Sunday, November 1, 2020

Discovering Discovery Village and Ecstatic about it

 Hello All,

Phew! It's been years I wrote anything on my blog......I don't quite know why but mostly because attention spans are dwindling at an alarming rate nowadays! Reading is becoming an esoteric, I suppose, I just never bothered trying to gather readers. But there comes a stage in life, where you don't care a hoot about whether someone reads what you write! At that stage, you write simply because you want to! (Psst......I am nearing 40 and feeling the emancipation trotting alongside that!)

So! This post is dedicated to a "true" holiday I went for, after YEARS! A holiday where my only focus was having a good time and not that I must achieve "this" or "that".....thanks to coronavirus, travel has become the "feared" activity, so we chose a relatively safe one - A family home to visit. We have very close relatives in Mysore, so Mysore it was......

To stay safe, we drove in our own car, loaded it with food and went straight to Mysore without as much as a minute's stop anywhere. The moment we left Bangalore limits, I felt as if my wings unfolded.........and spread out! I hadn't left the city in over a year! And after the kind of 2019 our family had, 2020 HAD TO allow us this break! Anvesh turned 10 this year and if there is one child I know who deserved thorough pampering, it was him! His entire 2019 went in being in and out of hospitals, entire Summer Vacation ruined by a rare autoimmne disorder and the Summer Vacation of 2020 washed off by Coronavirus!

His first birthday was in Spain, so it was only fitting that we go some place special this year and I totally trust Bhanu Mami for coming up with the best under the circumstances! So, we piled into our car once again and went to this chosen place - Discovery Village, in Belathur Village (on the bank of Kabini river). I had NO expectations whatsoever because I wasn't involved in the booking process, save for sending a coronavirus declaration and copies of our IDs. 

Discovery Village is roughly 52 km from Mysore, a distance covered in about an hour from Mysore. We landed at Discovery Village at a little past noon, after some wrong turns on the way. The place is a bit off the road, but Google Maps works perfectly for reaching there. As we drove into the premises, my first impression was - Open Wide Spaces! The check-in process was both smooth and swift (with all precautions in place). While my Mamaji checked in, there was plenty for us to do! The check-in Office is next to a play area, housed in a tastefully constructed and decorated hut. Right from billiards to foosball to bowling alley, there is something to interest everyone! The pieces are sanitized after any one Group has finished playing. My son, husband, sister-in-law and I freaked out on foosball and my son LOVED the jenga blocks! Once the check-in was done, we went in to our cottage. With every step I took, I drank in the beauty and class of Discovery Village. Strategically placed large urns in lovely burnished copper finish, winding cobbled paths, Princess palms and other foliage providing a lovely backdrop, instantly relax you! 

The weather was pretty hot for us Bangalore dwellers, so stepping into the cottage was like dunking our heads into cold water! The entry to the Cottage was adorned with a table, for everyone to chill out, complete with a game of "Pallanguzhi" (I didn't know anything about this game but my son had a lovely time playing it with the rajma seeds provided). There was a lovely 4-seater table, provided for tea-time, I guess, though we used it for sitting and discussing Music :)

Now, let me get to the "intuitiveness" of design that met us as every turn in the resort! I know, all these sound trivial, but their absence grates on anyone's nerves!

  • Bathrooms: Every family has a "thinker" in their family, the kind that thinks that Chamber-Pots are their "inspiration thrones". Looks like Discovery Village foresaw the 'double thinkers' of my family! 😂 For a 4-bedded cottage, there were two bathrooms AND a sink outside for the 'exasperated others' to brush their teeth, while the thinkers pondered the problems of the world!
  • Electrical points: With everyone possessing multiple electronic devices nowadays (I myself need three, one each for my phone, wireless earphones and smartwatch), having enough plug points is less a luxury, more a necessity. The cottages had enough plug points to cover all our electronic devices!
  • Solar-powered water heating: I always give an instant thumbs-up to any place harnessing renewable energy and Discovery Village just aced it! The street lighting was solar powered and so was the hot water supply in the Cottages. It was a bit slow to work but it worked! 
  • Low height lighting in gardens: On the grounds, the lighting was both subdued and at a height low enough to not dazzle the eye and allows you to enjoy the beauty of the night! 
  • Levista coffee: I know it sounds a bit weird, but I love some strong and flavourful coffee when I relax! Levista fit the bill to the T! It was provided in the room, in addition to the hot water kettle. There were tea bags too and well, a fridge) which we used for chilling our buttermilk cartons.
  • Mini-Bookshelf: This came as a (very pleasant) surprise! There was a small bookshelf and it contained some thoughtfully compiled books. A mix of Kannada and English literature was such a pleasure to see!
Now, coming to one of the most important aspects of a vacation - FOOD! I know I sound greedy (that's because I AM) but the food here does deserve a special mention! The restaurant - Peacock - is a gorgeous building! A circular building with an extremely open plan and ample outdoor seating, the restaurant sets the mood for what is to come........the central chandelier, with multi-layer lighting is both classy and tasteful!

