Wednesday, February 03, 2016

N for Night

The night sky is one of the most beautiful sights that nature prepares for us every night ! I remember several years back there was a shower of shooting stars and we hauled our beds to the terrace to watch that beautiful sight - a treasured memory.

The waxing and waning of the moon is like poetry - one can just smile at the very thought.

Recently, I spend a good part of the night near the beach with a dear friend, reminiscing about old times - it was fun.

These days, night is the time that things quieten down at home and you feel content that you waded through one more day without getting bruised - at least nothing that sleep cannot cure.  A sense of calm descends, you express your gratitude to God and then let sweet sleep wash over you like a blanket.

My deepest desire is to spend an entire night lying down in a quiet beach all alone staring at the sky and then slowly dozing off listening to the waves ...I end with a quote I read here. "You will want some things that you will not get".

Monday, February 01, 2016

Taking a Break..

...from the alphabet series, primarily 'cos I have something far more important to write about, and also because I can't get a word for N.

Recently, there was a news article about a new bill proposing that husbands pay wives for household chores. This got shared in my school WhatsApp group (only girls) by someone who said 'finally, we would get paid for all the back breaking work!' . This was accepted with much cheer from SAHMs and also by some working women who said that it is good for women in lower economic strata.

I, for one, found the law totally sexist, and also flawed. Any law, should be implementable. How is the beurocracy going to roll this out, and how is judiciary going to ensure adherence? In a country where majority of the working class earn their salaries in cash, implementing this is not going to be easy.

But, even if it was, I would really oppose it - it presumes that household chores are the duty of a woman. I can never see it as a step towards 'woman empowerment' as some people claim it to be. It is almost paid bonded labour right? And being a paymaster, the husband will now have even more authority over the wife ! Will it result in some form of a reverse dowry - you are literally buying a maid, right? With a law like this and with no social security net, what happens when the husband dies? When will marriage be treated as a union of two consenting adults who decide to live together so as to make each other's lives easier?

That set me thinking - what would I like to see as steps towards woman empowerment?

I would much more gladly accept a law that can somehow ensure that household chores are mutually shared. (utopian thinking, I know.) Ideally, what is needed for women empowerment is good infrastructure to take care of kids and elderly, so that women can pursue their dreams and be independent. Of course, it is also necessary to culturally empower women through education and intervention programs so that they are not guilty to dream.

At the risk of the institution of marriage breaking up, we still need far easier laws for divorce. I have seen cousins and friends struggle through the legalese and I find that ridiculous. If getting married is so easy, then breaking it up should also be easy. If kids are involved, yes, their future needs to be adequately protected. But, then again, what is the guarantee that being in a marriage protects the kids? I know of several couples who stay separate, but are not legally divorced, just 'cos they don't want to go through prolonged custody battles.

Marketplaces for women entrepreneurs, flexible work hours, leave policies that are gender neutral, skilling of women, awareness of existing laws, an effective mechanism to get quick and fast justice and finally reproductive health education (contraception, spacing of children etc) are some of the things that I feel would empower women across economic strata. What is your wish list?

Friday, January 29, 2016

M for Money

They say you need to love money for money to stay with you. Among pseudo-intellectuals, the saying 'money can't buy everything' is popular. I am more fond of the statement 'there is no such thing as a free lunch' and believe in the power of money. As for things which money can't buy, well a lack of money doesn't ensure you have those things either !

Money makes people do strange things - I have seen greed make monsters out of otherwise perfectly normal people. On the other end of the spectrum, you also have people who don't even have enough money for survival - they also go to any length to get money.  I guess, just like everything else in life balance is the key here. 

But, money is a crazy addiction and people often forget that it is just a means to an end and not the end in itself. Which makes me wonder whether the barter system of yester-years is a better option. The non-perishable nature of money is also a problem - you tend to hoard it. The incentive of compound interest further adds to the trouble. I often wonder whether self sufficient smaller communities are better than this global village - no easy answers there!

Talking about money is considered rude - you are not expected to ask anyone how much they earn. I have never understood why - after all unless you link self-worth to salary drawn, why would you hesitate to talk about it. I have also seen people brag about salaries and blatantly lying too !

My earliest memory of money is the pocket money of Rs.25 that my grandfather used to give me - I loved the pink colour of the 20 Rs note and the green of the 5 rupee note. I also like the pink 2 rupee note. I am not that fond of the 10, 50 and 100 rupee notes - I feel they lack character.

People who can treat money with nonchalance are lucky; but for that you need to be a yogi. I, for one, believe that rewards should be proportional to efforts - hard work over smart work any day.

I love money for the things that it can buy and the freedom of choice that it offers, while being fully aware of its limitations too. What is your attitude towards money?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

L for..

what else, but love ! With so many definitions, poems, stories et al, what more could I possibly write about the sweetest, nastiest emotion!

Well, for starters, love is as unique as a fingerprint - everyone loves differently...In fact, love is a combination of what transpires between 2 objects - which means the sheer permutations of it is unimaginably huge ! I may love different people differently - add the dimension of time to it and you realize how varied this complex emotion can be !

Anu (regular readers know her by now, and I am too lazy to link up) asked me in my previous post as to why I like to make someone's day so much - people are responsible for making their own day ! Well, the short answer is 'love'. The long answer is - well, that is also 'love' - or maybe the need to be loved - or both. I feel happy seeing a smile on another person's face - I can't see my own smile unless I pose vainly in front of a mirror - so it is easier to focus on other people's smiles. Well, I am in no way an angel - let alone a self-sacrificing one. I can be as nasty as they come, but still very often I go out of my way to make someone smile, especially if it is not expected of me.

