Posted in close to heart, The Chronicles of A

Gender Inequality Is In Our Head!

My elder one, Ami is turning 4 in a few months and she is one of those Curious George types.  She has to ask at least 50 questions a day and since she is learning to talk in English, it is mostly why, what and how questions. This morning I was teaching her about Gender- Well, Boys and Girls, Male and Female to be precise. Here is a gist of the conversation and then I’ll get to my point:

Me: Ami, Amma(Mother), Ammuma (Grandmother), Suma(Aunt) are all girls or females.

Ami: Okay.

Me: And Acha(Father), Appoopa(Grandfather) and Kochacha are boys, males.

Ami: Ok Amma. So all boys are males and girls are females.

Me: Yes. Yay! High Five!

Ami: But Amma who is a girl? And who is a boy?

Me: Huh. Hmmm Girls have long hair and all that and boys are rough and have short hair.

Ami: Oh! But I am rough and have short hair. SO I am a boy eh?

Me: <Gupling> No Ami. You are a girl and so is Cookie. Let me think and give you an answer to who is a girl and who is a boy ok?

Ami: Ok Amma

Phew!

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She turned back to playing and I was left thinking about the idea we have in our heads about males and females. Why did I say that girls have long hair when I am thinking of chopping away my mane? How can I say boys are rough and tough with short hair when our Babita Kumari and Kiran Bedi are proving us all wrong. That’s when I realised that gender differences and indifference are within us, in our head. It is on us parents to teach our future generation the actual difference instead of just passing on the adage of what has been drilled into our head. Pink for girls, blue for boys. Boys play with cars and trucks, girls play with dolls and brush!And all this blah blah about women representation and reservations need to be shut down!

I was bought up by my dad who donned the role of a mother, just like that. He learnt to cook, tie my hair, listen to girl talk, answer teen queries and every other thing that a mother is “supposed” to do. And me? I used to run around in shorts and tshirts and play with boys, climb trees, ride cycles and do everything except pee on the road! Then why did I reply in that manner to Ami?

It must be the stereotypes that are drilled into our brain from the time we are born. No matter what we do, or where we go or how we are raised, these stereotypes will tag along. And it is not just the information passed on from one generation the other, it’s not just one movie, it’s not just one TV show, it’s constant exposure to the same outdated concepts in the media over and over, starting before preschool and lasting a lifetime! Unfortunately,  gender stereotypes in movies and on TV shows are more than persistent; they’re incredibly effective at teaching kids what the culture expects of boys and girls. What makes these messages stick ,and harder for parents to counteract is that they’re timed for the precise moment in kids’ development when they’re most receptive to their influence. Think of preschoolers who are just beginning to identify as boys or girls. The characters they see on TV and in movies often have an obvious masculine or feminine appearance, such as a superhero’s big muscles(Little Singham, Johny Bravo) or a princess’ (Rapunzel, Anna, Elsa)long hair. These characteristics also are often associated with specific traits.For young audiences who absorb ideas from the media on how to behave and what to become, these characterizations can lead to false assumptions and harmful conclusions.

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Now, kids have this amazing, natural ability to see the world as limitless, but when adults signal that certain things or behaviors are off limits for kids based on their gender, their worlds get smaller and smaller—and that’s not just sad, it can be damaging as well. Obviously, every parent has the best intentions, but sometimes it’s possible to unknowingly promote stereotypes that can fence our children in. Its not just in India, but around the world as well. What is disheartening is to know that. although we have stepped into the 21st century and there are heated discussions about feminism and glass ceilings, there are still very consistent forms of patriarchy all around the world.

So what can I do or what can I say to my girls so that they don’t get caved in and caught up in this ever rolling ball?

Well, at least for the sake of my girls, I’m going to look at it as a window of opportunity to really address these attitudes and beliefs before they become cemented later on. How?

  • There is NO boy toy and girl toy. Girls want to play with a car, so be it!
  • Football and hockey isn’t just played by boys. Go, play!
  • Pink is not just for girls and blue isn’t just for boys.
  • Show my girls the people who have broken stereotypes and marched ahead.
  • Choose books wisely.
  • Chores of the house are divided equally. There is no such thing as a job that acha does or amma does.

We just seem to think of gender as a binary function when we are all non-binary. The age old saying of let boys be boys and girls be girls must really be questioned. And so, off I go to tell little Ami that if you pee on the road, then you are a boy!

Wink Wink.