The restaurant building is in close proximity to the (amazing) swimming pool AND the Kabini river. The Property is built next to the backwaters of the Kabini Dam and the gentle waves lap at the periphery of the property. It's an ultimate relaxation to just sit and watch the waves early in the morning, or under moonlight (we did both!). 

Back to food! The spread was GENEROUS, by all yardsticks! To give you an example, our lunch on the first day -

Tomato Soup, Tandoori salad (with pineapples, tomatoes and onions), Cucumber salad, pickle, naan/roti, Curd, curd rice, Corn pulao, papads, palak veggies, Paneer butter masala, gobhi 65, Aloo corn cutlets, green chutney, sambaar, rasam, plain rice, buttermilk, Andhra style eggs, Chicken gravy, Fried fish, moong dal payasam!

Oophhh! I got tired just listing all this out! We ate to our heart's fill and then, took a well deserved nap! I had to take a call (for work), so I did that and then, we proceeded to the "Adventure Area" of the resort. This was the highlight of our stay at the resort!!!!!!!!!! I hadn't had a chance to indulge in any adventure sports for years and years and this was the perfect re-start! There is a 9-segment course and all the safety procedures are in place. The instructor was friendly, helpful and experienced. Our entire family had a BLAST and once tired, we were ready to HOG! :-D The high-tea was fun, filled with bhajjis, coffee and laughter!

A night stroll in the place was a complete delight as well, as all the paths are gently-lit. There is a bonfire here every night, but I must admit, coronavirus scare kept families to themselves, which was fine by us! Even without the bonfire, the resort glowed with relaxed happiness! We took long strolls, did some crazy Yoga photoshoots and slept in cozy beds.........

Given a choice, I'm heading a place that satiated every aspect of me - The busy me, the hungry me and the adventurous me!

Love - Pritesh

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Culture of Silence We must Destroy

When I had a rare weekend without my husband and son, I had pictured myself enjoying the weekend, the silence and the freedom from 'chores'.....but instead, I spent it watching YouTube and not something pleasant.....

As I heard Dr. Christine Blasey Ford recount the harrowing details from her encounter 36 years ago, I felt a sense of kinship with her. A lot of my own experiences jumped out at me! One in particular stands out......

We were 17-18 years old (I was with a friend from my Hostel). It must've been just around twilight (I remember it because I remember not being able to see the man in question very clearly) and we were walking down the footpath to a shop nearby. I have no recollection of what day it was, where I was going, what I was wearing that day........nothing. But I do remember every single grisly detail of the man suddenly jumping out at us from behind a tree trunk and flashing his genitals at us. We couldn't see much (as I said, it was dark) and we were startled. Initially, I couldn't even make out that he was talking to us. "Le le, le le, bahut bada hai, bahut andar tak jaayega" (Take it, take it, it's very big, it'll go deep in). Being as naive as I was, I had not the faintest idea back then WHAT he was talking about. My friend, however, must've understood because she grabbed my hand and started sprinting in the opposite direction. Half stumbling, half running, we went back to the Hostel. 

We were both out of breath and I still SO vividly remember the first thing she said to me: "Please kisi ko mat bataana, nahin to humein baahar jaane se rok diya jayega" (Please don't tell anyone, otherwise they'll forbid us from leaving the hostel). I remember my confusion and that I must've looked it, because she said, "Everyone will think that we enticed him". The details after that are hazy, but I remember that she had a fever for 2 days, because she was so shaken. I was spared the agony because I had NO idea what that man's words meant. 

If I was to testify about that incident today, I'd probably sound a bit like Dr. Ford. I've forgotten some details, but I remember some very clearly. And the ONE detail I remember most clearly is the panic in my friend's face. She was scared that SHE would be the one punished for something that was done TO her. I don't know if she ever spoke about it to anyone, probably not. I didn't either, until my husband once brought this up (which was 9 year later) and it automatically spilled it out of me. 

As I watched Dr. Ford's testimony progress and those old gargoyles questioning her (through Rachel Mitchell though), it couldn't be clearer that they were trying to make a liar out of her.......maybe (though I personally believe Dr. Ford's account of things much more than Kavanaugh's) Kavanaugh was not the person, but that doesn't have to amount to belittling a woman's trauma, of effectively implying that she made it all up for political gain (she has NO need for that gain, she's already a PhD and a Professor, a job much more cerebral than politicians could ever take up).........

