Monday, November 22, 2010


Why, housework is a terrible thing. It must’ve been invented by the devil himself. Because the mind is idle. Ask me, I know. I’ve been maid less for the past six weeks…and amid all that endless back breaking work is an idle mind. That thinks. And asks dumb questions and has no one to answer them. In the midst of cooking and cleaning and yet again picking up stuff that really should’ve been off the floor by now, what can one do? After tiring of fantasizing about a luxurious life in a mansion with Brad Pitt, that is. (Where of course little grubby children are not seen and clothes are not oil spattered and fit over an exquisitely sculpted body and are always laundered and ironed and gourmet food laid on the table without having to do the dishes….! And yes, no messy daughter turns up covered in mud claiming she was bored so she was trying some pottery!!!!!)…… Oh I manage fine, been bunking Court save on a “need to go” basis and I seem to be juggling the maid role quite well….So today I was thinking. About guilt. How we are conditioned to feel guilt…or is it some ailment only I suffer from? I feel guilty if the house is not clean, I cringe when someone frowns at my children, I feel awful that the bed’s not been made, I feel lousy if I am having too much fun, or come home too late at night, or am feeling too hung over to give the kids anything but Wai Wai for their tiffin! I think this ailment revolves specially around the kids. When I was pregnant it always began with “you should not…” or “in our time…..” to the extent that I couldn’t even cut my hair! I was told not to swim, not to drink, not to keep my hair untied after nightfall, not to read Stephen King and generally just lie in bed and dream of cherubic babies! When Isha was born, it was, “She is hungry, go feed her…” till I felt like I was a cow having given birth to a leach hanging on to my breast for dear life. Irony was, Isha was NOT hungry. So I used to sneak around my own bedroom pretending to be feeding her while Isha happily played on the bed……oblivious to the post natal pressures on me. Oh I felt so guilty….probably she wasn’t feeding enough, maybe the milk wasn’t enough, maybe I was doing it all wrong…the possibilities were endless. Every step of the way, I’ve been trying to do the ‘right thing’ for my girls. When they said banana time, I gave them bananas, when they said no coke, I stopped looking at the stuff in the supermarket, I worried so much about cavities and sweets that I ended up eating every chocolate in the house before they saw it! Then one day when my patience ran thin, I said to hell with it.
Since then, I’ve lived a normal life. My daughters have been brought up on a healthy dose of coke, fried foods, chocolates and neglect. Every so often they eat Maggi and fries and do not get any nutrition whatsoever. They thrive on the TV, they listen to lousy cheap Hindi songs, they read silly stories meant for teenagers with boyfriends and their knowledge of Indian history and mythology is developed from comics! When I am sad, I tell them why. When I feel like running away, they know and when I am in a foul temper, they bear the brunt of it. I am assured my children are being brought up all wrong. The books, magazines all say so. I don’t know why but someone gifted me with a subscription to this health magazine which I will not name here. According to that, each month, I find, with growing alarm, that I am too fat, I do not get enough cardio exercise, I eat too much, I do not check the nutrition contents of the food I am buying, my BMI is way away from normal, my children are not getting adequate nurturing, my house is not child friendly, I am a step away from a heart attack or some other fatal disease, I am traumatizing my kids by sharing my angst with them and I should actually walk my way to good health with my entire family before my bum starts sagging seriously. In short I got it all wrong.
So every so often when the housework monster drives me and I am mindlessly hand washing yet another runny t’shirt, I think. And coming back to what I was saying, I feel guilty.
So what a pleasure it was today to check into Facebook and find an article posted by a friend…”If we try to engineer perfect children, will they grow up to be unbearable?” You can find it at in case you are interested……It inspired the rest of this article, I particularly liked this bit “…those warm summer nights of not being focused on were liberating. In the long sticky hours of boredom, in the lonely, unsupervised, unstructured time, something blooms; it was in those margins that we became ourselves.”
I like it.
But it sowed another seed in my idle brain, are my kids not bored enough? No they are not. They always but always have something to amuse them. Whether it’s a toy or a book or a Tv, we find ways to keep them out of our hair and busy. Well I’ve decided enough is enough, the next time they say, “I’m bored can we bake a cake?” I’m going to say no. I think I’ve finally discovered what is missing from their lives: ennui.
They have too much to do. They need to sit and gaze at a full moon with nothing on their minds, they too need to lie awake at night and think of nothing. That’s what they need: nothing. We had plenty of it as kids and right, I do think that’s what made us the people we are…and yes, I may not be perfect or have flat abs but I’m content.
Now if only I could find a damn maid!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

call in the idiots....