Someday soon… Hopefully

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Posted in m@dness

Happiness, Unlimited!

My brother and wifey recently explored Bhutan. One of the first things I asked them was whether it is really a happy country or not, since suddenly tourists are flocking to this happy nation after the world has tried to emulate its happiness index. In recent times, a lot of discussions are taking place about HQ or Happiness Quotient. After the popularity with IQ and EQ, this one too is bound to become a hit in. And this is something that has set me thinking. Why would a person require a test to measure his/her emotional vulnerability or happiness!I can understand the need for Intelligence Tests but EQ and HQ!? Sigh!

People say IQ determines how intelligent one is or how one fares at work and all that.But come on, everyone goes through a phase of instability at some point of their lives no matter how emotional or unemotional they are.

So how can an EQ predict the performance of an individual at all times?! Hmmm that brings me to my present interest- Happiness Quotient. Really why would a person want to take a test to determine their level of happiness?! If you are feeling really happy, it just means that you are just  really. genuinely happy and vice versa. Why need a test to prove it to yourself?!

Sometimes I have felt that happiness is surreal but then again, in the past few years, I have also felt that watching a child’s smile is one of the most happiest things in a person’s life.Need not be one’s own child, any child for that matter!So is happiness surreal?!

There are a lot of aspects to happiness.For one thing,what might give you happiness changes as time passes and changes as a person grows up and starts accepting reality.

Its quite an interesting pattern if we look at it. As children we seem to find happiness in simple things: a new dress,a new toy,a nice kiss from mom and being carries on dad’s shoulders, playing with siblings especially older ones, going to the park etc

 

Then comes another phase where we grow up a little and we find happiness in things like getting a star from our teachers at school, getting a pat on the back because we scored marks or just going out to play with friends or going out with family, vacations etc!!

As we move forward in the game of life, things get a little tougher because just like we grow  the things that give us happiness also grows along with us. We realise that happiness isn’t that easy to find. Just like they say people perform at their peak during their working lives, the things that give us happiness also reaches an all time high, right then! The simple things in life no longer gives us a satisfaction or it just ceases to give us the happiness it used to give us. Happiness for us then is derived from BIG things like getting to the top fast, getting promoted, being offered raises, “that” nice apartment with all the luxuries, “that” car, get married to “that” person, have a stable income, save for the future, have kids, put them in nice schools, give them good education…basically lead a peaceful life with no obstructions and without having to work too hard.

Then comes the later stages . I haven’t been through that stage but I sure have seen  people in their later stages of life and watched them long. enough to know what makes them happy. Those are people who have lived a full life and are slowly ageing. They are the ones who have chased happiness around the world, some who have worked hard and some who have hardly worked, some who have lost a lot and some who have found a lot of happiness in their lives. Those are the same people who now find happiness in the simple things of life: A nice walk, their grand children, spending time with family and old friends, a cup of got tea or a glass of their favourite brand to name a few.

Very rarely, people recognize that if only they look around a little bit, they could derive happiness in small things and that  money,luxurious apartments, fast cars or a successful career are not exactly the key measure of how happy a person is truly is.  Maybe it’s true that Success is not the key to happiness and that happiness is the key to success.

So these days, here I am, sitting at home, not thinking of what I don’t have and just focusing on the things in life that really makes me happy. And if smiling is an indicator of how happy a person is or isn’t, then boy I am smiling a lot these days!

Till next time:

“We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.”

Posted in m@dness

Girlcations Can Wait!

“We need to go on a girlcation“. I had just sent this to Ms.A this morning as I came across one of our old pics together. Lately, my facebook wall seems to be flooded with ladies going on trips with their girlfriends and the only trip I can think of now, is a trip to the bathroom. Alone. But, I totally envy the girl gang who have actually gone on girlcations. More power to you! And please, this post isn’t an after effect of watching the trailer of Veere di Wedding. Oh I have a gang of girls or I can think of at least 4 people who I’d love to go on a trip with and vice versa. These are people who I want to get together with, talk over vodka, catch up on our lives, non existent careers and post pregnancy bodies!.

In my twenties, I believed that I needed the validation of having a lot of people around me. I needed more friends. More people in my contact list. More connections for things to do. More people to comment on my Facebook posts. And boy I did have a lot of friends.  Today, I look back and know the need to put off that perception of being “liked” in order to feel good about myself.It didn’t take me long after having my first baby to realize how empty that need was. In the first few days or weeks post my delivery, when my heart was full of fear, doubt and exhaustion in its new journey, there really weren’t many of them I felt could call. While I had a lot of “virtual” friends, I could barely call them for a good heart-to-heart chat. I had the validation of feeling liked, but I yearned for the friendships that made me feel alive.