But yet, it is surprising how pre-disposed the Society is, towards silencing/disbelieving the victims than the perpetrators. Hardly anyone gives a thought to the fact that the victim already HAS lived through the experience once and it is traumatic to relive it. Agreed that the law needs details to be able to do something about incidents like this, but the collective apathy of the Society makes it an extremely uncomfortable experience to live through. I've often been appalled at the aspersions that are cast over the victim's character! And how, somehow, the fault always happened to be the girl's! The moment a girl talks about a a harassment incident, the dissection of her "faults" begins!

I have personally lived through most of the "solutions" our Society offers to girls:
  • If a girl reports that someone was following her, that "someone" is pretty much never apprehended. The girl, however, is invariably forbidden from going where the lurker lurks. This could come at a cost of the girl's education, career, hobby, friendships.....but no, SHE is the one to make adjustments
  • If a girl reports someone staring at her, she's invariably asked: What were you wearing? What were you doing there? Because "Boys will be Boys", it's the girls' job to let them be so!
  • If a family member is involved in harassment (minor to the serious cases), the girl is either not believed, or asked to keep quiet to preserve the 'family honour'
Society preserves and perpetuates this Culture of Silence, where the silence of the victims buys happiness, honour, fame, money and power for the perpetrators. But must we merely accept this culture? Must we just express our outrage once a victim becomes visible? Must we not do something in our daily lives to help the (would be) victims?

I think, we can! I really think, we must!

I can't claim to be any expert of any sort at the psychology of harassment, but I have had plenty of experience as a victim. I'm merely listing here things I wish people around me had done, to give me confidence of tackling the situations as they arose. Since most people tend to downplay harassment until it can no longer be downplayed/ignored, my pointers are more for our daily lives.....

  1. Awareness in children: Most victims of harassment are children/minors, simply because they make easy prey. They are physically smaller and hence, easier to intimidate/silence. The best way to counter is to make kids aware of what harassment could be. Have frank talks with your children, about people they meet, how they are with them. It often starts out subtle enough, like someone forcing a hug. Kids are perceptive, so dig around in their lives. If they state they are uncomfortable with something/someone, investigate. Yes, it'll make for some uncomfortable conversations, but remember, it's your kid's life and happiness at stake. Stand up for them! Give them hope that their parents will stand behind them, no matter what. In fact, you needn't even be the parent! You could be a bystander. Take a stand may be called an interfering nobody, but that's better than being called a mute spectator while harassment took place.
  2. When you see something, say something: This is specially of importance in women's groups. For most women, harassment typically comes from someone within their social circle and in a position of power. This power could be the power to wreck careers or to cause a bad name in the Society. Typically, it starts slowly...........a lingering handshake, a deliberate brush against the body, cornering someone away from others, conversations with sexual innuendos etc. Please TALK about these instances........with your girlfriends or your sister, or your mother, SOMEONE! These may seem like harmless instances (or sometimes, men may not even be aware that they're making you uncomfortable) but they snowball. Nip the problem at the bud! Most women lack confidence to confront, so help them out. As a co-worker, friend or family member, the tactic I've seen work is staging a deliberate conversation in front of the perpetrator, outlining how men make women uncomfortable without knowing it. Please DO intervene before it's too late.
  3. Take action, even legal ones: Break free from this culture of silence. Report the perpetrators! Most times, women just keep silent for the fear of being shamed publicly. Yes, the Society will be ruthless with you, name you and shame you. But the alternative is to stay a victim to abuse and also, allowing the harasser to go scot free (and possibly, harass others too). Let's destroy this notion that the family's or society's honour is women's responsibility. Let's call harassers the bad people, because they ARE! 
  4. Raise boys well: I can possibly never stress this point enough! Raise your boys well! These boys will be the men of tomorrow. 
As women, stand by women……… people, stand by the victims. Do your (however small) bit for humanity….

Image courtesy:

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Parents might as well...........

If you're wondering why such a giant WhatsApp logo there, let me introduce the idea of parents virtually going to school, in lieu of their kids, via WhatsApp......

It was not recently I came across this term "Helicopter Parenting", but I understood it in its full context only in last two years (read: since my son started going to a 'big' school). In short, Helicopter Parents are parents who makes sure their children (irrespective of age) succeed at everything by paving the path for them. As if being "involved" in the child's education wasn't enough, there is this new phenomenon nowadays - Parenting via WhatsApp. For past 2 years, I've been a part of various parents' groups on WhatsApp. On one side, I am of the opinion that it is a very good thing to be a part of these groups because then, you are in touch with what is happening.

But, I'm also beginning to notice how these groups foster lack of ANY responsibility shown by children.