When we were kids there was no TV. We had the radio and we waited for Sunday afternoons when they played English songs like “Yesterday once more” or “Every breath you take”. Then one day my dad went and got this huge heavy box, it was my first introduction to the Television. There was even an antenna, which had to be installed on the terrace. Those days TV was a black and white affair, with loads of gray and blur, and started in the evening at about 6 pm with a ridiculous children’s programme and ended at about 9:30 pm after the evening news…….In the middle you had very interesting programmes like documentaries on farming and stuff in blurry black and white and moments of wavy lines and static which a quick slap on the TV could easily adjust. It fascinated us. There were houses in the area where the TV would be switched on promptly at six and would go on blasting till the much revered Doordarshan went off the air, whether anyone was watching or not….Not so in our house. 6 pm was study time and my dad was a stickler for discipline…so our TV never was switched on. No one watched, at the very best it was switched on for the ten-minute news bulletin at night and my father insisted it was not worth it…how I envied all our neighbours who had TVs that were actually switched on! Once in a while my dad would call all of us and make us sit and watch, because some “good program” was on. That usually meant a boring historical tedious Bengali movie like “Ananda Math” or “Devi Choudhurani”……… Yikes, the next time I heard there was a “good program”, I developed a headache!

The colour TV came much later, with the Asian games. It was soon followed by serials which ALL my friends watched and discussed at school. I obviously was not allowed to watch and felt very deprived when their discussions revolved around “Humlog” and “Buniyaad”. We only watched when my dad thought we could derive some education and/or information…and that was not often. In the US, I almost went into shock, they had about 80 channels or more and by the time I’d gone through them all, I had no clue where I was!

Back home, the buzzword was the Bangladesh airwaves, if your antenna was turned in the right direction, you could catch fuzzy snowy images of “A Team” or “Knight Rider” or even “Remington Steele”…….we spent more time adjusting our antennas trying to get a picture than actually watching the shows! That was until the cable wave hit us. Suddenly you had TV all day. And all night. You got all those shows you had hitherto only read about in foreign magazines left behind by cousins from “abroad”. Only I was not interested. Friends, college, life, the TV had never gotten a chance to dig its nails into me.

Now we have digital transmissions, we have state of the art TVs with a never-ending choice of channels catering to every whim and fancy. We have entertainment in several languages, we can set reminders, we can order movies on TV and we are spoilt for choice. Only I still don’t know what to watch!
Oh my kids have no such problems, they are smart. Very smart. I know it’s my fault. When they were small it was so simple to dump them in front of the TV and switch on something like “Teletubbies”, while I got some work done. I didn’t think about it, I thought they would outgrow it. They did. But then they grew into “Pokemon”. In an effort to keep up with them I learnt the names of all the mind boggling characters like Raichu Pikachu and Someothershitchu….by the time I learnt them, they told me, “Ma, you’re so out of date, we don’t watch Pokemon any more, now its Doreamon.” I gave up.
And I haven’t tried since.
My girls have it all, they ran the gamut through animations to witches, to Son Pari to Barbies that set your teeth on edge to Hannah Montana to some baby faced twit called Justin Beiber who apparently if you do not know you should goslapyourself! They know all the weird movies I have never heard of, they know when Miley Cyrus goes to the loo, they know songs that make my head ache and they even watch some master chef nonsense and tell me they have tips to help me when I make a cheesecake!!!! I never have to explain the facts of life to them, they saw it all on TV (well, not all, I hope!!!!) they know which shampoo will stop hair fall and make your hair grow three inches in three months. They know you can get a policy to live with your head up in your old age and they dream of McDonald’s happy meals! They even were telling me the other day that hamdard safi and suthol will help me live a more vibrant life!!!!!!
True it gets my goat, as soon as I see they are watching TV I chase them off to go play something or read something…but I also have to give in. And true, in eleven years, I have not found a better baby sitter. I keep lamenting about how in our time we had more fun outdoors and used our imagination to amuse ourselves but face it, times HAVE changed.
I know why they call it the idiot box, my girls become like that sometimes, their eyes glaze over, they cannot hear when I call, they are oblivious to the world around them until someone snaps the damn thing off, but somehow it’s ok. I guess. As long as they do all the other things they are supposed to!
All the rest is on DTH!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Forwarded email

Well, I've been down lately....for several reasons, things do not seem to be in sync and sometimes I do want to quit, who doesn't? After a rather hectic bout of cooking cleaning scrubbing and generally depressing household chores, here I was wishing life was over for in my usual dramatic style I had had enough.
But lo, there came this email, right then on the bb and thankfully, theres always something to smile about. And today I want to share this email that made me smile and realise I do want to live, after all..... and nothing is quite as bad as it seems to be!

"I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend.. I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.

I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60 &70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love ... I will.
I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set.

They, too, will get old.
I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face.
So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.
As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore..
I've even earned the right to be wrong.

So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever,
but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day(if I feel like it).