Monday, June 15, 2015

Working Mom

Never thought I would ever become an advocate for gender equality or a women’s rights activist. Because I felt I really didn’t have to deal with a lot inequality growing up, or in school or even at work, to be a true representative. In fact growing up, I didn’t have the ‘darling daughter’ life that other friends enjoyed. We siblings were constantly questioned on our life survival skills by our dad. Being dependent was not an option from a very young age. At school I was a teacher’s pet. At work, and this is the strangest thing, I have never had a bad boss!!! Yes, not even my Principle during the dreaded Articleship. Yet, as I saw more I can see there is a different world out there for most women.

But this is no activism, but just an observation. So at my work place guess who are the three most technically respected subject matter experts, the ones who get projects done, or the ones who people bring in to get a rotten project streamlined – ‘three working moms of toddlers’! I appreciated that even more when I became one.

A toddler’s mom is on her feet till that little blob of energy finally sleeps. She wakes up every morning with the little monster pulling her out of the bed. She’ll get lunches fixed, kick hubby’s butt to get the bugger and himself ready to make it to work on time. And having reached, she knows she only has 8 hrs to get things done. There are no leisure hours at home at night, to make up for lost hours from that coffee/lunch break that ran over due to a heated debate about who’s hottest. She is the master of ‘Scheduling’. Even a 10 min update discussion goes on the calendar. You do not stop by the desk to ask random questions and hang around till you’ve talked about your MIL visiting or your sick dog. She will cut you off and go back to work if you did not have anything worthwhile to discuss. Everyone’s health on the team and personal commitments are key to her job getting done, so she notices everything around her more than anyone, that sneeze, that engagement/wedding, that soccer game, that exam, so everyone loves her. Since she feels strongly about efficiency and how hard she works at her ambitions, she is constantly encouraging, pushing the team to work hard, to push a little harder. Being a den mom comes easy now. And she will show you how its done without wasting tons of time. Quality is of utmost importance as she does not like to waste time in back and forth. She pre-empts needs and be prepared as she likes to avoid any requests for last memos that are needed “right away” at 6 pm. Decisions are not procrastinated upon, as she hates surprises at work. Beware you elusive superior, she will hound you down for an answer. This is not fluff, this is real and happening at my workplace and this is “Public accounting in a Big 4”, known for its ungodly hours, rough and inhumane work environment.

And yes, they do not look tyrannical, men-like or forget to put on make-up and comb their hair. In fact, they are very beautiful, very feminine, and love shoes, shopping, jewelry and that glass of red wine like every other gal does!

So now, every time I will see situations where employers avoid hiring working moms, I will think, either 1) these guys are ignorant or 2) they are insecure that these ladies would outshine them. Back home in my country I know 1) is very true as people have not hired and seen the difference a lot. When I am back I have promised myself to shine the light on this wonderful phenomenon called the ‘working moms’. It is just beautiful to watch!

PS: This post will be incomplete without mentioning the other halves. These are guys married to ambitious women and have let themselves get swept in this strong current of a woman in action; and are very secure and confident about themselves to take pride in their woman’s work.





Friday, March 13, 2015

It’s my Birthday!!


A decade ago these three words would probably be written in bold, underlined and put up as signs everywhere a month before the actual D day. I had even realized what a futile exercise it was for my friends to spend hours buying me a gift with a paltry teenager pocket money allowance. So I would come with a wishlist, cost it out and split it up for them as well. I got what I wanted, they could stay in their budgets and everyone was happy. The midnight hours calls were sacred. There was one time when our phone (the good old landline) died on the eve of my birthday and it was going to be the year of doom, but that night miraculously it rang at the midnight hour… oh yeah... Ring it did! You would not dare to look me in the eye if you were a friend and didn't wish me on my birthday!

Ten years later I look back and can’t help but notice life happen between these years. I feel humbled and grounded. A dear friend who lost her mom on the same date as my birthday when we were in school, remembers her mother fondly and never forgets to wish me every year just as dearly; I see the magnanimity in her gesture. The mother in me almost forgets her birthday in the morning mad rush trying to pack lunches and getting the 2 boys out of the door; I feel dwarfed in front of time. A few friends call up and ask very poignantly about when I would visit next and I am unable to make up a good answer; I feel helpless in front of distance. Thanks to the internet the messages, blessing and love doesn't stop flowing from near and dear ones; I feel intimidated and wonder if I have done enough to deserve it.


I wonder what changed in ten years that it doesn't feel right to be the ‘Rockstar who jumps off the stage into the crowd’ on your birthday and thinking instead about ‘how much more there is to do’, ‘how miniscule I am in the grand scheme of things’ and ‘there goes another year’! Mid-life crisis anyone?!