Case in point (I've already read what all was to be done in HW through the parents' group):

Me: Anvesh, is there any homework today?
Anvesh: No (as he plays with his Legos)
Me: Are you sure?
Anvesh: Why don't you check in the WhatsApp group?
Me: I could. But you ACTUALLY went to school and the Ma'am told you to your face. If YOU don't know what the homework is, I'm not going to be finding out what you have to do. This is your education, young man. I finished mine long ago and I'm not going to go to school on your behalf.
Me (finally paying attention): I have page 34 and 35 in Math Book to do.

So, you see here how the children would happily have someone else take care of things they ideally should do on their own? The Group is filled with "send me the photo of the filled answers" and some or the other mother sends a picture of the finished home work for another kid to copy.

And when such instances happen, I am left wondering where this is going! It is hard enough to be a working parent with a full time job and add to it the stress of constantly having to shadow your child everywhere (even virtually). The way I looked at homework was to sit with the child and coax the answers out of them by gently nudging them in the correct direction. If we stumble upon something neither of us know, we discover it together. Read about it, or in this day and age, "Google" it. We set up examples, experiments, scenarios for the child to understand the context of the topic under discussion. Honestly, I feel like an idiot for making all this effort to make sure my son understands understands concepts. I begin to question my methods of teaching sometimes.

Somehow, I felt I was alone in feeling this way. But one day, I met an experienced educator. I was recanting to her how stressful it was for me when Anvesh had exams. I had to sit down, teach him, day after day. And she said this one simple thing: "This is a very new phenomenon that children have to know everything all the time. I think, we ought to let our children also "not know" some things".

She told me how our insistence on knowing everything has clouded our 'wanting' strong foundations. How we are hampering our own kids' growth by being their crutch when they need none. And how we prepare the world for them and not them, for the world.

And on that note, I'll leave you.............I know the ramble sounds rather incoherent but I had to get it off of me........


Friday, March 17, 2017

A Day in the Life of Mother Encyclopedia

A typical day looks like this:

