappies and feeding really should not be that much work. As I said, I was naïve!

Perhaps only a mother understands the fact truly well that motherhood can be overwhelming. I have been on my own, with some help from dear husband in the evenings and the weekends, since the time my baby completed 2 months. Right from giving him massage three times a day, giving him bath (very difficult initially) to feeding him every 2 hours, from walking him around to sleep to changing nappies, with the fact that my body had gone through the process of child birth not too long ago; overwhelming seemed an understatement.

At every stage you feel, may be it would be better when he grows up a little more, but really the challenges and the work increases. As my friend pointed out, “pregnancy was really like being in Kindergarten” when compared to what lies ahead. Challenges are galore but there is not another vocation which is as blissful and as important.

Here are few things to deal with those tough times:

This too shall pass: Colic, waking up every 2 hours during night, baby’s sleep problems, breastfeeding issues, your own sleep deprivation and worse, if somebody falls ill in the family; such times can be frustrating and full of anxiety. Always keep this in mind that no matter what the issue is at that moment, it will be sorted sooner or later. So keep your patience.

Babies grow up very fast: When problems such as the ones discussed above make you miserable, remember that babies grow up very fast. These problems look huge at that moment but later on you would regret if you did not handle it properly. You will regret losing your cool, because babies will soon grow up and you would only have memories of those times. So why not make them good!

Take whatever help is at hand without feeling guilty: Accept help from whichever quarter it is coming, husband, family, parents, in-laws, domestic help, etc. You will not be able to do everything yourself. It is harsh to expect so much from yourself. Decide what you must do, and delegate others. I knew, I wanted to handle all baby related work myself, so I hired a cook for cooking our meals. I can therefore focus on my child and with cooking work out of my way, I have the patience and energy to be on my toes with my baby.

One day at a time: Live in the moment and do not worry about the future. You can deal with one single day no matter how tough it is; can’t you? So just deal with one day at a time, and always think every mother goes through these things, and comes out wiser. Enjoy the experience.

Read the book ‘What Mothers Do: Especially When it LooksLike Nothing’ by Naomi Stadlen: As a new mother, did it happen to you too that when somebody asked what do you do the whole day, you would say nothing really? This book made me realize as a mother how much we really do as mothers. No matter what we are doing, we drop off and run towards our baby when we hear him crying. We forget about deep slumber and outing with friends. Right from bathing, giving massages, feeding at least 8-12 times during the day (which can be back breaking), changing nappies, taking for strolls and putting to sleep are just few basic things we do, apart from thinking about their well being and how to be a better mother all the time. If you can, do read the book. It will make you feel good about what you do!

Having said that, I must concede that motherhood is a tough job but it has the best incentives in the world. The joy of seeing your baby’s face light up on looking at you is unparalleled. The bond which you share with your baby is always the most special and pure.

Despite all the challenges a mother faces every single day, she would not like to have it any other way.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

TV Blues

This was first published on Mom and Me - one stop shop for Moms and kids.

When we were kids, there were not many options as far as TV programmes were concerned. But I clearly remember when I would return from school, the time taken by me to finish my lunch would be directly proportional to the duration of the programme I was watching while having my lunch.

In the current scenario, with enough number of channels and umpteen numbers of programmes supposedly for kids, one can end up watching TV the entire day. I have other examples in my nephew and niece who don’t even bat their eyelids while watching TV!
Of course, there are arguments that kids learn a lot while watching these programmes, which they can very well do otherwise too. And the kids become so influenced by the cartoon or animated characters that slowly you get sucked into a whole world of kiddie merchandise and theme parties and well, what not!

Besides, being very addictive, I have another issue with TV programmes, sometimes they are full of pre-conceived notions and prejudices. Why should we condition the mind of our kids to think in a certain way or have certain opinions about say gender, race, etc. Our kids should have the opportunities to form their own opinions.