With the coming of my second one, I am convinced that although my “social network” shows that I have 2000+ connections, those are not my forever friends. Since the past few months, my life in general has gone through a storm; I dont mean my little girl, but a series of events from losing loved ones to my dad getting sick to fallouts with family and so today, not only have I learned to value myself, I have also understood the value of real, raw, back-and-forth friendships.

These days, juggling work from home, studying, managing 2 girls, tango and the man, the only time I get to spend being social and friendly with my loved ones are limited to whatsapp chats that I reply to days after I have read it or likes on fb posts or if am very lucky, two minutes of phone calls with kids shrieking in the background. But, I am happy for that, about that. Because, it’s like saying to each other that, we are still a part of each other, we will  talk when we can, we will soak up the times we get together n we will still be with each other when we are allowed a social life years  decades later.

These friends of mine are people I know will wait for me to reply but know exactly when to pick up the phone and call. They know our relation had to take a back seat not because they weren’t important at any point but because they know that we are good enough friends and neither time nor distance can create a scratch, leave alone a scar. People  say that it’s dumb to keep friendships that you can’t devote time and effort to, but I believe it is those relations that are lowest maintenance that are forever and for real. The ones worth keeping. Till the very end.

To my friends who I don’t always get to spend time with, we will do what we can for now and that will be enough. And otherwise, we will do those things and go on girlcations in just a bit. Maybe, 10 years later?

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Posted in close to heart, The Chronicles of A

Going from One to Two

One of my closest friends is pregnant with her third and another one I know is pregnant with her first. The former can’t remember what month she is on and the latter knows the week and date to the t. And me? Well, I am going from one to two and boy the difference is night and day. I know many articles and blogs have been written about the difference between first and second pregnancies and I will not talk about whats there. This one is for what it has been for me.

Before I start, Ami, my girl, you will always be special. It is not just because you are my first born but because you were my teacher, the reason for me having so many of my “first” and “aha” moments. For teaching me that unconditional love is the purest form of love.

There is something about the first time that is just sort of magical. With us, it was just Ami and me. When Ami was born, I didn’t shed a tear because I was happy to see my friend of nine months finally in my hands! I was filled with an anticipation that will likely remain unmatched for the rest of my life. At every step of those nine months, I knew what week I was at, what fruit size the baby was in my tummy, what were those measurements on the scan report, what to eat, what to avoid, what made the baby uncomfortable, when was the baby most active etc. I would write down the changes each month, make a number of checklists, list of baby names from month 2, had a hospital bag ready by 7th month, thought about what dresses to buy, what to wear and my the list can go on! To cut the long story short, I was too occupied and happy and excited to think about anything else but my baby.

This time, its different. I wouldnt say it is a bad thing but things are very different. From announcing my pregnancy to getting that hospital ready, everything has changed. I have become paranoid! No, I’m certainly not worried about what fruit size my baby is or what week I am on or what my baby is feeling or doing. I am on 33 weeks and I haven’t done any shopping. I haven’t decided a name, I havent thought about anything at all! Checklist you ask? The only checklist I have are all work related! At this pointI’d like to say to you Baby 2, that its not because I dont love you already, it is because I am too worried about your well being! Now, because I know what its like and have been there done that, I know the risks, I know the signs, I know its not a cakewalk. Remember though, that I am like this because I love you to bits already.

Last evening, I spoke with my mommy-of-2 friend because I had to speak to someone who had the experience. I wanted to ensure that I was normal! I have been thinking about what would happen to my family if something was to happen to me? What if something went wrong with me? What is the husband going to do with a 3 year old and a new born and a dog! I mean, he cannot even take care of himself for a day without goofing up! I had never really thought of dying and have never been afraid except for now. The thought had began to affect my sleep, my work and my whole life. I would on some days look at AMi playing and silently shed a tear. My friend said its okay. It happens and its perfectly fine!

This morning, as I woke up and made tea, I realised that even if I didn’t consider myself of any value, those few human beings certainly needed me around. I suddenly felt very wanted. My fears seem to slowly fade away. Today, I live.