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Marriage Advocate

Last night I met the very person who invented marriages. My two pence, "he had to be the most insecure and low esteemed SOB I've ever met". Now who takes the most beautiful thing in this world - Romance, and attaches the clause of 'Commitment' in the most austere and legal manner and scares the hell out of people. We got into a discussion and I said to him, "a true blue romantic (like me) would have stuck to a person  forever, simply by the virtue of the fact that he/she was in love. But you scare the life out of the person with the whole deal of 'making a life time commitment'...."

In the most annoying drawl he says, "Well! you would have stuck with him anyway, all we are saying is that you have to say it aloud and sign a legal document".

I fought back, "You got to be completely out of your mind. Do you know the whole premise of Romance is to pine for the person of your dreams? There is a whole body of literature in a million languages around the world about wooing the love of your life, singing their praises and expressing the yearnings of aching hearts? The moment you take that away, you've stripped away the very essence of love. Why do you think Shakespeare wrote the story of two lovers struggling to be with each and not about they living happily together and making a perfect family portrait?"

"Well! Not everyone thinks like you, we got to protect our people who are vulnerable and can be taken advantage of. Someone can play with their mind, body and souls and decide not to stay on forever."

"You DO NOT WANT to stay with such a person forever!!!"

"There are other things too. Some people (and with a smirk at me, he says), "especially girls" like to know where they stand in a relationship."

"You are right, but those people need to learn something about accepting reality. If there is a doubt in one's mind about a relationship, you know which way its going. You are taking away the most important lesson in a person's life - Letting Go!"

"Whatever! Why do you care anyway? I see that you dont have to do any wifey like things in spite of being married. You don't wear your ring or mangalsutra. You still have your last name. You are free in your mind as you claim, so what is the fuss all about?"

"Don't you see? I miss being 'coveted'.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Whats so funny!

Sorry this is not even a full blown blog, but thats not the point. Here is the thing. So one has been working non stop, with no breaks, no weekends and sleeping for probably 5 hours at night. (I feel almost guilty for sharing this, because there are colleagues who are sleeping less than this). Add to the misery a harsh winter, where you are ploughing a foot of snow every other day; add to that your husband and your one year old are a million miles away and gone for months; add to that your apartment building catches fire and you are camping at your friend's place for two nights; and this is after they assure you that it will be just one night before you can get in, so you rush from office the second day to the nearest mall before everything shuts down, to buy some clothes to make it to work the next day and just when you are relieved and catching a breath that you got back into your house for your birthday and at least your loving friends didn't leave you alone and took you out to your favorite place... your husband calls you up to tell you that the kid had a bad fall and had to be taken to a hospital because the nose won't stop bleeding.

2 - 2.5 months later you are still looking up at this huge mountain of work and now you are trying to cram everything into 3 days before you can catch that flight to India for 2 weeks just to see your son. You also have to take care of the shopping list of life saving material from the US of A sent by near and dear ones; arrange a stock pile of documents I need to carry for a visa interview on my way back and pack one week of office clothes, because I fly straight into a week of out-of-town training.

In times like this you start having these moments when you are looking at the screen for hours and trying to accomplish something, you haven't blinked in days, but lo and behold, nothing happened! You see this divine light in the form of facebook beckoning you to indulge. You open your profile and browse through random links and there you see this picture!!! You transform from an atheist to a believer as you realize there is a genius of galactic proportions gracing this earth who came up with such a mind blowing cartoon (judge for yourself)

You jump in joy as if you hit a jackpot and post it. You think the world (ok I am lying, just my friends on facebook) will think the same way and you are staring at the 'like'o'meter' in anticipation to see it start buzzing like a mad bee!!!! And NOTHING happens. 2 hours nothing happens. After 4 hours there are 2 likes. One from a person who likes every link that anyone posts, he may even like a post that may deserve a condolence. The second comes from a person who I see and say 'Ahh! he got it'.. until he messages me about it and I realize he has missed the point!

So now I dare you to explain what you make of this. Do you understand the joke? I want you to explain it and kill the effing joke here! Pelt your interpretations at it and stone it to death!!

PS: Do not be taken aback by the contents of the first two passages. I have survived. My life has always been this way. I have taken an auto rickshaw ride from a Lakme salon in Whitefield to Indiranagar in Bangalore (about what feels like 15 miles) with mehendi on my hair, covered with aluminium foil, with no duppata/scarf as I wore a shirt and trouser to work that day. That disaster and many like that could make up a book!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

How will you ever change the world lady?

To be honest, I did not want to write about this. And it was something that struck me months ago. And it takes me days to get over things like these but I did and then it happened again.