I also have strong objections to the kind of advertisements which are shown in between these so-called kid-programmes, junk food packaged in the form of multi-nutrient healthy snacks and milk supplements which promise to fulfill all nourishment required for kids, to name a few. Kids are shown making faces at veggies, which may be true in real life but I still find it mental conditioning of kids. Kids are influenced by their peer group. Moreover, many times certain ads are not even suitable for kids.

My baby is just 10 months old right now, and so far I have resisted the temptation to make him sit in front of TV and finish my chores. It is a vicious circle really. When my parents or in-laws are visiting, I am unable to stop them from switching on the TV but meal time is strictly no-TV time for my baby. No matter who is watching the TV at that time, it has to be switched off.

I have chosen to be a stay-at-home-mom and I think we, my baby and me, can both benefit by spending more time playing and doing activities together like singing, talking, etc. TV takes the attention away from kids and at such tender age, it can be hazardous too!

I know TV is great in moderation, everything is, but in a perfect world. I wouldn’t mind letting him watch Discovery channel or Animal Planet when he is older.

What are your views on TV?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Golmaal - one after another

What are your thoughts on Rohit Shetty's Golmaal series, Singham and now Bol Bachchan? I will admit, I liked his first Golmaal, I mean the movie. But he thought he has struck gold with a franchise. He blatantly copied a yesteryear movie called 'Aaj ki Taaza Khabar' starring Kiran Kumar and Asrani. I was surprised none of the reviews mentioned this. Anyways, the original with lesser known stars was much better. The third Golmaal bore a striking resemblence to a comedy serial 'Family No. 1' featuring Kanwaljeet Singh and Tanvi Aazmi. I gave second and third one amiss, only catching bits and pieces on the TV. But I saw enough to comment on those movies. Singham was way over the top for my taste and goes with the same formula which every actor in the running today is falling for. Put on a moustache, some gravity-defying stunts and throw in a coy heroine and some over-the-top dialogues, and you get a 100 crore movie. And the director starts feeling that he has arrived. I am most depressed by the trailors of this new movie called 'Bol Bachchan' conveniently starring Abhishek Bachchan alongwith Ajay Devgn and Amitabh Bachchan appearing in one song to give much needed push to Abhishek's career! The most depressing part is that it is supposed to be a remake of that Amol Palekar-Utpal Dutt classic 'Golmaal'! Ah, and I heard somebody is remaking that classic 'Chashm-e-baddoor' too. Why God? Why?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Puraane Paap

I remember one Diwali night, as usual we went out quite late for crackers etc. It must be around 3.5 years back. With rangoli inside and outside the house, diwali poojan, going to neighbours'place with mithai; it gets really late by the time we actually get time to relax. I have never been a fan of bursting crackers. It only amounts to wastage and pollution. Nevertheless, that particular Diwali I was accompanying my husband and some friends. We went to the far end of our society for some aatishbazi. After one of us fired a double sound or probably a chocolate bomb, a couple came out into their balcony in the building closest to us. They were really angry as they had been trying to put their baby to sleep but the baby started howling again because of the sound. And the time was well past midnight. At that time I clearly remember I was quite angry because I thought we should be free to do what we want to do. What can we do if their baby was not sleeping. It was their problem, not ours. Nevertheless, we left thereafter, with a lot of grumbling.
On this day, I know what it means to put a baby to sleep. And therefore, I take this opportunity to say a heartfelt sorry to that couple and their baby for my insensitivity. I often think about this incident when my son gives me a hard time while sleeping. Consider this a confession!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Setting an example for your children

