Posted in m@dness

Note in the mood-33

Related imageOur minds are very strange. Like, every favourite song is an untold story and has a memory attached to it. It reminds us of things we think we have forgotten. I like to think of myself as a social person; I know a lot of people. I have a lot of acquaintances, a few friends, a handful of super close bumchums and some Dont-know-what-to-call-thems. I meet new people most of the time and have brief interactions with them. I am ranting because, a few days ago on the QuickRide back home, it was raining, a familiar song came on and a thought cropped up.

We meet so many many people in our lives. Some cross our paths for a few minutes and some for a long time. All these people are a part of the story of our lives. Then there are our people. The people we THINK are an integral part of us. The people on whom a chapter would be dedicated if we ever wrote the story of our lives. But have you ever wondered if you exist like that in someone else’s life? Is that in a good way or bad? How many lives would you have touched ? I am always curious. Would someone think of me when a song comes on?  Would there be anyone who thinks of me when they pass through a particular place? Drink a favourite chocolate martini maybe? Watch a particular scene in a movie? Go on a drive when the rain is lashing against the windows?

I can’t help but wonder how many chapters I may have been a part of that I may have forgotten. Would I still be remembered among people I don’t speak to anymore ? Would I still be a part of someone’s thought process if I am gone? And most importantly.. would they think of me in a fond way?

Music, what would life be without you!

 

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Posted in m@dness

The Motherhood Awakening

To be yourself, in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

This Mother’s Day, I am celebrating the accomplishment and the title itself.  Today, I am thankful to my girls for helping me break stereotypes and allowing me to be just me. The tiny two, all of 4 years and 1 year has urged me to accept myself for everything I am. You see, sometimes you have to be told that you are nothing, made to feel insignificant and only then will you realise that you are complete, that you have had enough and that you are enough.

In the past 4 years, ever since I became a mother, I have constantly tortured myself over the fact that I have to do get everything right. Losing a parent at any age can be devastating. However, losing one before you truly become an adult makes it more challenging than anything. Being a motherless mother, I don’t really have anyone to model after. All the pretend plays when I was a kid didn’t really help. Sleepless nights during the initial months gave me enough time to worry about how to raise a child, more specifically a girl and then 2 girls! My girl friends, all of whom had mothers would just pick up the phone and ask queries and questions and I would smile. I have to admit, there were times when I’d pretend play and pick up the phone and talk to myself. I was driving myself crazy; watching every YouTube video on parenting, reading every article, studying every book on bringing up children and everything else that would equip me to raise my girls. I didnt know if I should raise my voice or actually worry about tiny things. I was not sure if I should discipline them already or wait till they are a bit older. Did I feed them enough? Did I have to monitor their play time? The Am-I-A-Good-Mother question nagged me constantly.

Until recently. Until my 4 year old came to my rescue.

Kids show us human nature, before all the social conditioning. They are a great inspiration for being yourself, staying in the moment and living life to the fullest and one powerful value that we need to teach children is that we are all learning. Every mistake is a learning. None of us have arrived, we all have enough room to grow and evolve into better versions of ourselves. My daughters have been my patient teachers all through my motherhood journey and I can never ever thank them enough.

This mother’s day I have three things to tell mother’s who are like me; mother’s who are motherless and looking for some tip or technique to raise their kids right.

  1. There is no such thing as a good mother. It is the way we are conditioned to believe that mothers must be good at everything. Nope, the very fact that we are willing to learn is enough. Teach your children to be curious about the world around. They should be open minded and ready to question that makes no sense to them and accept things that may make sense only to them.
  2. Small is big. Its really the small things that matter. Smile at people. Enjoy the rain. Smell flowers. Sing a song. Help people in trouble. Share food. Stay healthy and stay active. This, they taught me, my girls.
  3. Express Emotions. Look at children, they express emotions so well! Let it out. Be it joy, pain or fear, let it all out. It is perfectly fine and it is the best way to live. Express your thoughts and learn to say no to things that you don’t feel good about. Laughter and tears are self healing mechanisms to combat fear and anxiety. Embrace it.

Remember that children are born with only 2 fears; loud noise and falling. Everything else is learnt. They learn what they see. Being the best version of me is the one gift I can give them and I don’t really need a role model for that right?

Here is a quote that reflects exactly what I am now. No more self doubt and no more fears.
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Once again, Happy Mother’s Day to all you beautiful mothers out there.

Posted in m@dness, Moanday Mornings

The Paradox of Working Women

Its been 3 months since I published something and I realized I haven’t posted anything this year at all! As much as I would have loved to blame it on my “busy life”, which is the fad these days, I’ll just say I was dis-oriented. Period.

Prologue: This post is not a rant. These are not complaints and these have very little to do with my personal situations. Don’t judge, just read.

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During my post graduation, my project was on a less talked about topic called “Job Embeddedness.” This topic also got me reading about work life balance and how it was becoming difficult for women to break the glass ceiling, despite living in the 21st century. They say that behind every successful man, is a woman. How come there is no corollary to that statement? This post is my take on what I like to call “The Working Woman Paradox”.