Yea, that's the beauty of love - you can't force it. Tell me that I ought to do it, and I often resist strongly. But, in situations where I am a stranger, I enjoy giving that little extra of myself. The sheer look of pleasant surprise in someone's face - priceless !

Love can hurt deeply too. I have been lucky - if you go by the traditional definition of love - I have loved only once - and all my energies are devoted to polishing that love, that I have no eyes for another. But, sometimes you end up loving someone who never deserved it. The biggest tragedy of such a situation is not that the relationship didn't work out or that it caused emotional hurt. It is the self-doubt. You doubt your instincts and wonder where you went wrong. Even when the whole world sees that you clearly couldn't have done anything more, you wonder if there was something you could have done. I am yet to come across someone who wrote off the losses lightly.

Sometimes love can be funny. You love someone, but the other party never knows about it. As long as you are ok with it, this situation can be quite hilarious !

I have read somewhere about positive and negative emotions - I wonder where love falls in that spectrum...Maybe, love is omnipresent !

Some people swear by more mature forms of love - quiet acceptance and calm waters. I personally enjoy the heady rush of crazy passionate love - where you take risks, your heart races in anticipation, your smile is the brightest, and overall you perform at your peak !

I hope my kids enjoy the heady rush of crazy love and that the recipients prove worthy of it for an entire lifetime! 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

K for... sweetheart. His name starts with K. As on date, I have known him for more time than I have not known him - knowing and evolving with a person over half a lifetime is no easy feat! I have had my share of ups and downs with him - but like I have told several people, and I think even in this blog earlier, he is kind of a part of me. You don't consider changing your hands or legs or brain or heart unless they are irreparably damaged. Even when one part of your body causes intense agony to the rest of it, you focus all your attention on it and try and heal it! And that's the crux of our relationship - I don't consider life without him a possibility. It's just easier that way !

Monday, January 18, 2016

J for Joy

I used to have a friend in primary school named Joy - I used to think he was always happy and hence had the name Joy :). I got back in touch with him after nearly 27 years and needless to say, he didn't even remember me or anyone else who remembered him ! Still, I was happy to have found him - not because I suddenly got a new friend or anything, but more from a quite confidence that hope still exists in this world and that people may just come back into your life when you least expect it !

Conversing with him also made me realise that as time passes, friendships, in fact all relationships, should evolve. Very often, unless you have certain things in common, conversations can become strained - there are exceptions, of course.

Often when friends go through extremely tough times, I wonder if I am stepping on their toes. I then end up remembering them far more frequently in my prayers - I know instinctively that my friends are feeling better when they stop appearing in my prayers - no, its not any sixth sense. I would have spoken to them on and off, then sometimes, when I feel they want to be left alone, I do that also (though I do get wrong in those analysis - some friends feel I should have spoken more often, others want to be left alone more). I guess these conversations then get sieved in my brain and when I pray, along with my set of requests, my brain brings their thoughts as well to my lips...and over a period of time, when my brain realizes they are in a happy place, it just stops these signals...

I am not sure whether I have brought joy to anyone's life in recent times - I wish I could though...How lucky it is to know that your smile, your hug, your words or your actions have made someone's day !

While people with a different bunch of experiences can give you very different perspectives about your situations, it is imperative that you are ready to open your mind to those possibilities. I for one need a good time to moan, indulge in self-pity etc before I can start thinking of solutions. It might be a waste of time from a purely rational view point, but unless I have really buried myself in the sorrow, I find it impossible to move on. Few times, I have tried pretending that all is well, and focused straight on how to solve the situation at hand. It just didn't work for me - I ended up performing sub-optimally and found myself returning to my grief again and again. Much easier for me to grieve properly and then move on.

I have friends who give me a shoulder to cry on, others who offer solutions and some who can play both roles effectively. It is upto me to choose whom to confide in at various points in my journey - else, I will risk irritating the other person and sometimes losing the friendship too. Still all said and done, even a small hello from a loving friend brightens my day and brings joy !

Yes, planning to talk to all my friends this week - to tell them that I hold them close to my heart !

Finding joy is easier when you are mentally open to that possibility.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

I for..

I. Yes, this is gonna be the year that will be post, albeit a week late. This year, the theme is going to be I, me, myself. I want to focus on me as an individual. I will spend time on improving myself as a human being - spiritually, professionally and economically. It also means that i will try to improve my performance in various roles - that of wife, mother, daughter, friend etc. But, I shall ensure that the focus is on me and I will write the definition of what success means, and which roles matter. 

Over the course of a lifetime, several roles get thrust on you. Being a woman and that too in a conservative small town, means that you are guilt tripped into donning all those thorn-crowns. This year, shall be about celebrating the things I value most. In an earlier post, I wrote about how some of the realities in my life have been far better than what I could even dream of. This year will be about enjoying those realities. No more postponing anything to a later date. I shall also bring in more spontaneity into my life - both hubby and self love spontaneity and over the past few years we have been forced to be far less spontaneous than we like to be - thanks to an increase in responsibility at both home and professional fronts. But, I shall try to introduce the joy of spontaneity into my children's lives this year - I am not sure how they will take it, but then, that's the fun of being spontaneous. And with that we come to my wish for my dear readers...

May you have the eyes to notice the dew drops and the clouds..
May you have the heart to laugh like a child...
May you have the health to celebrate adventures that lie waiting for you at every corner...
May you have the strength to explore un-chartered waters..
After all, somewhere deep in the ocean, there maybe fresh water springs waiting for you !