I happened to catch the trailer of this new movie 'Ferrari ki Savari'. Sharman Joshi goes up to the traffic cop and asks him to give him challan for jumping the red light. The cop says but nobody saw you. Sharman says his son has seen him, and kids learn from their parents!
Ok this issue is close to my heart. I strongly believe in 'practise what you preach'. Especiall for kids, in this big world, parents are their first school and young minds are impressioned by what they imbibe from parents. So these days I am vey conscious of myself, always double checking on my behaviour and actions. The list is very very long. Right from disciplinary things like brushing twice daily and throwing garbage only in the bin, to behavioural ones like not bitching about people and things, appreciating little gestures and life's blessings, helping others, and I would also like to tone down the importance we give to materialistic things like bigge car is bette or new mobile or new gizmos, etc. The more gaga we ourselves will be towards gadgets, gizmos and shopping, the more attention and importance our children will give to these. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Facebook addiction

I am one internet and Facebook addict. I am connected the whole day. I am neither interested in giving my updates, nor in minute-to-minute updates of others. Actually FB used to be a great medium to get the latest updates on things you are interested in like new books from different publishers, new activities for kids, new offers on websites you frequent, newsbites from publications you follow, new issues hitting the stands of your favourite periodicals, to name a few! But recently, I came to know that FB is going to charge these entities some amount so that their updates would be visible to those who follow them. That is going to be tricky. I don't think non-business entities are going to pay, and we will suffer. Now we will have to check out individual pages for updates I suppose. 

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Ek baar jo maine commitment kar di

There are many things which I don't like about myself but there are a few things which I am quite proud of! It is the dedication with which I commit to things.
Till the time I finished my graduation, after having dropped the idea of doing fashion designing, I was not sure about what to do careerwise. I have always wanted to write but I wasn't too confident about it at that time. My brother suggested MBA and I quite liked the idea. I applied for many colleges because I had already dropped a year, since I did not appear for CAT during my final year. To cut the long story short, I dedicated myself to the preparation whole-heartedly. For the first time in my life, I even heard my mom tell me, you have been studying for too long, why don't you take a break! I got many interview calls and I took admission in the 2nd college I cleared. There wasn't time to wait to finish off all the calls and then decide. I have no regrets. It was a good college and I met my future husband there :-)I was obsessed about Advertising and in one of my first few posts on this blog, I have discussed in detail how I landed the only Advertising job I wanted, on campus.While I was working in Mumbai, my then boyfriend, now husband, was in Pune. I think Neeta travels should have offerred me annual membership discount for the number of times I travelled between the cities!I quit my job 1.5 years back, but all the time I spent in that Marketing Communication profile I did my best. I am sure my ex-bosses and ex-team members also felt the same way about my dedication. I would always be straight forward on what was possible and many times I pushed myself hard on meeting some difficult deadlines. Because the exhilaration of a job well done is something else. I always reveled in the glory of finishing my commitments successfully.I had been nudged covertly and overtly several times on when we wer planning to start a family. We were given examples of how couples were barely taking 9 months to produce offspring, we had taken way too long. As if they are going to take care of my kids! Anyways I was always clear, I want a baby only when I can offer him all my time. I was not going to compromise either on my job commitments or responsibilities towards my child. He deserves my attention and time. I quit from my job because I wanted people to remember me for the good work I had done, and not somebody who struggled to strike a balance and live every moment in guilt. I have my limitations. I can either be an excellent worker or a good mom, in my standards. I cannot be both with perfection. With due respect to all working moms, it is strictly my opinion and honest admission about my priorities, which are mental peace and perfection. In the last 1.5 years, I have never missed my job, neither have I regretted my decision. I do crave for a break once in a while but I am thankful to God that I have been given this opportunity to spend so much time with my baby. These moments are priceless.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Satyamev Jayate

