The ever smiling maushi (ayah)

My daughter Ishani got promoted to class 7 today. She has been studying in this school from nursery, so it will be 9 years in this school now. When she was in nursery, there was a particular maushi (ayah) with whom Ishani was very attached to. The maushi was a mild, middle-aged lady who was very good with little kids and was very fond of the little chubby Ishani. I have never seen her annoyed in all these years. Today my daughter has grown taller than that maushi who has now grown a little more older yet her calm demeanor and lovely smile remain the same. Whenever she meets me she smiles and greets politely. Ishani still loves this maushi very much.
Some people leave a lasting impression even without actually uttering any word. She is much better than many educated, well-placed opportunists whom, I am sure, we all have encountered who don’t acknowledge or communicate once they feel we are “of no use” to them.
Ishani is out of the nursery section years back yet that maushi never fails to acknowledge me with her smile. I will be of “no use” to her ever, still she smiles..
The world needs more noble souls like her..

Bitter realities of life

Some bitter facts of life:
1. Nobody wants to handle a child in the infant and toddler years but want to spend time with him/her when he/she has grown up all nice and strong.
2. No one wants to teach the new bride anything but once she has learnt everything everyone wants her to help them.
3. No one wants to be near an unsuccessful person, but you should see how they change their colors when the same person becomes successful.
4. Parents can treat their kid badly or humiliate them in public but don’t want their kids to do the same when they become old.
5. Everyone is ready to blame the mother when the child falters but no one appreciates her when the child turns out fine.
6. Not generalizing, but parents are partial towards the more successful kid.
7. Same rules don’t apply for daughter and daughter-in-law.
8. Bad treatment and circumstances make a person bitter, harsh and strong, still people say “You have changed.”
9. Most people avoid poor and “not-so-good-looking” people, unless they want a favor from them.
10. Everybody is an actor, that’s the reality.

Changing times, change in movies

Last week, I was watching a movie from the 1960s.  Some character mouthed the lines “Pati ke charnon mein swarg hain.  Ab tumhara pati hi tumhara devta hai.”  In the movies till 90s if a girl was raped or thrown out by her husband in a movie the only way out for the female character was to commit suicide.  A female character who smoked, drank whiskey or wore provocative clothes was the vamp.  In many movies, a working woman was shown in a bad light and was given lecture about “Indian sanskriti” and by the end of the movie the woman would be serving food, quitting her job, and shown to be “sanskaari naari.”

But of late, the movies don’t portray women in this way.  I agree that “item songs” still objectify women, but any change in the society or movies takes time.  In recent times, movies with female protagonists have been appreciated both by critics and masses and have become hits.  Movies with strong female protagonists like Queen, Mardani, Piku, Pink, English Vinglish, Mom, Badla, Manikarnika, Raazi and such have worked wonderfully at the box office.  Earlier we could cite only Mother India as one of the movies where the female protagonist was strong.

Today mainstream heroines are shown to be working, drinking and smoking without guilt, living-in, living independently, and women with strong mind.  The fact that these films work is a good sign, sign of changing times.  I agree still our country has a long way to go in terms of women empowerment, emancipation and gender equality.  But let’s appreciate the positive change.

On the hindsight, many people are worried that our daughters will go “astray” by watching such movies.  It is against our “Indian culture.” being subservient, obedient, not expressing opinions, not living their dreams, working, exercising their choice is Indian it?

Also, today the female leads don’t shy away to get married or become mothers at the peak of their career.  Acceptance is much better now.  Most actresses are good businesswomen and many of them are self-made.  I am happy that film-makers and the female actors are being bold in their choices and are not scared to take risks, both professionally and personally.

A lot needs to be done still, but a lot of positive signs are there..

Let leadership skills be not defined by gender

Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern’s leadership skills and handling of the situation are being applauded post the mosque attack, I have been reading statements like, “That’s the reason all countries should be run by women leaders.”
Jacinda Ardern is not the first woman leader. There have been many women head of states and ministers before her and still are there. But I am sure not all of them have handled the situations with Jacinda Ardern’s skills. So, let’s simply put it as “The world should have more leaders like Jacinda Ardern”, irrespective of the gender.
PS: Had all women been so compassionate, there would have been no saas-bahu issues and so many unhappy women around (not generalizing!).