* Dragging myself out of bed at 7:30 (If I'm feeling energetic, I may come out earlier, but 7:30 is a pretty steady one)
* Dragging the 6 year old opinionated rebel (not to mention a smartypants who asks questions from the moment he opens his eyes right till he closes them back again at 9:15 pm) out of bed, normally with a dose of some facts he doesn't already know.......(a tough feat, considering that his 'pastime' is to browse through Discovery's Encyclopedia, a 6 volume series which is a family inheritance)
* If somehow, I manage to dazzle him with my early-morning-brilliance, he crawls out of bed and demands a five-reason-booklet-for-why-he-should-brush-his-teeth the first thing in the morning. And you people wonder how I'm creative? You must be kidding me! Art'zire takes WAY less effort.......
* The 'military drill' of brushing his teeth happens while I "remote-guide" it from the kitchen. My senses are so tuned to every bristle of his brush moving on his teeth that miss one stroke and I grow Dracula teeth! How well he brushes his teeth is directly proportional to how well I make breakfast (that explains the burnt aroma my husband often 'panic-wakes' up to)
* If the food isn't charred to death, it makes it to the table, along with a fresh-brewing vat of "How does the food get cooked?" soup! If I recorded all our conversations, I could be running a 10 year "Popular Science" Quiz series on TV (and I won't even be watching it, because I don't have a TV).
* By this time, it's time to decide whether hunting for his shoes is more important, or chasing him to eat his breakfast, wolfing down my own breakfast or getting him to finish his homework, which he didn't do the last evening because his little toe looked a bit under the weather. A little "Can you make a coffee for me?" typically also adds to the morning music! Aka husband is up!
* If I act selfish and sit down to eat with 'this little fact machine I part blame for my knowledge halo', I am treated to more of "Which one is your favourite meat-eating large dinosaur Mumma?". By the time I deconstrust that question, the next one is hurled at me, "Mumma, how does a car work?". And before I finish my sentence, "The engine inside the car works by burning a petrol-air mixture in a process called"............"Combustion", he chimes in (Why am I even bothering to answer!). Next, "Why is my name Anvesh?".............child, ask one more question and I just may hide in my closet and never come out!
* To my relief, husband is up by this time and tries to help (he often succeeds but there are times I wish he was still asleep!). These two together are worse than Anvesh alone! It is their life's mission to start getting to know the animal Kingdom, starting at 8:54 am. I often end up being the Hitler in this "Gyaan acquisition" session with my patent sentence, "If you two want to discuss animals so much, start at 5:30 am, not at 9!", and am promptly met with eyes that convey to me what I've secretly know all along! Mom IS the Hitler reincarnate!
* If, by some miraculous twist of Fate, I manage to get him to have a bath and ready by 9:25 am, we skid to the elevator (and the 8 floor elevator ride feels like the Grand Inquisition). Everything from "I know I came out of your tummy, but I want to know how I got there" to "Mumma, look at my imaginary pet otter" (when I stare at some random likely spot, he admonishes me for looking in the wrong place!). Sometimes, he hands me his bag because his imaginary pet is asleep in his arms and he can't carry his bag! Didn't I hear someone say they wanted to take Anvesh to their house for 2 days? Is the offer still valid, I wonder!
* Once I've dropped him, there are sometimes chores to do, like bread/dosa batter/eggs are over, so make a shop-trip and get them. Back home by 10 am, I have Admin work to do on the computer for Art'zire. Finish that and it's 10:30 and the Team is in! Discuss ideas, order list, priorities, parcels to be dispatched etc and it's 11 am.
* The cook comes in at 11:30 and the day he decides to not come is the day I'd have already soaked something (so I need to cook it! Damn!) or realize at 12 noon that he hasn't come! Dosa batter would die on me that very day! Onions would be over too! And if I'm lucky, the nearby Departmental stores will be off for Friday afternoon namaaz. This is when I cook the worst I can manage to! Peas pulao is my go to!
* AND before I've breathed a sigh, it's time to bring the mini-Lawyer back! He starts with his questions the moment he smells me in the corridor of his school. This time, I'm better equipped (not at answering, but at deflecting!). Everything is: Let's reach home, then I'll tell you. Back home, he makes a ceremony out of getting into the house, taking his socks off, setting his bag on the sofa...........and when asked to change his t-shirt, he changes into the smallest possible or worst looking piece of clothing in his wardrobe! Like, clothes from the time he was 3 years old! All summer long, he wears full sleeves and during winter, vests! Someone forgot to look out of the window to check what the weather was like!
* I get back to the work desk to work and within half hour, he has read (or worse, imagined) some fun fact and he wants to know if his mother knows it! Interspersed in this half hour are a gazillion Whatsapp messages, Intercom calls (for courier, for milk delivery, for Satan, for his mother!) and queries on Art'zire pages. And I need to get some work done myself too!
* By 2 pm, he declares he's hungry and takes anything from 3.4 minutes to 2 hours to eat his food, depending on the menu. All this time, you've to know the amount of protein, carbohydrate and vitamin content (exact mathematical numbers, right down to the third decimal place, mind you!) of the food he's eating! If he's in a mood, he may ask me to sacrifice a goat to finish off the data. With a mix of "My Little Prince", begging and threatening, I manage to get the food into him (and in my absence, poor Richa/Uttara are the villains by association) and then, try to get some work done again!
* By this time, Anvesh declares himself bored and is prostate on the floor in Art'zire work room! No amount of scolding works to get him off there, because the moment you scold, he reminds me of the love letter he wrote to me 6 months ago and how much he loves me! Dang, this emotional blackmail.....if you've to keep him occupied, it keeps YOU occupied too, right? Right!
* Whether the Earth goes round the sun or not, 4 pm happens EVERY DAY! How do I know? Because from after his lunch is over, he chants for his "snack" at 4 pm! Milk with saffron and almonds and a fruit/biscuit to him later, I'm ready to retire forever!
* At 5, he has to be dropped to Basketball class and sometimes, I wish his class would go on for ten years! :D Once it's over, I'll pick up a 16 year old! ;)

* At 6, bring him back, and he's hungry again! After bargaining for washing his hands and face, comes homework! I bless the days he doesn't have any! Because the day he does, it feels like I have homework too! ANd bless him, he's not difficult or anything. It is just that he doesn't get the point of having to write the cursive g 20 times! He would much rather dissect a rat or go to Amazons to study the piranhas.........why cursive g? I'm thinking, because that's what I can afford? :D Amazon is a bit of a far cry!
* At 8:00, after his dinner, he's ready to go to Youtube to watch some other Godforsaken information series (Discovery/NatGeo, screw you! You guys make me feel like an illiterate!)......
* Finally, I get one hour to work non-stop or exercise, on good days!........exactly at 9, computer shuts down (I have FINALLY learnt how to schedule the shutdowns).......and he complains, heartily......he calls up every person he can find the phone numbers of, to complain what a monster his mother is! And even scolded his father for teaching his mother how to schedule takes me all my willpower to not burst out laughing......
* At 9:15, he has to be in bed, but it ain't happening without a story! There comes Geronimo Stilton! Now, I like Geronimo but some inspired soul (aka my spouse) invented a "voice" for each character. And if the character's voice isn't replicated, the story is deemed wrong and Mumma, useless! He dictates how I speak, so that all characters seem genuine (some day, I'd like to tie Ananth up and lock him up in the cupboard till he invents the time machine and goes back to erase the day he committed this heinous crime!)........through my yawns, I manage to read him the story. Some days, he loves his mother's voice, and demands a song. A story and song later, he asks just a "couple more" questions, "Why does only female mosquito bite at night Mumma?", "What is Universe inside?", "Do you believe in God and why not?", "How do my glow in the dark stickers work?"..........I pretend to be deaf and sometimes, dead, to avoid answering these questions! Because an alert Anvesh is an awake Anvesh!
* Once he is fast asleep (thank God, he is a sound sleeper), I need to do more things. Cleaning up the kitchen, my dinner, sending invoices, working, baking, invoking the Gods to tie Anvesh's tongue every time he cross questions me :D By the time I'm through, it's around 11:00 and I'm ready to die! But wait, I forgot I need to stay up to speed with the trends in jewellery/accessories. So, I do lots of googling, reading, looking up images, getting to know who's doing what, what's happening in the world and as soon as I hit the bed, I'm dead to the world............
* And yeah, I'm optimistic! I still have alarms for exercise at 5:45 am (and no, I haven't exercised at that time in ages!)...........some day buddy, some day........