I have been fortunate to work for most parts of my career as an HR in multiple industries which exposed me to the reality that there is still insufficient female representation at the top of most organizations. I am especially referring to the C-suite and Board levels as it appears that many women board directors tend to be the same ones being “circulated” across different boards and in some cases, are only selected due to being a family member of a family-run business! That is primarily one of the reasons I started reading up on women empowerment and diversity and inclusion.

It isn’t easy being a working mother. I mean, mother’s or women in general have always been working. Whether she is at home or in office, she has always worked. It has never been easy for women to strike that perfect balance between career and family. However, it is certainly possible to be both good mothers and competent professionals. Look at me! (Read:Cheapo ;)). India, as a country has been moving towards empowering women and India. Inc is definitely trying to be more accommodating and open. Slowly, compared to the past, women who have been going out to work now has increased. Sadly though, it doesn’t change their role at home. The division of chores and responsibilities at home is almost the same as what it was decades back. Sigh. While women, world over, continue to be the primary caretakers of children; in the Indian milieu, elder care is another familial responsibility that women shoulder. The deeply embedded sexism and conditioning of women, who have been raised to see an impeccable home and well behaved children as a sign  of her worth is one of the biggest problem, especially in the Social Media age.

“I believe that every girl, every woman, should feel free to dream high and choose whatever she wants to do in life. I believe that women and men are equal and that the only limit to girls’ dreams should be the extent of their own efforts.”

Personally, I have days when I feel guilty about not spending enough time with the girls. DIYs and baking and making dishes they love are all weekend activities. I hardly get time to do it on a weekday. Caught between work, travel, daily chores and the worry job, most weekdays are a roller coaster. When caught between office and family responsibility, as a working mother, my mantra is to ask myself, “What’s more important right now?” More often than not, the solution lies in the answer to that question.

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In conversations I have had with working mothers, one thing has always stood out; The support of family. A working woman who has a strong support system at home is bound to be successful at the work front. This is because they know that the responsibilities and chores at home is not a battle that they have to fight alone. What must change in our society though, is its approach. Everyone needs to accept that whether a mother is working inside or outside the house, doesn’t hamper her ability to bring up happy and healthy children.

“We are women determined to live our best life and turn our dreams into reality. We persevere in the face of obstacles, the self-doubt and those who try to tear us down, and will not stop until we reach our destination.” “we’ve failed, we’ve stumbled and made mistakes. Not defined by our past we learn, grow stronger, and climb backup every single day. We are victors, not victims. We are fearless Queens, and we are unstoppable.” – Pinar Parry

It is my hope that we continue to support other women in and outside of the workplace. Practicing and imparting values of equality to young minds in Indian households is a difficult task. It is a herculean one, but definitely do-able and much needed in today’s times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in m@dness

Live it. Earn it. Love it.

Note:

  1. I am NOT a feminist. I think the word itself must be deleted from vocabularies and dictionaries. Did you know there is a word called Masculism; have you heard any man proclaim it? Period.
  2. I have been a home maker and a working woman, I have handled both roles exclusively and am currently a working woman during the day and a home maker at night. So, before you decide to teach me a lesson, take a break.

I was car-pooling on Uber when I overheard the lady sitting beside me yelling at her sister for not being financially independent. “A marriage to a man who has a job is not a financial plan”, she said. It made me quiet nostalgic, because when I was about 6 or so, I had a ditto mindset. I would tell my cousins and friends that we will just get married to a rich man and live a luxurious life. Hmmm, quite a long journey from there. For centuries, women have been told and conditioned to believe that money matters and finances are a male thing.Whether your life has a “he” or not, the conditioning is so deep-rooted, that women voluntarily give up the nitty-gritties of finance.  If you ask me, except for giving birth and peeing on the road, there are no exclusive male things. I broke out of this conventional thinking because I was forced to. Thank god for that! As women, we all studied, graduated and some of us went on to take masters, just like our men. On that note, I remember a remark my Economics teacher made, while I was doing my masters. He turned to the side where the female population was more dense and asked us all why we were bothered to study since most of the girls will never make a career and just end up doing nothing. And boy, was he right!

You see, being financially independent has nothing to do with gender inequality or feminist thinking. It is the simple ability to sustain oneself and dependents on a daily basis. Why should the male members of the family be burdened by it? A college mate, during one of the get together casually remarked on how her husband is “bound” to take care of her in return for which she is “bound” to give birth and take care of his children. To date, this is still the case in a lot of households. And these are all well educated women. The decision making power always rests with the bread earner, which is also cited as the main reason for atrocities against women and domestic violence. Financial dependency takes away the freedom to fight against injustice and walks away from an abusive marriage. I know so many in my circles who are staying in marriages because they have no other way out. The house needs, children’s needs are all taken care by the man of the house, so, if the lady walks out, what will she do for money? Please, dont read between the lines as ” stay in a marriage for the money only”. That is NOT my point.