The Instagram Mommy

At last Roma was satisfied with that perfect click.  She used various filters to beautify the photo and then uploaded it on her Instagram story.  She was eagerly awaiting the likes and comments.  She kept on checking her phone and within 10 minutes she got 50 likes and 10 comments.  “Not many comments and likes”, she was disappointed.  It was such a nice click, wonder why so less likes and comments.

Little Diya was getting cranky.  She was all of 10 months and was wearing that beautiful frilly pink frock that her mom got from the kids apparel brand for which she was paid to write.  She was her mom Roma’s favourite muse.  Since the time Roma became pregnant with Diya, she started documenting each and every phase of her pregnancy on her blog and later started posting Instagram stories.  Soon, she had many followers on her blog website and Instagram.  What started as penning down her pregnancy journey and killing her free time, since she had left her job following a complicated pregnancy, soon made her a popular blogger and Instagram star.

Soon, she started making money as various baby brands, cereal brands, apparel brands started approaching her.  Her passion had made her richer not just by followers but monetarily too.

She had become so addicted to updating her life that even five minutes prior to being wheeled to the operation theatre she was live updating every detail of her delivery!

Her bundle of joy, her daughter Diya, arrived and Roma was over the moon.  She held her little princess close to her, gave her a kiss on her forehead, and called out for her husband Ravi.  Ravi wanted to savour that moment with the two beautiful girls of his life, but Roma said, “Ravi please get my mobile.  I just want to capture this moment and send it out to my followers.  They must be impatiently waiting for my baby details.”  Ravi became upset but didn’t want to show this to his wife who was so happy.  Roma despite the C-section stitches and the overall weakness was excited to post the most memorable moment of her life.  No sooner did she post her photo, she started getting hundreds of likes and comments.  She felt like a star again.

Every top baby brand now approached her for endorsement, Insta stories, blogs.  Now with her baby being her muse, Roma wanted to churn out as many stories as she could, wanted more and more brands to approach her.  It was kind of becoming like an obsession for her.

Earlier that day she saw two new mom bloggers who had more likes and comments on their Instagram stories than her.  Roma felt extremely upset and insecure.  She was literally sulking.  Ravi came home from the office and saw his wife upset.  He went near her, gave her a hug, and asked, “What’s the matter darling?  You look very upset.”  Roma burst out into tears and said, “You know Ravi, it seems I have become very complacent after Diya’s birth.  I am no more the Number 1 Mommy Blogger.  I was so sure that I will win the Best Young Mommy Blogger award this year, but two new bloggers are threatening my position.  I need to buck up, work harder.  Diya doesn’t cooperate always for the photos.  What do I do to maintain my position?”

Ravi tried to pacify her, “Look dear, there are bound to be many more mom bloggers like you who are equally talented, active, and popular.  You have your own position, you are unique just like everyone else.  Don’t compare or compete.  Just relax and enjoy your motherhood.  Diya is just a baby, don’t expect her to be cheerful and cooperative all the time!”  Roma became angry and blurted out, “Ravi it seems you don’t want me to be the Number 1 blogger.  You don’t love me like before.”  Ravi realized that it was no of use trying to tell Roma anything now.

Roma had sleepless nights now.  In the nights whenever she would be feeding her 6-month-old Diya, she would constantly think of ideas to usurp her contenders and ways to create new and better content.  She decided to present Diya’s day-to-day activities in various interesting forms.  It would be a sure shot hit.

Once again with all the zeal she started photographing Diya in various poses, cute dresses, carefully displaying the product she was writing about or endorsing.  She would be very particular about the lighting, sometimes waking up Diya to catch the early morning light on her balcony, sometimes waiting to get that perfect shot while little Diya would get cranky because of being sleepy.  Sometimes she would make Diya wear headbands, flowers, make her sit or sleep in a certain position and keep on repeating it till Diya started wailing loudly.