Saturday, July 23, 2016

I'm type of mother

I honestly don't know why I am writing this post.....maybe, because I know that there are some mothers who're our there, not being able to BE themselves..............maybe, because I am (finally!) comfortable with the 'type' of mother I am...........or maybe, because I want my son to know me for who I am, faults and all....... Mostly, it's the last. He will grow up, and some day, he will want to know what kind of mother I am/was. And I want him to get my version of the story - first hand.......

Now that I think back, my only reason for having a child was because I could. I don't remember having any deep introspective conversations about why I wanted a child (of my own), in the first place. It sounded like a good idea......maybe, I wanted someone to call my own blood, my genes........or maybe not. I don't truly know. So, my husband and I did. I was happy when I got to know I was expecting, but I didn't have a name for the happiness. Was I looking forward to being a mother? No idea! Did I know what it entailed? Nope! I'd never really "seen" an infant growing up (or maybe, the challenges associated with it). I guess, I was largely happy because my husband was happy. I know he LOVES children. I can say that about myself now (maybe, having my own has made my understand myself better!)...........but back then (7 years ago), I don't think I knew better..........

The first trimester was a nightmare! I can't deny that I wondered (many times) as to WHY I was going through the 5-times-a-day-throwing-up routine! It simply didn't make sense! I had a heightened sense of smell, hated the smells of tomatoes, coffee, cucumber, broccoli, wheat flour, was pure torture! At the end of the first trimester, a switch flipped! My pregnancy was so trouble free second trimester onwards, that it was easy to forget I was pregnant at all! I followed the diet regime like my life depended on it. And at the end of 40 weeks (precisely), after a nearly 20 hours long labour, I finally gave birth (through C-section), to a 3.1 kg old, perfectly healthy baby boy!

I remember the ecstatic look on my husband's face as he exclaimed: It's a He! But me? I was exhausted. Exhausted to the point of not caring what gender the child was. All I could feel was a bit of relief and a LOT of hunger! The 'bump' was gone! And as I lay in the post-op recovery room (and shivered due to the infection I got due to C-Sec), I wondered. For the nth it ALL RIGHT to not feel over the moon about becoming a mother? I had a raging headache and blazing fever.........I could barely open my eyes, or stay still, for that matter. As I drifted in and out of sleep, the thought, "Where is my baby and what must he be doing? was frequently giving way to, "When will I be able to eat?"

Puffy eyed and famished, I arrived in my hospital room (with a catheter attached to me, stomach taped together and a headache that refused to die away), to a screaming bundle that was going red in the face due to the strain of crying. Trying to feed him was yet another struggle, a struggle I didn't know will last a long time. He just won't 'latch' and there wasn't much milk coming anyway. His blood sugar was falling and the doctors had to feed him externally......but for the 2 days he didn't get fed properly, he screamed, screamed and screamed.........If I had any idea of why I had a child in the first place, it was rapidly vanishing. I wondered why I was here, in a hospital bed, walking with a great deal of pain around the operation area, trying to feed this screaming baby! Frustration built and ebbed over the coming few days. I tried telling myself, come on, it's YOUR child.......he came from YOU. I felt enormously guilty, for thinking such thoughts. Aren't mothers supposed to love unconditionally and forever? Every minute of the day? All the time? If giving birth made you a mother, I was one. And I was unable to love unconditionally! I was exhausted! Tired! In pain! In was so complex, that I wondered if I was a beast inside my outer shell..........

I'd heard about post-partum depression, but the 'holier-than-thou' mothers around me had convinced me that it's just a construct! They'd LOVED their babies right from the word go. Maybe, I was not human enough for loving another human being (even if that human was my own baby!)......maybe, I am a faulty was so difficult to handle all these emotions (along with a newborn who wanted to constantly be held and cuddled and fed and burped), that I truly felt I was imploding.........