I have never been a champion of 'Feminism'. Simply because I think respect has to be earned, power has to be won and rights have to be fought for, irrespective of you being a man, a woman or just queer. For every 10,000 examples of 'the oppressed', you will find 1 person who earned whatever he/she wanted against all odds. One may not get something as easily as another privileged person but then there are privileged people who could not make use of what they had. It evens out. I think in this whole process one is driven by the self esteem they have for themselves. Ones with lower self esteem will try to seek patronage and the ones with higher self respect will fight everything and everyone to achieve what they want. But I thought everyone has it in them even if not in same degree. Days ago I was shocked and disturbed when I learnt that this may not be true.

This was when the Delhi-rape case happened and we were discussing this among friends. And a friend who is born and raised in the city said, "Oh, I am so glad I don't have girls, girls are so hard to raise." To which another friend responded, "Yes, after this incident, I would not want to have a girl." Two dear friends, one used to be a women's rights activist in Delhi and one is a bright IT professional and both women! In those two lines without realizing they trashed their whole existence and acknowledged the huge responsibility they presumably were on their families when they were born. Boys get raped too. And there are men who feel ashamed that a man did this to a woman, but I have never heard a man trashing his own existence over it. 

It got me thinking, it must have taken centuries of cleverly designed societal practices and that too world-wide to belittle the female of this species; to an extent where they themselves feel lowly about themselves. It makes me wonder if it was indeed men who oppressed women in the first place. Think about it... mothers raise their sons instilling in them the special privileges they earn thanks to being males. You would think a woman whose self respect and ego was trampled at every stage of her life would end up raising her children doing it the right way but guess what happened! Men never think too much, mom says I don't do dishes, 'Great'! But in that one small lesson, he was taught, all work is not equal, all work is not dignified, you can expect some else do things for you, especially if it is a female. Your mom can be bigger to you in age, relation and respect, but she will still do your dishes! And I will bet my bottom dollar that a man will ever reconsider this after he grows up. It's us women who have the boon & curse of thinking too much, not them.

Next time lady, when you plan to raise those placards against the oppressions of the male-dominant society, do give two pence to the fact that maybe you are barking at the wrong tree. Maybe it was always in your own hands.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Crossing the t's and dotting the i's

Does anybody use a notepad (the one that has real paper) and a pen anymore? Do you feel a little romantic when the ink flows beautifully on a smooth sheet of paper? Maybe not.

I grew up with a love for writing. No, not the creativity, but the sheer act of forming beautiful letters on a piece of paper. In my initial years in school, handwriting wasn't something I paid attention to. But one evening, in fact 2 days before the final exam of my fifth grade, my mother made me rewrite an entire year's worth of school work because she did not like what she saw in my notebook. According to her, handwriting and writing itself spoke a lot about the person. That was an 'aha moment'.

Since then I wrote! It was my second hobby (besides reading). What did I write? Anything... I filled diaries with poems, anecdotes, things that I read and liked. In fact scribbling was such a bad habit, I would have scribbled in almost every single classmate's notebook by the end of the year. People saved their special notebooks from me, because I would just mindlessly scribble something on them. There was a bright side to it too. Since I had a good handwriting, all teachers would ask me to write their journals, students grade records, even report cards! Yes, you read it right...I knew the class results much before everyone else in school. I was privy to very confidential information simply because of my handwriting. :) I wrote banners, my school projects, my brother's, cousins', nephew's. If there was something to be written, I was the go-to person. I still use a notebook in office/home to plan my days, my engagements or to simply write for the love of it.

Off late it felt like I was an artisan of a dying traditional tribal art form called 'Cursive'and I was coming to terms with it. But the other day I heard Sugata Mitra (of the NIIT fame) talking very convincingly about how reading was more important in today's education than writing; that how writing was totally redundant in today's life and I realized its just a matter of time! Cringe I may at the difficulty with which the new interns in my office hold their pens and write those barely decipherable disconnected alphabets to make them look like a word, but they are here to stay with their tablets and smartphones.

So for the millionth time I am going to read all those hand written notes from friends over the course of years. From a four year old neighbour to the one from a dear friend who was leaving town for further studies, observing the curves, the lines, the sweat of their palms on the edge of the paper and once again appreciating how their writing indeed spoke so much about them and what they thought of me; noting that probably those are last handwritten notes I would ever receive from someone in this lifetime.




Monday, May 28, 2012

The danger of a single story.

I love stories! And there probably couldn't have been a more obvious statement I've ever made. I haven't been writing for sometime, which is not out of place for the readers of this blog. However, I stumbled upon something which I am trembling in excitement to share. I am positive that this talk will bring that one whiff of an unknown fragrance in a spring morning that finds a permanent home in your memory. Hope it does to you, what it did to me...

The danger of a single story