Ravi had many times asked Roma to slow down, to let Diya enjoy her infancy and childhood, and take pictures of her for their memories and not for Instagram stories, but Roma would simply ignore him.  Roma loved the fact that now she had innumerable followers, fans.  She would daily get mails and messages asking her for tips for that “perfect” way to raise a child like she did, how she managed to raise a child who never became cranky, how she managed to look so good despite being a new mom, etc., etc.  More and more brands were approaching her due to her rising popularity.

One winter morning, just days before Diya’s first birthday, Roma had decided to capture Diya’s “spontaneous” candid moment in the balcony.  There was a chill in the air that day.  Roma started waking up Diya at around 7 am.  Diya became extremely cranky and started wailing loudly.  Roma tried her best to pacify her, but Diya became crankier.  Roma got annoyed and yelled at Diya, “Why don’t you cooperate?  Don’t you understand I have to give the baby brand this photo and writeup today?  What’s wrong with you?”  Soon Ravi came and held Diya in his arms and started consoling her.  For the first time, Ravi lost his cool on Roma.  He angrily said, “To hell with your Insta stories and your “picture-perfect” motherhood.  Is your brand or your story more important than your child?  Instead of comforting her you are yelling at her.  She has simply become a muse for you.  You have forgotten to enjoy her moments without bothering about your popularity, story, photos, awards.  Its good to be popular, okay to post your stories, but for once let the child be!  You have become obsessed with all this.  For once just be a regular mommy and not the Instagram Mommy.  Do you even remember the last time you played with Diya or had moments with Diya without bothering about your stories or photos?” Ravi stomped out of the room with Diya in his arms.

Roma sat stunned for a while.  Ravi’s words echoed in her head.  He was right.  She didn’t remember the last time she had played with Diya, fed Diya, talked to Diya without bothering about her photos and stories.  She had lost the spontaneity as a mother.  She hadn’t bothered to check whether Diya was cranky, uncomfortable, hungry, sleepy and had only concentrated on taking the “perfect” pictures.

She decided to take a break from being an Instagram Mommy and concentrate more on enjoying her daughter’s childhood.  Of course, she would click a lot of pictures but only for her family album.  She would post pictures on social networking sites and write blogs too but only those which would be spontaneous and straight from the heart.  If the followers and brands understood this approach, she was fine with it, else it didn’t matter to her anymore.

She went in the adjoining room and saw Ravi playing with Diya with Diya sitting on his chest and giggling and laughing.  Roma had tears in her eyes and smile on her lips.  She went and joined them.  Her mobile was all alone in the other room.



Strong role model

My mother never went out and earned. I won’t call her non-working because managing a home is a lot of work. But she was very strong and raised 3 children without any support, managed household chores and outside work while my father was posted in far away mines. She raised me and my 2 siblings to be extremely hard working, sincere, and with good values. She still is very active and takes care of everything. She has been a strong role model in my life.
Why am I saying this? Because some woman asked another woman to give an example of financially independent women as a strong role model. Earning gives financial independence, no doubt, but that doesn’t equate with being a strong role model. My respect for my mother would have been the same had she been earning.
Any woman/mother can be a strong role model. Let’s not equate money with everything.
PS: I have and will never get into this working versus stay-at-home mom debate as I know that every woman is strong, working hard, and fighting her own battles.

Ads are easier, life is not

Of late watching a lot of ads emphasizing the fact that how we shouldn’t pressurize our children in academics or choice of career. These ads are going viral and becoming popular with people concurring with the ads and liking it. Great!
But the real change will come when the parents or people just don’t agree with the ads but agree to follow them too in real life too! Its difficult given our education system and emphasis of marks during admission in colleges. There’s cut-throat savage competition out there and the real test will be when parents support the unconventional career choices of their children, when they support them on days when they haven’t scored well or accept their caliber.
Its very easy to make ads, but real life is not so easy. Making an ad viral is easy, supporting choices for many parents is still not. Emphasizing that marks are not everything is easy, admission in colleges is not. Unfortunately, we still reside in a society where marks and usual career choices measure the intelligence.