I was snappy, irritable, unfocussed.............for quite some time. Until, one fine day, I had NO help with my child. I was on parental leave and had no choice but to BE with my son. And I was! He slept a great deal...........around 4 hours a day. And I used those 4 hours for myself. For doing the house work, for reading, for quilling, for thinking..........the presence of sun in a Swedish summer helped me. But what helped me the most was: Lack of any other mother around me to tell me how to be a good mother. THAT did it for me. I realized that I had to STOP being a mother (I know, it sounds scandalous, but that worked for me). I had to start being a human, a sensitive one........a sensitive human who treated another human with respect and care. And suddenly, my son's face became my world........his laughter became my happiness............he became everything to me! Just like my husband everything..........

After I returned to India, there was another period when I had to live with (often unspoken) judgments of "She doesn't spend enough time with her child", "Her career is everything for her", "She's an insensitive mother"........I knew I was career oriented. And I've always wanted to work outside the house, or the realm of the house. The phase was back.......when I felt like a useless mother, the wrong person, the mean person, the selfish person......and all of that. Because every other mother was just so loving, caring.........

Moving to Bangalore was a blessing at so many levels that I don't even want to think about what would've happened if I didn't......suddenly, I "had to" devise mechanisms...........coping mechanisms. For coping with work, house, was a tussle beyond any I've ever known. I hated everything. Having to constantly juggle time, literally dragging my son to school (while he screamed the roof down), trying to squeeze in whatever work I could, managing some sleep in the middle of all of this..........I tried hiring a nanny and failed! I tried keeping him at home and that failed too! I was neither here, nor there..........I was always thinking of work while raising my child and thinking about raising my child while working. There was no income from work, I was a "burden"! On myself, on my husband and at one point, I felt, on the whole world..........questioning my existence, my sanity.....

They say, when things are the worst, they can only get better. February 2014 was one such month. And when I say, The best decision I ever made was to spend my life with Ananth, I wasn't exaggerating. Somewhere, sometime, he sensed what was going on in my head. Or rather, how MUCH was going on in my head! And he made the "dreaded" suggestion: Let's try Day Care.

And you know what? I resisted! Day Care is for mothers who refuse to take care of their kids. We can't afford it. What if my child isn't taken care of? And upon introspection, I found THE reason the very idea of Day Care bothered me so much! I worried about being labelled a "Bad Mother". Because good mothers stay at home, take care of their kids, don't go away from them at all, meet all their needs............and are NON-EXISTENT. In no small measure, it was my husband and my dearest friend Meghana, who helped me come out of this (nearly self-destructive) thought. My husband said the golden words: "You don't have to explain your mothering style to anyone". And Meghana said the other set: "Choose your battles".

These two pieces of advice turned me around! It took all my resolve to drop a screaming (and often kicking) Anvesh to School and not bring him right back with me. I sensed the undercurrents of "disapproval" in the family. But I persisted! Because in the bargain of being a good mother (read; approved by others as a good mother), I was becoming someone I was not. I was NOT their brand of mother..............I was NOT a usual type of mother (if there IS a type)........I was my type of mother. The kind who thinks her life doesn't begin and end at having a child. Who accepts that she has faults, just like the next person, the kind who doesn't believe that her child is always right, the kind who feels that she needs to give space to her child and not smother them with "love". Basically, the kind who empowers the child to think: "How can I solve this problem?" rather than: "I need to find someone who knows how to deal with this". The kind who is equipped to handle life, not feel burdened by it. The kind who will be independent, sensitive..........and confident. Pretty much everything I wish I was.

Once my son started Day Care, I had time! To do things I wanted to do. To work with focus. And guess what, I COULD afford it. Because I was WORKING. The sky didn't fall. He adjusted to the schedule...............and as for being a bad mother, I realized I was caring lesser and lesser about what others thought. It stung, of course, when veiled suggestions were made about my 'callous' attitude towards mothering. But when my son rushed to people's help, when he played with kids younger than him, when he smiled at strangers and was deemed "polite" repeatedly by his school, I knew I was doing something right. The kind of right I believed in.  And eventually, I was turning into MY type of of mother. Gradually, to free up more of my time, I hired more people. My venture flourished. Because it reflected what was happening inside my head - it was BLOOMING! I was becoming a happier person.........a person I originally was (with some age-induced changes, of course)......a person I was proud of being......

As my son grows, I am letting him imagine, letting him dream of the undreamt, thinking the unthought.........all the while taking care that he isn't hurting anyone. We have our bond, the bond of sharing our thoughts, our feelings..........he tells me what's going on in our head. My husband jokingly says: You can get him to do anything. I don't know about that one, but Anvesh and I once made a pact. If I ask him to do something, he can question me and I'll explain. If he isn't happy, he has to either suggest an alternative (open to further discussion) or else, do what I asked him to. I am trying to be particular only about certain necessary things and he's living up to his promise. His school tells me he's a bright boy, Everyone around me says he's a sweetie pie. And I? I think, he's a 5 year old with a 5 year old's thoughts. I don't expect great achievements from him. I just want him to be happy (not always!)...........and to be a good human being. In the mean time, I will just continue to be what I am - my type of mother..........