For the nth time, I don't watch TV much. But I did catch Satyamev Jayate's first episode. I was very cynical about it, you know, somehow I still feel Amir Khan is eventually getting into politics! But that's not the point. The first episode was promising. An issue which public empathizes with, some statistics, some startling facts, crisp editing, peppered with emotions; the programme was good. I watched the second episode online as I was busy at the time. The issue was closer to my heart, Child Sexual Abuse.
I have read a book called Bitter Chocolate by Pinki Virani on the same subject. It is a difficult book to read but I recommend it to every parent. We need to confront the issue to address it. And most of all, we need to trust our instincts and our kids. They can tell a lot, through words and their behaviour, but we need to pay attention. Of course, we are busy all the time, but childhood is such a tender and precious time for children, we need to do everything possible that our kids should only have fond memories of those times. We owe it to them.
Coming back to the show. I don't know if it can change anything, atleast the presence of a celebrity like Amir Khan definitely provides these issues attention. Any positive change is a step forward, so we shoukd stop criticising just for the heck of it!


I was never the one too much into kids. I never thought much about parenting either, until it fell upon myself. After having baby, I started to have some strong opinions about things, instinctively.  I am a strong believer in leading by example so I try my best to correct the thins within myself, which I want my baby to imbibe. He still may not, but kids often idolise their parnts because tey do not have any other reference point in the beginning. They look upto their parents. So if I have to inculcate good habits in him, I need to practise those myself. And I am all for it.
Secondly, I do not want my baby to grow up with certain traditional prejudices like girls do certain things and boys do certain things. Our upbringing has been conditioned in that way, sometimes my thinking is also clouded by such prejudices but I quickly correct myself. For example, I don't believe in pink being a girlie colour and blue being a colour for boys, or say girls play with kitchen stuff and boys with guns or cars; you get the drift?
I have always said enough number of times and on enough platforms that TV does more harm than good, to kids as well as to us. If ther was no TV, we would be spending more time together as a family should, doing things together. TV just eats up all the attention and time. Kids will grow up anyways but we will lose wonderful opportunities to bond together. Because bonding happens gradually, not one fine day!
P.S. I am yet to get a keyboard for my Tab, until then please bear with typo errors. It is difficult to type an entire post on touch screen, in fact, I blame it for not posting often enough!

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Full time babysitting and First Birthday dilemma

I am back after what looks like ages, but frankly I was always around, never got onto writing anything here though!
The other day I realised I have been home since last 1.5 years. My blogs don't reflect much activity though. As all parents of babies / infants / toddlers would empathise, being the primary caregiver of one, single-handedly for most of the time, is one of the toughest jobs in the world; definitely 100 times tougher than anything that I did in my 5.5 years of corporate job!
As my husband pointed out the other day, our lives did not change much when we got married, but after having baby, we can barely recognise our earlier life! In short, it is very, very tough, overwhelming and sometimes I break down too with sheer helplessness but make no mistake I wouldn't have it any other way. The little bundle of joy, which sure he is, makes it all worth it.
But I do miss a break sometimes. Imagine being with an infant 24X7, who needs constant attention otherwise he might get hurt, you need to be on your toes all the time. So I don't even get to read all the amazing books I keep buying. Whateve time I get even now, I end up reading parenting articles on my Tab. Ah mothers! they just want to do their best because creating an individual is a big responsibility, and as they say childhood is like clay, you need to be careful because the imprints will remain forever.
My life pretty much is on hold, I hate to admit, but yes. Of late, the exertion has also made me unwell and I am sort of recuperating at my parent's place. After much investigation, I was found deficient in Vitamin D.
Meanwhile, I am also thinking about the little one's first birthday. I have evry intention to not celebrate it because I think it is stressful for infants. I have not found any kid enjoying his or her first birthday. Period. It is more for the parents than for the kid! I want to give my baby sime nature experience because a. I think he enjoys looking at birds, trees, skym etc, and b. kids generally enjoy nature. So I am just exploring some options. Good thing is hubby is not too hung up on first birthday party too.
I think from 2nd birthday onwards, kids start enjoying the party and friends. Right now, we should just avoid. I am looking for ideas at the moment for some nature experience. I am open for 2 day trip too. In any case, we haven't been out and about for 2 years now, not counting the trips to both sets of parents.