So, my advice to the moms going from one to two, take it slow. One day at a time. To feel scared is normal. It just shows you care too much for those human beings that need you. To the first time moms, enjoy while it lasts! Savor every moment, cherish every kick and nibble. This one is special.

See you after I go from one to two 🙂

To my Two,

I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my babies you’ll be.

Amma

 

Posted in m@dness

Note in the Mood- 32

I have always opined that a low phase in life is something we humans must get used to. The age old adage about the ups and downs in life is certainly true but there is something very eerie about getting used to hardships. The state of mind, where you consciously stop counting what it takes to survive – to evolve and to keep standing. Its is when you understand that you are not just the seed, but also the air, water, and light.  This is where the real human potential starts to unfold – The state of absolute accountability and survival. It is blissful.

However, to reach there, you need your wings clipped and chopped, your back broken and bruised, your ego ruined and shattered. And to soar again, you need your faith to be undaunting, your hopes undiminished, and your values un-compromised.  When you have all the above, you will emerge unbreakable.

After working or rather slogging  away in the corporate jungle, I realised that when you are a woman (read: just because you are a woman), you need a couple of things more – a smiling face, a kind heart, never say die and most definitely the art to say “Buzz off” to everything that does not matter anymore.

 

 

That my dears is an art that I just mastered. Oh and Happy Independence Day!

Posted in m@dness

All in a day’s work

I have always been proud of the fact that I am very good at adapting to situations. I still am, I mean. Like when 2011 happened or 2015 or that time when I was jobless and sitting at home looking up at the ceiling or now when I am balancing a full time job and parenthood. I have adapted quite well!  SO while at home, I’d hate it if someone bugged me from work or ate into my home time. At work, I like being a workaholic! Staying immersed in it and completing task after task gives me a strange sense of achievement and peace. Not that I love every tiny bit of it, but I feel good that I am delivering value. I don’t know what people really mean when they say that one should love the work one does, because there is nothing that one can consistently love or hate. I love some parts of the work I do, I hate  some others. What motivates me is the hope that the value I am adding at my end would create a difference in the chain ahead. After all, at the end of the day, I must feel worthy of what I earn; and in the instances I feel that, I think I love my work, too.

It is the same thing while doing stuff at home. I have to put in my heart and soul into what I am doing. Be it cooking, cleaning or any of those home errands. Oh and these days I have a puppy and my baby and then the husband too. Its like managing 3 offices in different locations while constantly keeping track of what each other is doing! This is one area where I know I am contributing directly to the lives of 2 humans and a dog! What bliss!I earn the love of each of these beings in return and we all know, love is what makes the world go around.

On puritan grounds there is nothing like complete job satisfaction. The satisfaction comes, when we are able to do justice with the skill set we possess or think that we possess. I love writing, but then I do not want to do arbitrary writing on topics I like. I want to do things more powerful than just expressing my thoughts, I want people to find value in what I write, be it personal or technical.  With time I have realised that writing is not the thing my soul really longs for (Thats not the excuse for not blogging often. I am lazy!), it is about using the words to get people’s attention and focus. And the moment I bring this perspective into my work, I find my work very significant; and automatically my focus and dedication towards it increases. I so hope the boss isn’t reading because he is going to question the work I submit to him!

I remember a quote about contentment that said that contentment is about enjoying what you have right now. It has actually very less to do what you want in future. Knowing yourself is the beginning of all understandings and accepting your value is the key. Of course, accepting yourself is not as easy as it sounds. It is very important to know yourself and be comfortable in your skin to really be better. Pretense helps no one, neither does believing that we are better or worse than other people. But whom am I teaching? As the age old adage, charity begins from home.

working-mom

Posted in close to heart

Love long. Live Longer.

When you are loved, it shows. It does.

It beams and shines bright with the delight of being wanted, of being admired and longed for.Image result for Love
It shows in that swing of your waist, when you are free. It manifests in the song that you hum around.It shows in the way you put your foot forward when you have nowhere in particular to go and everywhere to reach.
It shows in the spirit of your laughter, when you are happy from inside. The mirth that springs through mouth and twinkles through eyes.

It matters when you know you matter that you are loved by the one you love. The glow, the waist, the swing, the spirit, the laughter, the heart. It all becomes a part of one – the Universe, your Universe.

Oh and people who love long, live longer! After all, love is vast and elusive. Much like the Universe or the God. How else can you explain the greatness of human intellect and its incapacity to yet explain it.

Happy Valentines Day! My y’all love long and live longer!