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Ramblings of a Mompreneur

Most times, I struggle. Sometimes, I struggle a bit more............

What more can sum up a Mompreneur's life in a shorter and more accurate way than this one line?

A lot has been said about being a mother and juggling a job. I'm sure a lot has been said about being a Mompreneur too, but I will go ahead and pen my thoughts nevertheless.

Having been through motherhood and "job" together, I knew how to rope support in on hard days. When there were holidays at Day Care, when I needed to stay a bit extra or go early to work or these minor calamities. Because there was always this "someone else" I could delegate to. Someone else who could pitch in with paper-work, someone else who'd stop my experiment in time, someone else to run that odd errand..........come entrepreneurship, that changed. The mysterious "Someone" disappeared, for one. No Finance department to handle money, no colleagues to handle communication..........and as if life wasn't tough enough, I don't have a cook. Meaning, I cook most days, thrice a day on good days. Suddenly, there were no "holidays"........because how much you earn depends on how much you work.  Take holidays, lose pay. Not days, hours become important. And what does a typical day look like? THAT becomes a joke! There is no such thing as a typical day in an Entrepreneur's life, let alone Mompreneur's......

My life is roughly divided into three types of days:

1. Smooth sailing: Namely, school's open. Day Care is open. All the colleagues come to work. Child is feeling well. I get enough sleep. Clients give reasonable deadlines for work completion. Husband comes home in time and most importantly, maid comes. As the name indicates, "smooth sailing", such days are rare and make me question the 'reality' of such days...........

2. Rough weather: One or a few of the above criteria aren't met. Most days, it is child sick/day care closed/maid absconding. I'm used to my husband turning up at any unexpected/unspecified time, so that's no biggie. Maid's absence hurts a bit, because she keeps the house/kitchen clean. So, I've to do a bit of an additional cleaning, which is ok. A colleague out for some reason is also ok, I can handle with a bit of a late night. Child sick is a true setback (damn Bangalore weather, I receive my fair share of these). Going to a doctor knocks out a few hours off my working day, child getting clingy just upsets the work all in all, this one makes me bleed a bit.

3. "I'm ready to retire" days: These are the days that make me want to quit, throw away all the work stuff and cry myself to sleep. Mere survival becomes a struggle. I recently had one like that. Husband: Missing. Two colleagues: On holiday. Child: Sick. Maid: Absent. Sleep: Practically non-existent. Backlog: Insane. Client deadlines: Shrunk so hard that I could feel them on my skin. These are the days when the proverbial last straw (that broke the camel's back) seems eerily close. Seeing clock tick so that it reaches the next day (hopefully, a better one) feels like the only way one can go on. And I feel like chanting: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger (REALLY?). I guess, I could do with some less strength.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Some battles chose me

Some battles chose me

Swirling in fluid, dreaming an unseen dream
Tiny limbs and features, with a naughty gleam
Eyes opening and closing, dark all around
That's how it looked, my soul on being found......

Then came the birth, slow, steady and long drawn
A blissful night ended, and came a reluctant dawn
Being born as I was, was not a happy thing, I see
I chose some battles, but most battles chose me........

Trotting on my feet, not a care, no worry
I walked out in the open, but was taught to scurry
Being a boy was a privilege, a girl wasn't to be
I chose some battles, but most battles chose me......

Dolls walked in as gifts, after dark strolls off bounds
"You're a girl", I heard, world is full of hounds
Rebelling just reaffirmed, what Mom had told me
I chose some battles, but most battles chose me...........

Being in a bus was a battle, and so was being in a train
Being at work was a battle, so was being in rain
Groping hands all over, eyes that mentally stripped me
I chose some battles, but most battles chose me........

Working extra hours unwelcome, laughing out loud too
Dignity, grace and poise ok, being carefree a taboo
Moment after moment, just learning not to be me
I chose some battles, but most battles chose me........

Then comes one day, a snapping point of some sort
When I see two paths, Do or Die, in short...
I choose to do, to be who I want to be
I chose this battle, although many had chosen me.......

Tongues wag and people tut, but this life in mine
Being alive, to live and love, is nothing but divine
No one takes this right to live, away from me
I chose this battle, although many had chosen me........

Bus journeys are not battles, as I swing the shoe when I must
I am not the one out of control, it's that guy's lust
It's HIS battle to fight, and to win, to keep his hands off me......
I refuse more battles, simply thrust upon me........