We are living in an age and time where there is no guarantee of living a fairytale marriage, wherein the woman will be the nurturer and man the provider. We live in times where situations and events happen in the drop of a hat. Thanks to nuclear families, the support system is also weak.  Also, I feel this role of homemaker should be an option one chooses rather than a need, for it to be truly satisfying. There are so many women, who having either not pursued a career or having given it up to be a homemaker, are so frustrated and feel so help less.Image result for financially independent women

Women are emotional beings. Nurturing is genetically in built. And thus, there are no second thoughts when they have to compromise their career for a family. Being a Homemaker doesn’t mean you have lost your independence, but am sure a little extra money can help with a lot of things! Two incomes as opposed to one, leads to a better standard of living for the entire family – an extra holiday, better education, contingency management and so many things!

It is true you know; for men, being ambitious is a virtue and for women, it is a sin. Why the double standards? Today, I am going about telling my girl pals to aim for some amount of financial freedom; do something they love doing without being guilty, spend money to buy something with their own money and if not anything, save for a rainy day. Motherhood and womanhood are just a part of our life, overemphasis on either of these roles will lead to disappointment in in the future. Our children learn from us. Like it or not, we are their first role models. Do we want to teach our girls not to be financially free and our boys to carry the load, or do we want to teach them to treat each other with respect and as equals?

Put that cape on, and get the act together!More power to you and me!

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Posted in close to heart, m@dness

A Place Called Home

“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.”
― Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I stand in front of a structure that used to be my home. It is also the only home I ever had and will have. A million memories come flooding in and I swallow hard so that the people with me do not ask me the reason for my muddled eyes. I do not want to let them into those memories, it is all mine. I walked into “Lotus” the first time, when I was 4 years old. It was summer of 1990 and I was the brat who was running around the house, climbing walls and trees like a monkey. The house was pink in colour back then, living up to it’s name quiet well. There were coconut trees, a mango tree and a rose apple tree and I remember trying to learn to climb the coconut tree and falling and failing hard. The porch used to have a hammock which would be the bedroom when playing “house-house”. The sit out was where amma and ammuma would wait for me to return from school. That’s a post for another day.

I stand in the middle of the room we used to call “drawing room” and trace my finger across the cracks and creases that adorn the walls now. Everything about the house is old now; the walls, the structure, he furniture, the paint, the people and the memories.  In all honesty, I have come to say goodbye to the house and wander amongst the multiple corridors and rooms one last time. The house, with its stark rooms, cleared of all furniture, like a widow who has been stripped off of her finery. I stop as though I heard the hushed conversations of tiny girls. Nah, it was my mind taking me back to the times that my girl gang and I played “dark room”, “house-house  and dressed up Barbie dolls.  From school to college, I don’t think I have a single friend who hasn’t been to my house and cozied up to its warmth like it was their own.

This aged house and its walls, doors and windows have seeped my laughter and tears,  dreams and sorrows; the very fabric of my being. As I tread around, I can almost hear snatches of conversation, peals of laughter. I can almost smell wafts of familiar scents and feel the non-existent furniture; the swing in the pooja room, the easy chair, the sofa set older than me, the hallway whose high beam were filled with books, as though my senses are conspiring, pleading, to will the house, to come alive again.

Nooks and corners of the house stick themselves on to the collage of my memory. The back verandah or “work area” that had 3 doors; “ammini’s bathroom” that had a major role in the conversations that the brother and I had; the stand at the corner of the dining room which held the blue colour tape-recorder on which we used to record songs that we all sung, the IBM washing machine that used to run around,  the double bedroom with the barely noticeable bathroom and the pooja room, which was bursting at the seams with cupboards, suitcases, the easy chair, inverter and all sorts of odds and ends; so that the beds looked like an afterthought. It would seem that each of us; Achan, my brother and I, had left a bit of ourselves there.

The walls of this house have soaked up my laughter and tears, my dreams and fears; held my secrets and the very essence of my childhood. You are special to me and will always be the only place I call home. for within your four walls I will always be a child. You will never know me as an adult. For you, I will always be the tomboy swinging on the gates without a care in the world.

A house is brick and mortar and everything else that goes into its making, but it is also something a lot more. A little like how we are not just our physical body and features, we are also the sum of our thoughts and dreams, our memories and scars. Now, as I walk in and out of the rooms, I imagine the spirit of the house leaving it. I step out to lock the door and hand the keys over. I take a sideward glance as though the cage that was once home to over 30 lovebirds is still there.

As I walk down the lane, barely being able to see a thing, I begin to accept that a moment can mean a thousand different things; indelible impressions can be left on people and places  and I suddenly understand the innate depth of a memory. I know I can’t stop time. I can’t capture light. But I know I would love to delve deeper into my treasure chest of memories.Maybe someday that which we lost to time, will come back to us and remind us of a forgotten past and gift us a smile or a tear maybe.

Home is where the heart is was..

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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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